Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Space Between

DAY: 279 CITY:47 Country:16


I visited the Groniger Museum today in the Northern Dutch city of Groningen. One of the architects of this building was the Frenchman Phillipe Stark.
Downstairs they had a display of sacred altar pieces in sliver and gold. The crucifix above really caught me with great detail in the metal work - all silver, very shiny. Hey - this is like a Homer Simpson review of art huh? Mmmmm shiny... silvery....crossey.
There was an amazing exhibit of sculpture by Marc Quinn, a well established, well collected contemporary artist from the UK.
Quinn is now famous for his marble sculptures of handicapped people, or more specifically, people born with birth defects. It's a geometrically and visual intense group of sculptures, and all together it's a very thought provoking exhibit.

Marc Quinn Sculpture
Here is a statue he did of super-model Kate Moss doing a yoga pose.
Followed by one of a pregnant women who lives with no arms and has tiny legs and feet.
Marc Quinn Sculpture

What is beauty? What is Women?
Is her ability to create life and mirror the divine what our culture worships? or is it her heroin induced runway waifness?
Visit his website when you have a moment.
And visit my Flickr page to see more of Quinn and more of the Groningen museum.
Quinn is the first artist I have found that explicitly remarks on the power of the moments "in-between". He made a self portrait out of 5 liters of his own blood - frozen into a mold of his face.
When is the blood no longer him? When it's in a syringe? In a beaker? Is it no longer really a part of him as soon as it leaves his body?
Frozen in a replica mold of his stern face it is a direct and visceral representation that asks - is this stuff a part of him any longer?
These in-between moments fascinate me.
Birth... the moment of birth...
He did a piece using the placenta and a clay sculpture of the same baby's face. The placenta is the part of the birth process that is not the baby and not the mother, it's in-between the two - both mother and child created it as a bridge. If you had to think of it as part of one of them, who would it end up with? It's odd to see it turned into the baby's sculpted form.
It's an awesome body of work and the whole idea of finding the powerful and magical moments that exist in-between is something I've been obsessed with for a several years - in my head, in my photos, certainly in my music.
That sacred moment between night and day, the sound of the piano before I let up on the sustain pedal after switching between two disharmonic keys - it's a cool sound. That micro-second of eternity just before orgasm, the strange other-world moment between being asleep and awake, that moment when the second glass of wine gives you the first tingle of a buzz, when spring delivers the first bloom, kills winter, and you first realize your getting more hours of sunshine in the day, when your and my lips almost touch, that buzzing energy between our lips before they connect. A dear friend wrote me recently and talked about her new passion - skydiving. Can you imagine the moment just before you jump out of the plane? These are the times and places where magic resides and we are transformed when we find ourselves fully in the moment. And now, just now, right here, is the end of this post.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Please send gas

DAY: 278 CITY:47 Country:16


Liquid Gold, plus tax

So, you think $3.00 a gallon is expensive for gas?
I just filled up again here in Holland.

After spending more than six months in most all of Europe - it's pretty much all the same price: €1.49 per liter.
1 liter = .26 gallons
€1.00 = $1.28USD

That's $7.34 per gallon!

Oddly enough, I never see a Prius. But boy are there bicycles everywhere and great Metro systems, trams and trains of course. Oh yea, people walk, that's free.

I've not once seen a Hummer, Escalade or Navigator.

If you're wondering - my Ford whatchamacallit gets 24MPG.
I'm too scared to figure out how much it costs me for every kilometer I drive.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The $120,000 Piano - and some of my music

DAY: 273 CITY:46 Country:15


It was a rainy day in Hamburg, a perfect time to spend all day
playing Steinways.

Today I arrived for my scheduled tour of the Steinway factory. One of the goals of my trip is to tour the world's finest piano makers, and I've done pretty well. First was Faziolli, in Northern Italy, then my favorite, Blüthner in Leipzig, and then today was Steinway, in Hamburg.

Faziolli 10 ft Piano
Wyatt at the Faziolli Piano Factory in Italy - click to see a larger version

I got to spend a few hours playing different models, although they didn't have a single Model D in house, they we're all on tour. The D is the largest - the 9 ft grand. I fell in love with the Model A, their smallest full concert grand at about 6ft and only $65,000 or so. I think the Model D is $120K now. Faziolli - the Ferrari of pianos has their 10'2" grand for $200,000! It the largest in the world. They let me play several models for about an hour and afterward I met and chatted with Mr. Fazzioli. To put that experience in perspective, it's like being a car nut and getting to test drive Ferraris all day and then having lunch with Enzo.

I've had a few people ask to hear some of my piano compositions, so I've posted a file of me playing a piece I'm currently working on, which I recorded today while at the Steinway factory.

Listen to me try out a Steinway Model A and play a composition that is still in progress.
left click to listen, right click and choose save to download

One of my favorite compositions that I recorded on Maui, Hawaii two years ago is posted here.
It's a very short 2 minute meditative work meant to totally relax and chill you out.
left click to listen, right click and choose save to download


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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Friendliest Man in the World

Originally uploaded by jsharpley.
I'm in Hamburg today. I found a free spot to park the car and I was going through my stuff, and cleaning the car. I noticed a man across the street watching me from his second story window. I started to wrap a birthday present I had gotten for Joe, his birthday is on the 13th. So this guy starts screaming at me in German. I think quickly, are there rules here against wrapping in the street? There are lots of rules here in Germany, although I think it’s fine or even encouraged that you smoke in a kindergarten class or hospital. So the guy screaming at me had string in his hands, and from what I could tell was saying here is some twine if you need it for that package you’re wrapping. I pulled out the green matching ribbon I had dutifully picked out earlier (exercising my innate Martha gene). Nein Danke! I said, I got ribbon. But I was really touched by his generosity. A few moments later I heard his wife yelling at him about something... he returned to the window with two beautiful white lilies, perfect ones, just blooming. He thought they would match the wrapping and add to the presentation of the gift! He was two floors up and had to be 70 plus. This guy had good taste as well as great vision! The lilies were perfect, but alas, I was just now wrapping the present again with brown paper for mailing. This one was a bit harder to explain to my new friend, but he soon understood that the present was going "post" die post! And the petals would not survive.

I've never had such a good time wrapping a present and rapping with a perfect stranger in a language I knew so little of.

As I finished organizing my stuff and cleaning the car, the guy comes out of his apt. He gives me a metal thermos that looked like it was from GDR times, it was full of fresh hot coffee. "For my travels" he explained taking a Marcel Marceau sip and then putting his hands on an imaginary steering wheel.
I surmised this guy was well retired, but must be accustomed to being very involved and busy. He must drive his wife insane now. He left back to his high perch and I had a nice cup of strong German coffee while I finished the packing. Finally, he tossed out a local phone book to me! Telling me this is good, with maps of the town and stuff I needed to know about Hamburg. I think this man had already showed me everything I needed to know. His outrageous hospitality was Aloha on steroids, but in truth, not at all uncommon here. I think the Germans travel a great deal and perhaps this is why they are so amazingly generous and kind to strangers. When sending notes on, every German replied back, either wanting to host me, find a host, or expressing real disappointment that they are unable to host (usually because they are away on travel). Although I usually find myself in a thick cloud of cigarette smoke wherever I go in Germany, these folks are always happy to pause between drags to say willkommen.

This man will never see this post and I will never see him again.  We never know what effect we have on those around us.  He will never know how touched I was, or that I've shared this story.  From this experience, I am reminded that each time we open our hearts, share with others, take the time to be loving and kind...we will never know what it might mean to someone, how touched they might be.  Our actions have meaning, and perhaps immense effect that we will never know.  

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cafe in Sodermalm

Cafe in Sodermalm, Stockholm, Sweden
I'm just catching up on email today, hanging out at a cafe in Sodermalm, Stockholm.
A friend stopped by and took a few pictures of me and I posted one just now.

Stockholm reminds me very much of SF. The air is cool, it's surrounded by water, it's very liberal and hip, not too big, not too small. They had a gay pride parade a few days ago. I'll post pics from that soon so check back.

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