Archive for the ‘gatherings’ Category

h1

New Gathering?

September 28, 2007

We need your assistance.  We are looking for suggestions for a new Gathering in October.

GOT IDEAS?

balm logo

balm

h1

Backstory Biography and All That KC Jazz

September 16, 2007

                                               by Shannon White                 

                  

                 Shannon revisiting her familial jazz roots at the KC Museum of 
                 Jazz – Sept 2007

                  IMG_8421
                  IMG_8417IMG_8416IMG_8413
                  
                   KC Jazz sculpture outside of museum 18th & Vine

    

     High school year book entry for Ralph C Wentz, 
     Shannon’s Grandfather & Jazz Pianist

Two sides of the room sang bebop rhythms back and forth, repeated, then overlapping each other.  The groups waited while vocal and instrumental solos gave their spontaneous variations, then let the chorus respond.  We sang and listened through several sets, awaiting our turn to scat or hear to another soloist.  I reconnnected with my slightly unfamiliar familial jazz roots last June 2007 in Minneapolis, Minnesota at a an Artists Gathering called Via Affirmativa.  Dr. Kyle Gregory, a family man who works as a professional jazz musician in Italy — an amazing jazz musician, teacher and person — gave the multi-disciplinary group of artists brief history of jazz with improvisational performances,  an education on jazz scale construction, rhythm emphasis, and best of all scatting bebop group improvs with instrumental solos.  We were all involved no matter what our artistic background.  It was interactive and exciting, and made me want to try jazz piano or flute for the first time since I started learning in grade school through high school and beyond — I said “try”.  I was also inspired to sketch the trumpeter with the energetic marks traveling up his arched spine, through the bell of his horn, then activating the space around him as I have seen so many other artists do, not to mimic, but because that was simply what I envisioned.  The creative experience in Minneapolis also made me want to discover more about this personal and local history with jazz than I had for my eighth grade speech class on my grandfather and his jazz career years ago. I began to wonder why he chose jazz, what it was like to have his career during his lifetime and later carry it on with a family, how his piano playing was integrated into the American jazz scene altogether and the regional KC scene as well.  This quest involved online research, interviewing my father and thinking about what made jazz spread from America throughout the world as a truly American art form.

               

           Bix Beiderbecke and his gang, which often changed players

Apparently, jazz began in New Orleans at the turn of the twentieth century, as a culmination of African, Spanish, Italian, South American and French cultures.  The blues and marching band style combination with spontaneous music with syncopated “rag time” rhythms traveled up from the seaport town.  The Mississippi River carried African American and Caucasian musicians looking for better futures in Chicago, Illinois, making it the new center for jazz by 1920.   Jazz had always been in my grandfather’s blood.  My grandfather, Ralph C Wentz was born in Ottawa, Illinois, not too far from Chicago in July 7,1909.  He took piano lessons as a child paid for by his grandmother, and took his first piano job playing for silent movies in his father’s silent movie house in Geneseo, Illinois, which is where he grew up.  He then played ragtime in the band his father, Ralph Sr. and Uncle Harry Wentz formed and played in the area.  He studied piano at the Sheridan Institute of Music in Chicago in the early 1930s and then was hired by a piano company in Chicago.  America was in a great period of prosperity at this time, and the country was celebrating with jazz.  No doubt my grandfather was caught up in this progressive American sound and couldn’t resist the proximity or the excitement.  His Uncle Harry was the a pianist for one of the first caucasian jazz bands, Bix Biederbecke , in the quad cities on bordering Illinois and Iowa.  My grandfather ended up filling in for Uncle Harry occasionally at the stool, and ended up playing for Al Capone and at a nunnery, inadvertantly, at one point.  When he realized Capone was actually hiring him, he politely bowed out of these assignments.  I believe an ailing grandmother was mentioned.

                         

                           Where Wentz performed and met his bride-to-be

Chicago hosted the World Fair 1933-34 to showcase an age of progress and technical achievement, while it drew from the past achievements as well.  One of the exhibits at this fair was a jazz pianist playing his newest spontaneous styles of American jazz on a crystal piano turning on a pedestal.  My grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Alleman, visited the world’s fair and began to fall in love with the man playing the piano at the time.  He was to become my grandfather when they would meet again eleven years later in Junction City, KS, where she taught and he was stationed for the war.  He played with many bands during the “big band” or “swing” era in the USO, country clubs and VFW around World War ll, bands like Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, and Les Brown’s Band of Renown in the 1940s.  These bands made records, named after the famous trumpet, clarinet or vocal soloist they featured.    My grandfather moved close to Kansas City along with the jazz migration with a severe stomach ulcer from dealing with snipers and leading raids in the war.  He was sent to a Colorado hospital and then home to Lansing to die with his wife and children, when his ulcer perforated, speeding up the process.  Fortunately, a young country doctor stopped the bleeding with a new procedure and saved his life.  He already had one child by 1949, when my father came along and made two, and there would be two more. 

         

   Tommy Dorsey’s big band, whom my grandfather played with occasionally

KC it was the next big town to be known for “swing” and then “bebop”.  In 1948, my grandfather had his own band in KC and played with other bands as well.  The war draft caused the “big bands” to form these more intimate bebop groups featuring group improvisations, as band members were sent overseas.  He played in the Charlie “Bird” Parker band a little, although my grandfather preferred the rhythm driven and amplified “big band” or “swing” sound to the bebop style.  The music style would travel to New York, but my grandfather moved his family to Leavenworth and stayed in the Midwest.  This was where he remained for the duration of his life.

                                   

                   He played with Charlie “Bird” Parker a few times

My father, a part-time clarinetist, teacher and musician, remembers hearing his father practicing hours into the night after his latest gig.  My grandmother played piano, cello and coronet, and was musical as well.  I remember hearing my grandfather practice or play at dining establishments long after his career was largely over due to failing health.  Around 1948 he had started a piano tuning business, becoming the Piano Tuners’ Guild President in Kansas City in 1952.  During this year, my grandmother was sick with what was initially thought to be leukemia, and grandfather prayed at the chapel each day for her to recover, which she did.  He also appraised property in his small business and continued learning piano at the KC Conservatory of Music, where he shared some classes with Jay McShann. 

My grandmother would “deedle-dee-dee” around their historic house and dance with her finger to jazz on the radio, smiling at bygone memories and enjoying the moment, as she swept the floor after the hungry relatives, dog, two cats.  I was one of the silent grandkids who looked on amusedly, knowing that my grandmother did not like to clean.  After all those years, she still found joy in reliving those moments she spent with my grandfather while participating in the jazz culture firsthand.  She was always a progressive and people-oriented person herself.  Grandpa managed to live as a stable, loving husband and family man, father of four children, and maintain his jazz career through most of his life.  My grandmother always loved him and adored his music while she continued her teaching.

There was one other time I felt especially close to my grandfather after he was gone. As I sat in KC’s famous Jardine’s during a live jazz set with my husband and some friends, I turned my head towards the piano player almost expecting to see Grandpa Wentz sitting at the bench but seeing Joe Cartwright, instead.  His piano playing sounded just like my grandfather’s as I remembered hearing it.  His “bossa nova” La Luna Negra CD is my closest memento to a recording of my grandfather.  I found from my father that my grandfather tutored and mentored Joe Cartwright, a contemporary KC jazz legend, when he was young in a time when many parents discouraged their children from learning the jazz style over the classical styles.  At least one of my grandfather’s later students worked in lessons with my grandfather against the better judgement of their parents.  Maybe the newness, ethnic diversity, and working class roots of the music instilled fear in some people, as many creative, progressive movements do, that it would somehow make them less respectable or taint their morals merely by association.  Another student of my grandfather’s who is still playing the jazz circuit successfully all over the world is Gary Foster, who my grandfather introduced to his Leavenworth jazz trio, after gaining permission from his Gary’s parents to include him.  Gary Foster played at the Topeka Jazz Workshop Sunday, September 16th, and I would have liked to attend.  People say the Grandpa Wentz also sounds a lot like Oscar Peterson, one of his contemporaries in Canada.  I will have to give him a listen, now that I am on the jazz trail.

That innovation and collaborative combination of backgrounds which formed jazz are what make it so exciting to perform and listen to still, and are possibly the reason the rest of the world still listens to it, today.  Besides, Thomas More might say that a county’s character is defined by its everyday “rustics”, as they perform tasks, and as they celebrate life.  Jazz may have seen infamous moments, but it inspires me to collaborate with other artists, be a part in the fabric of life in my local community,  to let my art be an extension of my life experiences and past and present surroundings,  to be bold in my creativity,  to celebrate life expressively, to teach my children to always be innovative, to encourage others in their artistic pursuits, to spend more time enjoying the still organic KC jazz scene, to sing while I clean and to share this wonderful short classic cartoon called I LOVE TO SINGA produced by WB Merrie Melodies in 1936.  The film captures the tension between jazz and classical music in its emergence, resistance to new underground styles and a little human nature.  I love the happy ending.

h1

Hope – The Theme of Now

September 9, 2007

                                                           Harvest of Hope

Hope is such a powerful word and amazing thing to grasp.  We have been dealing with this theme lately with the ongoing battle with cancer that our son Caden is fighting.  Shannon produced a painting called Harvest of Hope based on events surround his stem cell harvest.  She is also working on a series of finding Hope in Hopeless Places that is ongoing.  Darin is working on a sculpture about the events surrounding his illness and the hope that we have.  There is an event that some balm friends are putting on coming up in October that relates to Art and Hope, that will benifit an AIDS charity and we would encourage you to be involved if there is any way that you are able.  Hope Lawrence describes itself as: 

“Hope Lawrence exists to give hope to those in need by connecting the arts community of Lawrence, KS to the plight of those ravished by the AIDS epidemic as well as other social concerns.  It is our belief that the arts can play an important role in bringing attention to problems that have been overlooked for far to long.  Everyone has something unique they can offer, and as artists we can lend our voice and talents in order to bring some relief to those who are suffering.

Our first Hope Lawrence event will take place on October 6th and 13th from 3:30-5:30pm in the basement of the Lawrence Community Center.  For two hours on these two Saturdays we will come together to paint, sculpt, and draw around the theme of Hope.  This will be a communinal creative experience where each person will work on their own piece but in a collective setting where we can get to know one another and see each others works in progress.  In addition to our individual pieces we will also have the opportunity to work on a collective mural.  The event will culminate on October 20 when we will hold an auction/street sale where we will sell the pieces in order to raise money for a charity addressing the issue of AIDS in Africa.  We will announce which charity here at this blog in the coming weeks.”  See Original Post

Without hope it is impossible to really live life.  So for this end we would say give hope to those who do not have it, so that they to can live a full life.  Do whatever part you can to make someone’s life a little better. 

Even though we have physically not been able to have a gathering for balm recently, we want to encourage you to keep creating.  We want to thank those in the art community that have reached out and encouraged us in many ways.  We would love to see what you are working on.  Send us your updates of what is going on in your life.  If you have an upcoming show, a spoken word reading, a short film, a new design, a painting, a print, a new musical piece, a sculpture, a weaving, a thought, new writings, or anything else you would deem creative, let us know about it.  Keep creating…hope.

h1

Designs From Life

August 5, 2007

So, as noted in our last post the reason we bailed out on the last gathering was that our amazing son Caden came down with childhood cancer.  Events like this tend to make one rethink everything about life.  I always prefer to play to my strengths rather than weaknesses (maybe this is a weakness?).  After trying to absorb the effects that this was going to have on our family’s life, I thought about if there was anything that I could do about this situation.  Realizing that I was completely and not just completely, but COMPLETELY unable to do anything about neuroblastoma in myself.  It was a not-so-nice-I-think-I-would-like-to-stop-the-world-and-get-off-for-a-while feeling.  So besides praying (which is very worthwhile, and highly recommended) I wanted to do something.  I decided that I would collect the paraphernalia from the events surrounding the cancer that Caden is fighting and produce a sculpture.  Shannon mentioned in the last post that I was working on a sculpture, but I forgot to post a sketch.  This is a rough sketch, but I think it embodies some of the ideas I am trying to address.  I am using the actual items that Caden sees daily, or when in the hospital.  I am basically making a history of the event in this way.  I am going to insert them (aesthetically of course) into clear resin and have them surround the object in the middle, which I am hoping will be the glass encapsulated preserved tumor.  I know, I know this may sound a little bizarre to some.  I think it is more about facing fear, and knowing that whatever we go through, no matter how painful, we can do it.  So ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’?  Maybe that is how life is.  The truth is in how we respond to what we are given, rather than what we are given.  I would love to say I haven’t had any fear in this whole ordeal, but that wouldn’t be true.  I appreciate the prayers of those who are praying, as we can feel them in a real way.  Caden has been wonderful throughout this whole situation.  His attitude is excellent and his smile is infectous.  We are so blessed to have him.  We are taking steps, small ones maybe, but steps to learning how to face our fears, to overcome them and realize that even though we don’t like it, we can learn from them and be better off even than before.

Sculpture Design for Caden   IMG_7676

darin m. white 2007 Copyright

All Rights Reserved

h1

Art & Life Update

July 28, 2007

Lately, we have been challenged with the juncture of our art and our life.  Our four year old son mr. c was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, which has caused us to rearrange our artistic schedule and look at life with wonder.  This is the cause of our delay in the parabolic b.a.l.m gathering.  If you would like to find out more about his situation, we welcome you to visit his site.  We process each day in the hospital and at home and these unfamiliar and uninvited happenings in expressions of all sorts — words, emotions, prayers, sketches, questions of existence and connectedness.  D is collecting medical paraphenalia to make a sculpture about this ordeal.  He is also involved in helping others produce their work and running our businessS is encouraged in her pursuit of affirming people even in or especially in seemingly hopeless situations through painting and otherwise.  For her, sometimes the art is a life of caring for our son and the family, enjoying the beauty of time together, seeing beauty in others, and other times it is creating a painting.  She is gathering the radiology scans right now, and doing artwork with little C as part of his therapy.  She appreciates clients’ understanding about time frames on portraits she is finishing. 

IMG_7739  IMG_7742

We have been affirmed in so many ways from so many people during this passage.  There is beauty to be found in and on the other side of the suffering because of the discoveries it brings.  About life, love and goodness.  While there is not as much time for us to sculpt and paint right now, we are seeing and creating artistically.   We are being formed by these experiences.

IMG_7743 IMG_7738 IMG_7741

There is so much artwork around the CMH and RMH that has enriched our lives and given us comfort, that we wanted to document and share a few pieces.  Without it our days would seem a little bleaker, like a world without color or variety or hope.  We love the personalities which are expressed and the benefits we have received from them sharing their creativity with us.  We thank Children’s Mercy Hospital for investing and presenting this artwork, as well as the Ronald McDonald house and all of the respective donors.   We are constantly learning about the connections there are between creativity and healing.  Mr. C benefits from music therapy times in CMH and times making crafts of all sorts.  Engaging in creativity seems to comfort, soothe, mirror, occupy, divert, give expression to emotions and draw out hope and life.  It is a productive way of bringing a tangible beauty to raw pain and emotions and engage with others.  We are exploring these parts of artistic expression as well, personally, and with others.  We have also found a couple outlets for artists or people who want to use art for healing.

IMG_7727 IMG_7737 IMG_7745IMG_7732 

We want to connect with all of you and update those of you we have not spoken with personally about this situation.  We plan to have gatherings for artists, still, and want to hear from you about what you are working on, going through, excited about and how that influences your work as well.   Please contact us with ideas or about hosting the next gathering.   We appreciate those of you who linked Mr. C’s website on yours, so that more people will know the situation that he is in. 

IMG_7736 IMG_7733IMG_7731 IMG_7725

h1

PARABOLIC P ART Y invitation – An evening of artistic discovery

June 23, 2007

Please pass the parabolic art and conversation.  Come explore with us through childlike creativity this graceful, physical and abstract form found all around us.  We plan to play with the themes of art inspired by sound, sight, movement and light.   Bring yourselves, possibly a pertinent work, your creativity, and a bowl of food.  Art lovers are welcome.  We will provide noodles of all sorts to eat and to sculpt.  Contact us for details. 

Parabolic P ART Y invitation AN EVENING OF ARTISTIC DISCOVERY

click image for invite

h1

A Dialog with the Director and Invitation to “An Abstract Alphabet: New Work by Stephen Johnson”

June 21, 2007

We were blessed greatly yesterday to have the opportunity to sit down with the wonderfully enjoyable  Saralyn Reece Hardy the director of the Spencer Museum of Art who in our humble opinion has done wonders for the museum as well as the art and artist’s of Lawrence, KS.  Her no nonsense approach, quick smile and charm but even more importantly her true love of the arts, has quickly positioned her as a liaison between the museum world and the artists in the world.  I would love to go more into our meeting, but we hope that this is an interview waiting to happen, as this was not the purpose of this visit.   During our discussion which ranged all over the board from the down and out of the world and how we as artists can assist them rather than use them, to ways how the Spencer is positioning itself in the community, to kids with their joys and trails and of course art.  Besides being an amazing resource of individual artists, Ms. Hardy suggested that we attend the opening of Stephen Johnson’s new show  “An Abstract Alphabet: New Work by Stephen Johnson” which is tonight May 21, 2007 at 5:30pm at the Spencer Museum of Art. 

Don, the artfully knowledgeable security guard showed us to “The Prints of Roger Shimamora” (which I highly recommend as well) and afterwards to the Stephen Johnson show. 

Roger Shimamora Kabuki Party 

I was struck, by Mr. Johnson’s since of humor and love of resin.  The basis of the pieces are from abstract descriptions of the alphabet.  Amazing landscape type paintings with a physical ladder, wrapped items that start with “w” to french fries flung on to a colorfield.  Perhaps the most intriguing piece to me was one I got right away without having to look at the title, which was entitled M – Meditation on the Memory of a Princess.  I asked Don where the pea was.  He promptly responded that it was hanging above the pink 8 layered blow up mattress.   We hope to see many of you tonight!  Below is the article reproduced from the Spencer Museum of Art website.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

An Abstract Alphabet: New Work by Stephen Johnson
May 19 – August 5, 2007
Central Court

Expanding on Robert Rauschenberg’s playful curiosity with new materials, Marcel Duchamp’s concept of the “ready-made,” and Jeff Koons’ modus operandi of art as readily accessible, Stephen Johnson’s An Abstract Alphabet explores new ways of pulling abstractions from the real. Originally developed as a concept for a children’s book in 2001, this alphabet series has evolved into a body of work that uses a range of materials and interchanges collage, painting and sculpture. For each letter of the alphabet, Johnson has taken an ordinary object and made it unfamiliar, removing functionality to reveal the metaphorical associations that lie within. The Spencer is delighted to present the public debut of this work. The accompanying book, A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet, will be published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Children in fall 2008.

Press:

johnson 1  Stephen Johnson B 

Johnson 3  Johnson 4

original article________________________________________________

 

 

 

    Johnson 1
h1

Art Talk

June 18, 2007

At the End of May Darin & Shannon were invited to come speak to 23 people about the value of art and balm at a gathering in Grove, Oklahoma located in a quaint restaurant called Tiramisu in conjuction with Blazon Studio

Blazon Studio Front 

After the talk, we went next door to the gallery to discuss our work.  We want to thank Larry Cole the owner of the gallery and Joan Ramsey the gallery manager as well as all of the people that helped pull this gathering together.   We look forward to seeing some of you in Lawrence to create together soon.

 Shannon in Gallery Discussing Work  D&S Images in Gallery

                                                      Darin’s Sculpture Gallery View  Purity II Gallery View

We were also thankful to stay at a relative’s lake house on Grand Lake which had a beautiful view and was very peaceful.  Thank you Dave & Ann!  We saw red foxes, pelicans, woodpeckers, ducks, geese and many other species of birds outside our windows.  All these things fed our artist souls.  We were certainly refreshed and excited to be a part of the arts in Oklahoma.  You can view our art in the gallery on the Oklahoma television news syndicates three times from the last several months, as well.

Grand Lake View 

If you are interested in having us speak at a gathering or gallery please contact us at balm-.-org-at-wordpress-.-com (remove the dashes and replace at with the symbol). 

h1

Reflections on Works in Progress Gathering

June 3, 2007

WORKS IN PROGESS GATHERING Image 5WORKS IN PROGESS GATHERING Image 6

WORKS IN PROGESS GATHERING Image 7WORKS IN PROGESS GATHERING Image 1 

A group of artists, all works in progress, enjoyed sharing our workmanship with one another over the Cinco de Mayo festivities.  We celebrated our freedom to create and gather together at Jane’s wonderful Lawrence studio over margeritas and delicious Mexican food. 

Then we settled into a critique of works in progress.  The large colorful Japanese inspired paintings belong to Jane.  The artwork inspired deep conversation, as Brad shared of his  recent trip to Hawaii playing music with Jack Johns and worshiping here.  He mentioned how landscape and region inspire style.  Ingrid showed us her spontaneous painting of a local prairie fire at night,  and Jay talked about his stone work and guild, as well as issues of figuration in art. Congratulations to Jay on becoming a fire chief, by the way.  Marc invited us to discuss his revised film script narration on a father and son relationship before his last editing session – what a privilege.  Shannon shared new figurative works in a series of assemblages for dialogue, and a two life portrait panels with text.  There was so much to see and discuss, food for thought.  Darin and Janea declined to share their pieces to make way for others, as we could have talked all night.  We thank all the people who came and contributed to the conversations.  Artists love to talk about their’s and others’ work!  Several artists expressed interest in visiting each others’ studios to talk about life and work one on one on a regular basis.  Let’s keep encouraging each other to create.

We enjoy seeing you all around town and at these gatherings.  A few places we have seen artist friends around town are shown below (Farmer’s Market, Art Togeau Parade, downtown, SEED lectures):

  Art Car Parade 1 Farmers Market Balm Farmers Market Musician 

Art Car Parade 2 downtown art

h1

Jane’s Library Show

May 12, 2007

Jane Flanders who hosted our WORKS IN PROGRESS GATHERING is having a show in the Lawrence Public Library.  The show runs the month of May, 2007.   The majority of the show are abstract oil paintings showing a nest series.  The show is in conjunction with The Lawrence Art Guild.  Jane’s nest series is on the west wall of the south entrance to the library.  She has some naturalistic work depicting rustic farm tractors in local located on the south wall of the east entrance to the library.  This is a worthwhile show to attend, as well as giving you an excuse to check out some art books at the library.  The other day we rented a short film shot in 1915 as well.   

Jane Flanders Lawrence Public Library Images

click on image to enlarge

%d bloggers like this: