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Jeremy Charbonneau

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Jeremy Charbonneau (b. 1976) is a Seattle-area musician, designer and illustrator whose humor and sensitivity infuse his music and visual art. His warm and comfy work explores the relationships in his life in all their forms. His current project is Summer Sleeves, a self-described  “Dad Rock” band that he formed with fathers of children who go to the same school as his.

Question: Early formative artistic memories?
Answer: I’d say my time playing in Smile Brigade with my mate, Jesse Boggs was a formative time for me. I learned a ton about songwriting from him. We learned a lot together. Throughout our 20s we’d digest music like archaeologists discover civilizations. Just pick them apart, in a discovery sense. We’d work out how to use our own strengths to our advantage by listening to production and writing of bands from the 60s. Things like how to play as a four-piece band with three vocalists and not be redundant with our parts. It was an exciting time for us both. I wish I could unlearn it all and go back to rediscovering. Though I’m doing similar discoveries with what I’m doing now, and it’s just as exciting.

Q: You are a graphic designer, illustrator, musician, singer, songwriter. Does your visual work connect with your music? How?
A: Music and visual design/art have always been hand-in-hand for me. I think the discipline of creating both are very much the same. Interestingly, music got me into design through designing posters and album covers – eventually web design – doing all this for my bands over the years. A few years ago I’d decided to hang up music for a while. This was after ~20 years of drumming three nights a week, rehearsals, touring and recording. I was just done. When this happened, I decided to go back to school for graphic design and get on to adulting with a “real” job. In school, I learned a lot about intentional creative process and collaboration. That carried over when I started playing music again – especially playing with other people. I learned a lot of how to look at the big picture. How to focus on the minutiae and the parts that work together as well as taking individual songs as though they were all concepts and pushing them apart so they don’t all sound the same.

Q: Are there specific pros or cons of being a multidisciplinary artist? How do you present yourself when you explore so many different media?
A: I wish I could clone myself so I could take care of all the ideas buzzing around in my head. Or at least add two more arms. That’s the only con. Not enough me or arms. This is a little tough for me, but I consider myself a songwriter over anything else, when it comes to vocation. But it’s complicated. Music is what I’ve been doing for years on end. Designing is what’s paying the bills. Yet – they’re nearly equal when it comes to my passions. I’m a songwriter. Some of those songs are visual.

Q: What influences and inspires you?
A: The people around me – family, coworkers, bandmates. Whether it’s the work they’re doing, the relationship we have together or the conversations we have. Just as much as the music I listen to or the visuals I’m vising. They’re all huge influences on me musically, visually or personally.

Q: What are you known for? Do you have a signature style or technique?
A: My laugh. That’s what I’m known for. I’m working on being known.

Q: Talk about the name for your band Summer Sleeves. How did Summer Sleeves form?
A: The name “Summer Sleeves” came from high school. I lived in Houston in my junior and senior years. It was always so hot and muggy there, that I’d take showers up to three times a day: once in the morning, after school and before bed. Sometimes another in there somewhere. And despite it being so hot, I’d always have a sweater on, sometimes just a long sleeve shirt. It was a comfort thing. I wasn’t that social a person, yet I had this group of people I’d be around at school that I just adored – mostly punks – like post-punk folks that were into art and music and some real classically nose-in-the-book nerds. I just adored them all. And we all had our own kind of signature style of dressing up. I’d be there hanging out in my long sleeves – even in the summer. I do also like the idea of tattoo sleeves out in the summer, but my high school security blanket is mostly where it comes from.

The band formed with me looking for people to hang out with. I was in need of something outside of work and family – a social outlet. I had all these songs I was working on and decided to use that as an excuse to trap people into being friends with me. I eventually got in touch with Alon who I knew because our kids go to school together and we played in this mostly Dad band when the kids were in preschool. There were a dozen of us in the band and we recorded an album of covers. It was a blast! He and I’d been playing for some time and we eventually got in touch with Brent, who plays drums. His kid also goes to the same school as mine and Alon’s. It’s kind of become a shtick that we’re proudly from West Seattle, we’re dads and our kids go to the same school. I’ve been reaching out through the parent groups with the school for a keyboard player. Mom, Dad or non-binary conforming parental unit. No responses yet. We’ll see what happens. Until then, we three will be we, until we’re not.

Q: Does the place you live influence your music?
A: I’m always plunking around the house on my thrift-store guitar. I’m there a lot. I’m kind of a homebody and my time there with my family influences me tremendously. Writing lyrically about my relationship with my wife and daughter – a lot about my relationship with myself. I’d say 40% of my song ideas come while I’m washing dishes or showering. That’s the place where I can zone out mentally and plunk up some melody that’s got me moving my knees while I’m in the midst of cleaning up.

Q: What is your process, and does that make your work come out differently?
A: I’ll usually get inspired by something I hear and it happens pretty organically. This one time I was chatting with my father-in-law and he said this line – it was a compliment and my mind just floated out the window of the car with this song idea with that line. It just floored me. I have no idea what he said to me after that line because I was already working on the next line and what the verse could be like. Most of the time I have a memo-recording app on my phone to get down snippets of ideas. That works great. I have real shit for memory and I’d never be able to store all these ideas in my head. Some of the snippets will turn into songs; most of them will just sit there until I go back to them some day. There are plenty patiently waiting till they make sense to me again, and I’ll try to work something out in the future. Until then.…

Q: Are there themes in your work? Is your work a platform to explore certain ideas? Do you try to make a statement with your work?
A: Relationships are a big overarching theme. Not romantic so much as, “How does A relate to B and what’s that energy that’s going on between them?” This could be between myself and family, myself and myself, marginalized peoples and dicks who oppress them. Sometimes it’s political, yet that’s just as wrapped up in emotion as anything. I don’t know about a statement, so much as documentation – but that’s probably not even true.

Q: A lot of your Instagram pics show whiskey. Is drinking/partying one of your themes or an important part of your music?
A: This is funny. In all the bands I’ve been involved with up until Summer Sleeves, we never had alcohol or drugs around. Not while we practiced and not so much while we played out. There was never an agenda behind it, I just always played music with squares, I guess. I’d never even tried weed until I turned 40. By the time I started playing in Summer Sleeves, I’d developed a clumsy palette for whiskey. Alon and I like to have whiskey while we play. Just casually. We don’t get to the point where it inhibits the work, so to speak. It’s a casual social/creativity lube I guess.

Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m working on a couple new songs with the band. Trying to get us into position to play shows this fall and winter.

In the design work, I have a new brand for a credit union that I’m wrapping up. Pretty stoked how it turned out. I wish I could detail it, but it’s not officially launched yet, so it’s a secret. On top of that, I’m working on some environmental design concepts for a Credit Union out of Arkansas. That’s a ton of fun.

Also working on being an awesome person, Dad, husband, colleague, etc., that’s constant self-improvement. In that, I read a great biography on Johnny Cash. He was totally badass and I’ve been inspired by him to be more of a badass person – without the pills, I guess. It’s something I’ve never been good at.

I have this feeling this fall and winter are going to be busy and awesome. So I’m trying to be prepared for that.

Q: What’s next?
A: Being more badass.

Q: How can people follow your work?
A: Give me a call anytime. We can FaceTime and I’ll update ya. Summer Sleeves is on Facebook and Instagram for followers. Jeremycharbonneau.com has my design work. But if you want to know about the fresh stuff, just call me.

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Sergei Parajanov​

Sergei Parajanov​ ​​(1924–1990) was born to Armenian parents in ​Georgia​​, a country that is bounded by the Black Sea, Russia, Turkey​,​ Armenia, ​and ​Azerbaijan. ​At 21​, ​Parajanov enroll​ed​ in the directing department at Moscow​’s​​ ​VGIK, one of the oldest film schools in Europ​e.
In the Soviet Union of the 1940s, art schools taught a social realist style, and his early films have that style. But many years later, Andrei Tarkovsky’s dreamlike first film Ivan’s Childhood (1962) made a marked impression on Parajanov, and his first non-social realist film was the poetic Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965),​ ​the first film over which he had complete creative control. ​Hi​s ​most famous and critically acclaimed film is ​the expressive ​Color of Pomegranates (1968)​, released when he was 44​.

At 24, Parajanov was convicted of homosexual acts (which were illegal at the time in the Soviet Union), but was released after three months. ​By his late forties, Soviet authorities had grown increasingly suspicious of Parajanov’s perceived subversiveness, particularly his bisexuality, and sentenced him to five years in a hard labor camp in Siberia for “a rape of a Communist Party member, and the propagation of pornography.” A group of artists, filmmakers, and activists protested on behalf of Parajanov, among them Yves Saint Laurent, Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Luis Buñuel, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Andrei Tarkovsky. He was released four years later in December 1977.

Parajanov emphasizes the visual, non-linear qualities of film rather than its narrative techniques. In Color of Pomegranates, the story of a poet’s life is told through a series of set pieces, rather than dialogue. His work has been lauded by many directors, including Fellini, Bertolucci, Godard, Coppola, and others.

Film stills from Color of Pomegranates


Full video of Color of Pomegranates – Sayat Nova (1968):

https://archive.org/details/ColorOfPomegranates-SayatNova1968

An appreciation in The Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/mar/13/sergei-paradjanov-films-gulag

Kathy Acker

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“Women need to become literary criminals, break the literary laws and reinvent their own, because the established laws prevent women from presenting the reality of their lives.”

Kathy Acker (1947–1997)  was an American punk feminist experimental writer who wrote poetry, essays, plays, and a screenplay, but was most known for her novel Blood and Guts in High School (1984). She used the postmodern technique of pastiche, mashing up various styles and influences. She also used violence, explicit language, and the “low-class” genres of sci-fi, pornography, and horror as a way of subverting literary expectations. Her most characteristic technique was copying and pasting male authors’ texts from the canon and reacting to them or speaking as their female characters as a way of redressing “the silence of women.”

In this 1992 “Bookworm” interview with Michael Silverblatt, she names these writers as either influences or those she has sampled: Burroughs, Faulkner, Desclos, Keats, Flaubert, Dickens, Rimbaud, and Genet.

Grove Press published her last novel, Pussy, King of the Pirates, in 1996. It has eleven of her novels in print here.

Movie about Kathy Acker here.

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Ana Mendieta


Ana Mendieta (1948–1985) was a Cuban-American performance artist, sculptor, and filmmaker who was involved in the New York feminist art community in the 1970s and 1980s.​ In 1961, when she was twelve, her parents sent her to the United States to escape Castro’s Communist regime in Cuba. Later, Mendieta attended the University of Iowa, where she earned a BA, an MA in Painting, and an MFA in Intermedia.

Mendieta is best known for her body-focused earth art. She created temporary figurative sculptures in nature whose appearance is reminiscent of prehistoric petroglyphs. She ​also took photos of herself in nature, becoming taken over by nature, transforming her own body into an ancient goddess figure, such as the Venuses of Willendorf, Galgenberg, and Dolni Vestonice​. In other pieces, she captured herself close up in various ways to explore identity, appearance, gender.



Ana Mendieta is​ also known for being killed by her husband, the American Minimal artist Carl Andre, who ​was sentenced (and later acquitted) for pushing her out of a ​New York ​high-rise window. She has become a symbol for​ the ill treatment​ of female artists in the patriarchal art establishment​. But, alternatively, ​she is a symbol ​​for ​the indestructibility ​of womens’ spirits, and for the kind of powerful creativity that ​only ​women possess—a creativity​, often,​ of the senses​, the body, and the emotions.

My head smashed when I was Ana Mendieta, who fell or got pushed out of a window in New York in my underclothes when I was drunk in 1985, and I landed there on the delicatessen roof. I got pushed or fell, by my husband, the Minimalist Carl Andre, who used the city as a weapon—looked into its eyes and saw a kindred spirit. He believed in hardness and violence and he believed in pushing people out of windows. He believed in pushing a lover out of a thirty-five-story building so that I would land at sixty miles per hour against a hard, thudding surface….

 

Link to Mendieta’s film work

David LaChapelle

David LaChapelle (1963–) is a photographer and film director known for his high-concept commercial celebrity photography from the 1980s and 1990s. His portrait style is glossy, brightly colored, and surreal, and is influenced by Andy Warhol and Pop Art. LaChapelle began his career in the 1980s at Warhol’s Interview Magazine as a teenager. Nowadays, he focuses on fine-art photography, and attends the many retrospectives that galleries show of his work.
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Pierre et Gilles

Pierre et Gilles

Pierre Commoy and Gilles Blanchard are French photographers and partners who have been working together since 1976. They have photographed dozens of celebrities, artists, and cult icons, including Madonna, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Paloma Picasso, Dita Von Teese, Siouxsie Sioux, and Marc Almond. Some of the influences for their glittering, fantastical portraits include religious iconography, Indian mythology, gay culture, and pop culture.

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Diane Arbus

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Diane Arbus (1923–1971) was an American photographer known for her intimate portraits of outsiders—tattooed, handicapped, and LGBT people, burlesque performers, dwarves, nudists.

Arbus was self-conscious of her privileged upbringing as the daughter of a successful New York department-store owner. A formative experience as a child was stumbling upon the inhabitants of a shanty town with her nanny. Going to a place where she had never been, seeing a different world, was something that she would repeat again and again, and document in her work. According to the book Emergency in Slow Motion by William Schultz, Arbus would adventure through New York City neighborhoods, seducing her subjects (up to, and including, sleeping with them), to get her revealing pictures.

Arbus killed herself in 1971 at 48. Her popularity in the fine-art world in the 1970s helped make critics take photography more seriously as an artform.

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Yves Klein

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Yves Klein (1928–1962) was a French painter and performance artist who is probably most famous for developing a deep ultramarine color known as International Klein Blue.

Klein was a proto-minimalist. Many of his paintings were covered in a single pigment: blue, pink, or gold. His work was influenced by his spirituality—both his Catholicism, and his involvement in the mystical society called Rosicrucianism.

On the other hand, his performance art resulted in more figurative work. One example involved orchestrating an event in which nude women were covered in paint, using their bodies as brushes on a canvas.

He died of a heart attack at 34, at the Cannes Film Festival in 1962.

 

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A collection of his works here.

Cherdonna Shinatra

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Cherdonna is the faux-queen persona of Seattle dance and performance artist Jody Kuehner. What makes Cherdonna exciting is that she goes further than other dance artists in questioning convention. She explores the traditions of feminist and queer performance, and experiments with presentation, gender, and high/low culture. She tests performer/audience roles and assumptions, pushing the comfort level of the audience in a humorous way.

She received the 2015 Stranger Genius award from The Stranger weekly newspaper. She teaches dance at Velocity Dance Center, and is a regular fixture in the Seattle dance and performance scene, appearing in group shows such as Homo for the Holidays.

But, the best way to understand Cherdonna is to see her perform. Here are a couple videos:

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