Saturday, December 18, 2010

Steal softly thru snow

We'll be raising a glass to the memory of Don Van Vliet / Captain Beefheart this evening.  The clip here shows the band in their final incarnation doing 'Ice Cream for Crow' and features examples of the paintings to which he would subsequently devote himself.  At 1:36 and 2:42, for example, you can see canvasses planted in the landscape that clearly inspired them.  Also, about two minutes in, the band start adding pot plants to the desert - a gesture that may well make some significant point about culture and landscape that I ought to be elaborating upon here.

I saw an exhibition of Don Van Vliet's paintings in Brighton back in 1994.  I remember it was hard to be objective about them when you had 'I'm Gonna Booglarize You Baby' playing on a TV monitor in a corner.  The exhibition's introduction noted that 'for many years Van Vliet lived in the Mohave Desert before moving more recently to the Northern Californian coast and his palette, with its heavy greens, blues and ochres, is entirely reminiscent of the landscape he inhabits and his concerns for that environment, while his strong use of thick washes of black and white serve to delineate his own interior sensibilities.'

London is completely black and white today, lying in thick cold snow, and has been reminding me of a Captain Beefheart song:

Steal softly thru sunshine
Steal softly thru snow
The wild goose flies from winter
Breaks my heart that I can`t go...

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