A few days after I started filming the teaser videos for The Cold & Lovely I found a dead dragonfly on the sidewalk walking home. I scooped him up and placed him on the shelf with my other insects. In one sense dragonfly tells us of illusions and how to break them to bring out our best work. It's also about deeper thinking as well as prosperity, strength, good luck and purifying the mind and body. When Meg approached me about doing teaser videos I automatically said yes and sent them a link to some video work I had been doing. Nicole sent me a text a few minutes later. "We are laughing because this is exactly the type of visual we had in mind." Somehow our aesthetics had merged.
I live in New York City, home of grit, grime, and glamour. All of my video work so far has been filmed in NY. I had been talking with my friend Kate Black about a New York in my brain that doesn't exist. Kate reminded me it did indeed exist, it was that I wasn't born in a time to take part in it. The New York I'm referring to is Beat Generation NY through the late 80's. The NY I'm referring to is my own illusion, broken to pieces by the reality of what it is right now. And yet I have a fondness for the city and the secret places, amazing people, and magical events I have had the pleasure of taking part of. There's something shifting in the area of the arts, some special leaking in through the cracks. Something that is removing our own illusions and allowing creativity to flow freely, authentically.
I create magical worlds from concrete on video. I find secret places amongst the streets and stomp down rock paths at high tide in order to get the best shots. Sherene and I sipped cappuccino this evening at Cafe Cluny talking about illusion and dream worlds. "You create a NY aesthetic that people want to be a part of." I was showing her clips of footage I had shot earlier in the day. And with each of these teasers I did the same. My only direction from the band was to keep it nature based, and so I found my little slices of the natural world in between paved sidewalks and cement walls.
One of the many reasons I adore working with The Cold & Lovely is that with their music, they tap into that same energy. I created each vignette specifically for the chosen song, with the exception of "Red Eye" which I used one of my older vignettes because it fit so perfectly. Sometimes two things that already exist match up vibrationally. This is exactly what happened. I don't think about what I'm shooting a lot when I have my camera. I have a basic idea and let it form organically. In editing mode I listen to the song and place images not only by visual aesthetics but also by the rhythm of what I'm listening to. Even if timing isn't in sync, it has to have a flow. Idiosyncrasies are a gift. Come October we will be shooting a full length video for "Ellis Bell" To see all the teasers go here. I created all except "Ellis Bell".
It was late one evening when the message slipped it's way into my inbox. It was an unexpected surprise but something that seemed magic and significant. It was an invitation to design the cover for The Cold & Lovely's new EP. Nicole, Meg and I exchanged ideas and came up with a plan. This was back in May and just a few days ago the cover was released.
It started out as an idea. "Ellis Bell" was the pen name of Emily Bronte. Meg and Nicole sent along a few images of the sisters. The cover for the first single off the album was born. I spent a few hours researching real life photos of Emily but only found a few that could be. I played off the image above as well as vintage photographs for my own.
As the album began to progress so did the album art. The vibe shifted and so the original old fashioned photo became yet another idea, still vintage looking but with a lighter feel. Meg came to me with a different photo and the vision came to light. What I love about working with Meg and Nicole is their consistant vision of what the entire package will both look and feel like.
I shot the back cover at a local cemetery. The lights and darks of the image seemed perfect to keep with the energy of the cover. The new website is up and features a teaser from the first single off the album. Background image is mine as well. The album officially comes out Sept 24 and I can honestly say I'm so excited to be a part of it. As most of you know Nicole and I have known each other since pre-school and as I met other members of the band a connection was made. There are some people the moment you meet you already feel like old friends. As soon as I received the mixes I played them on repeat for a week. I can't wait for all of you to hear them too. Click the snapshot of the website to take a listen.
If you haven't seen my Hoodoo cabinet "Le Grand Zombi" or "Amy Winehouse" altar piece in person here is your chance. I'm part of a group show curated by Samantha Levin at Skylight gallery. This show will be up from 9/5 until 10/19 at Skylight Gallery, 538 West 29th Street, 2nd floor. Hours are Thursday nights, 6-9, Saturdays 11-6 and by appointment. Facebook invite can be found here.
"At the foot of the stairs the match went out, and he paused to strike another; and at the same moment a knock came so quiet and stealthy as to be scarcely audible, sounded on the front door." ― W.W. Jacobs, The Monkey's Paw
A few nights ago the Grand Trine in Water we’ve had most of the month joined a second Grand Trine in Earth forming a Grand sextile. The Grand Sextile consists of two triangles, one pointing above to represent spirit and one pointing below to respresent spirit turning into the material. The last time we had this configuration was February 27, 1945—near the end of World War II. This formation has incredible energy for goals and dreams to come to fruition but one must work for them.
I spent the day cleaning and cleansing the house knowing later that evening I'd have conjure work to do. As I sat down at my reading table with my materials in front of me I started thinking about my own life and workings. I had been struggling figuring out how to merge the magical side of my life with the art and business side of it. My thoughts brought me to an exhibit years ago by my friend Swoon at Deitch Projects. Swoon had created an installation using found objects, wood pieces, broken boats, and doorways and wheatpasted her images onto them building a world of surreal images on what we would consider garbage. It was gorgeous, and real, and magic, right down to the tethered ropes. In the back of the installation she had shelves filled with jars that contained bones, bits of string, silverware and other oddities. I remember being very taken by this and thinking that many of the working altars I had seen by hoodoo practioners and spirit workers often were works of art themselves. It was a thought and then I put it in the back of mind, because I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life. This was five years ago.
Dr. Beetle and her gorgeous workspace from 2008
I focused on my conjure bottle. This one was for a client wanting reconcillation and good clear communication with their partner. The moment I started it I knew within a day the two would be talking and the working would be on it's way. The timing seemed auspicious. I placed it on my altar and tended to the ancestral one in my bedroom. The top needed repainting. I wasn't happy with the sides. I made a mental note of the changes. I checked the bottles on my dresser. They seemed to be in good form. I remembered one of the most beautiful altars I had seen. Dr. Beetle had sent me an image of it for a book I released years back. Finally it was all coming together. With the tarot deck coming into fruition, the back and fronts of the cards revealing themselves in a dream I knew the umbrella of La Gitana was melding. I was stepping into the art forms I was supposed to be executing. When a vibration shifts it all comes together. I recently joined forces with Sister Enable of London Conjure. I'm now their resident Gitana, Conjure Mama, and Mistress of Magic. I'll be posting news as it comes.
Sometimes our paths take us to places that our minds have already been to. We wipe out those memories because our brain tells us to function differently. We already have an idea of what we're going to be instead of letting ourselves just be. Conjuration is an art form, just as painting, writing, dancing, building altars, and solving mathematic equations. Below is an image from inside my ancestral altar. It contains both the sacred and the mundane joining together to create not only art but a portal. Art, magic, and science can merge. They already have. "Interconnection is Key."
Do you have an altar of magical working you consider art and magic? I'd love to see it. Leave a comment or message me at firstname.lastname@example.org