S_V_H Play that Song Final

Play That Song L72″x46″xD4″

I started Play that Song on May 17th. The artwork was finished in early July. The artwork project was completed with the adding of the music and the signing and dating on August 25th. This is the only artwork project that was completed in 2021. The only other artwork I have finished was After the Gold Rush, at the end of February in Minnesota. Although I completed the music for this artwork, I never built the framed or created the sound system. All that never happened because we were getting ready to leave. On March 1st we returned home back to Wisconsin.

Here is my YouTube video discussing this artwork. The music still sounds “catchy” to this day. That convinces me that after all these months spent on this project the choice of music holds well.

To add to the video review of Play that Song, here are some of the technical improvements that were made. My aluminum frame for this artwork now using one inch angle instead of three-quarter used previously. That makes for a stronger, stiffer frame for the artwork. Moving the speakers out from behind the artwork to in front allows the artwork to sit closer to the wall. The pastel colors I chose for the canvas framed speakers and the controller box, I have used before in early artworks. The pastels were used on small pieces of the artwork. I never had the concern if the pastel colors actually work with the overall color scheme of the artwork. Being an old school photographer, I was always looking for interesting contrasts, so that is where the pastels come in. Besides, the music having its own color scheme and its outside placement on this work allows displays its independence from the artwork.

The challenge remains: how do I, or don’t I, connect the art, the music, and the artist. That mystery still lies deep, only partially uncovered. The last improvement is the first time use of magnets instead of glue to connect the wooden music pieces to the canvas frame. Although the magnets can cause damage to the top coat of paint, their easy removal releases the wood pieces, which better protects the canvas when being moved. The idea of gluing rigid wood pieces to a foldable piece of canvas, and then trying to handle that canvas without having the wood tear loose, is absurd. Especially when I am still using an experimental layering of top paint that needs to be easily scraped off, and takes time to harden.

On September 2nd we will take this artwork to be exhibited in the important fall art exhibition at the Pablo Annual. In 2019, to my surprise, The Blue Danube took third place. Surprisingly not, nothing came from that moment in the light event. Now, two years later and the payment of a twenty-dollar exhibition fee, we will give it another try. I hate pay-to-display events, but I want to convince the Pablo that it is time to schedule this art for a one person show. That means I need to keep myself in their face while working to convince them that my combination of art and music fits well with the Pablo’s overall approach to the arts. I am going to make this happen, knowing that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. What grease and this art have in common I am not aware of, but that metaphor pops up from memory like “Once there was this little old ant who thought he could move a rubber tree plant.” From the time I first heard this song to today I have considered myself to be one of those stubborn son-of-a-bitch ants. So it is. So it goes. So goes I.

Scott Von Holzen

Play that Song, the Artwork, finished

These are the words with the music. I am not displaying lyrics, only words. In the early days artworks had a word or two. In time that changed as their number became more common and complicated. That was when a remembrance came to mind.

In my earlier summer job days I worked at my father’s car and truck dealership doing whatever I was told to do. While there I was in awe of the sign painter and his beautiful hand lettering who painted the customers’ truck doors. I thought of him when adding words became increasingly important. Seeing back to his slow motion painting and precision lines influenced my lettering style and personalize my the font style I used. It was as if I was assuming the position as a lettering painter. My artwork word standard became a challenging and time-consuming task. For example, I wanted to make sure all the letters looked similar and had the right width, height and spacing.

It was only recently when I was going to fill entire canvases with words that I came convinced that my precision letters and the time this type of lettering required no longer made sense. My alternative because a looser and more like my natural hand printing style. Besides, I thought after painting all the words, my next step would be to take a pallet knife and scrape parts of them away. I added another reason for my lettering change with this project.

When standing back from the artwork and seeing the words, the thought came to me: I was looking at graffiti. Now, I do not know if that is the right description for graffiti artists certainly are better word craftspeople, and better at using more elaborate fonts. Maybe my wording is more a reflection of the hand printing style used by Jean Michel Basquiat who was not a graffiti artist. All the words in this artwork are in my natural abstract graffiti style, which fits this music filmed in the city and works with the darker background and the scrapping.

The image above is the artwork in a near finished look. This is the first artwork using the technique where the music is held onto the canvas with magnets. When I hung the art pieces to the canvas, to take a photo for an exhibition, I knew the top coat of paint was still sensitive to scratching and could easily be damaged by the pressure of the magnets. Now days later, as the top coat is hardening, I am testing lighter strength magnets with different covers to prove that they are a viable hanging option that can be easily moved and removed.

I have not signed it yet, nor have I built the aluminum frame that enables it to by hung and supports the music. I was in a hurry. I wanted to meet the deadline for a major local show at the Pablo in Confluence Center in Eau Claire. My submission application made it in on the 24th meeting the deadline. My current stand is to not do group exhibitions, especially if there is an entrance fee, but this show is the exception. It is the most important art show in this area and more so I want a one-person show from the Pablo. This is an example of pay to play ($20 entrance fee) and playing to find a way.

Part of the Exhibition application

I will know by July 30th if this artwork makes it in the Jurored exhibition. I will then build the frame and add the music. The drop off is not till September. Otherwise, it will go to storage, and I will have another reason to hate group exhibitions.

Scott Von Holzen

SVH Play that Song 1st image

This is the first image of the artwork Play that Song from the music by the band Train. This is what I call the back image. I picked two shades of blue that represent the sky in the video. Since this blog is taking forever to write below is another image of the final top layer of paint, which consists of two coats of Bone Black and a third which is a more here-and-there coat of Payne’s Gray.

Image from the new Studio under construction.

The image above with the two examples of the attached music is a proof-of-concept test. I wanted to confirm that I can use magnets to attach the music to the canvas. This would then make it considerably easier to store and move the artwork about. Using magnets to attach the loose canvas to a frame, and magnets to attach the music to the canvas creates a constructed and assemblage artwork.

My past artworks using the scratch of technique involved attaching the wooden music to the soft and vulnerable top layer with glue. Making things worse, the canvas is attached with magnets to the support frame and not stretched. The attaching anything permanently to what is a loose piece of canvas to a layer of fresh paint that can be scrapped off, can be a challenge. Even with careful handling, the attached music can tear away from the top layer of paint and canvas. A solution was that by scrapping down to the original background canvas the glue in those contact areas would hold to the canvas. I am also seeing some evidence that over time the top paint layer may harden enough to diminish the attachment issue. Using magnets attached to the wooden underside of the music and then attached to other magnets placed on the backside of the canvas, eliminates the need for glue, and creates a secure, and a safer to move temporary hold of the music to the canvas.

This is the top background image. Once I paint on the words for the artwork I will then scrap this layer of paint, to reveal the blue and white original background.

This top image differs from my past efforts in that some areas of the background still show through. That happened because I only applied three layers of paint to cover the back layer. In the past I would apply many more layers until the background image was completely covered. I have given up on that idea. I don’t know why I was thinking I needed a solid cover background, other than that would be a traditional art technique that others would approve of. But I was never trained in traditional art techniques. I have only seen them in museums, books, and videos. At this point in this art’s development, my time is too precious to accommodate.

Scott Von Holzen