Wednesday, April 27, 2011

the gHOST project

Stepping back into the space after what was our first official full day of The Colorboration Project - Chicago we were happy to see things just as we had left them the night before. Paintings were strewn about and a couple of new bigger pieces were leaning up against the walls. Our first task this morning was to begin the exhibition process, so we took to hanging paintings on the walls. 

Art on Wire.
 We had a couple of things in our favor, one was that the large skylights in the middle of the space cast a really wonderful light in the place most of the day that illuminated a pretty portion of the north and south walls. The other thing was that the mortar joints in the brick walls were filled with hundreds of masonry nails, most or which were strong enough to support our biggest paintings. How to display the works on paper was our next challenge which was solved with a roll of wire and a trip to Jewel for some wooden clothes pins. By the end of the project I think we ended up buying 200 clothes pins, and another very big spool of wire.

In our first blog post we mentioned that there were no bathroom facilities in this space and also no internet. Both of these problems were solved by walking a half a block north on Milwaukee Avenue to New Wave Coffee on the corner at Logan Boulevard. They have internet, bathrooms and pretty good sandwiches.

We didn't really spend too much time at New Wave considering we were trying to keep the doors open at our space constantly starting at 1pm everyday.

About three o'clock Elie Kaplan, the leader of the gHOST Project stopped in to size up the space. Elie came bearing gifts, a six-pack of toilet paper sent by his dear wife Sue. She was thinking ahead and obviously has had enough experience to know that some places you may go to play just might inconveniently run out of toilet paper the night you are to perform. What she wasn't expecting was that what we really needed was a toilet. 

the gHOST project
 About six o'clock Elie and Sue came back with a car full of gear and slowly members of the gHOST project started to stream in. Once all in place we had the five members of the band, Stacey Taheny- vocals and percussion, Maestro Phil- bass, electronics, drums, guitar, reeds, vocals, Huntress Diana- bass, keyboards, percussion, vocals, Sue Kaplan- percussion, vocals, Eliezer Kaplan- drums, keys, bass, vocals. Plus supplemental percussion by Aimee Bass (of She-Boom), and Ken Monroe.

Our art of the gHOST project on stage.
It was really great the way this evening took shape, the gHOST project is such and interesting group. There were no hard edges at all set-up just flowed into sound check and then into the groove that became to vibe for the evening. No words were really spoken on the front end, we all just pretty much trusted each other. Finally Tali and I looked at each other and said, "I guess this is it, let's go." At that point Tali turned on her lights and started painting while I went over to close the house lights.
The gHOST project was a great sonic surprise, we didn't have any expectations, and since we were told that any thing we had heard from them was not what we were going to hear, we also had no idea what to expect. There was a familiar way that this band works that resonated with us really well. Just as Tali and I will switch working on the table to working at the easel, these musicians would switch instruments in the same way.

We can't really say how long it went on. We took a break about an hour into it and then took up where we left for at least another hour. 

Elie Kaplan's bass fingers paid the price for his art that night.
When we finally ended the session we not only had several new paintings, but it was really cool that we felt like through the sharing of the experience and the conversation through the art, both the paint and the music, we had become friends. While we talked almost not at all except for the introductions and a quick how do you do, in the end we suddenly had something very special in common and there was lots to talk about.

What a great night and a great surprise.

Check out their site:
And here are some links to music from that night.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Now would be a good time to mention where we were staying at night. As you know, our work space was in Logan Square which is the northwest side of Chicago, but we were staying on south side in Bridgeport. Thanks to Kate and Steve for putting us for the duration of our project. They were more than accommodating when it came to the ridiculous hours that we were coming and going in. We are forever grateful for their patience and hospitality.

That said, it was Monday morning and we got to experience the tail end of rush hour as we headed north to the Home Depot at Kimball and Addison which would end up being one of our most frequented places in the next 10 days.

We picked up some miss mixed paint for real real cheap and some various and sundry items that we had decided on Sunday that we would need in order to do what we wanted to do.

Armed with the equipment we needed we headed off to work and started preparing panels to paint on with gesso and white paint.  Even though we only used white paint, somehow this process began to make this crazy raw and dirty space feel like our art studio. There is a magic that happens for artists every time they smear a brush filled with paint on to the surface what ever it is that will soon become their next masterpiece. Since we brought every panel and canvas that we could from our studios in Zwolle and Michigan we had more than a few panels to prepare.

As Willam would  say, "Gesso? I gesso!"
Soon enough Gabe reappeared work on the stage, and part of that required driving  to pick up a few sheets of plywood from some clandestine location in a very cold and windy downtown alley.

After getting back to Logan Square and dropping of Gabe to finish up the stage, Tali and I went to meet Phil Faro at Genesis Art Supply at 2417 N. Western Ave.
Phil Faro has a cool name for himself because Phll is a pretty far out kind of guy, but  when we stepped in to Genesis Art Supply we were not really totally prepared.  This is one trippy place, so much so that Phil actually started to seem pretty down to earth. This art store is the sort of place that has such narrow passageways that you must go to the end of the shelves to turn around if you want to go back the other way. Filled with artwork of aliens, rastfarians and hari krishna surfers, this place could have been transplanted from some of the Old Town headshops I knew in the early 70's. Never the less, they treated us very well and at that point we added Genesis Art Supply to our list of sponsors. Thanks Phil.

We were surprisingly not anxious as we prepared for our first night's performance. Gabe Patti's band The Aperion Project were to be our first collaborators. The Aperion Project consists of Gabe on Clarinet and Sax, and Brandon Rizzo on flugal horn and laptop computer and keyboards, and they had special guest Paul Yoggerst, aka Palu the Poet on guitar.

The Aperion Project opens things up.
This night's performance was like stepping out in to nowhere for every one involved. This was the first time we were really testing the space out acoustically. We were pleasantly pleased by the full sound we had and we found the environment really suited the quirky atmosphere we had created, and The Aperion Project seemed to slide right in that mold quite well.

First night under the lights and camera in some time.
We went into this project thinking of it as a grand artistic experiment in the most literal sense of the word "experiment." We were going straight ahead being completely open to what might come to us.  We were happy with what we got as results for this first night in our laboratory.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Moving in to the New Digs

Arriving again to the space at 2515 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago, we approached with and enthusiasm to get started and an expectation of the unknown. and we knew there was going to be a lot of unknown.

It was cold in Chicago, wish is not unusual for the 13th of March, and inside this cavern of a space it was even colder. Tali and I stood there looking at this place as a blank canvas and the very next thing we did was pull my Yukon XL inside and unload all of it's contents.  What completely filled the vehicle looked about like the contents of a happy meal compared to how expansive the space was, and this was our first realization that we had a lot to do.

With that much room to move around we still realized that we had to think fairly seriously how we were going to set up our work place. Before we moved things around we plugged in the sound system and started playing some of the 300 some odd CDs I had brought with to listen to.  Before long we had tables and easels set up and had decided where the stage would be. About this time Gabe Patti from The Phantom Gallery stopped by to size up what was needed to construct the stage. 
Getting things in place.
The rest of the day was spent hooking up lights and cameras and organizing bins that held everything from paint and brushes to food stuffs.

We spent the day working non-stop and by the time we knocked off for the day, we still didn't feel like we really had gotten much done. But we had a shopping list that we would take to Home Depot in the morning before we returned.

Along side of all that was going on Tali had her own little docu-drama unfolding. I think Tali should tell this story.

Before coming to Chicago this time, I found an old pen pal from way back when I was a wild kid in Haifa, and he was a good nice boy from Maine. Fate brought him to Chicago eighteen years ago, and after about thirty years without contact, I found him through Linkedin. 

The high point of this first night in Chicago was having dinner in the home of my old pen pal that until then I had never met or even talked to, to hear his voice. The story could go on and on, and I won't tell it here, but having dinner with Bill and his wife Karen was a most incredible evening as we read through old letters, (we each kept them all) we each had so many memories from forty years ago that we could share, and we did. I read my own letters that I wrote about my experiences during the Six Day War. How I had to run to the shelter as the air alert went on while I was on the way to school. It was amazing that we kept corresponding as long as we did. I was even reunited with some old photographs that I had sent him and forgot that they even existed. 

Bill's pen-pal Tali.
 In one of the last letters I wrote to Bill, "See you sometime, somewhere." I DID, in Chicago! It was very emotional and was really a great start for The Colorboration Project - Chicago.

And Bill and Tali did meet after all.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Workshops at Artist's and Display in Milwaukee

Day three was also spent in Milwaukee's premier art supply  store, Artists and Display.

Artist's and Display's classic signage
 Today was workshop day, Nora had arranged for two full workshop sessions of our Painting with Music Workshop. Tali designed this workshop with artists and non-artists in mind. She has a collection of music selected to inspire and activate, that ranges from classical to hip-hip and almost everything in between. The participants start by working with oil pastels as if they were conducting an orchestra, Tali guides them through many activities and ways to think about making marks on the paper. Materials change from pastels to watercolors till finally the workshop climaxes with a most energetic finger painting session. 
Painting with Music fun.
Nora not missing the opportunity.
These workshops were different than any others we have ever done. It just worked out that in the end every one in the workshop got to come up two by two and work on our work table under the cameras and lights. It was really so magically to see how everyone stepped up to the challenge and really made some wonderful art as their workshop colleagues watched on waiting their turn.

There were all ages that participated in these workshops, from pre-teens to some people that were much more experienced with life. There was one conversation I overheard between Nora and a woman that is pretty much tethered to an oxygen canister, she said, "Nora, I can breathe now!"

We are not saying that art cures all ills, but we know that it does open people up.

As we left Milwaukee, packing the Yukon and strapping what gear we had to on the roof rack it was very cold, but we got on the road heading back to Chicago with a very warm feeling  as we said so long to some truly wonderful friends at Artists and Display. Thanks so much to Nora, Lynn and Jack.

Let's Go to Milwaukee Again

The first part of this adventure was not actually officially "The Colorboration Project-Chicago." Maybe that is obvious since we weren't in Chicago. No, we were in Milwaukee, hometown to the Brewers, the Bucks, Laverne and Shirley and Happy Days, and we must not forget Golda Meir.

Artists and Display in-store promo for Tali and Royce's Arumim.
Our day started off with loading equipment in to the art room at Artists and Display at 9015 West Burliegh St, Milwaukee, WI 414.442.9100. We were greeted by Nora, Lynn, Jack and of course Erica the Artdog.

Royce just arrived at Artists and Design
We set up our table and light bridge just as we have done so many times before. It was really great to know that building up like this only means one thing, and that is that we are about to start making some art. We got everything in place and it was almost surprising since the last time we assembled this particular rig was actually one year earlier when we were in Milwaukee with Wilbert de Joode. In fact it was at that show at Sugar Maple thanks to Strathmore Paper rep Barb Faro that we met for the first time the fine folks from Artists and Display.

By 7pm the room was full and Tali and I along with Milwaukee local musicians Matthew Riebe and Tony Smith began to do what we do best. It was really wonderful to be there working so  in the moment. It had been since October 2011 that Tali and I had worked this way at the Bat-Yam Street Festival in Israel. It felt really good just like we knew it would.

Tony and Matt  along with Tali's painted version.
Matt and Tony are singers as well as  guitarists, so it was very interesting to see how  working with them really shaped what our paintings became, in large part due to the lyrics. It is funny how unavoidable it is at times. They had a really nice sound and I particularly liked the cover they did of Led Zeppelin's Going to California.

Tali and I have had some moments in the time that we have worked together where we have thought and said the same thing about something and at times we have even draw such similar things as to be almost frightening. But this night was the topper of all toppers. As the images reveal Tali and I unbeknownst to each other drew the same picture in the most uncanny way. Neither one of us had any idea until Tali slid the video fader over to my camera which revealed what each of us were painting.

Royce and Tali's barn surprise.
At the end of the evening we were very happy with our paintings, the crowd was great and we were off to another great start.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Let's Get Started

Let us introduce ourselves. We are Royce Deans and Tali Farchi, we are visual artists, painters to be exact. We are from Michigan, USA and The Netherlands respectfully. Our collaborative efforts started in 2007 with a painting exhibition in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in conjunction with the Fringe Festival there and Tali's original multi-media, multi-disciplinary show Mo(ve)ment.
Tali's laptop and carry-on in Amsterdam before boarding the flight to Chicago.
Since that time we have been doing collaborative projects and exhibitions in the U.S., Canada, Israel and Europe. When we go to these places we do our best to draw inspiration from all that the local setting has to offer. Because of our love for music and our involvement with it and with other disciplinary projects, we love to work with local musicians where ever we go.

Our efforts recently have been to set a work space where we can work intensely for a week or two painting and drawing on the local sights, sounds and smells. In 2010 we formalized our idea and called it The Colorboration Project. By March 2011 we had proposed and organized the newest version of this project with the help of The Phantom Gallery Chicago and  I AM Logan Square and it became, The Colorboration Project Chicago.

After months of planning, on 10 March 2011 Tali landed once more at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, this time via United Airlines. Upon her arrival we made our way directly to 2515 N. Milwaukee Ave., what would soon be our base of operations for the next couple weeks.

Street view of 2515 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
The maintenance man unlocked the place and let us in so that we could see the cavernous interior to this dusty and very raw 5800 square foot space. We were excited and could see so much potential in this place even though there were only two electrical outlets, four florescent light fixtures that sort of worked, one small ceiling mounted furnace in place only to keep the pipes from freezing and no bathroom facilities at all.

The raw empty space, the blank canvas.
This was the what happened in about the first two hours.

As we went through the space we also met Gabriel Patti, a curator from the Phantom Gallery and member of The Aperion Project. We were all hungry so Gabe suggested we sit down in El Cid for some fine Mexican food.

This was a full day, especially for Tali since she had been up for going on 24 hours straight, but this was not where our day would end. We still had to drive to Milwaukee, Wisconsin so we would be there for our show and workshop that would take place over the next two days at art supply store, Artists and Display.