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

Posts tagged “Philadelphia

a modernistic memory | the “el” @ 52nd and market street | west philly

“A Modernistic Memory” is a new conceptual series based on the connectivity of memory attachments as they relate to places of significance in my past.

701F654A-0B99-48A6-B835-D7FCDD6A77B9


Image

a modernistic memory | the corner deli in manayunk | sorrentino’s | philadelphia pa

916381FB-5D8D-4EA9-A040-7F427D56C167


variations, rewind and remixes | postcards and influences 01

variations rewinds and remixes art influences 01 300 dpi text

I often start a new series. Never quite knowing their origins, or where they will lead me. Several series that I have developed, such as Post Canvas and Paint, Data Complexes, Variations, Rewind and Remixes are just that: Endless conceptual ideologies of ambiguities in form and structure, that for the most part, have emerged from past artistic influences. Every new work builds on something from the past: An exhibit here. A performance there. A poet’s word softly translated. An image seared in memory. Newly discovered places … deep dark places and beautiful heavens. And of course, there is the reflection in the mirror and memories behind everything. I enjoy working from my past. It seems at times to be all I know. So in this series of Variations, Rewind and Remixes, I will simply re-examine my catalog of artistic influences in a new way. Back in 2011, I created several posts under the title “In the Reflective Mirror | Various Artistic Influences”, and asked the question … When searching for meaning in a catalogue of artistic events, does one art form influence another? And I can say, that in both a direct and subliminal manner, that it does indeed influence the way I see and create art.

Below are links to several of those earlier posts.

http://wp.me/p1f97v-7C

http://wp.me/p1f97v-8B


Image

Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful | For The Road Back Home

Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful | For The Road Back Home

Taking the road back home. Traveling north on route 13 along the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Having just left Virginia Beach via the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel, our destination is Philadelphia. We are thankful for a beautiful morning with a lovely fog filled landscape. Looking forward to seeing my grandchildren and family.


Image

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green | The Park

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green

This is an interesting challenge. And a challenge to post mainly because it is asking for a multiple of images per post. However, because I am using my phone to post to the challenge, I do not have the capability, or have not figured out, how to post multiple images. Sigh. So please bear with me with the single image.

Nothing brings green to the forefront like a park. This digital collage created in 1997, is one of my first large-scale (42″ x 48″) prints. I’ve always loved this piece. I took all the park photos in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia while biking and hiking. I combined them with archival photos of my family in Central Park and 4th of July picnics. Green dominates the feeling of the piece. Lush and beautiful. The Park 1997.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal

Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal

Another great challenge: Renewal. It certainly can be seen and expressed in many forms. This piece is from “The City Series” and is entitled “Across The River The City That Sleeps With Dreams.” Both the city and our dreams can be a starting point to or a departure point from when finding the path to renewal. In my own experience; one of past substance abuse and present recovery, the city and leaving it was the impetus for renewal. I found a new way to dream. I may never return to the big city life, for now living in a rural setting with mountains, have given me a new lease on life. Next up for the challenge of renewal are mountains.


Moments In Time (A Yesterday Video Remix)

Sometimes moments in time are like the possession of precious jewels only remembered briefly…..

My latest video entitled “Moments In Time (A Yesterday Video Remix)” starts off with clips from previous videos and a multimedia performance before evolving into my most recent ventures of 2012; finding new forms in the mountains of Western North Carolina. My early video work began back in 1988. Of course there were no digital cameras, and we had to use those large, bulky, VHS Cameras. At the time I was fortunate to have some rather unique video editing software, and hardware courtesy of my Amiga 1000 digital suite and the third-party supplier of a video mixer called the Genlock. Now with a HD digital camera, there is much higher resolution, creating a more definitive, sharper image. I recently purchased the Avid Studio Pro video software, and hope that the quality, and versatility will yield several levels of high performance (within a modest price range).

One of the major traits in the processing of my previous video work, has been my ability to layer video sources. So I am looking forward to using this new capability (the latest digital hardware and software) to continue this process. In the end I hope to create thought-provoking video imagery that is abstract, ambient. and minimalistic.

So I hope you enjoy what I think may be a transitional video on the path to new ideas, and processes.

Moments In Time (A Yesterday Video Remix)….

http://youtu.be/6ti_CrYaRzk


Urban Contemplation: 14 – The Industrial Revolution and its Deconstruction

The city series….

The forming of an industrial moment in time

The cities where the industrial revolution was founded….

I remember the period in our American history, when the industrial revolution was coming to an end. I was in my mid-twenties and working as a Process Engineer at the DuPont Company. If you were a young person in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s trying to believe in the American dream, a job with the DuPont Company was a great place to start.

Or so I thought. Little to my knowledge, things were about to get very difficult. Life was going to become very hard. The way in which our society ran and governed its social, civil, economic and political spheres were about to change.

The social agenda of the New Deal that sustained the dreams of many families and individuals would slowly be deconstructed until it (with the hopes of some) would be gone forever.

In the mid-seventies, early 1980’s and in 1991 we had economic recessions of various lengths. They were short, but a tell-tale sign of things to come. In 2001 we had another recession. These four recessions were not as severe as the present recession; however, the factors that led to these five occurrences over time are similar; deregulation, the creation of a “false paper economy” and an insidious construct to shift the wealth from the middle class to the wealthy.

And unfortunately it is working.

I was laid off from my job at DuPont after having worked there for four years. Still emerging from the perception that all you had to do was start at an entry level position with a good company; move up the ladder and retire 30 years later. Remember how your parents or grandparents followed this rule and uplifted themselves into the middle-class? It appears that in 2011, that route to the middle-class is long since gone and not returning any time soon. It is a global world now. It is now a have and have not world that is shattering the dreams of many. It is 146 million Americans in the United States living in poverty or near the poverty line. It is a health care system that is dysfunctional and over-wrought with cost. It is an education system that is mostly for profit (remember when the California State Schools were free). It is a manufacturing sector that barely exists.  And it is a corrupt body of government that wants to protect the rich, sustained the rich and become rich, at the expense of the poor.

And the attack is calculated and vicious to the core.

But I love America. With all its faults, it still has the potential to be a great nation. But we must learn from our past, and if possible turn back the hand of time just for a moment. And perhaps in that moment we can have a true political and social conversation, wherein we remember what we fought so hard for—a fair and equal society for all.

This post is in support of all those who participate in the Occupy Wall Street protests in America and around the world.


From Across the Park I See the Brownstones Decaying (Recovery Remix 2011)

The city series….

The cyclical life of urban decay

from across the park

i remember

seeing

the place where all this started

the decaying brownstones

and

embracing the thirst that consumes

seeking awareness

in things we knew not of

finding the descent that limits

and subtracts

life

the city was dying…

and we too for years to come


Weekly Photo Challenge: Windows

Windows at Highwire Gallery – Island, Water, Bridge exhibit 1993….

What illumination, the light shinning through; creating the perfect ambience for the found art installation.

The windows at highwire gallery - the second street art building


Urban Contemplation 07: On Either Side of that Door It’s the Same

The city series….

Towards the open door….

caught in between

feeling things folding inward

there i stand

seeing things unknown

a future with no past

a past with no ending…

caught in between

magic and lost

a guiding light

a promised home

and there i stand…

with my intangible destiny

at the crossroad of life

  before…

the uncertain door….

Featured video for this post … the artist “A Dancing Beggar” and the song “Returning” from the CD “Follow the Dark as if it Were Light”.

http://youtu.be/iziXU3uV8oA

On either side of that door it's the same

The ambiguities of life are like the opening of a door. We never know for sure what we will discover on the other side.

But one thing is certain… on either side of that door it’s the samethere’s memory and hope.

What are your thoughts? When you arrive at that “uncertain door” what is your reaction? What is your hope?


Urban Contemplation: 06 – Dreams that Never Breach the Walls of Sleep

The city series….

Dreams that never breach the walls of sleep….

Urban decay a place of broken dreams

The dreams that search for the freedom from sleep….


Urban Contemplation 05

The city series….

The Door (Recovery Remix 2011)

Transformation: finding new places to find oneself

The door that leads from the city


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


How Can I know If You Believe In Me (a short reprise)

on a sea of glass

a reflection of what you believe

is it me

or my imagination

that is dreaming

believing in

the beautiful times gone by

and forgotten moments

now and forever

— for us

Now and forever believe in me


Life on the Edge of Nothingness

Remove yourself from the painful past and uncertain future

Sometimes in the waking we often remember that life exist with its
own set of difficulties. It seems as if we are living in perpetual change and in
transitional states of being. We are confronted with interpersonal
relationships that need our undivided attention, support, and unwavering love—while
simultaneously we must seek solutions to a world struggling with civil,
political and social unrest. It is a monumental task at times to remove oneself
from the painful past and an uncertain future. But for the sake of the communities
we live in, and our children—we must
take that leap of faith i.e. believe in something greater than ourselves,
struggle against all odds, and see beyond living on the edge of nothingness.

This piece entitled “Remove Yourself from the Painful Past and
Uncertain Future” is a reminder of how we must move from one place to another
throughout our lives, both figuratively and literally. Sometimes there is pain involved in that move. I created this piece
back in 2003 when I was going through a period of personal change, and
recollection. It was one of a series of works that reflected on a transitional time
in my life, where I needed to migrate both physically and emotionally. Part of
that process was a physical move from Pennsylvania to South Carolina.
The other part of that move was internal—from a place on the edge of nothingness—to
a place on the edge of everything….

I found that a place on the edge of everything is a beautiful place indeed.


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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“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


30-Day Song Challenge: Day 14

30-Day Song Challenge: Day 14 asks the question what is “a song that no one would expect you to love”?

The song that inspired this post. Read the summary first, then view the video.

http://youtu.be/P237zpWbPRM    The Waterboys – Bang on the Ear 1988

Okay, you have to visualize this
true story to absorb the moment.

It is 1989 in the urban landscape
which is West Philadelphia. The streets are lined with row homes, some occupied,
others abandoned. The row homes cast deep, long, shadows onto the pavements
where the trees have long since been cut down. The shadows are created from the
orange florescent-crime prevention lights hanging ominously from above. I
remember distinctly when Philadelphia changed from ordinary street lamps to
these supposedly crime preventing monoliths.  There is an eerie glow and a surreal feeling
as I drive my 1987 Toyota MR2 towards the corner of 52nd and
Catherine Street.

It is the middle of summer and the
temperatures are in the low 8o’s at 2:30 a.m. It is hot and humid. There are
some young kids out playing in the streets, and I wonder why they aren’t in
bed. But this is Philly, and there is a never sleep embodiment that pervades.
There is also a contrasting sense of culture that sometimes invades places
unknown….

I am listening to the cassette
tape of The Waterboys and the song “Bang on the Ear”. My windows are down and
the volume is up. I approach the intersection and on my left a teen, dressed in
true urban, black, hip-hop gear, is standing smoking a joint. Our eyes connect
for a moment. I am waiting for the traffic light to change. It’s taking its
time, when all of a sudden the youth in rebellion jumps into a country square
dance. “Whoa”, I say to myself, “he is so cool and down by law”, as his arms and
legs move in perfect rhythm to the beat of the Waterboys pumping from my car.

It is a surreal moment indeed as
time stands still. I watch him, watching me, as he performs specifically for
me. The light changes, I smile, give him a thumb up and slowly pull off.

I will never forget that
encounter. It reminds me of how art and music transcends, transforms and
connects our different cultural backgrounds. In a moments’ notice we can be
swept away by something new, different and exciting.

Enjoy the song. It has the beat of life 🙂

p.s. “down by law” means “one who has authority” in urban slang.

Bonus Song

Billy Bragg – You Woke Up My Neighborhood 1991

You Woke Up my Neighborhood


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.


Post Canvas and Paint 02: in the lightness of being blue

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As an artist, I am sometimes feeling a little blue and uncertain about to which idea I need to explore. It is then that I find the process of creating which I use in my ongoing Post Canvas and Paint series liberating. That ambiguity found “in the lightness of being blue” is washed away amid the beauty of finding an intuitive way of moving from one image to another.

In this particular Post Canvas and Paint series, I start with numerous paused video images of works from my past installations and performances. They are photographed or captured digitally and remixed for this series.

The color blue dominates the vision and feeling of the series. It is the starting element that embodies each image. While the color blue sets the mood for this particular Post Canvas and Paint series, what is consistent throughout all of them is the organic and the patterned designs. As I have stated in previous writings (artist summary @ website: newdigitalscapes.com) on the methodology of the series, it is my intent to remain true to the digital process i.e. recognizing and imploring the intricate, microtonal possibilities inherent to the computer. I take this approach by allowing the computer to contribute its infinite source of geometric abstractions, digital glitches, visual drones, disintegrating loops of color and focus, underlying beats and rhythms, and tonal variations.

The most important thing I would like to achieve in this process is establishing a rhythm in my own inner intuition—feeling the next step and incorporating it into the another image. This is the objective of the series i.e. for each image to move effortlessly to the next….

It is adding while becoming, and finally, being no different from the previous as a whole.


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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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