Artist of the Month: Wayne Forte
On Wayne Forte’s website, along with over a hundred of his paintings, is an invitation to send the painter “suggestions, comments, concerns, questions, rebukes, rebuttals and replies,” with a link that lets you send email to Forte’s personal account. Probably Forte is the only painter in America who issues viewers a standing invitation to rebuke him—and gives them such a direct way to do it. The offer gives a fairly accurate illustration of the man and the artist. He produces paintings on his own—he’s monstrously prolific—as well as in collaboration with the arts group at the megachurch he attends in southern California, and to a degree he is willing to give the community influence over his paintings, which appear in worship services there. Sometimes they’ll ask him to change things, and often he’ll do what they ask. He sees it as an intrinsic part of his calling as a painter that he has what he calls “a necessary role within the community of the faithful”—which means that the church needs him, but also that he needs the church. In the art world, where the individual ego generally rules supreme and unsettling the viewer is often part of the plan, the idea that an artist would change something because it makes a viewer uncomfortable seems almost heretical. Forte, on the other hand, refuses to take himself so seriously. His paintings are full of light and playfulness, but at the same time they’re unshakably grounded and solid. His canvases teem with motion, life, and color. In service of his community, he strives to find a balance between common symbols and fresh vision: Wristwatches, fruit, animals, plants, angels, cityscapes, and superman form exuberant constellations in these joyous collages of color and symbol. And everywhere throughout is the human figure: blocky, earthbound, fleshy, and beautiful. Here is a vision driven not by ego but by humility and love.
Visit Wayne Forte’s artist of the month page here and his official website here.
16 Horsepower, Woven Hand, and Lilium: An Update
After a fruitful ten years together, alt-country trio 16 Horsepower (see ImageUpdate #36) has recently decided to call it quits. “We have shared some unforgettable moments,” the notice on the band’s website announces, “and hope to have given you all we could. An accumulation of differences, mostly political and spiritual, separates us today and prevents us from honestly going any further.” Somewhat of a surprise—though the band nearly made a similar choice in 2001—the decision follows a productive four years. In addition to releasing Olden (2003), 16 Horsepower was filmed for the wonderfully odd documentary, Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus (ImageUpdate #99). Although only David Eugene Edwards appears in the final cut, the band’s performance can be seen as part of the DVD’s special features. The band also released two of their own DVDs—16HP DVD and 16 Horsepower Live—both of which include music videos, interviews, and live footage shot mainly during their European tours. Additionally, band members have been busy with side projects. Pascal Humbert and Jean-Yves Tola formed a band called Lilium, which has released two albums: the mainly instrumental Transmission of All the Goodbyes (2000) and Short Stories (2003). And David Eugene Edwards, 16 Horsepower’s principal singer/songwriter, formed Woven Hand. The band has released two acclaimed albums in the past few years—Consider the Birds (2004) and Mosaic (2006). Released last September, Mosaic finds Edwards continuing to build on an already-original catalog of material. Evidencing a variety of influences—including the music of Eastern Europe and the Middle East—the songs range from the moody opener, “Breathing Bull,” to the ethereal “Twig.” In addition to another offering of biblical, lyric-based pieces, the album includes eclectic instrumentals, notably the sanguine “Bible and Bird,” and the album’s closer, “Little Raven/Shun.” Woven Hand plans to tour this summer with Brother Danielson, founder of the band’s label, Sounds Familyre. The tour begins at Cornerstone Music Festival, June 30, 2007, and will be followed by shows in Chicago, IL, Arlington, VA, and Northampton, MA.
For more information on 16 Horsepower & Woven Hand, click here.
Twilight Innings by Robert A. Fink
The poet Robert A. Fink begins his first collection of personal essays as a bloody mess. Somewhere on the back roads of his beloved west Texan prairies, Fink’s marathon training is punctuated by a nasty fall. "I'm pathetic," he says. "I suddenly feel as if I'm in a commercial for incontinent older adults." Never mind that at 57, Fink’s 8-minute mile is still faster than most twenty-somethings’. His comic humility is what makes readers at home in Fink’s stories; we cozy up beside him in his favorite seat, four rows back from home plate, and enjoy the view. As one might suspect, Fink sometimes uses baseball as a unifying theme for his essays, but Twilight Innings is hardly an anthology of fresh-cut grass and blooper anecdotes. As the poet-professor slips back and forth between the pitcher’s mound and his university classroom, he also shares stories of suffering: a master sergeant trembles in a dark corner somewhere in Vietnam, two of his friends struggle with terminal cancer, 141 women jump from the 8th floor windows of a shirtwaist factory. There is a long winter of pain in Fink’s twenty-four essays, but they still manage to communicate hope and healing, preserving a sense of humor and hard-won wisdom.
Look for Robert Fink’s essay, “Pilgrims,” in the upcoming issue of Image, issue #53.
To buy Twilight Innings, click here.
If you know anything about the world of the visual arts, you know how rare it is for any artist short of celebrity status to have a hardcover monograph published about his or her work. In the case of Houston-based Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak, a happy set of circumstances has led to the publication of a beautiful volume chronicling two decades of her creative output. Born in Cleveland, Lydia is the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants. As an adult, she has been able to travel to post-Soviet Ukraine and meet a number of people in the arts community there. The late critic and publisher Mykola Marychevskyy decided to include Lydia’s work in a series of monographs entitled “Testimonies of Spirit,” containing the work of artists of Ukrainian descent working outside of their homeland. Hence this gorgeous volume. The work covered therein extends across an astonishing range of styles, media, and moods – from dozens of realistic portraits in her earlier career to more recent mixed media pieces, large and small, employing embroidery, torched wood, photocopies, gold leaf, and more. Whether in portraits or box constructions, metal gates or large-scale pieces employing the vestments of priests, a profound inwardness marks these works – what the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins called “inscape.” The deep suffering of the Ukrainian people also permeates many of these pieces, from the genocidal famine engineered by Stalin in the 1930s to the nuclear meltdown at Chornobyl. And yet the sacred realm is never far from her vision, perhaps because it is so often glimpsed in and through suffering. To help unfold all this artistic richness, this monograph includes several short essays and interviews, both in Ukrainian and English, along with photographs and a bibliography. As wonderful as this volume may be, however, it is not widely available, so your best bet is to order it directly from the artist.
Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak is available for $40.00 (U.S.), including shipping and handling. For orders of five or more books, there is a 20% discount. To order, please include your mailing address and send a check made out to the artist to: Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak, 2476 Bolsover - # 517, Houston, Texas 77005. For further information, please contact the artist at BBLydia@aol.com or visit her website http://www.lydiabodnarbalahutrak.com/ and click on Book/Links.
Discount Fireworks and Fresh Roasted Coffee
Over the Rhine, one of our all-time favorite bands, is celebrating fifteen years of songwriting with the release of their first ever career retrospective: a handful of songs selected by the musicians themselves to represent their long journey of making music together. They’re calling the album Discount Fireworks, perhaps because it collects a little of everything—vintage tracks, well-loved contemporary songs, and even a brand new song as the album’s opening track “Last Night on Earth Again.” Running the gambit from the experimental “Sleep Baby Jane” to the haunting “Ohio” to a live, folksy rendition of “Lookin’ Forward,” Discount Fireworks displays a diversity of sound that Over the Rhine’s newer fans might not even know exists in this lovely duo’s musical portfolio.
And speaking of new ventures, we just had to tip off our readers to something else brewing with Over the Rhine these days: coffee beans. At the Image headquarters, we understand the crucial place for good coffee in our lives—and it’s not just because we live in an espresso-obsessed city, nor because one of us is a former barista. There’s simply an undeniable relationship between the creative spirit and a palatably-delivered dose of caffeine—which is why we were delighted to taste a cup of this delectable coffee “specially blended for artists, writers, musicians, day dreamers, and night walkers,” roasted by Chuck Roast especially for Over the Rhine. It’s organic, fair-trade, fresh-roasted to order, and available for purchase by the pound online. Is this the secret to 15 years of brilliant songwriting? You never can tell.
For the Discount Fireworks album, click here.
For exclusive Over the Rhine blend coffee, click here.