Nature of the Beat

Artist, post-modern wannabe, conversationalist, provocateur, introverted extravert… or is that extraverted introvert? A personal blog to share thoughts on faith and art.

Read this first

Lighting Dance

b312b2_7886b60a2d0f4985814825604a4e01fc~mv2.jpg

I love my career in the performing arts. I especially love being involved with dance, dancers, choreographers, and artists working with dance — the musicians, composers, designers, and other artists. For me, dance is this perfect triangulation of visual art, sculpture, and music, yet is its own form. As a lighting designer, dance always makes me rethink what I mean by lighting design. As a production manager, I help choreographers realize their vision, even finding echoes of my own voice in their creations as we collaborate.

There are many sources and textbooks available to study the practical matters of lighting, what lights do what and the technologies available today. Here I will focus on the artistic intent behind the choices one will make when considering how a designer wants the stage, dancers, and the dance to be seen.

Moby Dick, Saiah-4.JPG

Saiah International’s Moby Dick

People think of light...

Continue reading →


Artists and the Church

Where should we start

Artbque.jpeg
An arts festival held in Decatur, GA

I’m going to be blunt here. Christians make me tired. The Church and most Christians are clueless about art and artists. Either because of or related to their cluelessness about culture. They would rather fight a Culture War than love their neighbors. For all the cultural accusations of “PC”, “(liberal) snow flakes”, and the over all seeming “touchy feely” liberal focus on offensive cultural language and behavior, Christians beat everyone else to the punch long ago.

I remember a pastor celebrating that his sons denounced the evils of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. These days a coffee house can’t even release red seasonal cups without offending “snowflake” Christians. There is nothing wrong with “Happy Holiday” as a holiday greeting. Just ask Bing Crosby and Irving Berlin. ‘R’ rated movies, as if the whole rating scheme was...

Continue reading →


Sometimes Art Has to Mourn

What is in the heart of a computer

Winter snow.png

“Sometimes we only want to think about how wonderful the person’s life was, and we really don’t want to deal with the pain that came along with that”, Pearl Cleage.

Aretha Franklin Tried To Get Muhammad Ali’s Number, Pearl Cleage Remembers | 90.1 FM WABE

When news of singer Aretha Franklin’s death reached her, “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes got in touch with Atlanta…
www.wabe.org

Atlanta author and playwright Pearl Cleage is interviewd by WABE’s Lois Reitzes about her new book. In it she relates a story about her father and Aretha Franklin. Aretha is being abused by her husband and she wanted Mohammad Ali’s number to call and ask him to beat up her husband.
Later after Aretha is out of that relationship she releases an album. Pearl and her father listen and afterward her father laments how empty her voice seemed. She sang better when she...

Continue reading →


For the Humanity in Art

Snake in Peru.jpg

Irreducible:
1: impossible to transform into or restore to a desired or simpler condition
an irreducible matrix
; specifically : incapable of being factored into polynomials of lower degree with coefficients in some given field (such as the rational numbers) or integral domain (such as the integers)
an irreducible equation
2: impossible to make less or smaller
an irreducible minimum

I have a love/hate relationship with Modernism. That’s why I am only a ‘postmodern wanna be’. For all the mud-slinging and grief many like to throw Postmodernism’s direction, I’d be extremely surprised if any of those people have any understanding of Modernism to be so anti-postmodernism. Really, how many people could articulate, if postmodernism is so bad, why is Modernism so great? What has Modernism done for them that they should be all hating on Postmodernism?

Well, we likely have Modernism to thank...

Continue reading →


Tension: Art as value, art as work

Jun in Switzerland.jpeg

If you don’t care who sees, hears, or likes the art you create, much less if anyone gives you money for it, you aren’t trying to make a living as an artist.

That doesn’t mean you aren’t an artist, but when you decide that you want to make a living with your art, things change. Sometimes drastically, sometime subtly, sometimes so subtle you may never even notice until rent comes due or groceries need to be shopped.

At some point you realize that what you are doing is work as much as it may not even feel like it. Art becomes your job, even as you may love doing it. Or you may hate doing it for pay, but you can’t imagine doing anything else.

Sometimes we may be trying to create something that has widespread, popular demand. Sometimes we may be aware that we may be working for a more limited audience. Sometimes we are just experimenting. There is value in all that.

This is not to say...

Continue reading →


Christians have lost the plot

Pils in Israel.jpeg

I always went for the extra credit questions in math. I love being challenged, finding out how much more I can accomplish that I couldn’t before or learn about that I didn’t know before. I’m a bit obsessive about that. That part of me is why I learned to roast coffee, build guitar tube amps, why I learned to play guitar to begin with and probably why I bother writing. I’m similarly obsessive about my faith.

That’s why I love thoughtful atheists. I feel like atheists question many of the things all Christians should ponder. The atheists I admire most are the ones who have wrestled with the ideas of God and religion. There are some I have read and have caused me to think more deeply about my faith. I suggest that if you haven’t questioned God, his existence, your faith and beliefs then you are leaving some of the deepest meanings of your faith on the table. In a lot of ways I feel like...

Continue reading →


Listening perfectly

1*JYagDLnmhn8jL5SKEIDr8Q.jpeg

What is a perfect flower to you

Is a perfect flower always perfect? If a flower never dimmed, never dropped its petals, would it still be perfect? If a flower stayed true to its nature, its life cycle, is that perfect?

“In ancient India, a group of young monks were watching their master prepare chappatis (pancakes). He would pour out a ladle full of batter and watch it spread across the surface of the hot griddle, forming an odd round shape. As the pancake assumed its final form, he would smile and say, ‘Perfect.’ The students were puzzled. Each of the pancakes was a different shape, some of them were burned around the edges, and none were perfectly round. Finally, one of the students asked the master, ‘Master, how can these pancakes be perfect? Pancakes are supposed to be round, and they are not supposed to be burned.’ The master lifted the last pancake off the griddle and put it...

Continue reading →


Counting the cultural cost of utility

I am not a strict formalist. Systematic approaches to learning a craft have value. But I also understand there are limits that are intrinsic to any particular system of training. That’s just the nature of systems. They give voice, but they do so within a certain framework of vocabulary. We are facing such limitations and influence of systems on our cultural voice and perception of our worldview even now as we confront them with the metoo movement.

I happen to think there is not such a hard line between imagination and creativity. They do not exist in such a bifurcated form any more than reason or emotion, material or immaterial, sacred or secular. Reductionism can help in understanding one aspect or another, but when our nature is as intertwined as these things, even creativity and imagination, something is sacrificed when dissected.

R. Buckminster Fuller said we are born comprehensive...

Continue reading →


There is a season, turn, turn, turn

Writing to say something, writing to exercise, writing to keep at it even in the face of an empty page. There is value in all that. Should it all be published, though?

I was working on a show many moons ago where the featured musicians were Wynton Marsalis and his Septet. They were rehearsing one of the pieces and while one musician was taking his solo, Wynton stopped everyone and, reprimanding the musician, shouted something along the lines of (my memory isn’t perfect but I remember the point) “Stop practicing your scales! I came here to play! Practice at home. If you’re here to play, then play! But stop wasting my time.”

All the great artists did a great deal of research, practice, and rehearsals. Even Mark Rothko, as simple as his works may seem, did drafts. We are enamored with process, especially us artists. Process is important. It is important to keep creating especially in...

Continue reading →


AI commits suicide at 27 years old. News at 11.

IMG_3161.jpg

In the movie It Might Get Loud, Jack White advises his younger self “You have to have a fight with your guitar. You have to have a fight with your guitar and win. If you don’t have a struggle you have to make one up.”

I remember watching the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation when it first aired. I was very excited. After the the first few episodes I was very disappointed. What disappointed me is that each time the captain and crew always seemed to know exactly what was going on and what to do about it. There was no struggle, no wrestling. Everyone had reached a level of enlightenment that made each encounter relatively effortless.

Rothko was once asked how he knew when a painting was finished. He responded “There is tragedy in every brush stroke”.

These days there is a great deal of excitement and hand-wringing about the potential for artificial intelligence to...

Continue reading →