For years now, (an embarrassingly long amount of time), I've been working on a very big piece. It's a piece that I've been picking up and then putting down for various reasons. But now is the time! My opera/oratorio/theater piece about Jackson Pollock has a committed ensemble. I finally have a clear vision of what the piece is and I've been fiercely plugging away.
It's a work that attempts to explore the art itself more than the artist, who was a mixed bag to say the least. Much has been written about his explosive temper and heavy drinking, but he was much more complex than just that. I've read many many biographies, read countless interviews, and read as many critics on his work as possible.
It's been a very painful job to try and make sense of it all and create some sort of narrative with this piece, and that was THE problem for me. I was creating a narrative. The man has many myths surrounding him that may or may not be true and everyone seems to have wildly different accounts as to what he was about and what his art was about. Pollock is a Rorschach test and people slap their own interpretation onto him. Critics, friends, neighbors, Jungians, family, his wife Lee Krasner, etc. I decided to deal with all of this by using real life quotes and excerpts from books and interviews. Some accounts contradict each other, so it's hard to know what's true sometimes. Instead of me cherry-picking to create my own interpretation, instead I'm putting everything out there!
The only thing that seems to actually be true is that the Art exists and that it moves people. Hell, that's the whole reason I got into doing this piece to begin with. I didn't know about all of mythology surrounding him, I was confronted by the images and was deeply moved, excited, and felt alive. Now the piece is a mostly abstract narrative about a mostly abstract artist, and the main character is the art itself. How I do that you'll have to check out when it's finished!
Yesterday my wife Kendra Berentsen and I went out to the Pollock-Krasner house to meet with Helen Harrison, who's the director of the Pollock-Krasner house among other things. There she gave us a tour of Jackson and Lee's house and the barn that they painted in. She was unbelievably generous and has lots of incredible information about Jackson.
It was very strange to finally make it out to the house. It's a place that I've become so intimately familiar with. It lived in my head as a fictional fairy-tale place. It was so beautiful out there in East Hampton and at their house, as someone that's lived in NYC for a decade I totally understand why they moved out there.
After checking out the house and discussing the piece, Helen took us out back to the barn. It was something that I thought I knew very well from studying countless photos of it, but being there was a strange and wonderful experience. It was both bigger and smaller than I imagined. Bigger in that there was so much to see within every corner and every step, but smaller in that it was actually physically pretty small.
I'll be posting more about the piece as it develops! I'm a little hesitant about posting MIDI mock-ups because, well, it's MIDI and we know how that sounds. If something sounds passable enough I'll share it on here. But yeah, stay tuned for much much more!