Sunday, December 28, 2008

Eleanor Roosevelt does Jackson Pollock (free mp3)

St. Louis artist Tony Renner makes it a habit of making paintings - paintings that I tend to like an awful lot - dedicated to musicians: Derek Bailey, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Charlie Haden, Olivier Messiaen, Sun Ra, Charlie Parker, The Rats & People - and that seems to be pieces executed in the last, oh I don't know, week.

My band Eleanor Roosevelt did just the opposite: we wrote and recorded a song - "Sleeping Effort" about a painting - Jackson Pollock's Sleeping Effort (1953) - in the permanent collection of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University.

If you look at the painting - the tiny reproduction of it, above, or all 50 x 76 inches of it (give or take one-eighth of an inch) at Wash. U. - it's fair to question how much our song or any song could be "about" such a painting, which isn't as disassociative as Pollock's splatter paintings, but hardly tells a coherent story.

I don't really remember writing the lyrics, but probably all I took from the painting was a wonderful and evocative title that opened up a path into the world of dreams, since a dream is the most likely kind of effort you can offer in your sleep.

The Kemper is free and is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday (11 a.m.-6 p.m.), Friday (11 a.m.-8 p.m.) and Saturday and Sunday (11 a.m.-6 p.m.). I'm due for another visit, if anyone wants to go take a look.

Also, we have only until January 11 to see Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940–1976 at the Saint Louis Art Museum. As a member of the press, I received a free ticket to see this show for the holidays (it's one of those special exhibitions that costs $6; the rest of the museum is free), so I guess I don't have any excuse for missing it.

Free mp3:

"Sleeping Effort" by Eleanor Roosevelt
From the album Walker With His Head Down (2007)

Available in independent shops in St. Louis
wherever music is downloaded
and out of the trunk of my car!

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