Friday, April 20, 2012

Album review: "Viva", Bananarama

"Got a hand full of dreams." Extraordinary

i tried desperately to make this review shorter than it is, but ultimately i found i could not. something about this record prevents me to love this tenth album from bananarama to the degree it probably deserves. a lot is right, but a plausible effort to keep their sound "current" erases what makes bananarama unique.

because i have been in love with the duo of sara dallin and keren woodward since their early '80s debut with siobhan fahey and i've been infatuated with their 2005 studio album, Drama, i was ecstatic with the news that bananarama was set to release their latest album in 2009, almost three years ago. what's more, the two singles released from the album, love comes and love don't live here are infectious dance pop with catchy hooks that can be played over and over. because i loved the first two songs i was rather surprised how moody the rest of the album came across. Viva is not any less sophisticated or stylistic since dallin and woodward began producing music on their own in '93. rather tracks like seventeen, tell me tomorrow, and extraordinary are especially melancholic with the heavy synth sound in each song. it begins to outweigh the girls' melodies. the synth sound seems to drown out some of the life of bananarama's voices - it's just over used throughout the album. on their own, beautiful songs, but together it becomes too much. this isn't to say that, Viva, is an unenjoyable album. were it to have slightly more variation in sound and possibly a ballad feel or two to match past songs like trick of the night, movin' on, or middle of nowhere -- i would love this album to the extreme i feel for '88's True Confessions, '91's Pop Life, '93's Please Yourself, '95's Ultra Violet, and Drama. this is a good album - very good - and besides the album's singles, tell me tomorrow, the runner, dum dum boy, and we've got the night are fun songs with that special bananarama magic.

2012 marks the 30th anniversary of bananarama and the girls continue to tour across the world. word is bananarama may even come to the states to celebrate with their american fans! if so, i hope they perform past songs from the '80s and '90s, but also from, Viva. i'm also ready for the girls to release an eleventh album and continue to spread their viable and contagious music that's celebrated worldwide by old and new fans.

read my blog about bananarama's 30th anniversary here

UPDATE: i discovered swell remixes of the Viva record! i love the tokyo joe BUK my enemy mix!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

SWart Studio is on facebook!

i've created a facebook page for my artwork, classes, and lectures - plus announcements and events that relate to my own work and ideas.

Monday, April 16, 2012


friends & i have been laughing at this viral photo from facebook for days!

Monday, April 2, 2012

A healthy lifestyle

i'm going on three weeks of recovery after a serious accident and i've finally begun to feel more like myself. i wake up each morning expecting to have bounced back and be my usual bubbling bustling self ready to take the dog for a morning jog, hit the gym for an hour or more, have breakfast at home, and then teach for 6-10 hours 4 days a week. none of that is happening, and i finally concluded it could take weeks still before i get back into fighting form. i was lucky to have survived my ordeal with only a concussion, scrapes, bruises, and internal bleeding. i was lucky to only spend 3 nights in the hospital. and i'm lucky to have such a wonderful support system of family, friends, and coworkers. the headaches are gone, the muscles are finally starting to cooperate, and i'm allowed to start working part-time.

my doctor and i had a long conversation this morning as we formulated a game plan for getting back into the swing of my busy life. she did comment several times on how important my lifestyle before the accident has impacted my speedy recovery. i don't smoke, i drink occasionally (but only on weekends), i eat right, i run 2-4 miles 4-5 days a week, i do a light workout 3-4 days a week, i meditate in a variety of ways regularly, and i surround myself with positive and intelligent people. oh, and i laugh a lot, even if it still hurts doing so! balance is important when it comes to body, mind, and soul.

i urge anyone who isn't in the best of health to start changing bad habits and starting looking for healthy alternatives. believe it or not, i was the fat kid once. i got into sports like soccer, track and field, then eventually my aunt coaxed me into going to the gym and slowly i started seeing results. it takes work to get into shape, even for someone who's always been active like me, but it really does build your confidence and change your perception of life. by the time i reached college i learned to stay away from negativity and people who hold onto their dark cloud. growing up i saw my grandparents (who i adore) drink and smoke at lively parties and how over the years it destroyed them physically. now in their seventies and eighties their attitude has gone sour because age prevents them from coping with illness that hit them too soon due to their eccentric lifestyle. don't let that happen to you! find the motivation within yourself or with support from friends to make the changes you need to be happy. being healthy can save your life - I'm proof of that.

Latest masterpiece in the making

i've begun laying down the groundwork for sky and mountain scape with my latest untitled painting. it's become regular practice for me to use newsprint, newspaper, or even pages of magazines to create a sense of texture and depth. once this dries in a few days i'll begin layering on paint and building up the background. in the middle and foreground will be busts of buddha, the focus of the piece.

oil paint on newspint and canvas, 24"x36"

 UPDATE 4.9.12

in the end i opted to take away, rather than build colors and layers of paint. i also decided to do one up close image of buddha.

UPDATE 4.13.12

i can't seem to capture the brightness or detail shapes within the headdress in a photo as the sun continues to hide behind clouds. The lips will are also yellow/gold.