Come, Come, Come to the Sabbat

First things first, here's the flyer for my show! It is the result of a frustrated few hours of photoshop on my part. I realized I'd been talking about this show and providing no details for anyone reading who's actually interested in going so there it is. It'll be my second solo show and I'm pretty excited and definitely learned a lot about how I'd like to do things since the first one. I'm still frustrated by the fact that some of my ambitions get so scaled back by a reasonable understanding of my time constraints but I think this one will be cool.

The image is obviously the one I posted a little teaser of last week:
"Behold! The tiny flower bud crimsons and moves as though alive. It is a marvel, in truth. It moves and grows larger and larger, and flashes like a burning coal. The tiny star flashes up; something bursts softly, and the flower opens before his eyes like a flame, lighting the others about it. "Now is the time," thought Petru, and extended his hand. He sees hundreds of shaggy hands reach from behind him, also for the flower."

The color is really off in this photograph (the flyer with its adjustments is probably closer) and as you can see it's an odd shape. I'm putting it in a really cool octagonal frame my aunt gave me. The image is from the story St. John's Eve by Nikolai Gogol which I mentioned previously. St. John's Eve was the inspiration for the tone poem Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky, about a witches sabbath. The story starts pretty slowly like a lot of Gogol's work with a lot of longwinded exposition in the tradition of oral storytelling, and then suddenly erupts into a really bizarre nightmare. It's essentially a story about the devil leading a poor peasant astray and presenting him with a way to gain treasure (and the hand of a rich girl he is courting) through supernatural means. Predictably this does not work to his benefit. There's a central scene where he is led up the mountain at night and told to wait for the blossoming of one special flower which he has to pick in order to summon a witch who will tell him how to find the treasure, and as he reaches for it he can hear other supernatural creatures scurrying to grab it first. As usual Gogol takes reference from folklore without referring to specific creatures and tales which I like a lot. There are countless stories about contact with the devil traveling in human form and the repercussions of accepting gifts from him (a necklace that burns your neck, a ribbon that makes your hair fall out), and the story contains a lot of imagery from stories about witches (shapeshifting, the house on chicken legs usually seen in Baba Yaga stories, communion with the devil, sabbaths on treeless mountains). I also stumbled across a reference to the raskovnik, a magical plant that could supposedly be used to find treasure, which I imagine was the inspiration for the flower in the story. You can read the story in full here and I definitely recommend it. The reason I keep doing images from Gogol's stories is because each one has several moments that are so graphically interesting because of his description that I immediately want to draw them.

Another thing of slight interest about that painting is that that is the second background I did. My aunt recently asked me if serendipity ever came into play when I was painting something and I answered no as I was working on the original background for this, and ended up being very wrong. Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am the LEAST personally meticulous person they know. I live and have always lived in a perpetual whirlwind of clutter. My socks never match, my hair isn't brushed, and nearly everything I own is MacGyvered in some way because it doesn't really work. But god fucking forbid I see streaks in my paintings! I had done a blue to black faded background and no matter what I did I could not get it to stop looking streaky. I'm guessing it had something to do with the opacity of the particular blue paint I was using. I had one final spazz about it after seeing it under fluorescent light and painted a black sky over everything and left the original blue for mountains so it wouldn't be too boring. The end result is actually way better than what I originally planned.

Also the flower I used as reference was a zinnia, which is pretty regionally inaccurate and not too mystical considering everyone's grandma has them in the garden. Not being a gardening person I will admit to doing a google search for "red flower" and picking that one because of the way the petals were unfurling, and assumed no one would think about what it was. However my two aunts and mother saw it and immediately asked "why a zinnia"? Soooo trust that that is not just a zinnia, but rather a magical Slavic witch flower.

In other news I'm as always prematurely excited about Halloween. Allen lent me "Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween" and I've been reading it whenever I get a chance. It's great! This year I will be attempting to carve the pre-pumpkin traditional turnip lantern. I have no idea where a girl goes about getting a sizable turnip in Philadelphia.


Amy Duncan said...

the mountains totally make the picture, nice one lady...wish I was there to see the show in person, curse our geographical chasm!

wandering genie said...

Haha as I said to another Australian friend, how lazy! It's only on the other side of the planet!

And thank you!