Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Short of noise pollution and whispers

Thinking of noise pollution and whispers and Whiskerz.

I am working on a new website that seems to be taking longer than one of my projects...

Recently, I finished reworking a few of the alphabet pieces that are now on view at the Hosmer gallery.

Reproductions are also on sale at the etsy store. I've been impressed with results of the reproductions, something I didn't feel completely at ease with initially but have been really pleasantly surprised at the response and interest.

Looking forward to seeing Stan Sherer's show at Historic Northampton. I dig the local lore.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I walked a box of fallen residue from the bricks in the building where my studio stands. The water damage created from the flood of 1955 breaks down the bricks' surface and now it crumbles almost up to two bricks worth a week. As I walked, I thought about where the water of that flood stood and how far up Union Street the moat of water must have come. It's hard to imagine water when it is not there reflecting, especially in massive amounts displaced from a nearby pond.

These remains are bright orange. When I sit in my studio I can hear the dust fall in the corners that are now covered with blue. The orange looks magnificent upon its complimentary color (not the best documentation above). I simply sweep it up and walk the remnants to the Old Town Hall then place it in a box on view. When scraping the dust into the small hole, it feels very much like I am working with cremated remains. The flood of that year was a travesty throughout New England. It left a big hole in the 1 Cottage Street building. If you look closely you can see where it was rebuilt. The new brick looks stable and less worn.

I like to think way back before Easthampton had two ponds- when the Nashawannuck was just a meadow, or was it woods? Then there were no factories. The landscape must have been immensely different before Williston opened up the gates of Broad Brook. I look and try to locate the remnants of the damage--peering for cracks and stains.I also look to see what is not there- the water creeping up the building.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Albert Kiesling - Expert Mixologist

A couple of years ago when I began working on the earth project I entered Cartledge's on Union Street. It is a card shop full of knickknacks, office supplies, and other such things circa 1985 (if not earlier). The store is run by Nancy and it has been in her family since she was a kid. She took over proprietorship when her father passed away. Now she creates the best-ever window installations that include wacky pencil sharpeners, faded postcards, and not-so-subtle reminders about upcoming holidays.

On my second visit, I was introduced to the late Albert Kiesling aka "Dutchie." Nancy's husband is the nephew of Kiesling who was a quirky painter, snow sculptor (I'm talking giant historical heads, horses, and party goers made of snow that filled his front yard.), actor, papier maché sculptor, yodeler, and float maker who lived in Easthampton until about 1968. He was the king of kitsch in Easthampton or as his nephew calls him, "Easthampton's Most Famous Artist" and "expert mixologist." Kiesling took on a substantial project of recording the city's buildings, many disappearing from the changing landscape of the 50s and 60s, via painting. Reproductions of these paintings have been an excellent resource to my work often showing vantage points that were not captured in photographs. As soon as I bought my first book on Kiesling(I am the proud owner of the black and white and color versions and don't forget the tote bag too!) I knew he had a place in my thoughts. I still peruse the now worn pages of the books for his paintings, pictures of his dinner (largest baked potato ever), and even his death certificate (in both versions). The books are almost as much of a source of fascination as the man himself.

So if you are in the area of Cartledges, grab a book on Kiesling and read up, because the larger than life character plays a role in the water piece.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010



EASTHAMPTON, MA— An opening reception for Burns Maxey’s multimedia show Project Elements Easthampton: Water will take place on July 10, 2010 from 5 - 8 pm. The opening begins the second installment of Project Elements Easthampton—a four-part multimedia wor­k about Easthampton and its relationship to the elements: earth, water, air, and fire. The opening and show will take place at two locations. The video and sculptural installation will be shown at 1 Cottage Street Rm 1-06, and additional visual work will be on display at the Easthampton City Arts gallery.

Maxey’s installation at 1 Cottage Street Room 1-06 explores dreams, history, and the waterways of Easthampton in a surreal setting of audio, video, and sculpture. In one room, rich shades of blue create an immersive aquatic environment containing life-size blue beds that have bulbous mattresses evocative a pregnancy or obesity. Robin’s egg blue headphones are distributed throughout the installation for listeners to hear audio recordings telling the dreams of three Easthampton women. These dreams were collected by Maxey and then recited by Easthampton waterways to capture field recordings that immerse the listener simultaneously in the dreams and the streams, millponds, and rivers of the city. Other headphones contain the musical score for a richly ethereal video that guides the viewer through a series of dream sequences that reference historical figures of Easthampton, waterways, and surreal narratives. The lush instrumental score was created in collaboration with Timecard, an experimental pop band based in Amherst.

The second more intimate room has a video and audio installation that’s focal point are audio clips from Patty Gambarini’s documentary, Reflections of the Lower Mill Pond. The audio recounts one couple’s story of their relationship with the Lower Mill pond during the height of Easthampton’s mill era.

In conjunction with the Cottage Street installation, the Easthampton City Arts gallery will feature video stills, objects, sculptures, and collages that relate to water and the installation. Included in this exhibition will be a horned head, the three books of dreams, and collages about the flood of 1955.

All exhibits are free and open to the public and take place in 1 Cottage Street room 1-06 and the Easthampton City Arts gallery, 43 Main St. Easthampton, MA. More information can be found at www.projectelementseasthampton.com.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Easthampton Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency

Find more high-resolution images for use at http://www.flickr.com/photos/8756189@N06/sets/72157622017132257/

Friday, April 30, 2010

Blue Beds

The fluidity of water seems to leaking into this project. I am not exactly sure where it is going to turn next. I have some bursting blue beds in my studio. I also have some tasty footage for the water video, not to mention dreams, historical stories about the waterways of Easthampton and others that delve into the real and unreal. As of now, the work is saturated and rich both conceptually and visually but its transformations seem so quick like running water that I can't quite hold onto. It's almost as if the end result is unraveling surreptitiously on its own. It's coming soon. Until then, Check out 6.7.8 at Mobius on May 14. It's sure to please.

By the way, belated thanks Preview MA mag and Laura Holland for the fab spread in the April issue.
It's always informative to read someone else's words about your work.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


These last few water induced days have led me outdoors. With optimum timing for field recordings of water--drains, waterfalls, and raindrops. I have been returning the dreams given to me to the waterways of Easthampton. Walking down the street reading someone else's dreams has a ceremonial feel about it. I think I may be creating water dreamscapes in this land-filled reality.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Gonna Go on Vacation

The band Timecard released its album Vacation in January. It is a concept album with songs ranging from a rocking tune about diner encounters to a crooning lullaby about the last day away from it all. Its collection of songs and instrumentals capture a quirky sensibility with a diverse sound. Many of the songs have an ambiguous relationship to the theme, vacation. We certainly aren’t listening to stories about euro trash gallivanting through Germany or thrill seekers traversing in a jungle in Belize. There is no doubt that this vacation is located on the Americana highway with a twist of current electro indie sound with pop and rock influences.

I worked with Timecard on my last Project 01027 so I knew a bit about the Vacation album as it was being created. A few things that caught my attention (other than songs that mention soymilk and lactose intolerance) was the interest in creating an album that works as a whole piece with each song flowing and working off of one another. By doing this, Timecard creates a eclectic journey with a theme song included.

You can see Timecard (and I am collaborating on this gig too!) at the Loft in Brattleboro on March 26th. Come chuckle and enjoy some visual fun.

I asked Timecard a few questions about the album and what this project is all about.

How did the concept "Vacation" come about as an album? Why a concept album?
The practical purpose of a concept album is to help me write lyrics. At one time I wrote very serious personal sorts of lyrics, and I wanted to try something more fun and a little less introspective.

I don’t remember a decision to do vacation songs. I think it evolved naturally during a time period when I didn’t do very much music because I was in school. I was only doing music during breaks, so I ended up writing abstractly about fun things I was experiencing during those time periods.

I do remember that at some point I organized ideas of what I wanted to write about. There were a lot of things I didn’t end up using for the album too, including a song about bowling, one about swimming, and another about motels. A lot of that was left off to get a nice flow to the music. I also had quite a few additional instrumentals, which I ended up using instead for the Project Elements walking tour.

The sounds of the Vacation album have a disparate quality to them. Some it is very
catchy, almost pop, while in a singular song the sound can shift to a contrasting DIY feel, then some audio is really rocking then changes to electronic beats. How did this sound evolve?
I think it’s because I like a lot of different music, and the albums that have really stuck with me are those that are diverse. The other reason is that I had a diverse crew of collaborators. There are more electronic things that I did with San Francisco musician Zip, and more rocking things I did in a more live band setting with some friends from my former life in a small southern town.

Why did you start incorporating video into your music making?
It’s to make the album more interactive. I wanted to explore ways to entice listeners to take in this set of songs as a whole piece, and also to work with the idea of stimulating multiple senses. My thinking is that creating some images makes for a really variable and enticing way to experience the album.

At the same time, I’m interested in the idea that one can combine random sensory experiences, and our brains will tend to sync it. So one can watch the images as traditional music videos, or take the images and put the songs on shuffle on a computer or MP3 player for a dreamier experience of nonsensical imagery.

It’s been done many times in music before. But I was most inspired by the album Zaireeka by The Flaming Lips. The album is 4 cds that have to be played simultaneously on 4 music players. The idea is that since the cds will never sync the same, each listening experience is unique. And having to get 4 music players in one place makes the album an event that requires an audience typically.
In a similar sense, I want the Vacation album to be an event one experiences.

You mentioned on your website your views on humor in music and how musicians are expected to be serious. Was this specific to a certain genre of music? I see humor in pop, old country, folk, and hip-hop. Why do you think it’s the norm that humor is not considered a valid tone within music?
It’s true that different genres view humor as more or less valid. For example, hip-hop is at one end with a long history of funny things like skits, while rock tends to take itself more seriously. I’m not sure why humor isn’t more prevalent. It is a really inspiring feeling to laugh. Just as powerful as love or anything else people sing about.

here do you see yourself and this project (Vacation) going in the future? What other concepts do you have lurking?
This project has had such a long gestation that I want to really explore ways to let people know about this music and the band. The most immediate next thing will be releasing a version of the videos to the public. I also want to do more performances and collaborate more, and possibly something that would involve guest performances from some of the collaborators on the album like Zip and the Virginia crew of Joe Wingenbach and Jeremy Plaugher. After that I’ll be really excited to write and record more music. I’ve already started demo-ing around a new concept involving the love song, and am so excited about the possibilities of new music.

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