“We look at most of the sculptures without incident. But, when we come to the scooter bird, the publisher whispers in my ear: ‘Don’t bother to photograph it. It’s more an object than a sculpture.’ Picasso, who hears and understands everything, whom nothing escapes, suddenly turns toward him, and, pointing to The Bird, says sharply: ‘I absolutely insist that this sculpture appear in my album!’ When the publisher leaves the studio an hour later, Picasso is still seething.
‘An object! So my bird is just an object! Who does that man think he is, to tell me, Picasso, what is or is not a sculpture! He’s got some nerve! I just might know more about it than he does. What is sculpture? What is painting? Everyone’s still clinging to outdated ideas, obsolete definitions, as if the artist’s role was not precisely to offer new ones.’”
from “Conversations With Picasso,” (University of Chicago Press: 1999), by Brassaï and translated by Jane Marie Todd, pg. 69.
Back in Chicago, working with Jaap Blonk and Lotta Melin on the Beckett Variations project and trying to reorganize my life after returning from the many weeks in Europe…
The last eight concerts for the Vandermark 5 on our tour were played straight through without a break- Lviv/Ukraine; Poznan, Wroclaw, Cracow (2 nights)/Poland, Salzburg/Austria; Geneva, Winterthur/Switzerland; and Venice/Italy; combining train and plane travel for sleep deprived heights of abandon. The band left Spain for the cold and snow of Poland on the 18th of November, flying to Warsaw for a night before continuing to the Ukraine. Because the plane heading to Lviv was so small we couldn’t bring the bass. The cello and baritone, in their flight cases, were brought aboard with the idea that they’d fit into a passenger seat. Very funny. Thankfully the stewardesses on the plane were unbelievably cooperative, folding down empty seats and tying the cases down with seat belt extensions when they realized the trunks wouldn’t fit where they’d planned. Quite safe, I’m sure.
The quintet performed at the Philharmonic Hall in Lviv, a room designed to hold an audience of 600. Looking around the theater as we set up for our sound check, I couldn’t help but think that most of the seats were going to be empty during the concert. I was quite wrong, the show was sold out! Some of the members of the audience had traveled more than 1000 kilometers to be there, and had brought copies of our albums that they wanted us to sign at the the end of the performance. As much as I prefer to work in clubs, this night was a rare exception to that rule. The focus of the audience was unbelievable, creating one of the only occasions in my life where I felt that the intimacy possible in a small room was realized in a large concert hall. An incredible experience that I won’t forget.
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