What piece of art changed your life? How did it affect you?
Although there have been many works of art in all disciplines that have affected me the first such experiences that I can remember clearly happened of first viewing the original paintings of Vincent Van Gogh in person. This was during high, early to mid-1970's I'd gone on a field trip with a humanities class to the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco for an exhibition of either Van Gogh, or the Impressionists. I don't remember exactly, but I very clearly remember the profound impact that seeing Van Gogh's work had on me. I can't say that I remember the exact paintings that I saw that time because I've been to several exhibitions of his work since then, but I do remember one of his paintings of Wheat Fields that had whole pieces of stray wheat embedded in the paint that was so thick that if almost looked like it was three dimensional. I could picture him in the middle of this field with the wind blowing the straw all around as he focused obsessively on whatever it was that he was seeing.
The way that it affected me was in the sense that before that time I viewed art as a representation of something or as a pleasant background to a place, but it was the first time I thought of Art as a means of self expression, and that an artist could take something as mundane as a field of wheat and create such a personal statement that could evoke an emotional, and at the same time, an intellectual response from me. On some unconscious level, I feel that I've always been affected by that realization, and I'm sure that it has in turn influenced my own work.
Peabody's Mike Formanek is an extraordinary bassist and composer. The quartet he put together for his new ECM disc, The Rub and Spare Change, is a veritable supergroup, with Tim Berne on saxophone, Craig Taborn on piano, and Gerald Cleaver on drums. They play An die Musik Friday night at 8 and 9:30.