Pierre Boulez Mural ©️2018, Alfred Eaker. (Stained Glass Boulez in the Church of Brother Cobweb @The House of Shadows in Gresham, Oregon).
These are 15 -8ft x 4ft paintings on wood panels. Being raised in an extremely conservative Pentecostal environment, I was paradoxically also pursuing artistic endeavors and exposed to the music of Wagner early on. Taking my drawing pad to church, I rebelled by creating a fictional preacher named Brother Cobweb (the novel about the character is being published next year).
Years later, in 1980, PBS announced the airing of the Pierre Boulez/ Patrice Chereau Ring Cycle. Researching Boulez, two quotes resonated: “Whenever there is extreme conservatism, there is an explosion of revolt,” and “ We must by cultural omnivores and raid all the art forms to enhance our own medium.”
Boulez’s Ring was as radical as promised and in the late 80s, I began to see him often in concert; mostly in Chicago and Cleveland. As I did in that church, I took drawing pads and drew Boulez conducting his own music, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Mahler, Bartok, Ravel, Debussy, Varese, and Augusta Read Thomas. I drew quickly, without looking at the paper and over a span of some fifty concerts, produced thousands of rough sketches, some of which I did paintings from.
When I moved to Portland and was hired as a muralist for the House of Shadows, I was given my own Church of Brother Cobweb where I perform the character. This year, I created for the Church this Boulez mural for its “stained glass windows.” Most of the paintings are taken from Boulez conducting in Chicago; others in Cleveland. That they are on wood, for me, echoes the diaphanous spikiness found in some of the music. This is my idiosyncratic scoring to a twilight of the tiny god: Brother Cobweb.