My Life Has a Soundtrack 1/2016

Music is a HUGE part of how I process my thoughts, so when I am in the car or the studio I am listening to something. Everything. Anything. The things that stick make my playlist. The playlist becomes the backdrop to my work. My work changes with my thoughts, my backdrop evolves, too. So, what I put in these playlists is what I was listening to while working the month or two before. Usually about two months before.

This year started out with some heavy emotions and some surprises. In a nutshell, my feels are all over the damn place. That happens in the off-season I think, especially when you are exploring your process and working on a project. So this playlist has plenty of upbeat sound, but it is generally disjointed. January meant the loss of Bowie – that was no fun. Playing his voice in the car or in the studio was not something I was able to do. There are lots of reasons for that – and I suspect when Willie Nelson passes I will be much the same. That’s all I have to say about that.


I bet February will be about Funk. Figuratively, emotionally and creatively February has a tradition with me of being R&B and Funk. I have no idea how that came to be, but my guess is it started because every stupid romantic playlist out there has Marvin Gaye and Barry Manilow on them. But I need a little less commercialism than that! So, I headed over to the bins in the corner at Bill’s to dig into the beginnings of those “smash commercial hits”.  Which is how I came to love protest rock.  February being Black History Month means I’ll have been playing some of that, too. Some of the best funk came from protest rock, but we can get into that next month. But I’m listening to it now. So, you can expect some Darondo, Primus (Yes, they are funk.),  Zapp and Roger, Tower of Power, Greg Osby and some other things along these lines. And Lee, rest assured: Prince will be featured. Now, if you would like to join me NOW, head on over to Secret Stash Records and do some homework. I’m about 26 years ahead of you.

Monthly Feature : Artist on Art – January 2016

Being the eclectic mess I am, I enjoy all kinds of art.

I love sculpture, oil and watercolor paintings and I love photography. I find that the quirkiest of minds create the things I like most. In my last feature I discussed what I like about Edward Hopper’s paintings. For instance, what I love most (sometimes) is his inclusion of things in ways that were not necessarily apparent to other people when the painted scene was compared to the real-life site. Today I am adding on to that idea with the artist I’ve chosen to share.


Meet, Nic Nicosia. This guy blew me away back in the day with his surreal concepts and the shots he’d design around an idea, a thought or a moment he’d only envisioned – possibly a fleeting second or two he saw. One of my favorite memories is watching him set up his shot for this.  The little girl looking back at the camera is the younger sister of a girlfriend of mine from TAG Magnet and Cary Middle School. Nicosia lived next door. His daughters and these girls knew each other well. I think it makes perfect sense that LC (I am not going to place her name on the Internet without her permission) is looking so sure she’s doing something wrong, but unsure what it might be.

Mr. Nicosia has long been a source of inspiration for me because I knew that he got his ideas from his own curiosities. I have no shortage of those. What I have yet to learn is how to single one out at a time to explore with depth and sure clarity.  Someday, when I can do that with any measure of success, I may actually make things I have to explain. Which will be nice. Portraiture is my first love, but like love, sometimes I like my portraits to be a little less surface-level. I like to show emotions that are behind the eyes, under the image of “self”.

Over the decades (and through many life changes for he and his family) he’s managed to really hit a stride with his projects. He explores his curiosities so completely. It’s a lot of fun to see.  An image that I have done a few derivative works because of is “Domestic Dramas“.  When I first saw that image I felt as though I could hear and feel the sense of “family” and that a soundbite of “domesticity” was actually being layered over the narrative in my own mind while I inventoried the details in the picture. Work that shares that much is interesting to me.

The three photos I’ve made (that have that sense to me) are of bikes and tricycles dumped at the edge of a playground, of a dining room turned kid’s playroom and a collection of creations made by a four year old boy. I’m still deciding on how I want to package these. I think they’ll end up here soon.  That I made them at all is a wonder as I am not a mother. Understanding fully what the noises and scenes were took time. In fact, I am still sitting with them as I have not fully explored my own experiences in making them.

At any rate, I’m looking forward to the next things from Nic Nicosia. If the world must be without David Bowie, Lou Reed, B.B. King, Yogi Berra,  Wes Craven and Natalie Cole then I hope to be able to enjoy art and artists that explore life as differently as they all did.

If any of you won the lottery you may celebrate my birthday by gifting me one of his works. And Nic, if  you are reading this, I hope you are well.

*note: images of the artist’s works were provided via e-mail on 1/14/2016. Re-use and redistribution permission should not be assumed. Images are credited to Mr. Nicosia.