Thursday, April 13, 2006


This image from one of my former teachers, Ray Spicer, it is copyrighted 2006, steal it or abuse it and I will kill you. That is a threat.

An email conversation we had this evening caused me to reflect upon my artistic lineage. As people we tend to reflect what we have encountered and meld this with our dreams. What I have encountered throughout my life has been amazing and I thought it worth noting.

Artistic Lineage.
1. Carl Jette - My father is a very hard working writer. He has a gift for understanding and appreciating dram, I am thankful that I have inherited this. As a writer, I remember as a 7th grader asking him to proof a paper of mine and getting back twice as much writing from him than what I had begun with. This was not fun! Because it meant that I was going to have to do at least 3 more drafts before it was passable. Whenever I complained, I was reminded that Tolstoy would write and rewrite and rewrite and make my effort look like... well not very much.
2. Laura Jette - When I was young, basically my first memories, I had a dog, his name was Ernie, I had named him after my favorite Sesame Street character. When he finally ran away for the last time and it was clear that he was not coming back I broke down and was very upset, this was the first major loss in my life and I did not know what to do. My mother was just as upset about her little boy being upset as I was about the loss of my dog that she went and got me a paint by number painting of what appeared to be Ernie. I learned to channel my emotions into my work in a very direct and honest way. It has taken me years to return to that, just as my mother who returned to school after having three children so that she could pursue a fashion design degree.
3. Grandparents - Carl, Tootie, Marvin and Marian. I have had the great fortune to have known my grandparents throughout my 30 plus years. What I have gained through this exposure is a connection to my family, the cultural heritage (Native American, French, German, Hungarian, Croatian) this sense of connection to a people that is old and rooted in various places in the world has helped me to understand myself. Oddly all of this dilution has not made me feel like a mutt, rather I feel that I am 100% of each of these as they have each been modeled and explained. The other things that come to mind are the hours of cooking and the hours of sailing. These two things, along with a very diligent work ethic and a very strict code of morality, has allowed me to connect to the natural world and appreciate the wonder and patterns that exist in rising bread and falling tides.
3. I had several early violin instructors who I will lump together; my Suzuki teacher (no idea what her name was) and Ann Norton(she was assisstant concert master of the Milwaukee symphony orchestra). Suzuki was.... strange, I was young and didn't practice much. All that I can remember of it now is a very clear image of the place and that the teacher was probably like I was young and getting a feeling for the whole thing. With Ann, I remember her fabulous back yard, when you say English garden, this was my first (not that it really was or wasn't, that was just my impression) I remember that she was of the opinion that I should play in the youth symphony, which I did. This lead to summer camps and the playing in the big Eline Hall. I remember thinking when I was in middle school or so, well I'm playing Mozart and so are the members of the Milwaukee Symphony, maybe I should audition. That still makes me laugh today!
4. Bonnie Green - She lead a strolling strings group, Music Makers, that met in the basement of a church next to Washington High where my father had taught when I was first born. Here, I began to glimpse the working side of music, we played dinner clubs, 20 or so of us in our tux's sans jackets strolling around while Bonnie accompanied on piano. She showcased the super-talent and had the older ones help the younger ones, I will never stop marveling at how she pulled this all off. With this group, I played for then vice president George Bush and I encountered friends of mine outside protesting him on my way in. Here I took lessons from a flamenco guitarist who much to my amazement could sight read Jimi Hendrix without use of the tab. Bonnie saw to it that we had the tools to learn and that we did. I remember going to her house on a Sunday afternoon so she could sit down and explain the rudiments of theory to me. She also introduced me to Clara.
5. Clara Fenyo Bahcall - I must of started with her when I was 13. She was fresh off the boat from Hungary and I was a little American skater punk. We argued about my hair covering my eyes, that is would ruin my eyesight and various other crazy things I did. Eventually her discipline and lack of tolerance inspired me to get my act together. And when I decided that I ought to go to college, I selected one school, UWO, one because she was there, two it was the alma-matter of my high school art teacher, Mr Euclide and three my Uncle Bob had gone there and drank a lot and been on the sailing team (it had been gone for 10 years when I got there!). Clara introduced me to the world of classical music and impressed in me the fact that people had and will give there life for this art. She was in many ways another mother. I have had many in addition to Laura, the other one that jumps out is Char Becker, mother of my first and still close friend Mark Becker.
6. Mr Euclide - High school art teacher. I would go into the back of the room with Greg Nadas and create crazy tripped out art, or so I thought. At least back there we could listen to tapes of Primus and the Misfits and The Cult. He gave me a grounding in the basics, I hated it. Perspective and color studies. It was frustrating, but I did gain the exposure and was given enough room to explore my ideas. Also at this time I began photo classes with Mrs. Stadowska. She gave us the basics, but then left to deliver a baby. Her replacement was a green college graduate who taught us for the semester/year? She let us go crazy and chase our dreams and as we did that she brought the basics into focus. She showed us "Harold and Maude" which began my exposure to the art world. I should interject here that my father has become obsessed with film and is continuously sending me all be many of them depressing, good movies to see.
7. Mr. Vespraskis - I took "Music COmposition" with him in high school. It was a class, there were three of us in it, Casey, who sold me a case for guitar and lived across the road from the barn my sister rode at, me and Dan Didier, who was the drummer for the Promise Ring. To begin that class we built our own desks, literally! We then had mac's with finale and we were turned loose on them. We would have interval training every day and tests on Friday, one of the best dam things that ever happened to me! We also built part of the set for the musical, which got me into doing stage crew one year. But mostly we made really weird stuff on the computers and did assignments that I can't remember out of a book I can't remember.
8. Ray Spicer - Taught me photo while at UWO. He is the only teacher I ever met who interrupted his lecture (you might insert sermon there) to go turn up the radio as loud as it would go in order to pay homage to the great art that is the opening of guitar solo of "Money for Nothin'" Like the woman who had taught us in high school Ray left it open, but as we worked we brought out prints and he pointed out the problems. I gained so much from that it is amazing. Also, we would have class critiques every week or so in order to discuss each others work. Here I learned how to talk about art. As well as to defend and see others and my own work through the eyes of others.
9. James Chaudoir - Day one Music Theory, "the most important phrase for your career as a musician is, Would you like some fries with that." He helped us by having a comp class and exposing us to Phillip Glass, Berg and Schoenberg. More importantly he taught us how to organize a group of composers in order to support and discuss each others work. We all got our first commission through the USS Composers, electronic music to accompany a slide show of pictures from the new electron microscope. In lessons he began to expand my mind so that I could understand the parameters of music and we would look at my photographs as well as my compositions.
10. Bruce Wise - You saw him walk on stage and you fell in love with him, just the cutest thing you ever saw and then he played these out there serial compositions. "Ah zooo" was almost always the observation and instead of telling you something, he gave you the space to form a conclusion, which he then addressed. In lessons he continually pointed to the works of others saying, "Beethoven had that idea and did it in this piece, you should take a look."
11. David Cowley - Well I had to learn a secondary instrument and the cello was always so cool and he was a most dedicated person. His office and his world was all about music, it is as if he continued to be a starving grad student, just practicing away and dedicating everything he has to his playing. His favorite indulgence is pie. Other than that, it is all about music.
12. Ira speaker - He studied with Woerenin and he taught me the basics of design. He showed me how to lay a piece out and how to develop material. His teaching was very hands on and he continually was exposing me to new things. My lessons began with a him handing me a pile of newspaper articles and then I would report on the ones from last week. We reviewed undergraduate theory and sight singing. But most importantly, after I was fired he forced me to get over it and show up for my lesson the next day, as "retail is not a job, music is." He is extremely resourceful and frugal. He taught me about networking and when I worked for him, as he did gardening and garden work on the side, I encountered how to lay out things in real space. Very opinionated and very sure he was right. I also was sent to countless galleries and concerts and had to discuss those as well. This was how I learned about new music and art in Boston.
13. Bob Cogan - I don't think I have met a more intelligent person. He said so little, yet it was so jam packed with knowledge. He has helped me to see that Haydn was an Avant Garde composer and he has helped me to find my path and be able make decisions. He taught me about myself by teaching a seminar about all of his former teacher, Jarnick, Boulanger, Sessions, Babbit, Copeland. In doing this he pointed out their strengths and weaknesses for him and what he took from each one. I still marvel at all he never said and all that I have learned.
14. Pozzi Escott - Quite the opposite of her partner Bob, she says everything she is thinking. She is sincere and honest and passionate. Most of all, she has taught me about honesty and the fact that we (you know who you are) are living legends, important artists. Her classes were always like church for the artists.
15. Lee Hyla - Lee taught me about pursuing your interests. His orchestration class was not to miss. Our group was continually arguing, sometimes quite heatedly and it was here that we would debate our ideas about music and the future of composition. He was also very diligent in pointing out that I need to be professional in my presentation, ie. the music must be impeccable! I am still working at this, but it is there and it is getting better.
16. Michael Gandolfi - His seminar was about the business of music along with great discussions of modern art. I learned a great deal about this world that I was entering and he was very reassuring at a crucial time about the path ahead and that I was well equipped.
17. Larry Scripp - reflection and annotation. Just keep doing this and it will all become apparent.

There are more, many more. But I need to go to sleep.


Blogger rarrin' said...

That picture freaks me out

4/15/2006 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger christopher jette said...

I put it up becasue it is one the greatest shots I have seen in a ling time. I can think of no other photo of the top of my head that illiciits so powerful an emotional response.

4/15/2006 05:56:00 PM  

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