Artists at work. OK to make noise. Also mess.

Posted on September 25, 2011


I always do what Louan Lechler says when it comes to music, and she said I needed to hear Les Dalgliesh sing his songs.  So there I was at Lindy Bishop’s Seed Studio, where Les and Patrick Harrison were the featured musicians for the monthly Sketch Live Music evening.  The place was littered with creative people—Bill Hosner, Jerry Douglas, Ken Scott, Joani Braun, Lindy, Louan her ownself—at work. Or play. Or both.  It all depends on how you look at it, doesn’t it?

I don’t have the merest glimmer of an idea of how any of them do what they do. I just go along for the ride.  Then I come home and I can’t sleep for all the new things bouncing around inside my head and I end up taking the dogs for a long walk in the dark.  So here’s what I saw. No—here’s how I saw. You would have seen differently.  Come along next month and you can.  Slideshow at the end.  It should be done loading by the time you get through reading.

  • Les Dalgliesh (singer/songwriter/guitarist) and Pat Harrison (harmonica player/storyteller/vegetable carver) performed songs guaranteed to resonate with a North Country crowd.  And with people who love steam engines.  (Pat says everyone who plays the harmonica loves steam engines.  Les says everybody needs a Trouble Song and a Lake Michigan Song.)  I scribbled scraps all over my moleskin, no idea which song any one of ’em is from, but they linger in my brain.
    • there’s a storm blowin’ up on Lake Michigan . . . out in the Manitou Passage – there’s something in your soul that holds you to this damned old town – if this rain could wash these dirty years away – seems like I’ve spent a lifetime in the belly of a train – I go out at night ’cause I hear that distant call – you look around and there is nothing everywhere . . .
  • Bill Hosner’s hand moved as if it were sculpted from light, leaving the merest eyelash behind with each gesture. He bent to peer under Les’s hatbrim so he could figure out what was hiding there.  Then he sketched not it, but its camouflage.  As the details accumulated, eyelash by eyelash, an image emerged that I would swear was made of blood and bone.
  • Jerry Douglas laid down a layer of colors that sparkled like circus spangles, then topped it with a flannel blanket—but I could still tell that it sparkled underneath.  So now what we have is musicians as high-wire acrobats in polo shirts and jeans.  How does he do that???
  • It turns out Lindy Bishop is ambidextrous, which explains a lot. (I think maybe Bill is ambidextrous, too, but I didn’t catch him at it.)  She likes to work with fat oil sticks in big, swooping movements. There are gingerbread men hiding in her paintings.  She knows she’s having fun when the process is messy.
  • Joani Braun worked in watercolors and did something I always long to do.  She rearranged the world and made it work her way.
  • Ken Scott started with a vision of a possibility, applied practiced technique to serendipity, and watched to see what would happen. I would have bought tickets to witness him put it all together. If you have broadband, you can see the stop-motion video he came up with.  (I, of course, will have to wait until my next trip to the library.)  I’m thinking it would be interesting to watch Ken photograph Andy Goldsworthy at work.

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I would be seriously remiss if I did not give you these websites:

  • William Hosner
  • Jerry Douglas
  • Ken Scott’s Flickr stream
    I have sent you here before. You will not be sorry to visit the site again.
  • Lindy Bishop’s Seed Studio and Gallery
  • Les Dalgliesh on Myspace  (you can listen to some of his songs and sketch whatever you want)
  • Pat Harrison gets complicated.  He plays harmonica.  He tells stories.  He . . . well.  He is a Sculptor, Musician and Cartoonist at Lord of the Gourd Pumpkin, Fruit and Vegetable Sculpture.  Why?  You may well ask.  “It eliminates that whole starvin’ artist thing,” he says.  Man after my own heart.  After all, I live in Antrim County because it’s chock full of farmers, and they are in charge of the food.  I can’t believe I’m posting a link to a Facebook page but waste not want not: Lord of the Gourd