Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Winter Party at the "Brush Club"

Two weeks ago the Winter Party took place at Sean and Steve's transformed work studio.   The space became a swanky 1930's style music club for an entire evening where around ninety guests were entertained by a group of musicians and a rotating selection of singers performing Cole Porter's music.  I loved that most of the guests played along and decked themselves out in evening jackets and cocktail dresses.  What a special and romantic way to spend the Saturday evening before Valentine's Day. 

I'd like to share some memories and pictures with you since the event was such a highlight for me, creatively and musically, this winter.  I only wish I have some recordings to share with you as well.  So here we go... the following is a visual stroll along with my memories of a magical event created by a group of inspired folks.

Our hosts, Steve and Sean, are the ones who are responsible for envisioning, organizing and creating a platform for these special, themed winter parties.  Steve, using his great eye, created the scene with a sparkly "Brush Club" sign (he said he used five pounds of glitter!), thoughtful lighting, specially designed invitations and show bills.  Sean picked out and arranged the Cole Porter music.  He also gathered and rehearsed a talented group of musicians and singers to bring to life an evening's worth of entertainment.  A number of friends contributed their energy towards a full bar, good food and colorful flowers.  Sean and Steve called the venue "The Brush Club" because their studio is in the Arts and Industry Building, in Florence, MA, which was once a huge toothbrush factory!

The stage is set and the musicians gather to begin playing.  Andy Lantz warms up the crowd, twinkling the keys of the piano with his selection of songs.  The Studio 358 Orchestra pick up their instruments.  We have Mike Pfeiffer on upright bass, Jared Libby on electric guitar, Chris Cappello on drums, Yanko Sheiretov on clarinet, Josh Relin on violin and Andy Lantz and Sean Mallari taking turns on the piano.  What a talented group of musicians (and they look great too)!

PJ Helmuth starts off the singing portion of the night with "It's De-Lovely."   He's a class act in his tux with arms raised as he delivers the end to the song.

I take the stage for the next song, "Let's Do It," in one of my costumes for the night complete with Darlene's mink and Heather's pearls.  All night long I got to relive the fun I had as a little girl dressing up in costumes to sing and dance.  I find that it's even more fun getting to dress up and perform as an adult! 

Whew, the mink is getting hot and it's time to switch gears for my next song.  It's time to "Begin the Beguine." I really like singing this one.  Melody wise, it is the most challenging of all the songs I sang and Sean's arrangement brings a sultry, slow, tropical quality to the music.

Heather Cupo becomes reflective as she asks herself "What Is This Thing Called Love?"

PJ Helmuth, Hank Bingham and I finish out the first part of the show.  Unfortunately, my photographer doesn't capture shots of everyone's performance.  I may get some more shots of the night and if I do I will add photos in the future.  "Let's Misbehave", "I Love You" and "Easy to Love" were performed by PJ.  Hank did a great rendition of "Night and Day".

Here I'm singing "Love For Sale" ... need I say more?
Friends and guests enjoy the show from their candlelit, red clothed tables.

The second part of the night is just as much fun as the first.  I sing "Anything Goes"and "Every Time We Say Goodbye" in my red polka dotted dress.  

I wish I had more pictures because Sean Mallari, Darlene Stone Adair, Hank Bingham, PJ Helmuth and Heather Cupo sing a whole bunch more songs...  "Just One of Those Things", "All Through the Night", "You're the Top","True Love", "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" and "In the Still of the Night."

"Experiment" and "So In Love"  are personal favorites of mine.  For "Experiment" Sean gets all professorial with glasses and tweed jacket.  "So In Love" has glorious three part harmonies sung by Sean, Hank and PJ.

Here's my husband, Josh, dressed to the nines with a top hat.  I'm relaxing and enjoying a scotch and soda after a night of performing.  I don't think the night could have been more fun.  Well, maybe if you were there too!  Cheers!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sketchbook Sunday # 4

I spent the better part of yesterday trying out my new gouache paints here at my work table.  I'm drawing designs inspired by Hungarian folk embroidery and needed a bright pigment that had less variation and unpredictability then watercolor.  So far I like the results I got with the new opaque paints because the color more evenly saturates the mixed media paper in my sketchbook.  The black pens worked well over the color.  This week's goal is to continue designing these images and to practice a confidant line.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tree Top Dance, Wild is the Wind

The wind pulled me from my dreams this morning.  I woke up, poked my head over the pile of pillows and peaked out the window to see the tree tops dancing in the wind.  How flexible and strong trees are!  Trees are a muse of mine; how I look up to trees.  Strong, rooted deep and grounded, flexible and bending to the wind and weather with grace even when the gusts whip their tops about, giving off life sustaining oxygen, creating beautiful green leaves that shade against hot sun, giving us so much valuable and sturdy timber to build with and energy to warm our homes and cook our food.  They take in the sun, the rain, the minerals, CO2.  The yellow birch, pictured above, lives on my land.  It is one of my favorite trees and I visit it from time to time.  It's a living, breathing, strong being that gives, takes and is what it is.  It is one of the oldest trees on our land.  When I woke up this morning I was thinking about this tree, where it stands next to a trickling, musical stream out back in the woods, bending, blowing and dancing in this wind today. And this song:  Wild is the wind...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sketchbook Sunday #3

A few weeks ago I was at Forbes Library and this book by Bobbie Sumberg caught my eye.  It is called "Textiles:  Collection Of The Museum of International Folk Art."  While standing in the library paging through the book the above Hungarian ensembles and shoes mesmerized me and struck a deep chord of resonance.  Needless to say, the book came home with me. 

I love the organic, floral patterns and shapes which were hand embroidered on home spun fabrics.  Feelings of romance, story and familiarity come to me from the way these clothes are put together, designed and decorated.  How did these people wear the clothes?  How did they dance together at their wedding?  Are the flower patterns blooming on their garments mirroring the flowers that were blooming in their village gardens at the time?

These images have become a point of inspiration for me personally and artistically on many different levels .  I am of Eastern European descent on my father's side.  My grandfather was born in Ha'rsku't Hungary and my grandmother was born in Krosno, Polland.

The patterns and colors feel so right, so attractive, so lovely, so full of story.  I am becoming deeply curious about my ancestors, their life, art, song, story.  I want to draw and sketch patterns that are inspired from the folk arts of Hungary and Poland.  So I am doing this now, working in line with a rooted feeling of inspiration.  Here are some very recent doodles and sketches the seed of which comes from Eastern European design, yet I look forward to letting the patterns flow and become something personal and rooted to who I am now.  I'll be taking an art class at the Springfield Museum School on the folk arts of Poland starting in March.  I believe there will be lots of digging and learning happening in the coming months...traveling through books, music and stories and maybe planning a real adventure, traveling back to Eastern Europe, only this time spending time in Poland.  I am dreaming of inspiration and adventure.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sketchbook Sunday #2

In keeping with my goal to publish posts from my sketchbooks on Sunday... here are two recent pen, ink and watercolor sketches made in January.  

Yes, it is Monday but I can pretend it is Sunday, right?  The weekend got away from me and this amazing winter weather we are having here in New England is making time flow in it's own particular way.  So for these moments, before I head off to bed, I can steal away on the computer with my blog and imagine it's Sunday.

This winter I continue to be fascinated with imagery of openings...doorways opening and beckoning, light streaming through clouds in the sky,  a river covered with layers of snow and ice occasionally opening to show the dark, cold, fast moving current beneath the still, sparkly, crust of white on top.

These doorways draw me to their threshold, through to another room, another idea, another experience, another creative thread, another moment.