words and art by w a l t e r w s m i t h

Philadelphia

Urban Contemplation 04

The city series….

Across the River the City that Sleeps with Dreams….

The city that sleeps with dreams


Urban Contemplation 03

The city series….

Maybe Tomorrow a Better Possibility (Recovery Remix 2011)

8 a.m.

tell me the lies

say that you love me

come back to haunt me

for days without end

and nights without rest

the bittersweet siren call

the addict’s sad song

3 a.m.

This post is dedicated to a dear friend, may he rest in peace. It was his kind, centered, and wise words that showed me the way to a better tomorrow.


Urban Contemplation 02

The city series….

The Playground (Recovery Remix 2011)….

Take me away from the place where all this started…this desire.

The playground


The Fun House @ Highwire Gallery: 1991 / Dreaming in Future Tense / a 2011 remix

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“Sometimes we turn the pages in the Book of Memories and come to remember the children who dream in future tense”…..

The Highwire Gallery production of The Fun House
workshop began in March 1991 at the Sayre Morris Community Center in West
Philadelphia and concluded with a performance in May. Funded by the PA Council
on the Arts, the goal was to bring together a group of children and introduce
them to the arts. Our focus would be on dance, performance, music and the visual
arts. Another important part of the workshop was for it to be a community
service, which merged different ethnic backgrounds and communities. For the
eleven girls who participated in the workshop, the hope was to inspire personal
challenges and the pursuit of their dreams. Everyone involved, the artists of
Highwire Gallery, the kids, Empress our musical director, Sandra Lynn our choreographer,
and “DADA” (Dancers Against Drug Abuse) met the challenge and worked hard to
make the program a huge success.

How do we encourage our children to dream, a dream that
inspires, enriches and motivates them to reach for the sky, and to touch just one of the millions of snowflakes that
can be found in the realm of possibilities? How do we lead them by the hand,
through the garden of hopes and dreams?

The Kids at Sandy Beach 2011

I think we do it one child at a time, one school at a time, one
project at a time, and as one community. Children love to discover, and be creative.
I strongly believe that the arts will provide them with the tools they will need for exploring their
imagination and giving birth to their dreams.

What do you feel is our children’s greatest need? What resources in our society would you like to see be provided for the well being and growth of our children? Do you believe that the arts, especially at a young age, is a vital tool for encouraging creative thinking and problem solving?

What do you think?

Select the link below for a dream-like journey into a contemporary child’s lullaby.

http://youtu.be/p3HGyXa0mjM

Winter Poem by Nikki Giovanni 

once a snowflake fell

on my brow and i loved

it so much and i kissed

it and it was happy and called its cousins

and brothers and a web

of snow engulfed me then

i reached to love them all

and i squeezed them and they became

a spring rain and i stood perfectly

still and was a flower

— Author and poet Nikki Giovanni

From “The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni”

And last but not least in this journey of dreams…a short animation.

http://youtu.be/e-sj8_UvD2A


Maybe Tomorrow a Better Possibility / Resolution and Redemption

http://youtu.be/6Gc0oD7okEk

Maybe Tomorrow a Better Possibility / Resolution and Redemption was first conceived as a collaborative project with video artist Walter Smith and fellow artist / singer / actor and friend, Ronald Freeman in 1994. The emotional impetus for the project was the ever increasing urban decay surrounding us in Philadelphia. Through substance abuse, drug warfare, and a rapid deterioration of its infrastructure, we came to see our beloved city in a struggle for survival. The original song, Hunger for Holiness, which accompanied the original video was written and sang by Ronald. The composition sought to give insight to the problems and plight of the urban construct and hope for a better tomorrow. In this remixed version, a dreamlike jazzy trance score replaces the composition to create an otherworldly sense of ambiguity, but again hope.

Maybe Tomorrow a Better Possibility / A Self Portrait of Resolution and Redemption


Post Canvas and Paint 03: The Whipping Machine Acid Flex Dance Remix

The Whipping Machine Acid Flex Dance Remix 1989 / 2010

http://youtu.be/rvSKJjCkVx0  Youtube video

In continuing the Post Canvas and Paint series, I am presenting a video piece entitled The Whipping Machine Acid Flex Dance Remix 1989 / 2010. It is a video art abstraction created as a video segment of The Whipping Machine, a multi-media performance of modern dance theatre performed at The Painted Bride Art Center in June of 1989 in Philadelphia. Utilizing the Amiga 1000 computer and multi-layering soft and hardware effects, I explore the pulsating ambient rhythm of marbled abstraction. In this segment the video represents the mesmerizing intoxication and manipulation by the industrial complex on the masses. Today I am posting this piece as a reflection of our current political and economic struggles.

Stay informed and stand up to tyranny and deception.


In the Reflective Mirror / Various Artistic Influences 04: searching for moments of meaning in a catalogue of events

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When searching for meaning in a catalogue of artistic events,
does one art form influence another?

Looking back through my history of art exhibits, shows, and performances,
I wonder how these events have influenced my art to date.  In pondering this rather profound question, I
also must ask how the art of others have influenced my work as well. Can I be,
as well as my art, a product of both a historical and contemporary mindset of various
artistic disciplines? Does art from such masters as Salvador Dali, or Matisse
in painting, or Rodin in sculpture, or performance and visual art from my peers
Lili White, Constance Kocs, or Paul Curci respectively, and the post-modern dance / avant-garde operas of Pina Bausch compel
the creative spark as well as say a musical performance by jazz artist John
Coltrane or minimalist Steve Reich?

As an artist, I’ve always thought it was extremely important
to be both creative and observant.  Art
flows through the eyes of the artist, into the interpreting mind, through the reflective
soul and back into world.

I began drawing and painting at an early age while listening
to “Soul” music from such artists as The Temptations, Sam and Dave, Diana Ross and
Marvin Gaye.  But in 1970 at age 14 while
browsing through my older cousins’ record collection, I came across two visually
stunning album covers. They were Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies and Miles Davis’
Kind of Blue. I had never heard of these musicians, but the combination of the on
stage black background and their psychedelic shirts full of abstract color led
me to investigate. The music was incredible. It was provocative, edgy, exploratory,
and new. Here is a perfect example of how visual stimulation of one kind led to
the discovery of something completely new in the form of sound and improvisational
composition.

Yes, with our imagination, one art form can influence the
discovery of another and how it is translated into a new vision.

Over the years, as I moved from painting to digital art, I continued
to maintain a traditional approach to my art while simultaneously embracing and
supplementing it with all things contemporary. I would like to think that my
digital art can and does incorporate the movement of dance in its lines, the conceptualization
of operatic design in its production, the intricate sound and improvisation of minimalism,
and jazz in its syncopated patterns.  And color…lots of color, insight, intuition,
and emotion—full of warmth, that when observed closely can be found in the arts
of old and new.

What do you think? As an artist, musician, poet, dancer,
patron, blogger, or lover of creativity, does one form of art influence
another?

For me it is interesting that as I explore this new
expression called blogging, my subliminal intent is to somehow have art
influence how I blog and the tool of blogging become part of the process of
creating art.

In the meantime enjoy the slide show: In the Reflective
Mirror / Various Artistic Influences 04: searching for moments of meaning in a
catalogue of events.

  • Towards the Reflection of Art, Digital Artist,
    Walter Smith
  • 19 American Artists, Highwire Gallery, Berkgerk,
    Deventer 1990
  • Constance Kocs, Highwire Artist
  • Meredith Monk: 1987 Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn
    Academy of Music
  • Dance at BAM: Next Wave Festival , Digital Remix
    2011 Walter Smith
  • Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal, Gebirge: 1984 Next Wave Festival,
    Brooklyn Academy of Music
  • Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal, Arien: 1984 Next Wave Festival,
    Brooklyn Academy of Music
  • Philadelphia Artists Cooperative (Highwire
    Gallery) founded 1987
  • Sometimes in the Waking the Reality is More
    Pressing than the Dream, review, City Paper,
    2000
  • Pina Bausch, Steve Reich, Next Wave Festival,
    Brooklyn Academy of Music
  • Statements After the Arrest Under the Immorality
    Act, Wilma Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa
  • Louvre, Paris, France 1990
  • Lili White, Highwire Artist
  • Paul Curci, Highwire Artist, City Paper
    Publisher, Philadelphia, Pa
  • Steve Reich, minimalist composer
  • Miles Davis, jazz composer
  • Dance at BAM: Next Wave Festival , Digital Remix
    2011 Walter Smith
  • The Birth
    of the Poet
    : 1985 Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, photo
    Beatriz Schiller,  Digital Remix 2011, Walter
    Smith
  • Billie Holiday & Dechen Shak-Dagsay
  • Stigmata, (Michael Davenport & George
    Wolstenholme) electronic music composers
  • Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker,
    jazz composers
  • Post Canvas and Paint Series 10.14.2010.8:07.a.m.
    Digital Artist, Walter Smith

In the Reflective Mirror / Various Artistic Influences 03: why ask questions about art

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What do you expect from art? How does art feel when it is
found? Where do you find art? Can art be here but not there? Is art on the
street? Why is art beautiful? Is art beautiful only when seen? Does art answer philosophical
questions? Does your child make art knowingly? Is art around the corner from
where you live? Do you dine near art? Is art inside your home, but not on your
wall? Can art be lost? Does art have longevity and sustainability? Is art your
religion? Is point A to point B art? Is art in an industrial park or in a
trailer park or in the park? Is art mobile? Is art agile? Is art sensitive unto
itself? Is art fragile? Does art have emotions? Is art dead?

What is modern art? What is post-modern art? What is
impressionism? What is expressionism? What is conceptualism? Is art abstract?
Is art figurative? Is art delineated by isms? Is art an analog tape loop? Is
art a digital sequence? Is art a light reflected? Is art a moment in time? Is
art a movement in contrast? Is art a reality unknown? Can art be more than it appears? Is
art a collection of artists? Is art a contract? Can art be voided, misplaced or
oppressed? Does art need to be more? Does art save the day? Can art save when it
has failed? Will art survive when it is destroyed? Does art breathe? Will art breathe
in us? Is art under water, in the sky, in a mother’s womb, or found bathed in silence?
Does art give birth? Is art alive?

What do you think? Why ask questions about art?

In the meantime enjoy the slide show: In the Reflective
Mirror / Various Artistic Influences.

  • The Whipping Machine, Collective Enterprises
    Productions 1989, Painted Bride Art Center
  • The Whipping Machine, Michael Davenport, Walter
    Smith, Van Grimes 1989
  • The Whipping Machine, Painted Bride Art Center, 1989
    Philadelphia Pa.
  • Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music
  • Molissa Fenley and Dancers, Geologic Moments: Next
    Wave Festival 1986, original photo Marcus Leatherdale, digital remix Walter
    Smith
  • Critics Pick, Solo Exhibition, Computer Art, Villanova Art Gallery 2001, Walter Smith & First Friday,
    Walter Smith, Robert Wulbrecht, Marita Fitzpatrick
  • 2 Men 4 Walls 1 Month, Highwire Gallery 1991,
    Walter Smith & Mark Stolte
  • Eiko & Koma’s New Moon Stories: Next Wave
    Festival 1986, original photo Marcus Leatherdale, digital remix Walter Smith
  • Commodore Amiga Computer, Genesis of Computer Art 1985
  • Michael Clark and Company: Next Wave Festival
    1986, original photo Marcus Leatherdale
  • Ash Ra Tempel, The Gatherings Concert Series, St Mary’s Church,
    University of Pa.
  • Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker: Next Wave Festival
    1986, Brooklyn Academy of Music 1986
  • Scenes from CIVIL warS, Act v – the Rome
    section, by Robert Wilson and Philip Glass, original photo Peter Simon, digital
    remix Walter Smith
  • Steve Roach, Ambient Music, & Relache, Philadelphia Ensemble for Contemporary
    Music, 1987
  • John Cage: Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy
    of Music 1986, photo Peter Hujar
  • Life and Stolen Innocence, Walter Smith, Highwire
    Gallery 1992, Philadelphia Pa
  • Philip Glass: Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn
    Academy of Music 1986, original photo Lynn Davis, digital remix Walter Smith
  • Robert Wilson: Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn
    Academy of Music 1986, original photo Peter Hujar, digital remix Walter Smith
  • Impossible Theater Social Amnesia: Next Wave
    Festival 1986, original photo by Erik Kvalsvik, digital remix Walter Smith
  • Merce Cunningham’s Summerspace  with scenery and costumes by Robert
    Rauschenberg, original photo by Jack Mitchell, digital remix Walter Smith
  • Post Canvas and Paint Series 10.13.2010.6:48.a.m.
    Digital Artist, Walter Smith

In Celebration of a Life Deeply Loved 01

Dionanna Lady McFadden-Smith

In Celebration of a Life Deeply Loved 01

A Rose

A long slender Rose represents my life

The Rose is sensitive, elegant, delicate…

But Vicious

Harsh to the touch

Manipulating…Deceiving

She makes you want to touch but

You may not touch

Sharp thorns protect her

The Rose is peace, love, beauty

Her red petals speak of love,

Passion, deep down feelings

The Rose needs care

Lots of care

Water, water…constantly

Soil…Rich soil nurtures her mind

Makes her beautiful

The ground is her home

Hard, solid, tough

Nature is her world

 

By

Lady McFadden

February 10th 1992


Reconnecting with members of Highwire Gallery

Found art exhibit from the "Island" on the Delaware River

It has been an interesting past few days. Via Facebook, I have been able to start reconnecting with members of Highwire Gallery.  In the late 1980’s a group of artists joined together to create the Philadelphia Artists Cooperative which later became Highwire Gallery Inc. An innovative and cutting edge group of artists began finding unique places to exhibit their work in downtown Philadelphia. Some shows were in abandoned lumber yards and cathedrals, market places like the Reading Terminal, and various galleries, historical locales and even a found art exhibit on an island on the Delaware River. During this period, a bond among the artists, and a direction for the cooperative was formed. A permanent locale was founded in 1990 at the 2nd Street Art Building. The 2nd Street Art Building was a distinct hub of creativity with its housing of four galleries in Old City Philadelphia. Throughout the years and to this day Highwire, with its ever-changing host of artists, remains a vibrant and fresh creative force in Philadelphia.

I hope through this blog to connect with my fellow Highwire artists and invite them to talk about our experience together and their own creative pursuits since leaving the group. I am also interested in the thoughts and ideas of the artists that have sustained and promoted the co-op to this present day.  As time evolves, it remains vitally important that our connection to our past is remembered, and that the ideas of those who hold the future of Highwire past through us all. In doing so we bring together as one, the words, vision, and thoughts that sustain us and the legacy of the Philadelphia Artist Cooperative.