Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Theresa Andersson is a wondrous one-woman band, originally from Gotland, Sweden. For the past twenty years, she has been strutting her stuff in New Orleans, having soaked up the influence of traditional American rhythm and blues. As a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and violinist, Theresa spins together a bewitching mix of folk, soul, and pop that defies easy labeling. Imagination is her guide; in her own words, she "stops thinking in terms of traditional songwriting…(and) works on shapes, forms, and textures, scents and colors.” Then she finds a way to breathe life into these through music.

I was initially spellbound by Theresa’s videos flying around on Youtube, about two years ago.  “Birds Fly Away” and “Na Na Na” showed her rocking out in her kitchen/recording-studio, juggling about a dozen different instruments. She layered harmonies and runaway rhythms through looping (in the same style as KT Tunstall)---starting out with solo vocals and hand-clapping, and building up this extravagant, one-woman jam session. Seeing this stole my breath away; truly, I forgot to breathe! So with that, I grabbed a-hold of her 2007 debut album, Hummingbird, Go! and was duly amazed. It was a lyrical fairytale, with fearlessly unique instrumentation, complete with soda pop bottles mimicking a vibraphone and wine glass rims substituting for keyboards. Experimental indeed!
Links to explore:

I recommend Theresa’s myspace over her official website, which is actually more stripped down.  This page features all the same gems, and then some---bio, blog, video and audio clips, photos, reviews, musical influences, and so forth.

Paste Magazine offers a high-spirited, fun-to-read review of Theresa’s show at Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans earlier this year. There is also a moving clip of her singing and strumming her heart out on stage.
Catch a listen of Theresa’s interview session with NPR, where she shares about the making of Hummingbird, Go!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gustav Holst

Gustav Holst was an English composer of choral, orchestral, wind ensemble, and chamber works.
Holst was also an avid music educator and conductor, and was master of music at the St. Paul Girl's school in Hammersmith, London. I first heard of Gustav Holst my sophomore year in high school band when we rehearsed and performed Suite in Eb for Military Band. It has remained one of my most favorite wind ensemble pieces to perform and listen to. I have also had the pleasure of performing wind ensemble arrangements of Mars and Jupiter, two movements from Holst's most famous (though one of his personal least favorites) work The Planets. The drama and intensity of emotions in both pieces is astounding not only to the performer, but to the listener as well. The Planets has been widely performed by orchestras all over the world, and remains a prominent work in the orchestral world.

Holst was very interested in old English folk songs. In his works he has adapted and incorporated various folk songs. This is true in movement four of Second Suite in F for Military Band, Fantasia on the Dargason (which was also adapted into a string quartet). As the main dance melody is being passed around the woodwinds, the brass section is heard playing Greensleeves, and the mix of the two melodies is clever.

http://www.gustavholst.info/ - This is an informative website with a comprehensive biography, catalog of Holst's music, and journals written by scholars about Holst's compositions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngTnToAs4uU - This is a video of Holst's First Suite in Eb for Military Band. It is one of the corner stones of wind ensemble literature and one of my favorite pieces of all time.

http://www.suite101.com/content/gustav-holst---the-planets--a6062 - This is a short essay on Holst's most popular suite, The Planets.

Hannah Hoch by Riley Bamesberger

Hannah Hoch with one of her dolls

Uberwuchert. Original linocut, 1915

Fotomontage aus der Sammlung: "Aus einem ethnographischen Museum"
Hannah Hoch was the only woman active in Dadaism, an art movement started in Switzerland in the early part of the twentieth century. She worked in several mediums including print, photography, painting, doll making, performance art, and she was one of the first artists to make photomontages. Her photomontages consist of actual magazine and newspaper cut outs, which she pasted together to create new kinds of imagery. Because of her position as the only woman in the Dada movement, her work was often undermined and considered not as political as the male members. Her work has recently gained more critical analysis and several Feminist authors have read much deeper into her work than was ever previously done. 

This website offers several of Hoch’s images as well as a short description of their relevance in Art History.

This website has images of Hoch’s lesser-known prints and biographical information.

This is a great website with many large-scale images of her photomontages.

Frank Frazetta

Frank Frazetta (1928-2010)

Frank Frazetta was an American painter, illustrator, and sculptor whose work appeared in comics, on paperback novel covers, and museums from the time he was 15 and continued to draw attention until his death this past summer. I was first introduced to his work by a friend of mine, and I was immediately enthralled by it. I think was first drew me to his art was his portrayal of women. I've never been particularly defensive in regard to feminism, but as a comic book enthusiast I often become frustrated with way women are made to look in comics. The comic industry is designed to appeal to men, and most of the women in comics represent a virtually unattainable form of beauty. Frank Frazetta's art portrays women as powerful, and, while they nearly always appear in some degree of nudity, he paints them beautifully but naturally.

In addition to Frazetta's take on the female form, his art appealed to me on a simple, aesthetic level. His art is representational but fantastical and full of a feeling of other-worldliness. I think Frazetta's art stands out among many of his contemporaries if not for its beauty then for its uniqueness.



Frank Frazetta's son reminisces about his father's life three weeks after his death in May 2010. His description of Frank Sr. offers insight into his life as a father and family man as well as an artist.


This includes more complete history of Frazetta's life as an artist and a gallery of some of his artwork.


A fan of Frazetta displays more of Frazetta's art and history, focusing particularly on his work in comics.

Sandro Botticelli

The Birth of Venus, his most popular painting

Botticelli was an Italian painter during the renaissance period and throughout his time his paintings were looked as the linear grace of Early Renaissance painting. He is known for his work; The Birth of Venus and Primavera. When I saw his painting Venus and Mars, I was eager to see more of his paintings and I noticed that he portrays a lot of the same themes in his paintings. All of his paintings have a certain beauty to them that attracted me. Every painting that I looked at have grace to it. The reason why I choose to share Botticelli to the class, is because I feel like it’s important to know and learn about the entire artist that came before us and started a legacy. I also feel like paint artist like Sandro Botticelli that are from old time periods are not appreciates as much as music from that time period.



This website shows a brief biography about Botticelli and images of his paintings as an early renaissance painter.


This is an art gallery that shows images of Botticelli work and a guide of every painting and images archive. It goes in depth of each one of his paintings and the themes behind them.


This website contains facts, information, and pictures about and of Sandro Botticelli. The website also has links to articles from newspapers and magazines about Botticelli and his work.

More Paintings Sandro Botticelli:




Thursday, November 4, 2010

Stravinsky was one of the most influential composers of his time. His musical style was so far on the cutting edge of what people were willing to call "music" that his works literally caused riots in the streets of Paris. His use of texture and color within his pieces shows a mastery of orchestration and a deep knowledge of every instrument in the orchestra. Much of his inspiration came from the works of impressionist composers Ravel and Debussy. With an added primal and earthy undertone, he created a sound that people had never heard before.

I find his work fascinating and I still get chills down my spine when I hear the Firebird Suite. The contrast of simplicity and intricacy of his works has always caught my attention, whether I am playing his music or listening to it. His works are still used today and you have probably heard them without even knowing it. Have you ever seen the original Fantasia? Remember the piece that had the fighting dinosaurs? That's Stravinsky!

This is a scene from the ballet, The Rite of Spring

Stravinsky New Grove Biography
For this link you will probably have to sign into your western account. This site has everything you could ever want to know about the life of Stravinsky. There is a full Biography based on his musical career as opposed to a purely chronological base.
Firbird Suite (full score)
This is the full orchestral score to Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. If you look at it you will note that he uses the full range of texture and rage of the instrumentation.
Stravinsky Conducts the Firebird
This is video footage of Stravinsky, himself, conducting the last two movements of the Firebird.
Fantasia 2000 Firebird
This is the Fantasia 2000 rendition of Stravinsky's Firebird.

This twenty-four-year-old artist, Alexa Meade, paints portraits on people. She uses acrylic paint and applies it directly on models so that they appear to be two-dimensional paintings of themselves. The intention of her work is to skew viewer's perceptions and change the way in which they interpret spatial relationships.

Although I mostly had a desire to share this artist with others simply because her work blows my mind, I think these photos assist in portraying apparent tensions between perception and reality, which is extremely interesting. Some of the settings of her work are very obscure, and force awkward expressions upon peoples' faces. However, once realized, I imagine she is often praised for her credible work.

Check out some of Alexa's other paintings, they are all pretty amazing! What do you think?

External Links:
1. Alexa Mead's website: Alexa's official website containing her portfolio, brief biography, and contanct information. http://www.alexameade.com/index.html
2. The Irvine Contemporary which includes galleries for early and mid-career artists, including more photos of Alexa's work. http://irvinecontemporary.com/index.php
3. You can follow Alexa on twitter and become a fan of "Alexa Meade Art" on Facebook. http://twitter.com/alexameade & http://www.facebook.com/alexameade

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ansel Adams- A (mostly) landscape photographer

I chose to add Ansel Adams to the blog even though there is another photographer featured because I really enjoy photography. My interest in his work as well as his popularity in the photography world helped me chose to add him. He works almost completely in black and white, which is my favorite to shoot in. he also focuses mostly on landscape which is my preference while taking pictures. Adams got his start in the 20s by working with the Sierra Club and photographing the locations where he traveled as well as becoming a board member and defending Yosemite. Because of the work and care of Adams, many beautiful places in America are now preserved for the future and can continually be visited.


This website includes some of Ansel Adams’ photographs taken between 1933 and 1942, all from the western states. All of the photos are landscapes that are known to be Adams’ work. He was very interested in preserving the wilderness as well as creating an art form from the basic photography.


This website includes a bibliography about Ansel Adams as well as a timeline about his life, links to images, writings by and about him and links to other informatory sites. We learn from this site that he was originally interested in being a pianist at age 23. His first acknowledged photo appeared two years later.


This website is a gallery of Ansel Adams’ work including opportunities to purchase original photos, posters, and reproductions. The site also links to contemporary photographers who are working in black and white as well as photography education opportunities. There are links to Ansel Adams in the news as well as a bibliography and videos of interviews.

More information can be found on the Wikipedia page for Ansel Adams about his influence on photography as well as society.