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Waltz and Roll

While their friend Marty Scorcese looked on—and in—The Band created quite possibly the greatest concert film of all time. James Wooster and his friends took one night of homage at little old Rambling House in SoHud and have turned it into one of the city’s greatest rock and roll tributes. The Last Waltz is starts [...]
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While their friend Marty Scorcese looked on—and in—The Band created quite possibly the greatest concert film of all time.

James Wooster and his friends took one night of homage at little old Rambling House in SoHud and have turned it into one of the city’s greatest rock and roll tributes.

The Last Waltz is starts anew this month, the fifth straight year for the tribute in Columbus—the second time at the historic Newport Music Hall. 

And just like the members of The Band, the crew backing Bob Dylan’s electric sojourn and perhaps the unknown authors of the American genre, Wooster and his 10-person, 12-guest crew crew have quietly amassed an impressive oeuvre—one that’s required to recreate the spectacle and spectrum of The Band’s final concert, Thanksgiving Day 1976, first revealed to the rest of the music world’s 1978 Scorcese film.

In the 40 years since The Band’s full lineup last Drove Old Dixie Down, their contribution and presence to music culture still hasn’t quite peaked. Here’s hoping Wooster and his crew still have plenty of more years left to ramble.

Isn’t weird having an event that reoccurs every year, in honor of something that was signaling an end?

Huh, I’ve never thought of it that way! I suppose it is weird, I honestly never think about that intention for it to be the finale. Maybe because almost all the members of The Band continued to play as “The Band” for quite a few years after The Last Waltz. It was certainly the end of a significant chapter of The Band.

Do you think The Band is the most famous band in the history or rock and roll to not be “Uber famous?”

I would agree that some of their songs are more famous than The Band. More people probably can sing at least a verse of “The Weight” than can recognize them from a picture. They had the unique lack of a designated lead singer, which takes some of the spotlight off of the celebrity aspect of a band.

How did this actually come together? And I don’t mean, how did you all know the songs, but I mean a production of this magnitude takes some work.

It started off as a very modest attempt and we’ve built on it with each year. Year One, we had no horn section, only a couple guests, and we omitted a bunch of songs. Year Two, we added the horn section, and with each year at least a song or two have been added to the set, still all in the Last Waltz cannon. Thankfully there’s a lot of material there to pull from that isn’t in the film. I’ve also been fortunate that for the third year we’ve partnered with QFM-96, which has allowed us to get the word out about the show to a larger audience in Central Ohio. They’ve been really cool to work with, totally hands off on the production side of things, and totally supportive of continuing this great event.

Quite a transition from Rambling House to the old Agora, huh? Does playing in a place like The Newport, with all of its history, add to this show, rather just playing it in a bar somewhere?

It absolutely does. Playing at The Newport is a thrill. Obviously it is a landmark, maybe even a beacon for maintaining some sliver of character on High Street. I couldn’t think of a better place to host this show. The show definitely benefits from the nostalgia of the building, and the memories that Columbus music fans bring with them from all the shows they have seen over the years.

It also adds some pressure to a very fun thing. I also thought that about the original: like, my god, you’re trying to enjoy your last concert ever, but it’s hard because you’re sitting in with Muddy Waters and Neil Young. Do you feel that way up there?

What’s funny about The Last Waltz is, as an actual concert, it was kind of a sloppy affair. The songs that featured the guests were mostly hastily rehearsed. It has a loose, “jam session” type feel to it. I wouldn’t be at all shocked to find out that Levon Helm had never heard “Dry Your Eyes” prior to Neil Diamond walking on stage that night. None of that really matters, what is important is that the spirit of the show is a celebration. It feels like a special occasion for us, to have 25 or so friends all gather in one place to play music together, it’s amazing.

In a tribute show, what’s the line between doing it your way, and how people may be familiar with the material or the movie? It’s a pretty tall order to ape essentially half the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…

We definitely take pride in playing songs very similarly to how they were played in concert. I think half of the fun is nailing down all those small things. Many of our guests recite the on-stage banter that were said in concert. It is a lot of fun for me to “cast” the special guests. Columbus is deep with musicians and it’s often times difficult to include everything you want to.

What is it about this town that makes it such a great scene for tributes? Can you tell me some others you’ve been to in town that you love? Maybe it’s our perfectly crafted neutral Midwestern-ness that makes it a great canvass for imitation?

It’s a great scene for being a music fan and/or musician in Columbus. The musicians I know simply love to play music. Sometimes preparing for a tribute show can divert the attention you normally use for writing and practicing your own music, but who cares because it’s a hell of a good time! The Beatles Marathon is an amazing achievement in musicality, organization, and kind of a freak of nature when it comes to the physical aspect of performing. I’m amazed by that each time. I’ve enjoyed playing in a few tribute shows over the past couple years that only came to be because of a tragic loss. The David Bowie Tribute that I played in with The Bloodthirsty Virgins remains one of my favorite times playing music and I’m reminded of how emotional it can be.

Do you remember the first time you saw the film? Do you have parts that give you goosebumps no matter how many times you’ve seen it?

I have to give my lovely wife credit for introducing me to The Last Waltz. When we moved in together, she had both the DVD & the boxed set on CD. That year both of us were unable to come home for Thanksgiving (we were living in North East, Maryland at the time). However, a local band was playing a tribute to The Last Waltz nearby, so naturally we went. It was a lovely show and took some of the sting out from being away from our families. Without a doubt, my favorite moment in the show is “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” I don’t think there’s a better recording of that song anywhere else.

Have you been surprised by the ages of the people at the show?

Not yet! So far I don’t think anybody has been rolled in on a hospital bed. I am grateful that the music speaks both for the younger generations and of course for folks who lived in the hey-day of The Band. For the two years we played the show at Park Street Saloon we did have to creatively address the significant lack of seating, an effort spearheaded by the Baby Boomers of the family. #bringyourownpatiofurniture

In Tribute

Scorcese couldn’t have cast a better set of characters himself for The Last Waltz, and when it comes “casting” his own version, Wooster gets to have a little fun “casting” himself. Here are his favorite moments in the Last Waltz canon:

Van Morrison’s high kick in “Caravan,” expertly recreated by Cliff Starbuck

The soft horn section intro to “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

Ronnie Hawkins trotting around stage in “Who Do You Love.” Zach Whitney does a fantastic job bringing the fun energy to the stage!

Eric Clapton’s guitar strap failing; mid-solo his guitar strap slips off the guitar and he throws the solo over to Robbie, setting off a solo shootout.

Not the Scorcese film, but search “The Last Waltz Full Concert” on YouTube. It’s four-hour, 20-minute video. Black & white from one camera in the back of the house running continuously. So cool to get a different perspective on what the concert actually looked like.

 

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Maker’s Space: Kato Mitchell

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Following an initial disastrous experience with attempting to refurbish a personal pair of sneakers with acrylic paint years ago, a friend noticed Mitchell’s persistence, aiding him to perfect his craft. Though he began with primarily focusing on restoring his friends’ worn-down sneakers, Mitchell’s business, Work The Custom, has expanded to designing apparel in any range.

Just months after being highlighted as cleat designer for Braxton Miller’s Charg1ng summer football camp in Dayton, Mitchell’s clientele has accrued some big names in the sports world, and he has no intention of stopping. (614) caught up with Mitchell to learn more about Work The Custom, and his hope for reconstructing apparel in Columbus and beyond.

(614): When did you decide to transition from football to design?
KM: I’ve always had a passion for drawing and art, [but] I just lost my vision when I took actual art classes and didn’t like what we were doing. After college, I didn’t get any NFL calls, [and] I was trying to figure out what else I would love to do every day, and fell back in love with art.

What was your leap from “this thing I do” to the thing to do? How do you promote your work? After I realized how many people wanted to show who they really are with art, and I was someone who could help do that, that was my ironing point. I promote my work through Instagram and Facebook for the most part, but I do go to sneaker events from time-to-time to pass out business cards.

Is this your primary gig, side gig or hobby? How did it come to be?
It’s my side gig for the moment, but trying to grow and learn to make it my full-time career. I had a pair of shoes that were beat up and didn’t want to buy more so I painted them, but one of my friends taught me the game and how to prosper from it.

What life changes do you feel have propelled your work? How have your customizations evolved? Playing football for a place like Ohio State and doing work for Buckeyes in the NFL and for the OSU football team has helped grow my work faster and further. My customs have evolved just by me growing up and seeing different things, learning different things, practicing everyday, and being able to adapt.

Do you have a specific audience that you want to appeal to?
I want my work to be for everyone. My work can range from baby shoes to youth high school players of all sports, to walls of homeowners and businesses, to shoes for pro athletes.

What ingredients come together to make Columbus a fertile ground for makers, designers and creatives? Columbus is a growing market and very friendly. It has new businesses starting every week and everyone is trying to help everyone else.

What’s your six-word creative story?

Work The Custom is coming fast!

To get in contact with Mitchell, or to see more designs, follow him on Instagram at @katowork19.

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Gallery Space: Feeling emotion through Craig Carlisle’s newly-opened exhibit

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When approaching the canvas, the first thing that expressionist painters attempt to draw from their audience is emotion. Whether it stems from Disappointed Love by Francis Darby, where a forlorn lover is cast off into a forest to wallow in grief, or anxiety-riddled painting The Scream by Edvard Munch, painter Craig Carlisle has challenged his work for years to portray similar elements. After 30 years of creating thousands of paintings through the study of expressionism, Carlisle’s focus is generally based upon meditative habits as observed through his signature Big Head series.

“Evoking emotions from the viewer is one of the more important components of what I feel is an effective work of art. Is the artwork immediately drawing me closer or pushing me away and why? Possibly, [when] the colors chosen by the artist stir up my emotions, even in a minimalist painting, I feel that is possible,” says Carlisle, noting Agnes Martin as a ‘master colorist’ with a subtle tug at his viewers’ emotions. “Upon signing the painting and releasing it into the world, I truly believe [that] whatever emotional message the painting is meant to serve will be captured by those who need it. However, as the artist, I deserve to express what I am feeling without limitation. Every painting has its soulmate and eventually it will rest in the perfect hands.”

In his prime, Carlisle was deliberately fixated on creating optimistic paintings, with subjects depicting happiness, but later found that his audience gravitated towards honest interpretations. This also broke Carlisle out of the routine of being bound to artistic recurrence, having the ability to grow beyond his previous limitations. Intentionally leaving his Big Head subjects as genderless, as his subjects usually have oval-shaped heads and doe-like expressions, Carlisle uses the background of the painting to construct where the subject’s real emotion may be analyzed. These paintings often have neutral expressions, but the framework for each one is ever-changing.

“My personal relationship to removing gender in my artwork today is the same as it was with my first Big Head painting in 1992. If I choose to show gender, then the viewer immediately begins down the road of judgement,” Carlisle says. “Everyone deserves a stage to express their freedom, mine happens to be a canvas. For those defining their gender today, I hope they say let me choose, let me learn, let me grow, let me fall, for then I will succeed.”

Raised in Oklahoma in his formative years, Carlisle repetitively drew superheroes and made red clay sculptures, as his mother, also a painter, ensured that her son was always creating. Carlisle also observed his grandfather building furniture and even creating artwork with stones and gems. Building an aptitude for art, especially painting, Carlisle relocated to Columbus at 12 to further his art studies.

After graduating from CCAD in 1989, his original Big Head paintings in 1992 to 1995 were painted above subliminal messages on the canvas, regularly created at the former Buggyworks Studio warehouse. Steadily transitioning to different studios in New York, San Francisco and later, Los Angeles in the early 2000s, where he painted the Pink Monsters series as a response to the 9/11 attacks, Carlisle’s work became redefined as he adapted to each environment. With Nashville, Tennessee as the home for his 19th century farm and studio in the countryside, this month, Carlisle will be returning to Columbus for his first city-based solo exhibition in five years, this time, at the Sarah Gormley Gallery.

“I not only wanted a chance to reconnect with my many collectors in the city, but I knew Sarah’s gallery would give the opportunity for me to showcase my new larger paintings.

These works include hands overlapping the faces of the Big Heads,” Carlisle says. “In the early 2000s, I did a series of red gloves and began to understand more in depth that for me they symbolized protection. The hands, or gloves, were always placed in my paintings during times when I personally needed to feel a stronger sense of protection, especially from God. The paintings in this exhibition are not documented as “the hand of God” but it’s what I tell people when they ask. Think of it also as a guardian angel; maybe it’s there to stop something negative from entering, or it’s protecting me from myself.”

Choosing bright reds and oranges in a majority of paintings showcased at Sarah Gormley Gallery, Carlisle is challenging himself to push the extremes, considering all his work to be self-portraits. As a portrait technician, Carlisle also assumes responsibility as a provision for Columbus art, celebrating the city’s constant growth in tandem with an understanding of his own work.

“I was part of the art scene in Columbus in the 80s and early 90s, so I have seen many changes. One thing that has never changed is the incredible support the city provides for the arts community. Having lived all over the country I can easily say that Columbus is one of the most supportive cities in the country for artists, especially young artists,” Carlisle says. “For people who are just witnessing my work for the first time I wish for them to be able to experience emotions. I don’t need them to analyze what they think I was feeling at the time I created the artwork; rather I ask the viewer to listen to their own reactions or feelings and know that is why I made the painting.”

The Sarah Gormley Gallery is located on 988 N High St. Carlisle’s exhibit opened Nov. 1.

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Gallery Space: Maya Lin, Ann Hamilton and Jenny Holtzer: HERE

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Visual artists Maya Lin, Ann Hamilton and Jenny Holtzer have respectively crafted world- renowned legacies that have brought them back to their native state. Challenging viewers with an intentional focus on Ohio’s constant adaptation, both environmental and ethical, each artist will make visceral connections with guests of HERE, an exhibition that brings together three significant Ohio artists whose work has stood the test of time, and who have finally come together for the first time.

“While I and others at the Wexner thought about an exhibition that featured other Ohio-born artists, these three just seemed to make sense, aesthetically and in terms of their ideas and their potential relationship to the galleries of the Wexner Center,” says HERE curator Michael Goodman. “I started to think about this place in terms of the Wexner’s 30 years. About that time, I saw a set of Jenny Holzer’s benches from 2017 at Art Basel in Switzerland. This work used language by the Polish WWII-era poet Anna Swir. I was really moved by them, and it occurred to me that Jenny was from Ohio and that a good portion of her career matched the Wexner’s 30-year lifespan to this point.”

Along with Holtzer, Goodman had aligned his sentiments with the works of Lin and Hamilton, thus spawning the aesthetical collaboration with The Wexner Center. While each artist has their own personal style that is imprinted in their art, they have an interdependence that has lasted throughout their careers.

“While there is some commonality in why these three artists think about and use materials, what has become more interesting is how the accumulation of materials seems to have, at least in part, come to define how they all thought about this exhibition and about the galleries of the Wexner Center,” says Goodman. “All three have literally accumulated massive amounts of their chosen materials—posters, language, glass marbles, map pins, images—to create immersive worlds for our patrons to think about and, hopefully, to carry away with them into their lives. As viewers walk into the Wexner galleries this fall, this will be immediately felt. I think the exhibition feels like a world, and also like the world.”

Specifically addressing Ohio’s environmental issues, Maya Lin’s nail installation Pin River: Ohio Aquifers will represent Ohio waterways. In tandem with another piece by Lin, a glass-beaded “map” of the 2017 flood between the Ohio and Wabash Rivers speaks to the impact of global warming. As an in-depth look into familiar home objects scattered across Ohio, Ann Hamilton’s on view placement will be on the walls of the Wexner Center overlooking Ohio State’s campus. Her project when an object reaches for your hand, is a collaborative effort with The Thompson Library, a meditation on the perception of objects, and how they’re ingrained in our lives. Engaged with themes of universal humanity, Jenny Holtzer’s direct immediacy of Truisms and Inflammatory Essays will surround viewers with verbal adhesives.

“Choosing the work for the exhibition was largely about these three artists doing what they have consistently done well—thinking about the emotional and physical engagement that views have to an exhibition space and applying these concerns to the Wexner’s spaces specifically and then doing so in terms of what they are thinking now,” Goodman says.

For those who are unfamiliar with Lin, Hamilton and Holtzer, the significance of their work will be instantly recognized upon entering HERE. As Goodman’s curation relied heavily on emotional and physical engagement, his focus also opened a conversation of female visibility in the art world.

“Simply put, women have been under- represented in museum exhibitions. I think everyone at the Wexner Center feels a responsibility to not continue this myopic way of thinking and working. These three artists— who really have played a substantial role in defining what contemporary art is—happen to be women,” says Goodman. “We are happy to recognize all they have done to shape the contours of how we think about art because women really have done so much of this work; most of it, actually, over the last 50 years or so.”

Formatively shaped by the metamorphosis of home, the art of HERE defies both time and space, foreshadowing inevitable environmental changes and its effect on the community’s spirit. “One cannot help but feel the weight of what [the artists] have contributed. The importance of what they have done can quite literally be felt as you enter these spaces,” says Goodman. “As you feel this, you also know the importance of the Wexner Center, what it has contributed to Columbus, Ohio and the world. In this regard, these three artists and their ideas are a perfect match to this place and this time.”

HERE will run at The Wexner Center for the Arts from September 21st to December 29th.

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