It being the occasion of my favourite* daughters fifth birthday I was a bit late arriving at The Sugar Club last Thursday evening. There was cake to be cut, presents to be opened and songs to be sung. My lateness was further compounded by a short detour to hook up with The Mullet for a matter of great import. He was busy checking out Nurse with Wound in Andrews Lane Theatre and was enjoying the experience. Our exchange was brief, we are after all, both very busy men. Onwards to Sweettalk. I knew I'd already missed John Gilsenan's opening talk but I was hoping to make it for at least some of Maser. As it turned out I made it about 10 minutes or so into his talk. This meant running the gauntlet of shame past the stage and up the stairs to the bar.
I never knew that I knew Maser until I saw him on the stage. Like myself, he's a regular shopper in All City Records here in Dublin. Unlike me, he goes there to buy lots of spray paint. Maybe he buys records too? I dunno. I've exchanged words on a few occasions and he seems like an amiable enough chap. After his talk (and also a lot of mumbling in places) he's risen hugely in my estimation. I've seen bits and pieces of his stuff around town but I'd never realised the huge extent or volume of work he'd produced over the last decade. He treated the assembled crowd to a whirlwind tour of his work and accompanied it with a slightly self-deprecating commentary. His unadulterated enthusiasm for his work is only slightly dampened by an endearing humility. He is the epitomy of a buzzer. It's obvious that he's consumed by an artistic passion and it's also obvious that he can't believe his current luck in being widely admired and lately, well paid for it. The talk was a wonderful insight into someone who is coming to terms with his talent. His current status as a bit of a media darling will most likely wear off over time. That's not a bad thing though. Unfortunately most people who are identified as the next big thing tend to become yesterdays news. I don't think its like that with Maser. It's hard to begrudge him any of his success thus far. There was a raw honesty in a lot of what he spoke about. His talk treated a range of ideas and personal experiences but a common theme kept rising to the surface. It's like Maser's artistic journey is also a spiritual one for him. He's found something and he wants to tell the world about it. He is a missionary for street art. Maser Loves You. And it would appear that we all love Maser. Nice one.
Steinski began by recounting tales of his early life and college years. How he became the prime dope dealer on the small university campus he was attending. There were slides of his interesting haircut, Afrika Bambataa and peculiar American turntables. It was all very nice but I was finding it hard to get excited about most of it. It was almost like a Woody Allen monologue at times. I don't mean that in a bad way. I have massive respect for Steinski but I'm not sure he's cut out for the after dinner circuit. He tended to ramble on a bit. In fairness he wasn't shy about giving credit to others where it was due and he seemed like a very genuine individual. Maybe he described it best hmself when he said he was an underachiever who got lucky. Steinski's greatest artistic contribution was from a particular time and place. People will always recognise and respect him for that but it also means they will be kinder in tolerating any current artistic notions. It was always going to be hard to follow Maser. The home crowd had already been wowed. Steinski's talk was a different bag. It's not to hard to see why. Here were two very different artists at very different points in their careers. This manifested itself in their interaction with their art, their lives and the audience. Maser was definitely here and now, Steinski was more like a kindly uncle with a pocketful of Werthers Originals. Both endearing but both very different experiences. Sweettalk returns to Dublin in 2009. They're in Cork in November.
I was delighted to open the magazine in todays Irish Times and see a feature on my favourite Irish artist. I've about half a dozen of his prints and paintings adorning the walls of my home and I never tire of looking at them. He works from his base in Co Wexford and although I'd recently been told he was moving to France, there's no mention of it in the article. The article was on Paddy Lennon, a good mate and former employer of mine. On his return from Spain several years ago I worked in his temporary shop/studio in Dublin. I sold bits of Spanish crockery out front and he painted at the rear of the shop. He always told me he'd give me a painting but it was only about ten years after that I ended up getting some from him. I paid him for them but I reckon I still got a very sweet deal. He also threw in a nice country welcome and quick tour of his stables for good measure. I last saw him about a year ago when he was exhibiting here in Dublin. You should check out his landscapes if you get the chance. Here's the article.
The quest continues and with it comes the third instalment in the Indiecater series. The suitably titled Indiecater 3 is now available for purchase. Once again it features the best indie talent drawn from around the globe. Malmo, New York and Dublin representing alongside a host of others. You'll get it for less than the price of a pint, unless of course you live down the country or drink in a GAA clubhouse, in which case it will be a little more than the price of a pint of Guinness. I rest my case.
Finally, the latest online issue of Fact magazine has a nice little feature on their top 20 jungle tunes. There are some blinders in the pick. Have a look here.
* For the record, I have only one daughter.