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Book details
  • Genre:ART
  • SubGenre:Individual Artists / Artists' Books
  • Language:English
  • Pages:406
  • Hardcover ISBN:9781667803210


The art of everything from z to a

by Michael Biddison

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Who has time to be an artist? ... while trying to explain to your kid how to make the computer talk to the printer (if you know), or while driving a truck long, long straight stretches of infinite interstate, or while fixing the odd leak under the sink that keeps putting a stain on the living room ceiling, or while mixing up some damn fine chili with homegrown peppers, or while digging a hole in the earth for a fence post or a garden.

You can't! ... unless you make it all Zart. 

Zart is the art of everything from z to a.

Zart is a slightly fictionalized mixed media art memoir filled with lush, imaginative and sometimes humorous images that have been mixed with the tales of how "real life" becomes art and visa versa. "Zart" bursts out of being just a book ... with secret codes and links to my recorded songs and videos as well as web pages that offer ideas on how to expand 

art into every nook and cranny of every day life. Here's a really fine trick: Life can't get in the way of art if one makes an art of everything.

"The book is a crazy book, maybe not even a book. In a fun way of course. But much more than a book." 

—The Peeah Dey Woefda.

Michael Littlewood Biddison's "zartifesto" about being and becoming an interdisciplinary artist, is an aural and visual romp woven together with heartfelt and sometimes humorous snippets of life experiences that sometimes feel like loose threads but always end up woven into a larger integrated quilt. One of the major themes, finding and making beautiful things out of whatever is present, especially including the aspects we think of as undesirable (from junk objects to junk experiences), encourages an approach to life and relationships of openness, kindness and curiosity. From humorous early experiences dumpster diving to the magic of growing up in a small town in rural Pennsylvania to observing the dynamics of family life through the lens of a creative project, "Zart" attempts to present an invitation to anyone who wishes it to make their life an ever more creative and beautiful adventure. This is not so much a book as an experience, a slowly unfolding performance between the covers of a book. It's full of original artwork, poetry, song lyrics, essays, and with links to Michael's music and videos, an underscore of music that leads you on a journey of "Zart, an art of everything from z to a." Biddison says "I've found that art is most satisfying to me when I feel it's integrating my various parts. Instead of trying to abstract and separate I'm always in the process of including and integrating. Adding up the magic bits into a whole. It usually involves multiple layers to achieve this. Even time. However, I'm not looking to make a collapsed mush soup of indistinguishable parts. I like to keep the separate flavors, but in a harmonic relationship. I want to taste the curry of my painting in with the potatoes of my work along with the salad of my walks next to the sugar and salt of my family life and the wine of my music… something like that anyway." So it is that this book/experience becomes a 406 course Zart banquet to eat up. Part Kurt Vonnegut, part Laurie Anderson, part Mary Poppins, part Julia Cameron/ Artists Way, it is a great offering for an artist that is just beginning to think of a life dedicated to creative pursuits. It's good also for someone who is looking for examples of people or experiences that are not easily categorizable. It's even great for artists of all kinds that feel they've reached a kind of predictability or staleness in their work. Maybe most important of all, it's a fine pick for people who don't see themselves as artists, but are curious about what makes "those kinds of people" tick. Ultimately, they might discover that what that the stuff that makes them tick is pretty related to the stuff they already love and participate in. It could be canning, flower arrangement, arranging stones in the garden, quilting, car bodywork, family photo albums or fishing in a favorite creek. It's not so much that what makes us feel alive and engaged with life are different. It's about seeing that that stuff, the things that make our hearts sing, are not only important. They are the center point. Zart!
About the author
Michael Biddison early works (from 1- 6 years old) went the gamut from enthusiastic scribbles and jibberish to found art works from dumpsters to dinosaur cartoons to singing silly songs theatrically (either by himself or with his brother). Later when he discovered people could go to college for this sort of thing, he enrolled in a BFA program to start his more formal training in the arts. With a concentration in painting and drawing, a minor in political science, a host of theatrical credits and summers playing original music 6 nights a week with his band Ticapoo Brain (always a brilliant one with naming projects), he has charted an exuberant if somewhat unpredictable course that continues to present. In truth, although he often has thought of himself as an artist and a musician, he has always straddled the traditional lines between these … and most other categories. The interest in odd unexplainable used objects that started with the early dumpster diving era, only got more acute as he found himself repairing and restoring antique furniture with a fellow sculptor in Boulder Colorado (Peter Cree if you must know) who helped wise him up to the fact that "unuseable furniture" and their parts could be adapted to make amazing functional or not so functional art pieces that were carved and painted and assembled in unexpected ways. Also he learned at this time that flying by the seat of his pants could be a great adventure. Or at least he remembered it. Furniture led Michael to houses, which are bigger than furniture. Also they have a lot more "unusable parts" and are more likely to need to be adapted to the current lives of the inhabitants. An added benefit he discovered was that restoring and re-inventing buildings and their component parts could be a decent way to keep the bank account numbers in the positive territory while being intrigued and challenged. It's worth mentioning that during this time of his growing involvement with this restoration carpentry realm and the beginnings of making a family, he always found ways to continue making visual artworks and writing/performing his music. In fact the balance was made possible because of it. He found that each realm contributed to the others in unexpected and powerful ways. So the found objects found there way into his visual artworks. His challenges and enchantments with being a father or a husband or a worker made it into songs. The people who had houses that were the source of the junk of his art often enough became collectors of the transformed objects or audience members his band "the llama dalis" (yes, he still had the knack for naming projects). With all of this cross pollination going on it began to get just too much for people to understand how the various revolving orbs all made sense together. So he began to write essays to clarify the process. Which only seemed to cloud the waters. He eventually realized it was a easiest to just stop calling himself an artist and to start calling himself a Zartist. Zart. The art of everything. So here it is. Everything. Michael also likes avocados, coffee and spicy foods of all kinds. Everything.