Friday, May 30, 2008

Love, Art, Magic

So tonight, I got a chance to finally catch an art show called Art, Love, Magic (web site) hosted by my friend Justin Nygren. It was so cool getting to see him in his element. About 6 years ago, myself, my soon to be wife and a couple of others came down to Dallas from Colorado Springs, and helped him produce his first multi-arts event called the Blue Door. He and his wife are so stinking cool, and it is great to see that since then, he has really arrived in his element, and is producing some really fantastic events!

This was one of their coffee house versions, which is paired back a bit, but none the less, I got a chance to see a few really amazing artists that I have to talk about! The first is a guy named Spencer (myspace site). This guy couldn't have been over 18, and he had a Dillon vibe that made you have to listen! Lyrically, his songs were fairly profound. He is one of those make you think kind of songwriters, and his final song, called "America" I believe, was just awesome. I love to see young talent who get the fact that they aren't God's gift to the world, but rather that the world is God's gift to us! Wow, I need to put that thought in my book.

The other was a very new artist named Jason Kinney (website). His medium is pencil with a portrait specialty, and he has only been creating for about 4 years. His detail is astounding. In today's age of photoshop, artists far too often take mediocre works and run it through a digital process to somehow capture a unique aspect. His prints were merely b & w photocopies from Kinko's, undoctored, and you could still see the grain of the paper, the detail of each pencil stroke, and at first glimpse, you would think you were looking at black and white head shot, but upon closer inspection, you see that it is a freehand work. What is absolutely amazing is how he omits certain aspects of the pieces that aren't important but keys in on some that bring the piece to life. I bought a print of the old man on the website. His wrinkles tell stories of being formed by years of hardship and pain, yet reveal the permanent remnants of a smile that may not be present in the portrait, but I am sure is as distinct a portion of his existence as the hat on his head. His eyes bathe you in peace. You sense grace in his demeanor. You see wisdom that cannot be learned in a classroom or because you made it to church on Sunday, but because you lived your life communing with God.

Jason's testimony is pretty awesome as well. He and his wife have been delivered from a meth addiction in one of those miraculous ways that piss people off who don't believe that God still heals people today! You need to go to his sight and read his testimony. Powerful!

Art, Love, Magic has another show coming up at the Janet Kennedy Gallery at Southside on Lamar sometime in June. It will feature about 30 female artists from around Dallas, and I am certain will be an event that should be on everyone's calendar! It will certainly be on mine.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Near Death On the Catwalk

OK, I love lighting. Seriously, I think that audio is probably my "A game" but lighting really gets me going. This last week, I was finally approved to go out and get the necessary lighting to meet the bare minimum for the stage. Finally, I have three points of light for each area of the stage, and it made a great improvement, but getting there nearly killed me... literally.

Thursday, I hired a couple of people that I worked with when I did electrics for Gemini Stage and Lighting Company. There is one guy in particular that I used to tell myself that I would never hire again because he was so slow, but every time I needed a couple of electricians for an install, he was the only one available. So I took that as God wanting me to bless this guy. I really like him. I feel for him honestly, because he is getting older in his life, and doesn't have allot to show for it, other than his daughter that just got drafted into the WNBA. At any rate, I have a soft spot for the guy, so I hire him anyway, although I know he is going to talk on his cell phone way too much and complain if I keep him a minute over the four hour mini.

Thursday was no exception, as he had plenty of "business" to take care of on the cell, and he had to leave no later than 12:30. Fortunately I had the help of a lady named Tammy, who totally rocks. She busted her butt the entire time, and when I describe our catwalk in detail later, you will see why. She got most of the lighting hung, which was my goal with the hired guns, and then I was going to do the focus with my volunteers.

I had rehearsal that night, and one of my volunteers wasn't able to make it because of issues with his daughters car. So, another volunteer and I did the focus, which means we couldn't do it right, having one guy in the catwalk, one on the console, and me on the stage conducting the focus. I don't have a remote focus unit which would make things sooooooo much easier.

Basically, I had to turn on all the lights and wing it, and we really did a pretty poor focus, but I knew the lights were pointed in the right direction. They just needed to be sharpened, shuttered, and gelled, so I figured I could knock that out pretty quickly the next day.

I got our worship coordinator to run the console, and we got through the downstage catwalk pretty quickly. It is fairly easy to access the fixtures from there, even though you have to duck under duct work, the steel, and the fire suppression system, which kills your back and neck and makes the job three times more difficult! The upstage though is another story.

My room wasn't designed with production in mind. I was designed with a preacher, choir, and organist in mind. In other words, it sucks pretty much all around. The upstage catwalk is really midstage, which wouldn't be bad if you could actually focus lights downstage, but you can't. In order to do that, you have to put the lights on an extension, and with the color scrollers, those extentions get pretty heavy. Tammy hung the lights in the right spot, but somewhere we got the dmx mixed up, so I basically had to remove the fixtures to get to the color scrollers and readdress the units. Of course it was about 90 degrees in the catwalk, and I was sweating like you wouldn't believe. I didn't have any help since everyone had already gone home, so I was having to fix what I thought was wrong, come out of the catwalk, go to the console, see if it was fixed. If not, go back so that I could fix it again, only to get back to the console to see that the light was out of focus. Literally, this went on for hours!

At about 11 PM, I was getting pretty close, and was ready to gel the downstage catwalk. I have some 10 degrees hung up there for specials, and to get to their barrels without knocking off the focus is very difficult, because once again, our catwalks weren't designed for production. When you have been working all day, you try and think up the quickest way to do things rather than the safest, and many times that is also the dumbest. Rather than taking the barrel off and inserting the gel, which was the safe way, I decided to hang out over the edge to put the gel in, but to do this, I had to squeeze between the pole and the ceiling. I squeezed, and had to squeeze just enough to literally get stuck. Basically I went past my ribs, and when they expanded back into position, it was like sticking a tape measure in the back of your crap drawer. You can't get it back open. I couldn't get unstuck.

I was having a really hard time breathing because of the pressure on my diaphragm, and I couldn't go the other way because that would end with a 3o foot fall. I thought that I might have to call someone to come and help me out. I was trying not to panic, but then I realized that I left my cell phone downstairs. OK, now I was really trying not to panic! I was in trouble. If I didn't get out of there, I was probably going to suffocate.

So that is of course when the desperate measures come in: prayer, some screaming for help, and finally the resolve to get out no matter what the consequences. So I went for it, and it hurt like hell! Basically I had to push my ribs in, and drag myself out. After about a minute of struggle, I was finally free, but my ribs and sternum were really bruised, and are still hurting today. I don't think that I cracked a rib, but I came pretty close. I am certainly thanking God that I was able to get out.

So I limped downstairs, and sat down and sweated on the console a bit while I did some of the programming. I got finished at about 11 PM Saturday night. All in all, I spent about 45 hours doing the install from Thursday through Saturday.

Then I did a show Sunday night where I loaded in and out a sound rig. It went really well, but that combined with the install and the Sunday service pretty much wore me out. I defiantly was appreciative that Monday was a day off, and that is what I did. After a few ibuprofen and a couple of XX with a lime, I was good to go!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Why am I a tool?

So why is it a big deal when someone takes the time t maneuver their walker up the stairs, all the way up to the balcony to flag me down and tell me that I am unleashing the hounds of hell upon this unsuspecting congregation with all this racket? Seriously, why does that piss me off so bad? Why do I have a hard time returning a kind word to someone who is genuinely worked up over the nature of the worship service?

I met with a group of technical directors recently, and I stated that I am an arrogant bastard. You know something, I really am. I have a hard time allowing the spirit of Christ to react when people are critical of my sacred mix. It's pretty pathetic really when I think about it. After all, who is the mix for, because with the way that I react, it would seem that it is entirely for me. The paradox exists in the fact that I have a genuine love for the worship environment and helping to create a worship experience that heals people, sets them free, and changes their lives.

So I am going to stop letting my pride get in the way of how I value the beloved of God.
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