S_V_H Where have All the Flowers Gone Final Image

 

36″ Length x 26″ Height x 3″ Depth

I have finished the artwork for the music, Where have all the Flowers Gone.   I am going with a short title of, Flowers because the words on the artwork say it all.  I want to explain why my little circles of music are all white.  They are that way because the flowers are all missing from the artwork.  That should then be a convincing incentive for the Pablo center to have a local florist create an arrangement of flowers to display with the artwork.  The floral and art reception is March 18th through the 22nd.

 

I am thinking that I heard this 1962 version on the radio sung by Peter Paul and Mary:

Although I have finished this artwork,  the audio addition is not.   I am waiting for parts. Once done, I will post a video.

There are two things different with this artwork that most viewers will miss.  The most important change is that the stems are flat but wide.  The extra width of the stems allows me to better adhere them to the frame.  Also, the shorter stem height makes them less vulnerable to be twisted loose when being carried or shipped to an exhibition.  Of lesser importance, on the top section, the second and the fifth stems have no connection to their extensions.  I like this idea and plan to carry this forward from now on.  I also taped all the stems for each section together.  This allowed me to paint images across multiple stems, before mounting them.

 

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Happy Christmas Final Image

37″L x 23″H x 2.75″ D

Happy Christmas surprised me by taking only two weeks from start to finish.  I like the melody in which I could stop at a good point in the lyrics.  This enabled me to leave out the ending of the first stanza, including these lyrics “let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.” This music is not only a Christmas song but an anti-war song.  Lennon recorded this music during the Vietnam War, in 1971.  Although those lyrics are still relevant,  I wanted this artwork to be a celebration of Christmas.

If I had not included the word “Christmas,” along with those giant snowflakes in the background,  visually this artwork is more in the style of the Blue Danube project, and nothing like my previous Christmas works.  Over the 14 years that I have created Christmas paintings, I never attempted to create anything new.  The take on all my Christmas artworks was to take the easy Christmas style route and create a summary work of the year.  My main challenge was to get it done.  Then I could take a picture, and print out a pile of eight-inch wide canvas prints, to put inside the year’s Christmas cards.  Once the cards were out the door, like past Christmases, I will quickly store the artwork away to remain an unknown unknown.

Left to do is the music.  I have some understanding of music theory but not so musical composition.  That means I am early in my understanding of how to create and arrange a decent sound.  That is why the music it not yet done.  This year has seen the improved sound quality of increasingly sophisticated arrangements that are now a part of each project.  I believe that adding sound to the artwork is becoming vitally important to the success of the artwork.  That makes sense. This art, from the start, has been about portraying music.

From the beginnings of this art back in 2006, it was all about displaying, in a semi-abstract way, the up and down flow of a piece of music.   What it never was about was to replicate sheet music which would stifle the creative effort.  That style defined this art until recently when I added the play button to my artworks.  I guess I thought my musical arrangements would allow me to follow the art.  I soon found that difficult. Although the arrangement and the artwork share the same music, their artistic presentations are widely different.  Like everyone else that enjoys this art, for now when I play the music I will listen.  When I look at the artwork, I will then enjoy the artwork as I have always done, as a portrait of the music.  So what we have is one sculpture with two features,  with this one caveat: the artwork is the value of the project that represents the project goal which is to present itself as Art.  The music is there only to support the Artwork.  That is the difference.  The Art can exist without the music.  My music is meaningless without the Art.

The Art is the portrait; the sound is the hook.

 

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Will the Circle be Unbroken Final image

Will the Circle Be Unbroken 56.5L x 54H x 4D inches

 

Here is my YouTube Channel review of Will the Circle Be Unbroken:

What I did not mention in the YouTube video was that The Carter Family’s lyrics still sung today, tell the story of the loss of their Mother.

“I was standing by the window
On one cold and cloudy day
And I saw the hearse come rolling
For to carry my mother away

Lord, I told the undertaker
Undertaker please drive slow
For this lady you are carrying
Lord, I hate to see her go

Oh, I followed close behind her
Tried to hold up and be brave
But I could not hide my sorrow
When they laid her in the grave

Will the Circle Be Unbroken
Bye and bye Lord, bye and bye
There’s a better home awaiting
In the sky Lord, in the sky”

-The Carter Family

Reading those words I cannot help but remember my own Mother that passed away many years ago.  We three boys knew her as Namie, a name she chose because she did not want to be called Grandma.  Her mother Ann’s nickname was Namie.  We shorted the name to Nam.  She was a strong woman that did not “mince” her words.  Still, many times I saw that strength dissipate into frustration saying that nobody listened to her.  I think we three boys did, but my Mother grew up in a time when Men were in charge.  My Dad made the money and the rules.  Two little memories of my Mom that I will always remember (there are plenty more) is that she told me numerous times that I would “lose my head if it wasn’t attached.”   That is true to this day.  Even more important, was this advice from her “don’t cut yourself short.”  I live those words in this art, also, to this day.

Scott Von Holzen

 

S_V_H Twinkle Little Star Final Image

Twinkle Little Star L44.25″x H65.50″ x D4.25″

I finished Twinkle Little Star, on October 11th.  I delayed this blog entry because my attention quickly pivoted to my next major project, Unbroken, based on the music Will the Circle Be Unbroken.  When I first put together and then started this project, my enthusiasm was high.  That feeling came from my arrangement and from Twinkle Little Star being highly recognizable music.  I felt this artwork would increase awareness and appeal for this art.   Later, after over a month of work, I lost that excitement, except for my arrangement of the music.  You can see those feelings in my final video of Twinkle little star.

What I forgot to mention in the video is my concerned with the dominates of these sculptural artworks by the musical flow while smaller and smaller backgrounds are adding less interest and support to the music.  My direction in 2019 has been to minimize the backgrounds while emphasising the flow of that music.    In Twinkle I have pushed this idea even further with such small backgrounds that add little interest.  Part of why this happened was because of Twinkle’s theme,  Mozart’s piano version number 5, and not today’s version of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  I may need to change this direction made obvious by this artwork.  This all became part of my concerned when I found it hard to follow the musical flow while listening to my arrangement of Twinkle Little Star.  Then the question became, why should anyone follow the flow today, if It never mattered before?

From this art’s beginnings I have portrayed a small flow of a particular piece of music, that only a trained musician had any chance of understanding.  I thought nothing of it.  I was creating artworks that contain much more canvas so I could add lots of visual interest and colors to enhance the flow of the music.  That began to change when I took the flow of the music of the canvas and made it three dimensional.  That resulted in a reduction in the background’s value.  I then discovered sound when I added it to a small artwork of the first four notes from Beethoven’s fifth symphony.  Pressing the play button brought smiles.  That caused me to add sound to my artworks thinking this helped the viewer better connect to the artwork.  I then made improvements to the sound and the quality of my arrangements to where I have found it hard to follow the flow and the sound of the music.  It looks like I am back where I started in 2006.

That tells me to succeed, I need to go “Back to the Future.”  I look at it in this way using my mentor Vincent Van Gogh and two of his images, courtesy of Wikipedia  The first is Van Gogh’s masterpiece The Potato Eaters done early in his career:

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

On my art path, The Potato Eaters may be where I am today with this art.

This other image is of Van Gogh’s popular Sun Flower artworks.   The big change is his lightening of his palette.   That is where this art needs to end up.  I thought my “big change” was adding sound.  That may be only part of this story.  There remains some extra volumes to write if I want to reach the “lightening” of this art.

Wikipedia

Scott Von Holzen

 

S_V_H Walking In Memphis Final

88″ Length by 33.5″ Height by 4″ depth

My start date was July 17th for Walking in Memphis.  I finished on the 20th of August. Most of my final thoughts on this artwork are in the YouTube video, but I will add a few more comments.

The piano and strings in this arrangement are the interactive parts of this artwork created using the software MuseScore.  In my video, I mentioned that the strings are the voice of the music.  I’ll add that the piano part of the arrangement connects Marc Cohn’s video to the artwork.  I now see sound as a transformational tool.  I once viewed adding music to my artworks as a selling gimmick for art fairs.  Nothing sold.  At less the non-paying public enjoyed it, although saying “Push the button to hear the music,”  grew tiresome.  What changed where the enthusiastic comments at ArtsWest’s Africa, and Mozart’s Turkish March at the Trout Museum.  A staff person at the ArtsWest library, at pickup,  asked to play Africa on our way out of the library.

My first serious music notation software, Noteflight. For years I used it only to create the arrangements of the music I painted.  My first added sound came with my little Beethoven 5th first four notes artworks.  I had found a recordable small plastic battery-operated soundbox with a half-watt speaker within an extension wired push button.  In 2018 using the software, Musescore, and soundbox enhancements, the music from this 1inch flat speaker sounds good on The Turkish March, and 2019’s ArtsWest artwork Africa.

My first Sound Box

After Africa, in early 2019 I created the jazz artwork Giant Steps whose style came from  2017’s Miles Davis artwork,  So What (Which I agree).  Giant Steps I believe I never considered adding music because of the limits of the soundbox and MuseScore’s synthesizer to replicate this Jazz masterpiece.  After Giant, I painted Over the Rainbow another experimental work based on the So What style.   From the blog entries adding music was a low priority.  That changed with Schindler’s List.

The largest in a long while, and a statement piece, I knew this music needed a higher quality sound to match its size.  Through research, I found a two-watt stereo amp that I could store and play a music file.  Instead of a flat one-inch speaker I now can power two, three-inch speaker placed inside their own custom made speaker boxes.  It required soldering.  I am getting better.

Adafruit Audio FX Sound Board + 2x2W Amp 2″ in length

Next up came Mercy Me, a self-inflicted obligation project that I saw as a long shot for a local environmental exhibition.  The song Mercy, Mercy Me was my first choice for this show.  My choice of music and time restraints made adding sound only a consideration.   Mercy, Mercy Me,  did not show.  I never created a sound file.

With The Blue Danube, I returned to doing artworks for me.  From the start of Schindler’s List, I knew I wanted to add a music file.  In fact, this artwork is a turning point.  From Blue Danube and Walking In Memphis onward finding the right music for a sound file is as important as finding what music to portray.

One final thought on Walking in Memphis: this music by Marc Cohn is the first song on Spotify’s playlist, One-hit Wonders.

Maybe this artwork will someday be a wonder on its own playlist of Greatest Hits.

Scott Von Holzen

 

S_V_H The Blue Danube Final Image

The Blue Danube (2001 Space Odyssey) 82″ length x 35.5″ in height x 4″ in-depth

I posted a final video on The Blue Danube on July 4th.  The video explains how I connected the Artwork to the music, to the movie.  I have been working on this project since May 23rd.  Following the lead of The Theme from Schneider’s List, the overall color range for The Blue Danube resembles the look of the movie 2001 Space Odyssey. The main colors are neutral,  a mix of black, gray, white.  Beyond the color blue, I added small splashes of brighter accent colors, found in the movie, to add interest and contrast.   My style now is to stay away from the rainbow look of using too much and too many bright colors creating art that is strongly punchy.  When I see a lot of flashy colors in a lot of today’s contemporary art,  I think baby toys.  All that mix of bright colors diminishes the impact and can be a fallback tool to distract from the lack of originality.

For this work, I thought I would experiment with another wood frame.  My thinking was that the white-painted wood frame would match the movie better than a bright metal frame.  I did not see a lot of bright metal in the movie.  Because of the length of eighty inches for the frame pieces, I found cutting the wood a challenge.  They required a lot of sanding.  One advantage of using wood frames is that the music, also made of wood,  adheres strongly to the frame.  This is not the case when I am using metal frames for I am gluing wood to metal.  What I like about metal is its strength, straightness,  and modern look.

I specifically created The Blue Danube project for entry in this year’s Major fall art show at the Eau Claire Confluence center.  Since it is important to always submit the maximum number artworks, I also entered Giant Steps and The Turkish March (rejected for last year’s show).  I received this news on August 7th.

“Dear Scott,

Congratulations!  You have been selected as an exhibiting artist for the Confluence of Art Annual at Pablo Center at the Confluence.

The work selected for this exhibition is:

The Blue Danube

Pablo Center has kept images of all the accepted artwork for use in publicity for the exhibit.
Exhibition Dates:     September 13-November 3
Meet the Artists’ Reception and Awards Ceremony: Friday, October 4, 5-7pm
Rose Dolan-Neill
Visual and Literary Arts Manager PABLO CENTER AT THE CONFLUENCE
128 Graham Avenue
Eau Claire, WI 547011.715.471.6130
Pablo center. org •    

The exposure will be valuable.  The Pablo show is the next addition to this artist’s best showings including Eau Claire’s ArtsWest, The Secura show at the Trout Museum in Appleton, and the current ROOTS exhibition at the Center for the Visual Arts in Wausau.  Being at display at the Pablo may offer a greater benefit of turning this unknown, unknown artist, into the unknown local Artist. Looking forward to the reception.

I am close to finishing my current project, Walking in Memphis, that like The Blue Danube will be my primary entry for another exhibition later this fall at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Wausau.

 

This is my 600 Blog Entry.  Vincent Van Gogh sent Theo 663 letters.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Mercy, Mercy, Me final image

Mercy Me Constructive Sculpture 65.5L x20.5H x3.75D

This is the final image of the music of Marvin Gaye, Mercy Me.  This artwork’s submission offers another opportunity for an upcoming exhibition that has an environment theme.  Early this year, I decided to not take part in any Art Fairs.  To make up for that lost exposure I made plans to apply to Call for Artists opportunities available in the state.  This spring I submitted my artworks to the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, The Trout Museum, and to the local ArtsWest Exhibition.  They accepted me at both ArtsWest and the Trout but I missed the outstanding chance to show in Madison.  After applying for those shows, to my surprise, I found no other new up-and-coming Call for Artists chances to show in the state.  That was the motivation for me for this local show.

While working on Mercy Me, I received a new Call for Artists from the Pablo Center for the Arts for their 2nd annual Art show.  This is the same show last year that rejected Mozart’s Turkish March.  This year The Turkish March is on view at the Trout Museum.  Rejections are a part of finding your way.  Although disappointed by not being a part of the Pablo’s grand opening,  I moved on with only minor surface damage.  With that in mind, for this year’s Pablo show I will up game and create another even more outstanding artwork: The Blue Danube from  2001 Space Odyssey.   Under time constraints I felt it was now time to finish Mercy Me.

I saved time on Mercy Me by not installing the music hardware.  If the artwork makes it into the show, then I will upgrade Mercy Me with its accompanying music.  I then reconsidered the time-consuming job of hand painting the words for this artwork.  That resulted in finding three digital images of painted wood in different stages of peeling.  Those images are the backgrounds for the printed words Mercy, Mercy, and me.  I have always painted the words in my artworks knowing that art reviewers judge the quality of the craftsmanship.  For times’ sake printing saved a day’s worth of work, besides adding meaning to this artwork’s message: our responsibility for maintaining our environment.   The collage works by Pablo Picasso, and the combines by Rauschenberg, and my age made me reconsider the value of saving time.  I appreciate craftsmanship but the message should judge art.  Mercy Me took 22 days to complete.

Scott Von Holzen

 

S_V_H The Theme Schindler’s List – Final image

Constructed Sculpture of streched canvas, digital canvas prints, aluminum, and wood. 71.5 inches wide by 65.25 inches high.

L65″ x H71″ x D4″

I have completed the artwork, The Theme from Schindler’s List.   This picture is the largest project using aluminum framing.  The Theme from the movie Schindler’s List is six feet wide and sixty-five inches high.  If I had designed this artwork in 2018,  it would have been a long pencil-shaped flow of music eighteen feet.  What changed began in late 2018 with Africa the first artwork with multiple sections.  The boxy shape of Africa eliminated the limits of reasonable length and make hanging the finish works much easier.  There is still cleanup, photography, and a video to produce.  After, the plan is to hang this painting in the living room, for no other reason then hanging is a safe method for storing it.

Every new artwork comes with different challenges that need solutions.  From this project beginnings, I wanted this artwork large.  Big artworks have more impact on the viewer.  What I found out was that big artwork are difficult to handle in the more limited space of my current studio.  Not that I cannot do it.  In the past, this was not such an issue for I bolted multiple canvases together to create larger works in a studio that had the advantage of length.  I could then unbolt them for travel.   For this project, I needed a similar approach with my current angled aluminum framing.  The solution was to detach the bottom third aluminum framed section. I also experimented with another size reducing idea that allowed the music and the artwork to stay large but compacted.  Instead of reducing the size of the artwork I eliminated the spacing between the three sections. The recent artworks, Africa, Giant Steps and Rainbow have a considerable spacing between sections.   Although more manageable, I found that the build took on a busy confusing look.  This concern increase with placing the ties and beams.  All those narrow rectangle shapes painted black with gold striping could easily add clutter.  I wanted no more added confusion to this artwork.  My solution was to reduce their size and aligned them all across the artwork horizontally to counter all the vertical movements.

After, a long delay I upgraded the sound system used in this artwork.  In the past, I used a small plastic recordable sound box, used with stuff animals. It comes with a 1/2-watt amp with an inch size speaker. This worked well in my artworks because one model came with a  10-inch extension wired play button. This allowed me to mount the sound box inside the back of a canvas and the push button on the artwork.   For ten dollars each, this was an effective and cheap solution.  My new sound system comprises two, three-inch speakers powered by a two-watt stereo amplifier along with storage for audio files which I add using a computer.  In comparison, the price for this stereo upgrade is forty dollars.   What makes it worth the cost is my growing understanding of the capabilities of the free notation software by MuseScore.   I can now create ever better arrangements to play through a sound system with improved dynamic range, clarity, and depth that justifies the cost.

This artwork’s color style comes from the black and white movie Schindler’s List.  Red is the only stand out color used on the one sharp.  This color is to acknowledge the scene from the movie of the girl in the red coat.   As for the color gold, I learned its effects from past artworks to enrich the color black.  Finally, the small gray and black digital prints on canvas mounted wood I added for interest and to fill space.   I used two as faceplates for the speaker boxes.

I am unsure about doing another large work.  Looking back to 2012 I painted thirteen large The Four Seasons paintings over two years.  I finished them in a larger size studio. More room made it easier to handle fifteen-foot paintings and larger.  My current studio is nice but has less space for such size works. I can do large size works again, without a “bigger boat.”   Organization of my studio space will be an important factor in my success with my next big one.

I accomplished what I wanted to with this artwork. It is a good portrait of a touching and enduring piece of classical violin music. My next project is Mercy Mercy Me (Ecology).  This work will be my entry for a local exhibition that is due the first week in June at the local Pablo Art center.  I already have three rejections from them.   Hum, “things that make you go, hum?”  This could be my fourth not interested, but by applying, I am in the game, where I need to be.    Hum, at this moment, that is the way.

 

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Over the Rainbow 2019 Final image

Over the Rainbow 2019 is finished.  Rainbow painted in the style of Giant Steps has that improvisational look that originally I thought would only work with Jazz artworks such as Giant Steps and So What.  Rainbow shows that this jazzy more relaxed style of the music does adapt to the ballad,  and will probably work with other music genres, including Classical.  Another benefit of the music styled more casually, is that this than solves a longtime issue, of how to portray motion in a static artwork.

Over the years I have tried different ways to simulate motion in the artworks.  I even researched motion that was important to the art and social movement Futurism.   Good examples of my best earlier attempt at motion can be seen in a number of the Vivaldi Four Season’s artworks.

Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons Autumn Allegro. Length 15 feet.

For the Vivaldi Artwork Autumn to try to simulate motion I added a smaller circle inside the larger musical circle.  The illusion I wanted was that of a spinning ball inside the larger circle moving clockwise across the artwork.  The results were always mixed.  Other examples of this technique can be found in artworks from 2012 until 2015 when I finally abandon the idea with the switch to raised wood for the music.

As mentioned before the idea to allow the music to go off vertical comes from the artwork Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock.   An interesting critique of this artwork comes from the site jackson-pollock.com. “According to art historian Dennis Phillips,……… Because we look for the poles and miss much of the rest, the name is simply too distracting.”  Phillips is right for  I saw the poles as musical notes and the background as just that.  That is probably why there are no other mentioned Pollock’s with similar poles.

 

In summary, there are two big changes that occurred in Rainbow and earlier in Giant Steps.  The first is that I have moved away from longer than wider artworks, that were standard since the beginnings of this art, to a more squared look with the music now stacked in sections.   A practical reason for this move is the difficulty in storing these long delicate, with multiple parts, artworks.   Actually, no matter their length, my artworks these last few years, I have found,  can only be stored safely when laid down.  The other even bigger change, that also goes back to the beginnings of this art, was to drop the consistent upright stance of the music which, of course, resulted in making these new artworks look less static.

One troubling issue that lingers still, and affected Rainbow, was how to paint or not paint the canvases. There was even a moment that I thought about leaving them all white (my Robert Ryman moment).  Rainbow is just the latest artwork where I have questioned what purpose the canvases served, besides support for the music.   I escaped back to reality by deciding to paint only the two center canvases in an outer space type Rothko look.  I then added a variety of canvas-covered round wood pieces (I like circles having nothing to do with the music for their disruptive effect) for interest, and to connect the painted canvases to the other four covered by canvas prints.

 

Finally, I should mention the blue piece of wood with a relaxed handwritten word, why, repeated five times.  For this version of Over the Rainbow, instead of choosing Judy Garland’s version of the music, I chose Keith Jarrett’s jazzier performance and stunning ending. This artwork’s music is “If happy little blue-birds fly beyond the rain-bow why oh why can’t I?” These words are all sung by Judy Garland without any slow down until she sings the last word I.  All those extra whys is because of Keith Jarrett performance of those same last few notes,  where he slows down dramatically, drawn each note out.  On the first why he almost seems to pause.  At that first why is where I decided to add the extra whys, for fun, and to channel a tribute to Jean Michael Basquiat, and his painting that includes five Moses.

I am still planning on adding the red music button for the music to Over the Rainbow.  When I am finished I will post a video.

Scott Von Holzen

 

S_V_H Giant Steps Fourth Image

63.25″ in length by 30″ high

This artwork needs to be signed and dated to be finished.  I am waiting because I am working on possibly adding music.  For this blog entry I have darken the image to improve the shadows created by the painting.  The shadows are not as pronounced as I would like, and the artwork needs to be brighter, but for this discussion this is what I have.

I cannot underestimate three important Artistic techniques (I hate thinking of art in terms of techniques) that make this work special.   The first technique comes from an Artist Friend, Jeff Nelson, who commented on the interesting look of the emptiness in my artworks. For some reason I never thought that the open spaces between the music was that great, until he mentioned it.  In fact my works from 2018 show me bringing the music closer together, especially in the artwork Africa.  That should have also happened with Giant Steps.  It did not.

As explained in an earlier blog entry, the second change comes from moving from a straight up and down, rise and fall look (Africa),  to a more angled, swing to the left, than swing to the right look (So What).  I believe I over calculated the effects of all those different angles.  Since the frames where already built, to reach the ends,  I ended up with larger spacing between the music.   More openness allowed the shadows from the music to extend further, the third technique, the shadows. Those shadows seemed to come alive with motion because of the effect created by the back-en-forth angles of the music, and the wider spacing that allowed them to fade out.

I first became aware of the effects of shadows in 2017 with the Bach artwork, that followed So What.  I took that artwork to an Art and Framing shop in town, for a frame, thinking that framing the Bach might make my art more acceptable to interested buyers. I now have found out that framing does not help.  The owner did not have the frame I wanted, but he took an interest in the Bach work.  He found an empty wall and hung the Bach to take a picture.  That is when he mentioned the shadows on the wall created by the Bach music.  It was that moment I understood the value of those shadows.  I do not have a copy of that picture, but here is a picture of that Bach work now framed, without the shadows.  It is in a nice custom frame, and will remain framed for now.  Even out of the frame the shadows on the Bach would not  have the same effect as they do with Giant Steps.  The Bach music is straight up and down.  It is the different angles of the music on Giant Steps, and the use of even smaller canvases than So What, that allowed more of the music to be outside the frame.

This is an exciting project that is going to open other big doors to new ideas and techniques yet to come.  So it goes.

Scott Von Holzen