Sunday Inspiration 5: Music

When I'm in the studio working on my most recent project, nothing seems to keep me working quite like music does.  It sets the mood.  It creates a vibe. It maintains pace.  It has been, and continues to be a profound sense of inspiration.

Over the years, I've gone through several albums that defined a particular creative period in a given studio.  When I listen to these albums now, I can't help but be transported back to that place, when that work was being created.  Here are the definitive examples:

1993-94 - Williamsfield High School Art Room
Pearl Jam, Vs. (1993)

It was bitter and angry and hopeful and dreamy...all the things a high school artist should be.  Pearl Jam has always been a favorite of mine, and I think it all has to do with timing.  There comes a point in life when you find that band, at just the right moment, when you absolutely need to hear what it is that they have to say.  Daughter will always be exactly that time in my life.

1994-95 - Carl Sandberg College Ceramics Studio
Counting Crows, August and Everything After (1993)

I loved this album from the moment I bought it back in high school, and I listened to it a lot, but it became a Discman staple in my first college ceramics class.  There was just something about it's rawness.  It was so complex and so basic.  It made me think and ask questions.  It made me wonder.  And isn't THAT howcollege artists are supposed to be?

1998 - Bradley University Painting Studio: 
Jim Croce, Photographs & Memories: His Greatest Hits (1974)

Let me explain...I am not now, nor have I ever been a stoner.  The 70s were long over when I fell for this album.  I didn't sit around drinking Mogen David blackberry wine and pass the hippie lettuce with my friends.  I just liked the sound and energy of this album.  The guys I shared my studio with made fun of me, but I didn't care.  It played and played.  And we drank Foster's oil cans and painted into the night and were utterly convinced that we were at the top of our game.  Hell.  Maybe we were.

1999-2000 - My Studio (The One Under the Funeral Home)
Dave Matthews Band, Before These Crowded Streets (1998)

What can I say?  It was post college and rent was cheap.  My best friend's wife ran a salon in the same building and it made sense.  It was also across the street from a bar, and I would go get white russians in to-go cups.  I wasn't The Big Lebowski, but this was one of the most irreverent times in my life, and I made the most of it.  I made big, colorful works that spoke of love and loss and the beginning of the end of what had been a maniacally fun youth.

2002 - Artabounds Studio at Chicago Children's Museum
Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

Uuugh.  This album changed my life.  Seriously.  I'd never heard anything like it.  I listened to it so much the fall I moved to Chicago.  Over and over again.  Every chord became emblazoned onto my DNA.  It played every time I was alone, or was with anyone who would let me listen to it.  I found myself staying after work, eating french fries from Charlie's Ale House and drawing amazing things without thought or effort.  I think of that time so fondly.

Summer 2003 - The Fine Arts Shop at Tripp Lake Camp
My Morning Jacket, At Dawn (2001)

I didn't know about these guys until my friend Chris passed this gem along to me.  And I played it so much that summer.  At night, when I'd be in the studio by myself painting, it would float out into the Maine night and float up into the trees.  I think there was one night I actually just left "Bermuda Highway" on repeat and let it play.  There's something 

2008-Present - My Studio (My House)
Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago (2008)

I can't stop listening to this album.  It's perfect.  As a whole, or each song.  This is one of those things that reminds you that good art - really good art - isn't something that happens everyday.  Sometimes something comes along that is so much more special that you have to stand up and take notice.

I think overall, this album/studio connection has something to do with symmetry.  I think I loved these albums because they sounded like the work looked, or like I wanted it to look.

I had originally meant to attach a song to each of the Little Boxes, but realized the mechanics of that would probably be too daunting.  Maybe someday, when Little Boxes are prominently on display on the second floor of the MCA in Chicago, you'll be able to walk up to them with earphones, and plug into a jack by the title and hear the work along with me.


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