Saturday, November 14, 2009

Space Cloud, Mirah's Serenade

Today I will be writing about the local singer and songwriter, Mirah. Watch this clip of her with the Portland Cello Project, from January of this year:

Mirah, Portland Cello Project & Flash Choir - Generosity from Jon Manning on Vimeo.

Frankenthaler's Spaced Out Orbit became the inspiration to a Mirah song in September at the museum's event Shine A Light. The Museum invited the PSU Social Practice Program to have an event inviting a new and young crowd to the museum for one late night. Each student was given a stipend for an art project, one student invited local musicians to "serenade" particular works of art. Mirah chose Helen Frankenthaler's Spaced Out Orbit. I cannot help but hum the ethereal acoustic minor chord lyrics in my mind when I see the piece. Mirah stood barefoot with her guitar which dwarfed her, in front of the crowd. She is a tiny thing, Spaced out Orbit floated behind her. It was the final event of the evening, at just before midnight. The words I remember her repeating go "on a space cloud with you" and the song seemed, to me, to be about a passionate relationship that had no grounding.
The sweet and melancholy chord slides up the scale as it passes over the word "space" and lands smoothly on the word cloud.
Here is what Mirah had to say in an interview with Popcorn Youth a few years ago:
"But the really nice thing about playing solo is the way that I’m able to concentrate on stage. I can be easily distracted by other people. Like, ‘How are they doing? Are they okay?’ (Laughs) So I have these issues and I try to work on them in my life. Solo shows are focused and personal time for me."
It makes sense that Mirah, as an artist, would take the inspiration of Frankenthaler for her "focused and personal artistic moment" at the museum event. The relationship she sang about put the two women together, for me. The song she wrote is not one I ever expect to hear again, but it lives inside that painting now.

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