Mati Klarwein

The cover art for Santana’s “Abraxas, Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” and “Live Evil”, and many more were created by Mati Klarwein. This blogpost is about the man and his amazing imagination.

Dali was not the only one in attendance. Musicians loved the place, where eclectic music from Klarwein’s large record collection played in the background. One such musician in particular loved to perch himself in the temple, wash his eyes with the surrealistic paintings, listen to the psychedelic music in the background and engulf himself with purple haze. You guessed it, Jimi Hendrix. Under the influence of dubious substances, some of the musicians started asking Klarwein to create album sleeves for their albums, Hendrix one of them. Klarwein: “We used to share the same tailor, and we would spend afternoons dropping acid and trying out new sets of clothes together. I actually was working on a painting for a record cover to an album that was never finished, where Jimi and Gil Evans were collaborating. Unfortunately Jimi died during the recordings and it was never released.”

and this quote, about the album title (and coffee) “Bitches Brew”.

Miles’ original idea for the title was Witches Brew, but his wife Betty, a young a free spirit very much in tune with the times, suggested changing the first word to Bitches. Notice the absence of an apostrophe at the end of the word “bitches,” making “brew” a verb, not a noun.

Seeing his cover art reminds me of how much was lost when we switched from Vinyl to CDs, not to mention to the present time when cover art is tiny, miniscule.


I am intrigued by the sense that culture itself has a wild edge. As Claude Levi-Strauss remarked years ago, the arts are the wilderness areas of the imagination surviving, like national parks, in the midst of civilized minds.

This is a quote, tweeted by a Gary Snyder Quotes Account, from the book The Practice of the Wild by Gary Snyder, published in 1990.

Wilderness of nature and wilderness of culture. Wilderness outside and wilderness inside. I believe we need both to flourish. Some people are uncomfortable with wilderness of nature or of culture, but they also reap the rewards of it. One example of that is the amount of medicine found in the wild corners of the shrinking Amazon forest. In terms of music think of how much bass playing was changed by the wild Jaco Pastorius or guitar playing by Jimi Hendrix. When they first exploded onto the scene there may have been many who didn’t like it, but now there is hardly a bassist or guitarist who was not influenced by them.

I think this dovetails nicely with my old Spinning circles image of culture.

In the fringe is where everything exciting happens, never in the center. Cultures are like spinning circles. In the center they don’t move very much, that’s where the traditionalists live, the conservatives. Towards the rim is where the action is, that’s where the artists hang out. Life is a little more out of balance there sometimes and the spinning can make you dizzy there. What is most exciting is that many of the culture circles overlap and if you can stay in a spot where several things overlap you can find new clouds of ideas. Ideas are not bound to any individual, there are bound to a time. Many people in that spot will come up with similar ideas. Sometimes this cloud of ideas forms a new circle and the center of it hardens and becomes a new tradition. The longer it can remain liquid the more alive it will remain. Life is change.

Rant #5

Hidden Imagery

Colossal has a post about the hidden image discovered in a restored Vermeer painting. It got me thinking about hidden art and an artist’s intention. It is cool if an artist hides an image inside his/her work, to be discovered eventually – or not. It could be a political statement, for example a portrait of a powerful monarch with an underpainting of some of their greatest failings, or a portrait of a smiling person with the hidden words “they never looked that happy in real life but I was paid well to make them look this way”.

In this case, however, that is not the case. Colossal writes that:

…it was assumed that Vermeer had altered the piece himself. Only after they performed a series of infrared reflectography imagings, microscopic analyses, and X-ray fluorescence examinations in 2017 did they realize that the Cupid was covered decades after the painter’s death, even though they still aren’t sure who marred the original piece or when.

What was the reason for this cover up? Did a new owner of the painting object to the nudity of the cupid? We may never know. What a story though!!

(((click on the image to see a larger version)))

guitar + pipe

The Dallas Museum of Art released a link to the video I created for them. Click on the image below to go to the video.

guitar + pipe

This is the audio portion of a video I created for the Dallas Museum of Art. The video was commissioned for an exhibit called Cubism in Color: The Still Lifes of Juan Gris, which runs 3/18 – 7/25 of 2021 at the museum. One of the paintings in the exhibit is Gris’ Guitar and Pipe.

My piece starts with an intro that I was shown more than thirty years ago. The guitar player who showed it to me said that for him it was the essence of Flamenco. In the way that Juan Gris uses a guitar as a location marker for Spain, I performed that intro to start the music.

For me, Cubism is about multiple angles and points of view and the many different ways of looking at and interpreting an object. I translated this into sound by recording a guitar rhythm, then playing the recording back at half-speed. I also reversed some of the guitar sounds and removed the string attack from others.

Many of my favorite cubist pieces include collages. The mid-section of the music is from an altogether different piece, (((Butterfly Dream))) which is also in a different key, to which I played a new melody. When this section ends, the rhythm guitars return, still at half-speed, and upright bass and cajon now play along while new guitar melodies are added. The music ends with the same chord with which it starts.