Michael Garfield on Trinumeral 2009

How did your Trinumeral experience compare with other festivals this summer?

Trinumeral has, in the eyeblink of two years, become a homecourt festival for me. It’s the only East Coast festival I’ve ever done, and if it’s representative of the region, then I need to be spending more time out there… I’ve only felt that much love and respect on a few other occasions, and I’m sure it’s due in no small part to how professionally the visual artists are treated by the festival organizers. For live painters to get their own artists’ page on the website is a rare thing, in our culture. Normally I’m fighting to get in; this year, Trinumeral contacted me and said, “What can we do to get you back out here?” That kind of attitude makes a huge difference. I feel like I do better work when I’m not all adrenalin-ravaged from having to defend my worth. Plus, having a dozen other live artists out there with me fosters a delicious sense of community.

Were there any artists and/or musicians at Trinumeral that you were especially impressed with, or any new talent you discovered for the first time?

Getting to paint alongside Mark Henson for the first time was a treat, and the fraternity I feel with Kris D – who was my original inspiration for live painting, two years ago – is dreamlike in its awesomeness. I was also honored and delighted to meet festival-goer Laura Sellers and get her behind the fence to paint with the rest of the “official” artists, which apparently made her weekend. And to see Mike Jurado painting in front of his two young sons gave me a really good feeling…inspired me to believe that this lifestyle makes room for families, after all.

As for musical artists, is there any doubt that the premier performance of the Béla Fleck/Zakir Hussain/Edgar Meyer trio at Trinumeral was one of the most awesome musical events of the summer? Challenge that, I dare you. :) Also, as a live looping guitarist myself (youtube.com/michaelgarfield), I really enjoyed watching Zach Deputy’s set. The guy’s got chops. Emancipator was just that, a liberating show…and the guy (Doug) is so humble and friendly, I was really touched by his personality and not just his music. I enjoyed The Glitch Mob’s new, more interesting computer music interfaces, and Boombox’s crazy new LED light show…and one of the campers brought a Chapman Stick and Zendrum out into the woods for impromptu jams at his campsite, which is awesome!

What was your favorite piece created at Trinumeral, and during which sets?

9/11/09 Trinumeral Fest ” The Sun Ra Arkestra”

I was painting next to Kris for this one, and barely able to keep it up because both of us just kept drifting from our easels back out into the crowd to watch like mice hypnotized by vipers as Edgar Meyer shredded the upright bass and Zakir Hussain’s fingers blurred into time travel. (Béla was killing it too, but I’d seen him numerous times before and wasn’t in as much shock and awe about his virtuosity.) The image is the Borromean Rings, an ancient Celtic braid I was trying to adopt for the “999” theme (for more on that, check my Trinumeral post at michaelgarfield.blogspot.com). They ended up looking semi-transparent, which was unintentional…the best parts often are.

Do you feel that the Deerfields environment- (the energy, natural surroundings, festival setup)- influenced your live painting in any particular way?

From a technical perspective, yes: it’s so, SO much more humid there than I’m used to, and the paint markers stayed wet for much longer. Once I got over the irritation of smudging more than I am used to, I was able to play with a few minor blending techniques that I normally don’t get to try.

From an energetic perspective, yes: this festival has a much more positive vibe than most, open-minded to the eclectic programming, a weird blend of Atlantic metropolitan chic and Asheville hippie granola…I had so many friends out there I met last year and hadn’t seen since, and plenty more whom I ran into synchronistically. That much love in the air changes the feeling of the process, for sure, even if it doesn’t make a specific impact on how the paintings turn out. I’m sure that the love is “baked” into them, just as it is with food you grow and cook yourself.

And as for the place…wow. I’m disappointed to hear that the people who own Deerfields aren’t too keen on festivals and are making it difficult for Trinumeral, to the point that they’ll probably have to relocate it next year. It’s such a special location. Every corner I turn on the dewy forest trails, I expect fairies. Magical things happen out there.

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