Monday, October 12, 2009

Living History: Dick Frizzell

Last night I attended the book launch of Dick Frizzell: The Painter at the Page Blackie Gallery.

Now, I definitely don't consider myself a reviewer of any sort, nor worthy of having credibility to be a critic, but one can't help but be pleased to see an event being hosted that funnily enough, seems to be so rare yet the components of it really are hand in glove.

It was the first time I was at a gallery where live music was, not in the background, but part of the 'programme'. The Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra was, as per, on form and charismatic with their new uniformed look (designed by Frizzell, modelled by most members)

Here's the kicker: the artist and the artist's wife were in collaboration with the musicians!

Throw in Wellington name-of-the-moment Lawrence Arabia and you have a niche event that a) you were lucky to attend because you love, adore, treasure, admire art, and b) wish more people had attended because the concept was just so...'neat'! (I'm still smiling!)

While purists may have a slight sense of cynicism that could note that the music was used as a draw card to attract numbers, I admit that was my first thought as well. But think on it, this is a man who is launching a book, not a series of works (in this instance). It was a celebration of his contribution to, hell, even leadership of, pop culture in New Zealand. And what is pop culture? It is, and the list is not exhaustive, comprised of society, fashion, music, art, trends, attitudes and dare I say it, to an extent, the state of a nation.

A highlight for me at events such as these is when someone that has a close affiliation with the celebrated is the one who speaks on them. David Gascoigne (Chair of NZ Opera, and a fan of changing the nation's flag) was this man last night, quoting Hamish Keith, referring us to Bookman Beattie's blog, and throwing in a charming anecdote here and there that lets us know how lucky we are to have been in the presence of someone who is a living part of New Zealand's history.
I tell ya though, when Dick and wife Judy got up to sing Folsom Prison Blues with the Orchestra, that's when I was just elated to have gone along.

That and being pleasantly surprised by the glass of Frizzell Wines Chardonnay I had to drink. Very caramelly after taste, smooth, delightful. It's a boutique baby of a wine, so head to this website (even if it's just to look at his design work for the site!) to buy. YUM.

Anyway, I digress.

After Frizzell and Judy departed the stage, we were 'blessed' to have Lawrence Arabia (aka James Milne) join the ukelele gang. At first I rolled my eyes. This guy is everywhere at the moment. He seems to be the guy that people who frequent Mighty Mighty in brown cord suits and A-line skirts made out of curtain fabric seem to love, plus he really annoyed me at the Liam Finn and EJ Barnes gig I attended last month at the Opera House doing some sort of 2 noted wail alongside Connan Mockasin.

Anyway, can I just say Lawrie baby was brilliant! He suited to the more intimate and tinny (in a good way) sound of the ukelele/bass. His singing was downpat and the group was tight.

My cherry on top for the evening though was the Orchestra doing quite possibly the cutest slash best acoustic version of 'Sunshine of Your Love' by Cream. Outstanding! The singer was reminiscent of Claption, yet didn't sound ridiculous, the solo riff was just an absolute joy, in fact, as Hamish Keith described Dick Frizzell to be, I would happily put it out there that this version of Cream's song had the highest level of 'robust joy' I've heard from a song in ages.

Nice work PBG- it was a brilliant soiree and further cemented your place in the country as a top gallery.

Until next time,

Cover of Dick Frizzell: The Painter, published by Random House 2009
Cultural Tiki by Frizzell
A photo of the artist
The Kiss, 2007, by Dick Frizzell (Janne Land Gallery)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Think this is a dram worth recommending?