S_V_H Just Another Day & Beethoven’s 5th

Just Another Day L68.5″xH45″xD6″

This video, of course, is a two-dimensional display of a three-dimensional artwork while the sound heard is a reproduction of the actual music. This artwork needs to be viewed in person to grasp its physical size, depth, and the sound production that is generated from within the canvases. That speaks to a key problem I have with what I now define as Sculptural Music Boxes, or SMBs

I will store this work with the previous project, Your Song, for now, in the studio behind the main easels. And like Your Song, I will use this artwork as a reference. Otherwise, I have no plans for a public exhibition of it or of any other artworks. I have come to a display halt hesitant to show these works in public. Some of that feeling comes from the disruption caused by COVID, when all exhibitions either went away, or came back as an unexceptable virtual event. The rest comes from within.

What am I to do with my Etsy storefront where I once listed dozens of artworks for sale? Since I open that store I have sold 14 items. The first year I sold seven artworks with the first selling for $260 in early 2014. The two most expensive paintings I sold occurred the following year, one for $1045 and the other for $1050. Then sales slowed to one here, one there. The last artwork, a commissioned work, I sold through Etsy in late 2017 for $575 dollars. Looking at the site, I see I let 50 listings expire in 2019 and put 21 in inactive status. My pricing range for the expired listings was from $325 to $2,800, plus a small shipping charge that varied, but was under $100. That reminds me of my local gallery experience when finally, after hanging and expensive work for a long time, I exchanged it out with two smaller pieces priced under $1000 each to see if cost was the issue. In time, the Gallery asked me to remove them. They knew what I have known: I don’t sell.

All those previous artworks were standard two-dimensional canvases and not interactive. My current artworks are all three-dimensional and interactive, which makes them a lot more complicated, expensive, and fragile to handle. The thought of trying to ship one of these new artworks in some kind of packaging bubble that would be required concerns me. It would not only be a timely endeavor, it would be an expensive package to produce, costing hundreds of dollars to ship. Then my next issue would be the unpacking after it arrives at its destination. Who and how will they unpack the artwork? Will they hang it safely? Finally, will the music actually play? I am speaking from experience of handing each of these artworks. I have had equal concerns with exhibition professionals handling these artworks and have communicated directly with them to insure all goes as expected. Trying to explain, or fix, or help or understand a buyer on a phone, a thousand miles away, whom I know little about, reminds me of a past that is that, past. Add in that selling on Etsy comes with high customer satisfied bar and what do I do if the customer is not happy? That too I would rather leave in the past.

Although all this hassle is to be expected when selling online, I believe no amount of financial compensations would overcome the complications and the difficulties of selling, packaging, and customer satisfaction needed to sell. I know what I know and that known is no matter what; I don’t sell. Updating this artwork store would end up being nothing more than a vanity Etsy store, with monthly renewal bills from Etsy. COVID is going out the door; I am going to shut the door on this store. For now.

For my next project. I have decided for no particular reason to challenge myself with the opening movement of Beethoven’s fifth Symphony number 5. I actually painted an artwork that sold in 2014 from this movement.

Beethoven’s 5th, rough draft audio (BEST HEARD WITH VOLUME UP) first 7 minute movement finely trimmed to 1:33 seconds.
Beethoven’s 5th symphony 2008. I believe this looks to be a 3×5 foot artwork.
This is the on the floor canvas guide setup for the Beethoven 5th project.
Image from the LACMA Exhibition catalog Frank Gehry

The building pictured is by Frank Gehry. I am planning on using the building’s facade and colors on the main three foot by four-foot canvas in the setup image. For the two smaller side speakers’ canvases, I am considering a Beethoven quote. So it is to be.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Just Another Day image 3

Just another Day L64″xH44″xD6″

This is the project Just Another Day, with the artwork music in place. I changed the original design by dropping the bottom canvas lower, which allows easier access for attaching the music.

The Dancing house images from the LACMA exhibition catalog.

I have found the inspiration for this artwork in the architecture of Frank Gehry. It is his freedom from standard architectural rules, made possible through computer software, that allows him to create the buildings that match his imagination. His accomplishments give me the encouragement to break completely from any of my own artificial limitations I made up for this art. Now what works for me, I will make work for these artworks. That sounds simple, but the getting to this understanding has taken years.

The definition of this art starts with sheet music and accordion lessons when I was seven. My appreciation of music has grown ever since, including the grasping of music theory and my interest in learning to play different musical instruments. It was knowing the fundamentals of reading sheet music that I discovered a unique painting technique.

Before I started painting music, I searched “art in music” and what I found were paintings of people playing musical instruments, or abstract images given a title of a song. I chose a different way to paint music by using the up and down flow of a song seen in its sheet music. I felt I could paint this approach if I kept this art to only representing this movement. I wanted the viewer to visualize the music in an artwork built around a song’s pitch changes, and not a painting of sheet music. Now, with Frank Gehry’s creative push over-the-ledge, I am letting go of those artistic restraints that have forever defined these music works. It just took me forever to get to this point of seeing the value of Gehry’s designs, along with a little help from Bach.

I see Gehry’s finish, especially his commercial projects, as high craft, especially in his use of speculator materials like titanium. I do not consider my artwork high craft and do not present them that way. I understand the beauty and high craftsmanship of great art that is favored. I just think it is a waste of time and has little to do with my message. I see my approach, for example, in the varied model pictures of Frank Gehry’s “the Dancing House.” I feel these models harmonize better with my artistic style. Add to that a little help from a rediscovered 2020 Bach project.

J S Bach Minuet 1067

This Bach artwork was experimental, for it allowed me to slide the music sections about using mounted arms. Those two white mounted arms in the lower middle of the artwork are examples of what I used to connect the music to with bolts and wing nuts. When loosen, this then allows the music to slide up and down those arms. This Bach work is the first attempt at what I now take for granted. The problem back then was how to secure the arms of the artwork, which turned out to be not reliable.

It was the CVA show the summer of 2021, that this Bach artwork got the worse of it, coming home with pieces of it in a tote. This artwork was a mess, and an irritation that I ignored for months. The worse issue was the mounting arms that pushed out the music a lot further from the canvas. This exposure and the weakness of the mounts resulted in more parts of the artwork being loosened or even falling off at the show and breaking loose on the U-Haul truck rental drive home. Eventually to store, I repaired the damaged from the CVA show. It surprised me I was only missing one small piece. Although still fragile to the touch, I took what I have learned since its build to strengthen the attachment of the artwork to the canvases.

After the repairs were done, I took another look at this work, and how the music stood out three inches from the canvas surface. This distance creates an amazing look of depth lost in a picture. Also, the beautiful curved white shapes give a superior strong look of motion across the artwork.

Taking my current mood, the depth and style of the Bach’s work, and Gehry’s let-it-all-hang-out style, the results are in. Just another Day’s looks results from the largest canvas being painted like the look of corrugated sheet metal, the curving of wood pieces, and an eighteen-inch steel plate, resulting in an artwork with a depth of six inches.

I believe in my early days of group exhibitions, I could only find one standard art genre name that fit somewhat, which was Mixed Media. When I added a push button to play the music, the artwork was portraying, I then went all-art-genre-in and came up with the description of Interactive constructive sculpture. I now have simplified this genre down to Sculptural Music box. We will see how long that lasts.

Up next, I will work on the installation of the stereo system, which will complete this music box project.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Just Another Day Image 1

This color theme comes from a building. I will explain.
The setup
This is an advanced version of the music box software created in the StudioOne DAW software.

Just Another Day is music by Jon Secada. Here is a better live video and sound presentation from a Stound Stage performance in 2017. This music was originally released in 1992.

This music is not a classic from my past. I do not remember if I ever listened to it when it was first released. It is a nice catchy pop tune that I thought I could work with. I have new drum software and this music has a simpler drum beat to start the learning process. Also, I wanted to do a smaller artwork and the song’s chorus length works for the artwork and the cover music.
I must admit that I have forgotten any other motivations I could have for painting this music. Many of my music choices just happen. I probably heard this song on a Spotify Daily Mix, and it fit the mood and the size of the music I wanted to paint.

The plan was to use canvases from my ample stock for this project. These blog images and the audio sums up what I have been doing, for 60 to 70 plus hours 7 days a-week, since the middle of February. The smaller image is the setup for this project. I should have done that on Your Song. One goal of Just Another Day was to reduce the over length of the artwork by placing the speakers inside the artwork and not attaching them to the outside. This would create a smaller size work easier to store when that time comes, and it will. This project will be under six feet by four feet in height. Because of the limits of these four canvases, I had to cut back my original music sample. When laid out, the artwork music stretched to ten feet.

As for the larger blog photo, the colors and the design come from these Images from the LACMA Museum exhibition catalog, Frank Gehry. Not only has this art style been influenced by dead artists: Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko, Henri Matisse, and Jackson Pollock, it also has many other influencers, including the living architect, Frank Gehry. On the large canvas, the striping did not photograph well with the iPhone. The silver color looks awful, while the contrasting color is a lighter shade of black, meant to represent the Gehry image of corrugated metal.

As for the cover music, I am astounded by what I have accomplished with the software. Even though what I am doing is basic, simple, fairly straightforward, and nothing that anyone could not also do. I cannot help but being pleased with my growth and understanding of digital music, created using the (DAW) StudioOne. So it can be.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Your Song final follow up

Your song with the music in place.

The following video I had to do in two parts. While filming, I carelessly removed the music from the background. This resulted in a magnet falling and damaging the sound board part of the stereo system. The sound board holds the music file and enables me to connect a switch that, when pressed, plays the music. That accident required the soldering and putting together of a replacement sound board that was then rewired to the amplifier, which was not damaged.

The Peter Principal states that “what can go wrong, will go wrong,” What makes that logic even more obvious and true was that I knew well that easy access and a low profile made the stereo components vulnerable to accidents. For now, until I can come up with a better design, I added a simple cover of light bubble wrap over the entire stereo system to deflect and absorb contacting.

Here is a picture of the stereo system used for the music box of Your Song.

This artwork project could be a sign that I may revisit the use of stretched canvases. I like their strong support structure for the music, along with their ease of handling and cost savings. I also have a lot of canvas stock from previous purchases that I do not want to waste.

My custom combination of metal framing and free flowing canvases cut to size eliminated a frustration of the limited sizes of stretched canvas that comes with the benefit of cost, and time savings. over making my own frames and stretching the canvas. That means I will continue to use and take advantage of the freedom of this technique, to breakup, and counter the boxy closed look of traditional stretched canvas.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Your Song Final image & music

Your Song L102″xH31″xD3.5″
The background artwork L100.5xH24″

Your Song, which I started with composing the cover music on December 26th, is now finished.

The piano is the foundation that carries the cover music for Your Song. While the violin, viola, flute and the added clarinet are the voices of this music. I have decent four inch speakers, but with so many instruments competing to be heard, the music sounded a little muddy. It needed clarity. I found the issue probably was with a narrow band of the lower mid range. I improved what I could after first removing all my questionable equalizer settings. I then adjusted the master volume headroom, and finished with small volume tweaks here-and-there. That all helped enough to get to this final music version posted below.

This video is full of wandering opinions and my thoughts on this music box project and the cover music.
Slightly different from the video music here is the current final of the final music cover for the music box, Your Song.

I am a little amazed by how much the audio for this music boxes has continuously improved with each new project. As my understanding of music and this art has deepened over the years, I have also noticed a change in me. I am today hard wired to music and art that would have been beyond my dreams as a youngling when I started painting music in early 2006.

I feel blessed that my Guardian Angel saved me, which made possible the growth of my determination that sprang from a heritage starting with my Grandpa Casper first coming to America and his hard work to build a life in the cheese business, my father’s determination to create his own version of the great American business executive, and my Mothers sparkling, and enlightening personality. They laid out the foundation. They showed the way. I found the path.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Your Song image 4

The project Your Song layout laid out on the floor.

I ran into a problem of my creation by not calculating the project’s length. Until recently, I would count the number of notes and the spacing between each, and that total would give me an accurate project length. I would then put together the size of the background needed to support the music. Lately, instead of lining up my music in straight rows across the canvas, I have been stacking my music in an up and down zip-zag pattern. By doing this, I use more of the artwork’s vertical space. The benefit is I can then overlap the music. This can then reduce the require length of canvases. The trade off is the zip-zag method has variables a straight line does not. That then makes it difficult to estimate the final length of the project, and only a guess if the music will fit the background. That happened with this project. The music did not fit. It then took considerable time to find the solution. I finally had to calculate what my actual length of the music would be laid end to end. That turned out to be twelve and a-half feet. My four original prepped canvases had a combine length of six feet four inches. No wonder the music would not fit. The solution ended up being increasing the length of the background.

The original Your song canvases now with added bolted on black canvases. The last artwork that used bolts is When Doves Cry, in 2017.

This project now comprises three additional canvases that are bolted to the original design. The last project that use bolts was the 2017 artwork When Doves Cry. What also complicates the size of these artworks is that I need to make sure that any signal piece does not exceed the maximum length of seventy-two inches by twenty-four. That is the space I have in my car.

I have to say I actually knew I would be length poor and in trouble once I had the music in a rough draft. Since I had already finished, the background canvases I first considered attaching angled aluminum between the two center canvases, for a max length of 72 inches, and the speaker canvases to reach the length needed. The problem was the short length of my music sections. They fell into the space the aluminum created. I found no practical method to float the music. Finally, to attach the music, I went the easy way by adding canvases. Since I had already finished my background, I took another shortcut by painting the added canvases a shade of black with a lighter black glaze. To my surprise, I liked the contrast of the background canvases. I see more of this idea being used in future projects, and wondered if this logic is unique in the five-hundred years of canvas painting.

After years of trying to follow the worn artist path to victory, I am now going with Robert Frost and these lyrics by Ricky Nelson from the Song, Gardan Party:

“And it’s all right now, yeah
Learned my lesson well
You see, you can’t please everyone
So you got to please yourself”

I simplified the thought behind these words to four piano notes: A4, F4, A4 D4. My first song with these lyrics: My art, my rules.

So it is.
Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Your Song image 3

This is the last stage of my scratching technique, when I draw in the words. I dislike art that includes words to enhance the works’ lack of purpose. My words go with the music. They are there because they belong. They exist to add interest and offer the viewer the option to choose their meanings. I have always applied words in that way. If the music has words, I like to use them. I see them as decorative graffiti. I then scratch through them. This technique downplays their value and covers my print writing, which is awful, but important. My hand writing connects me to the artwork, not unlike Jackson’s Pollack hand print on his canvas.

I should mention how I choose the colors for this artwork. The background color ideas that appear through the scratching, and the top white layer of white, come from Elton John’s outfit in an early video of Your Song. The silver I used for the words I found in the glasses of Lady Gaga’s performance of Your Song at the 2018 Grammies.

Elton John’s live 1971 performance of Your Song.

This is a technical note: This image above is after the scratching was done. Issues are continuing with getting a clean scratching across the entire canvases. The top layer, in places, is rubbery. That means the pallet knife tears the top layer instead of clean ripping it away. This issue could be caused by the thickness of the paint, or that it needs longer drying time. The solution is further complicated by the rubbery issue not being consistent across the canvas. What is known is that as the days pass, the top layer firms up on the artworks and my test canvases. Letting the top layer of paint cure for maybe weeks, with testing, could be an answer, except that does not work for me. I live with each of these projects until finished. Only when completed do I start the search for the next music project. Hum, so the choice is?

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Gallery pickup comments

Top Beethoven’s 5th then Mozart’s serenade No. 13

This was what I saw when visited the Gallery where I have had artworks on and off displayed for sale since 2017.

The picture I took when I was about to leave. The Music teacher was on the left and a candy store on the right. Both are now gone along with my artworks.

I took part in two one day shows at the Gallery back in my old Art Fair days. I was asked and had a month long show then in March 2018. When that show was finished, the Gallery manager, Christy (a loyal supporter) hung on to a few of my works. Eventually, she gave me a more permanent spot to hang next door to a music teacher in March 2019. Later, because nothing sold, I removed and hung the wonderful artwork, Africa. That also did not sell. I replaced Africa with two of my smallest works, a little Beethoven and a Mozart piece. I priced them to sell even though the Gallery would take 40 percent of the sale. They did not.

Christy and I talked and neither of us had any honest ideas about why this art did not sell. She mentioned another gallery that had new owners. I told her I would be embarrassed asking them to sell this art when years have gone by at her gallery with any offers. I told her I would be back when the circle comes around. She said hopefully to display this art again. So that is what it is.

Scott von Holzen

(I searched my bog entries, but I found nothing about the story told to me by the music teacher when I stopped in to replace Africa. He said he was sad to see it go, for his students would press the play button on Africa to let him know they had arrived. He said he would post a picture of Africa on his Facebook page. Maybe some day I will remember or find out who he was and post that image)

S_V_H Your Song first image

This is the first image of Your Song, my next music box, featuring the music of Elton John Your Song. Like all of my first images, this one will disappear under a top coat of paint. Only then will it be reviewed when I scratch off parts of that top layer of paint. As I have said, this bottom layer I can paint anything a prodigy would paint. I choose to go with narrow and vertical colors because my scratching is strongly horizontal. This creates a pleasant flow of colors across the canvas.

With this project I am gong anti Robert Frost and diverging down a road most traveled. I have a large amount of stretched canvases that have been stacked away for years. Lately my music boxes have used loose canvas attached to an aluminum frame, and connected to stretched canvas speaker boxes. This work uses all stretched canvases, with two 24 inch by 30 inch, and two 8 inch by 24 inch canvases. I may separate the two 30 inch center canvases with angled aluminum once I calculate the length of the music to be attached.

I have a large stack of stretched canvases. I also was tired of handling loose canvas, which requires a frame to attach to with magnets. When finished assembling my loose canvas artworks, they resembled my stretched canvases works, without the stretching part. The loose canvas style advantage is I can create custom sizes. With bought stretched canvas I have many size choices, but not all sizes are available. Because I do not have the time to build custom frames and then stretch canvases, I ended up purchasing many stretched canvases sizes as a workaround. That ended up, regrettably, with me storing an extensive collection of canvas that can sit for years, and taking even more years to use up.

The final rough draft of this music box cover of Your Song.

Back in my college days, I bought albums, with little monies to spare, at the local record shop on State Street. While in college, I probably first heard of Elton John listening to Your Song on the radio. I did not think that much of him to buy the album.

The record albums that I bought (in no particular order) that come to mind around the late sixties and early 1970s of my college years, are the great album Déjà vu – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 1970 release, Mad Dogs & Englishmen – Joe Cocker 1970, The Who – Live at Leeds 1970, and probably Tommy 1969 release, Cream Wheels of Fire 1968 release, also in my first year 1968 in the dorm when I heard Laura Nyro’s album Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. My top favorite record in the dorm was Blood, Sweat & Tears – Blood, Sweat & Tears 1968, Switched-on Bach 1968 release, The Beatles – White Album November 1968, Woodstock 1970, Sweet Baby James – James Taylor release 1970, Pearl – Janis Joplin 1971 release date that was the last album I bought before college graduation, and my motorcycle trip out west. I also bought a great album Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon and Garfunkel 1970 release, that was given to me just before graduation, just out of college Barbra Joan Streisand – Barbra Streisand 1971, and finally Tumbleweed Connection – Elton John 1970 release date while still in college.

I finally bought into Elton John with his record album Tumbleweed Connection because it appealed to what I will call my version of country classic rock, placing it right up there, with Déjà vu. Great songs from beginning to end. This was followed by my favorite from beginning to end Elton John’s album, Madman Across the Water.

All those albums and more that I have forgotten connect all together to me musically. That is why I still play Elton John’s music on Spotify, and probably why Your Song was an easy pick to paint, especially after watching Lady Gaga’s revival at the 2018 Grammies.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Your Song, final music rough cut

This is the third and last of my cover music rough cuts using the notation software, Notion. The sheet music will be the worksheet that will guide me through the building of this artwork.

My artwork musical covers are about the music and not so much about the lyrics. It is about creating a portrait of a song, melody first, not the lyrics, especially with these music boxes. My thinking was different for this project.

My cover of Your Song begins with the third verse. That start was chosen because of the lyrics “I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss….” When I hear those words, I flash back to a wonderful artwork I did in 2013, and sold, through the help of my cherished brother Roger Von Holzen. That artwork was, Up on the roof. Here is the search link to the artwork’s story. It was Lady Gag’s updated version of Your Song, and those words that reminded me of Up on the Roof, that convinced me to paint this music. It is hard to explain my connection to Up on the Roof, but it was then, and still today, it remains meaningful.

Up on the Roof 2013
Carole king wrote this song and a favorite artist of mine, James Taylor, made it a hit.

I built my cover music of Your Song by first connecting the original piano intro to the third verse. From there it was about capturing the character of the song while editing away everything that either got in the way or was repeating what my cover already covered. My editing can be harsh. I have to be to keep my music under the one minute thirty second limit. Of course, quality is a loss with my slash and burning off of a 4:04 minute Elton John’s song, down to less than 1:30 minutes. That is a price. The return is the challenge and teaching lessons with each of these portraits, and the growing connection between the visual and performance arts. This is an opportunity I am thankful to have. So it is.

Scott Von Holzen

This is my final rough cut version of the Music Box music for Your Song. The absolute final-final will be created after I import this music into Studio One for editing.