I have been working on this next project since October 8th. This work will be another Interactive Constructive Sculpture or to shorten the style name this is my next Music Box construction. Yes, as mentioned in previous posts the music has now become an integral part of this art, or then again, the music has now become a separate art performance attached to a visual artwork with the same name. Names or styles do not matter. What matters is originality and capturing the attention of the viewer.
According to Wikipedia, this music was requested by Chopin to be played at his funeral. I probably first heard it in the movie The Pianist, 2002, which I do remember watching. Rediscovering it lately I didn’t think of this music being necessarily sad or tragic, but rather a great example that reaches deep into my understanding of musical appreciation. I am not talking but music that touches one’s soul. That seems meaningless to me, for just what is “one’s soul?” I cannot define it, but I can say I feel it when Ilisten to it. Here is the version from the soundtrack of the movie The Pianist, which is two minutes and twenty-six seconds in length.
Of course, to not strain a viewer’s attention span much beyond one minute, I had to do some musical chopping. I have this draft arrangement that any Chopin fan would find shabby in comparison to the original. I would agree with that. That does change what I had to do. Viewers in front of a Picasso, Van Gogh, or Rembrandt artwork would be hard-pressed to last even one minute. Currently, the music is about a minute and a half, which is long. My hope is by editing out some of the repetitious measures, and upping the pace, that the music will keep the listener’s attention from drifting. The ending is also uplifting compared to all the covers I listened to. That is to keep the viewer from dozing off.
The following is the only picture I have of this project. On a group of tables, I have laid out an idea of how the music will sweep across and beyond a six-foot-long, by two-foot canvas, it will somehow be mounted on.
Here is the not-yet-ready for prime-time arrangement of Bach’s Prelude from his first cello suite:
(Audio updated 9-23)
This music sounds better in the software I used to arrange it, which is StudioOne version 5. The section where the drums come in on the WAV file is dull compare to the original software file. I am still in the early learning stages of this software. I will make improvements, and updating this file, over the next few days before installing this stereo system in the artwork.
I am delaying the video for this artwork because I am having technical issues with a new 20 watt stereo system I will use for this artwork. That is a large upgrade from my previous system which was also stereo but only 2 watt per channel. By going to a 20 watt amplifier I can use speakers that produce a higher quality of audio reproduction to better match the value of these artworks.
My arrangement of this classic Bach music (even after I have perfected the WAV file) would not appeal to most J S Bach admirers. I understand that, and they are right, but I am an artist, and if I am to be an artist, you gotta break down barriers, push through, upset, question, and challenge the viewer to see and hear differently, and not necessarily the way I do, just different enough to turn the knob, and step through the next unknown door as a shared experience.
I will have more about this artwork in a future video, including the playing of the final audio file.
Here are the first couple of images of absolutely my last J S Bach artwork for this year. I painted this work after watching the breakdown of this outstanding classical cello piece. This is my third Bach work coming out of my temporary studio that is a free canvas based. Again, as in the other two, I have kept the background mostly white. With this third work, I have limited the range of background colors to three blues to simplify the look of the color.
This is the image of this Prélude with the topcoat and the scratching completed. I have developed a system to cleanly scratch-off the top acrylic layer of paint to reveal the base layer that is the above first image. The scratching is a lot more extensive than my previous works. I have done that to push this method forward and to better adhere to wood attachments. With this third work, I am abandoning my past, and going back to the future, which is working with wood to create a three-dimension look.
Here is a nice video version by Yo Yo Ma of J S Bach’s Cello suite Prélude:
I am not sure how this loose piece of the canvas will hold up to being moved with all the attached wooden pieces. No matter, for now, this is my direction.
Length 77″ x 20″ Canvas Size L80″ x 35″ border size 3″ around.
This is the final image of my second Bach Minuet on canvas. Both Minuet artworks share attributes in size, colors, design, and the interesting scratch technique. This artwork improves on the what the earlier Menuet figured out through trial and errors. Now for an interesting challenge. I will not stretch either of these works. That means I will have issues to solve, including how I will hang these artworks. Since I have musical arrangements for each of these Minuets, how am I going to attach the speakers, amplifier and switches. Finally, since this art rarely sells, how will I safely store these artworks? Hum?
I dropped my interactive, constructive sculpture style because of the move to my current small office studio. I am not happy painting artworks on canvas, which I see as one-dimensional. Music is my subject and portraying it works best in three dimensions. I do not have the option to return to my preferred multi-dimensional art style. That means I have been using shading and contrast to create a fake looking two-dimensional musical artworks on canvas. To finish these two canvas works, I will add the music, which will take time. Hopefully, I will use the next few days to figure out how I will keep on keeping on, moving ahead.
This Bach Minuet visually is complete. I still have to mount the music, square out the canvas, do something with the edges of the canvas, and create a mounting system so I can hang this artwork. When those steps are complete than I will sign the finish date on the back. For now, I am putting this project aside to start its companion piece, another Bach Minuet. When I finished installing the music on these two pieces that will be, for now, the last of my Bach projects. I am all Bached out. Any future Classical Music works I will turn first to my favorites, Vivaldi or Mozart.
Until then here is my current arrangement of my the unfinished music for this project, Bach Minuet in G Major:
As for this style of art, I feel it differs to such an extant from this year’s previous artworks, that in a way they seem more like vacation projects. Except although my vacation home may be on the lake, it is a fishing lake and I don’t fish, and there’s no air conditioning. So it goes. It always does. It always will.
This is a near image completion of J. S. Bach’s famous Minuet in G major. I learned later that this music was composed by Christian Petzoldand. This is a video of a fast pace version of the music:
If this music sounds familiar to you that means you are about my age. Here is a video of the 1965 hit, A Lover’s Concerto, by the Toys:
The image above is of my new temporary studio. It is about 150 square feet in space. An enormous help for space, not seen in the photo, is a wall of adjustable bookshelves where I store my painting supplies. The ceiling is a marvelous eleven feet in height. At less this time I have some natural light, compared with my 2016 temporary studio. My only other lighting comes from a five light fan of which I have ungraded two of the bulbs to floods aimed at the artwork. Still, the lighting is bad. This makes judging my efforts a learning process, not helped by the lack of room to step back to view this larger work. I confronted the reality of my temporary studio when I read this line from a book by David Byrne about his band, the Talking Heads: “Ive always liked creative restrictions, and here, happily, many were already in place.” I’ll check that off.
This image one shows an art that has shifted direction because my current studio is being shut down for a move to a different home, this time in the country. This change includes the construction of a new and larger studio. The start time for the studio construction is uncertain. That means from now until completion I will make artworks in temporary locations, in compact spaces. Adding to the lack of a real studio, I have become increasingly board with this art current direction and it physical and time demands which have exhausted me. This has resulted in my sudden and required abandonment of my much favorite three-dimensional path. For now, I will return to the world of two-dimensional primed canvas. The ability to play the music the artwork is portraying will remain. How I will add all the hardware to play and hear the music on canvas will be an interesting challenge: I will not stretch the finished artwork. Over the past 14 plus years, I have been painting music and finding solutions for every obstacle to keep pushing this artwork style stubbornly forward. That is the quick story.
The effects of Covid-19 have eliminated in-person art exhibitions or turned them into virtual exhibitions (I waste of my time), for nobody knows how long. That does not work for this art. My paintings/sculptures need to be seen, touched, and heard by tens-of-thousands of people before they will have a minuscule chance of being taken seriously. That means, for now, until this virus is under control, I am punched out.
Scott Von Holzen
Here is part of the longer story.
The first image shows a similarity to the artwork Where Have All the Flowers Gone. The second image shows how I have covered up this by applying my scratch technique. This results in me randomly scrapping away parts of the top paint layer to review the background colors (An example of this method is the artwork I Will)
What makes this project different is that I have never tested this scratch-off technique on unstretched canvas. I originally thought this technique would only remain stable and not peel away on wood or stretched canvas. Because of that reasoning, I was not planning to use my scratch-off technique on an upstretched canvas. I changed my mind when I realized I had no other option. My old techniques for applying paint to my backgrounds now seemed dated. With the coming studio move, I found out that the supplies I need were already packed away. I bought replacements for it excited me to learn how my scratch-off technique would stand up on the loose canvas. To my surprised, it worked. Each time I have used this technique, I am unsure how it will turn out. It is not until I take my finger nail or a pallet knife and scrap the top layer of paint off do I believe. To my delight on this rougher finished and heavy prime canvas the top paint layer had the right amount of adhesion that it allows me to easily scraped off the paint. I created pencil wide back-and-forth scraps that created a look of dramatic movement across the canvas. The second image shows my results. Now, I have noticed days later I can still remove the top layer of paint, but its adherence is greater. That is good.
This is another even earlier part of this lengthy story.
These first images of this Bach Minuet will be a part of a two artwork project. Earlier this Spring The Interculture Art Inc. in Japan, which I have sent other Bach works to in the past, requested two more Bach artworks. Issues began when there was a delay in information, probably because of Covid-19. Here is the original Etsy Store conversation sent on May 12th:
Hi,Scott How are you? I’d like to ask you to make new works. I would like to request the production of two pieces to decorate a hotel. I would like these works to arrive in Japan by mid-June, so I would like you to ship them by the end of May. The size of both works is w78.74 inches and H19.685 inches. Since it will be attached to a panel with a thickness of 1.18 inches, please allow enough space for the attachment. (It would be nice if there is a margin of 2.36 inches for each side. So, please make the size of the whole paper with W83.46 inches H24.405 inches.) They will not be attached frames at this time, so please draw the continuation of the picture for the side of the panel. Can you make a picture like the attached images? There are two works, a whitish one and a colorful one. The theme of the hotel is Bach, a classical composer. Please draw a picture of the score of Bach’s music. The hotel owner may be familiar with Bach and we have to tell him “This is Bach’s music and work’s title”.I look forward to hearing from you.best wishes Yamakawa
I sent him this reply: Yamakawa, I have a heavy prime canvas piece that has a width of W86 inches (218cm) and with no issues with the height and needed extra canvas you requested. Shipping by June 8th will make the difference. The end of May would be difficult for I have other obligations to meet. I believe I have two wonderful Bach music pieces for the hotel. Interestingly, I am working on one of them a Bach Minuet BWV 1067 mv 6 which is a dance, but in my current style. I will use this music but revert to my much older method according to the two artwork examples you sent. My second selection is another dance Minuet in G-Major-BWV-Anh-114. This Bach music is easily the most recognizable by the public.
What convinced me to take on this project is that I had in storage a roll of a heavy-duty primed canvas that was large enough to create two Bach artworks to the measurements required. I told Yamakawa that my price would be $1000.00 for each artwork plus shipping. He agreed, but needed to confirm the order with the client. It was not until early June before my next contact where the plan appeared to be changing. Their ultimate decision was to go with two prints from artworks of any Bach music. My problem was I had no Bach artworks that came close to the style and colors that they wanted. They also needed them delivered by earlier July. By the time I received their last request, my studio move was already in progress and set for mid-July. I thanked him and declined their offer. We both hoped that there will come another opportunity to work together.
That left me with the possibility to use up the canvas that had been lying around my storage for years. That idea and the soon lost of my studio meant that I could change the way I made my artworks. What convinced me I needed a change came from my growing frustration over the sizeable time and effort that each of my latest projects has required. It takes easily over a month and from 40 to 60 or more hours a week’s worth of effort to finish one artwork, and for what result? This year the results for all my efforts to finish new artworks has been I get to take a nice photograph of my finished artwork. I then put it on side easels in the studio until it gets in the way, or its ideas are no longer needed. It then goes in storage with the other hundred plus other artworks that I have rarely seen over the years. I then start the next project and everything repeats. So, why not go back to doing easel work using canvas instead of custom wood pieces? This could be a fresh opportunity to try ideas on a simpler two-dimensional platform that will include music. Japan would not have wanted the music. They only needed something artsy to fill a space on a wall. At this moment lets us begin the lost chapter of this still unfolding story of one guy with one purpose, and one goal to find out. Did he make it?
This is the third image of J.S. Bach: Orchestral Suite No.2 in B Minor, BWV 1067. All the music is in place. Every section of the music can move up or down with a loosening of a wingnut. The two middle pieces in the lower section have the added ability to move left or right besides up and down. This art has become interactive with a push of a button that plays the theme music for the artwork. Now, I have expanded the interactiveness of these artworks. Instead of a viewer being only allowed to touch the artwork’s push button and then stand back to listen to the music, they can now loosen a wingnut and change the look of the artwork. How interesting is that? Now sure. But, I am sure that having this option to move the music about, connects this artwork to the malleability that is music. Now that is interesting.
Here is another YouTube video from XiomMusic of this very catchy (minus the repeating) Bach Minuet:
My lovely wife asked me why I was doing this? I saw that question as why spend a considerable amount of time adding this moveable feature? Besides, losing time, solving the many problems adding motion causes and not knowing for what purpose, I had no answers. The ability to move the music around the artwork adds nothing to its meaning. That we both could agree with. My response was ” ’cause I can?” Not an answer I could defend. She did not ask me to. Now I can.
If I may borrow a title given too many of Kandinsky’s artworks, “improvisation”, that is what I should add to the title of this artwork. For me, improvisation means experimental. This is what this artwork is all about, beyond the music it represents. I am in the mood for change. I have grown tired of creating more 2019 art and want a fresh look for 2020. Although, for many, I am wondering if this will be the year they wish to forget and end. For me, not so much. Time is what I need a lot of, for this artwork needs explanation. The time I have left in 2020 will not be used to search out group venues and to create works that match some made-up theme. For this year, none of that. I have lost my motivation to show. For the rest of 2020 I am tired of the same-oh-same-oh and want another way to represent music. This artwork, for all of it still stuck in 2019 aspects, is going somewhere else. Hi, ho silver! The masked artist is making a move.
This is the first image of a Bach Menuet on a two foot by four foot canvas, the largest that I have used in years. This music will be in two sections, top and bottom, which will spill over the side edges.
I have a stockpile of stretched canvas in many sizes I collected years ago. Many of them are large. That came about because of the momentum created by Vivaldi’s Four Seasons series. This group of thirteen giant paintings took almost three years to complete, from 2012 to early 2015. All of them required multiple canvases bolted and screwed together. That allowed me to create artworks for this series from 10 to 20-feet. That was years ago. What I paint today looks nothing like the Vivaldi group. I know this art is early it in evolution, but will I ever use up the vast majority of my larger stock canvases. I don’t think so. The advantage of using a larger canvas for this project has little to do with the music or my canvas inventory. All my previous works from early 2019 to my latest I Will, are similar in style. I felt enough of that. That is when, for this project almost randomly, I pick a 2 by 4 canvas for a change. My other reason to use a bigger canvas was to give me more space to test out my new scratch-off technique still in development.
After painting my big canvas in the tradition of 1950s Abstraction, I glued on a canvas copy of Bach’s two page original manuscript of this Menuet. I followed this by covering the entire canvas, using a process, that when done and dry, allowed me to scrap off areas of the top layer of paint. This then reveals my abstract1950s background. I am still experimenting with this scrapping technique, finding that some areas scrapped off as expected and other parts did not.
The dictionary spelling of minuet differs from Bach’s spelling which is menuet. I have read on Wikipedia that a minuet is a social dance with a 17th century French origin. Bach’s best known minuet (written by Christian Petzold) became a pop hit titled “A Lover’s Concerto,” This is BWV Anh114:
I did not go that direction. Maybe next time (which may come sooner than I first thought). Instead, here is the YouTube video titled, J.S. Bach- Suite No.2 in B minor, BWV 1067: Menuet mvt. 6. I have a draft of my music for this artwork. Since this song repeats all parts, I like the Tempo of this version for it moves this music along. I also like my forty-five second version of this music.
I picked this minuet for its simplicity and the entire song is has a lot of nice “hooks.” that kept my interest.