Story? I don't have a story. I have a storage unit where I keep all the pieces of my silly life. In among boxes of books are nestled boxes of wood fragments- my own material resource of my own broken things. There is a bit of catapult in with a piece of roller coaster, an unopened letter on a sideways table saw. An inverted Plexiglas vitrine with miniature tree houses and small houseplant stump.
There is a Cart with a cart on it, an old oak flat file sideways too, and two amplifiers, three guitars, and my old boss ukulele. There is a pile of bundled carpenter's drawings from the inside of walls. There is plenty of dust. I started to make things inside of boxes so I don't have to pack them up. Little worlds explode with each unwrapping. My Life fits in a 14' by 20' by 8' space. I'm not sure my ideas fit in my head. With all this accumulation I am trying to lighten my load. This is not the first contradiction I have lived.
My life changed when I got a new boss. I was working a carpentry job in California and my clients heard me play on my ratty old Hilo ply-top uke on my lunch break. I was eating carrots, taking in the sun, and noodling on my old boss baby four string, and generally enjoying the fantastic day of sea-air California countryside splendor. My clients heard me playing and singing about a heart up in a tree and a sasquatch at my feet, and, well, I guess it made an impression on them, because as a parting gift they gave me a brand new Ohana spruce-top rosewood mother-of-pearl beauty. I don't know where they got it or how much it cost, but it was sitting next to my toolkit in a fancy case with a note tied on in twine. The note said, “ Enjoy your New Boss.”
I'm here to tell you I do enjoy my new boss. It turns out that music is much lighter than sculptures, and less anchoring. Someday I might just hover right over the treetops with the little twiddles of my new boss fuel. It's real special what happens with music, and outside words and things. It seems to be the right hungry choice to head for, because when you take on a creative commitment there isn't always a paycheck, or rather the payment is a storied life of beauty rather than the steady droll of a known tomorrow, as if you could ever know tomorrow.
Our culture exacts a steady toll of compromise, when I did work as a carpenter it was always to pay for time to make art. I was getting good at what I didn't love. With my new boss, there is direct access to beauty, no doing one thing to do another. It is a direct be-ing that playing music causes. Art though is a much slower burn than music. It can take ten years for a piece of art to sink in, but music will catch you in a second. It can snap you right into a different state of mind. As a player, this be-ing itself is sufficient reward, and makes a thrifty diet of sprouted beans, oatmeal, and Folgers flavored with cinnamon and turmeric a surprising delight, because the poverty is not of spirit. There are occasional bursts of paying gigs, and grants, magazines that get things mostly right, and sales of sculptures, fantastic nights charged with meaning, twirling dances of lost gravity, tie-die fisted ladies, and bearded bards dancing into the naked sunrise, and these are fun and fatten the soul, but I am ever wary of declaring the lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity achieved. This road is always under construction.
Conrad Freiburg grew up on the Mississippi River in Quincy, Illinois. He received his BFA from SAIC (School of the Art Institute Chicago), and has exhibited his sculptural installations primarily in Chicago where they have been received with excitement. He is represented by Linda Warren Gallery. Currently he is an artist in residence at the Hyde Park Art Center. He also enjoys singing the occasional song with his more than occasional ukulele.
Conrad Freiburg’s upcoming show, It is what it isn’t, opens March 20 at The Hyde Park Arts Center and comes down June 26. The sonic element/performance is on April 29. And every Sunday for the duration of the exhibit, the harmonograph will be in operation. More info.