On May 5th and 6th we will be holding two afternoon workshops (1-6PM) at the Flank Lloyd Wright designed, Jiyu Gakuen Myonichikan, in Toshima-ku.
The workshops are aimed at realizing the value of simple daily decisions and actions.  We will be creating constellations, reading the stars that develop from our own choices.
Following a brief introduction and explanation period, attendees will accompany us on a walk through the quiet backstreets surrounding Myonichikan where they will pick out locations on a map of the area.  The locations may be selected for any reason, whether the attendee felt something, was interested in something, or just selected randomly.
These selections, points on a map, will then become stars and the attendees will read, and then draw what shapes or creatures are formed by the stars.  We will have a more detailed description of how this process works in a future post.
The workshop sizes are limited, so if you like wandering around narrow streets and drawing on transparency sheets, write to magiunion@gmail.com and reserve a spot or two!  Folks of any age are encouraged to join.




Digital Memories: Storytellers 2010

Photo by Ryo Mitamura
Less than 12 hours before we leave for Japan!  Things are typically chaotic as we pack and prepare for the events that we have planned - and we can't help but be reminded of all the great opportunities we had last trip (thanks to flau!).  A while ago we posted some clips from our Foundland event at VACANT and this time we thought we'd share some of our Storytellers performance with Takeo Toyama at Kichimu.
Even if you can't understand Japanese, I think there is still plenty to appreciate in the story reading and musical accompaniment, as well as the segments from Toyama's own performance and the pre-event mask making!





(videos by Ryo Mitamura)

Five Years


From the wooded crevices and dark spaces of Okutama to the haunted hills and cold streams of Greenfield, Overture has made it to year number five! Still meager in our means and production we are nonetheless overwhelmed daily by how far this dream has come. And as is often the case with time perception we see our beginnings at once as a distant shore and the last footprint we left on the path, the years stretching and shrinking as we consider them.
We think of all the folks who have given us opportunities over the years, and believed in us when there looked to be little reason to, and we are deeply grateful. We think also of all the folks who have come about through Overture: Harold & Chim, Bryum & Kapok, Buttobi Bear & Caesar, DingDong Yeahs, etc., looking on in anticipation of how they will continue to grow and excited for what new friends will come along in the future.
Thank you for five magical years and please join us on the adventures ahead!




そして、世界のどこかで私たちの作品・キャラクター達(ハロルドとチム/ブリアムとカポック/ぶっとびベアー & シーザー/DingDong Yeahs/ルバーブ達等々)を見てくれた人、この文章を読んでくれているあなた、全ての人にありがとうを!


Between the silhouettes of the two strangers in the driver and passenger seat my eyes wandered over the dashboard onto the twenty feet of ground before the car where the headlights, suffocated by the falling snow, formed a yellow spotlight on a stage of ever changing scenery. Tire tracks and brown clumps of ice over a winter wasteland.
The car was uncomfortably warm, a hot metal box rolling through the frozen night and in my removed position from the rear the vinyl of the back seat gave a loose feeling of unease as if an abrupt stop could easily gain me a lead role in the performance passing before us.

In the darkness the sounds of the car, all the hidden parts beneath the hood and below our feet, as well as the rhythmic cycle of the tires, became prominent, synchronizing with the snow rushing at the windshield.
And as the drone of the engine overlapped with the relentless noise of the heater fan the girl in the passenger seat tilted her head back slightly and released her voice, a clear sustained tone above the mechanical buzz.

Little Marshmallow

What a long year.
The distance of space and time between here and our stop in that hot spring hot spot, Beppu seems a dreamy yesteryear misty in the steam from her own natural spas...
But as we gather our hems and cross into a new year of this Roman calender our hearts and minds and pancreas call out to what was Overture's creative start for 2006. The places we visited, the SweatLodge exhibition, the mountains, the water...
And the people.
Beppu and Oita are filled with fantastic characters and a few from our own Tokyo family added to its richness during our stay. But there is one character, not playing such a prominent role in our adventures, but making enough of an impact to recur in the stories we tell bedside each night.
Little Marshmallow.
By all appearances a very normal Japanese boy, well manicured and dressed, a bit shy, a bit reserved. He worked at the gallery where SweatLodge was held and spoke very little with us, taking care of things in the back as our friend helped to manage and organize our exhibition.
Some days, however, our friend had to travel to Fukuoka or Nagasaki on business and could not be around to receive us when we arrived or take care of certain packages we needed shipping or answer our questions.
On these days we would have to deal with Little Marshmallow. At first we thought nothing of him. As mentioned, he was in every way a very average Japanese youth in his mid-twenties.
Very average, that is, save his head was a marshmallow. A clean, buoyant (though we never touched it) pure white marshmallow. It gave off no scent and we would never have ever realized his condition had we not had to deal with him directly. For when he spoke his voice was so muted and muffled by the spongy, sugary mass of his head it was impossible to make out what he was saying.
Asking Little Marshmallow to speak up was of no use, either. To strain his voice only produced a suffocated whisper and so one had nothing to do but lean over the counter at the gallery/store and try to make out the little words passing between his little pursed lips.
At first it was admittedly irritating but who can stay mad at a marshmallow?


"Thank you!" She yelled and drew her arm above her head and waved to the long thin cloud stark against the darkening sky. The footprints of some indifferent jet with busier, more important plans than we as we wandered among the small streets near our house. Only I knew that as a child she believed the white streak in the sky to be a gift, a free service a jet would willingly bestow upon the masses below. She divulged this secret of her past one day as we wandered as we often would and I couldn't stop laughing. From then I would always point them out and thank the jet. At first she did not care for this playful mocking but eventually it became another myth that swam in the space between us and we both would reach up to the sky and thank the kind pilots whenever a white arch caught our eye.
Slowly the streak dissipated, clearing out for winking stars and the slow drift of more substantial clouds.
"Chem trail." She said.

One day to a New Moon and five to the beginning a promising new year. Twelve to my twentyfifth.
There are hints everywhere. Little tremors of magic. An evening with my love in an old theater at the feet of a legendary storyteller. A fleeting exhibition in a bank and the planning for one in the Flywheel. Making a friend at the BookMill. Tales of past adventures. Our own legends.
More caves. More trolls beneath bridges. More walking.
In any case, tremors.

The River Man

He was not so old. Amongst his friends he was young even. But his air was heavy and he dragged his feet as the elderly do, not knowing where to really go, not knowing if they can. He talked with an arrogance, an attitude that let everyone know he knew what he was talking about and to much greater accuracy than anyone else. He listened as well with an arrogance, nodding to people's words and cutting them short and not bothering to remember any of it. He blamed his poor hearing but the cry of birds and rushing of water never missed his observation.
And as he was sick he talked endlessly about his own death. It was if he were already dead and just waiting around until someone came to pick him up and take him away to the Valley.
All he needed though, was the River. Mention it and he became a ten-year-old. Pass over it on a bridge or ride next to it on a path and he would point something out that you had never noticed before. The lines on certain large rocks. Holes in the banks. Separation of currents. And though he was an old man and already dead at that, it was clear to anyone that he was the River Man, born on its edge, controlling it in adulthood and perching above its calmer spaces in old age.
For the majority of his life the River Man moved up and down the river positioning himself mostly at the Great Falls where some of the water was issued off into canals to power the mills of the nearby town and where Salmon were ushered up every Spring through a series of water ladders from far below.

Tonight: Donovan at the Calvin

Saturday Nights

There they were, adults soaked from the rain, gathered and giddy like children, sitting in the movie theater seats or on the raised floor space on the sides waiting for the curtains to lift. And they did. And the stained old theater, frayed at the edges and buckling under its own age, hidden away in a seedy part of town, began to waver and fade in the warm, golden glow of the hanging lanterns. A single man crossed the stage and placed himself in the center on a large square cushion waiting for him.
The man spoke first of things close to the people listening, observations on current events, light jokes told a thousand times over. Harmless banter to slowly engage the crowd, soft and unabrasive. But it was not safe language. His was a magical language, a bottomless well one peers into and tumbles over and down for eternity. Words flowed around the people and they laughed and sighed and did not see the trails that were being woven around them. He slowly removed his outer jacket.
And then a woman cried out.

But was it the man? The theater was gone and in its place a small house stood, a wife stood yelling at her husband about his stupidity and drinking. Or the theater became a dark mountainside where two thin men ascended in fear to the ruins of a great house to spy on a beautiful, horrible ghost. Or a ceramics store with two neighbors, one a fool and one a schemer, set out to buy a water pot. Or amongst the trees in the grip of Tengu, a mountain guardian, trying to wring the dream out of a man.

Endless stories pouring forth from this one source, this man, trained in the enchanting, engaging art of storytelling.

Mr. Octopus

Mr. Octopus lived above us when we had a place on the edge of the city. We never directly interacted except for the couple times he came down to tell me my music was too loud. The first time he came I wasn't expecting it and he suprised me and I was very apologetic even though I really didn't consider the music too loud. The building was old though and I knew I should make nice with our new neighbors. The second time, I was listening to noisy music at a moderate level and just as I was wondering if it might be too loud I heard a door above me slam close and heavy steps on the staircase that descended over our kitchen window and echoed throughout the house. I knew Mr. Octopus was coming and I quickly rolled the volume knob to mute and froze on the floor where I had been reading a magazine and enjoying the sun. There was a knock. I stayed still. There was another knock. I remained fixed on the floor and tried to wait out the silence. I wanted to hear him give up and go upstairs but he persisted with a third knock that rattled the poor door and with this I decided to just get through with it and went to the door. I tried to act like I had been asleep with the music on and had not been aware of the unfortunate racket it was causing. I don't think it worked, but I was careful with the volume after that and we never spoke again.
Mr. Octopus was a little fat. He appeared a bit bloated and unhealthy and I don't know what a good color is for an octopus but his did not look good. I imagine it was very hard for him in the city. There weren't many octopi in the city to begin with and while the city was on a very large bay there was no way he could possibly visit it regularly. His work hours were also very late. We would lay in bed at night and hear him ascend the stairs out front and tumble into his room thrashing his eight legs out all over the place. We would have been upset about all the noise at such an hour had we not felt so sorry for him.
Mr. Octopus also many problems with water. The bathtubs we had in our rooms were not terribly large and I can understand if they did not suit the needs of an creature of the sea. All around his flat Mr. Octopus kept buckets full of salt water he had brought back from his trips to the sea or had simply filled in the kitchen and added piles of salt to. This way he could keeps parts of him, his legs, his head, his back submerged and slightly lessen the frustration of always being on dry land. This wasn't a problem for us, indeed we hoped for nothing more than his well-being, except for the times he would accidentally tip one of these buckets over and spill water to come dripping down through our ceiling. One morning I woke up to find water flooding our toilet room and another time we opened the front door to find water pouring off the landing above us in such quantities we thought we were receiving our own personal rain shower.
Now that we have left the city I sometimes wonder how Mr. Octopus is doing. I hope he is leading a life that suits his needs better: eating better, sleeping better, working better hours. And getting very very wet.

Boots Cuts

The Boots Brothers were long and solid in build, with white ruffled fur dirtied from life on the water's edge. They were usually in the markets on Shopping Day, but kept to themselves and surrounded themselves with dark mystery. Three weasels, said to have escaped from a distant prison and travelled by scent and moonlight to the city, they were brothers by name and comraderie alone. When first they started frequenting the markets people would ask their name and "Boots Cuts" was the only reply. And so the Boots Brothers they became.
They lived on the sunken banks of waterways of the city where it was wooded and shaded and the discarded goods of people above washed up and collected. These goods they would fix and polish and along with scrawny little fish they would lay them out on a blanket on the edge of the Square on Shopping Day. The Boots Brothers were underfed and poorly groomed but this did not keep them from being an attraction for women and children. Though they were quiet and hid a reputably sordid past they walked with a danger and swagger not seen in most men of the city. With this adventure and unkempt charm they gathered smalled crowds of wide-eyed children and flustered women and sold back to the people what had been thrown out a week earlier.
At day's end the Boots Brothers would off to the waterways with pockets singing full of coins.

Lit Lamp

What with being fired after two days on a job and finishing up the oneonenine illustrations and getting my wisdom teeth removed and trying to figure out how to make all of this work together, there hasn't been as much activity here as the first week suggested there would be. I hope I hope I hope can change that.
Here, for now are some images from the oneonenine work we did. I don't know when it will be out exactly, but I will be sure to mention something about it.

The Black Emperor

A slightly younger me:
Not completely inebriated as was a high probability at this hour on most nights, I walked the deserted streets alone. A promising evening cut short, roommate and friends fleeing to the cozy dens of lovers, and me, as usual, with not enough money for a train home, I headed away from the bay in the general direction of North. It was the middle of February and the world hung suspended in the frozen static of a winter night.
Walking was my main means of transportation and most areas towards the center of the city and the area where I lived were more than familiar to me but I had never walked home from the bay. I was not lost though, the blinking red lights atop great buildings towering off in the distance acted as my guiding stars. I could keep them just in front of me and to the left and know I was heading North, or if I was completely confused I could head towards them and then find my way home from there. I did not live far from my guiding stars.
So I could not get completely lost, but I could get stuck. Not knowing an area there was always the possibility of getting caught in a network of alleys that have no way out and being forced to backtrack.
Coming out of the bay area and into some hilly terrain I realized that the area would require some backtracking. As has been the case centuries, the hilly, elevated region of the city was populated by the powerful and wealthy and as if to physically maintain this status they protected themselves with high walls, long winding driveways and security cameras. This was also an area spotted with embassies so occassionally I would turn a corner to discover figures dressed in long dark coats and carrying staffs. Quickly would I turn the other way. I did not want any security guards thinking I was intending to enter an embassy in the middle of the night. I did not want any trouble at all. I simply wanted to cross through these hills and find my way home.
I climbed a steep hill in a narrow pass between two steep walls topped with iron spikes and reached the top of what I beleived to be the tallest hill in the area that night. Before me the hill dropped away behind some buildings and brought the great buildings beyond it to eye level. Off in the distance my guiding stars twinkled above all the surrounding structures. I knew I must be at the edge of the hill area and would soon be entering into familiar territory. And then I would be home.
And then I could sleep.
I noticed then, while staring off into the distance, a presence and saw security guards standing up and down the street I had entered onto. I hurried straight across this street and down the one before me. It descended sharply and surely, I thought, this will take me out of the area.
Halfway down I came to a point where the road split awkwardly in two. To the left I could see where it emptied into a heavily trafficked street but there was some kind of tollbooth with security guards both inside and outside it. To the right the road descended into a partially submerged parking garage beneath what looked like a high class apartment or a government building. The guards at the toll booth were looking up at me now and I knew I would either have to confront them or figure out a different route. To my right there was a small street that after a ways turned to the left and out of sight. I did not know where it would lead but I took it. I did not want interaction this evening.
I headed down the small street, turned its one corner and came to a deadend. It seemed there would be no way out for me. Large houses stood on all sides of this cul-de-sac with high walls protecting them from me. I was at a loss. I would have to head down the hill and try to talk my way past the guards. Perhaps they would say nothing to me and I would be able to just go by, I thought. But they had seen me. I had crossed the line of confused passer-by. I was now suspicious and they would surely want to know what I was doing.
Standing alone in the cul-de-sac I noticed that one of the walls had an opening where it met the dividing wall of another house. Looking down it there was a path of large flat rocks set in a well kept lawn that lead straight against the house and out to a point where the hill dropped steeply. There were some trees on the side of the hill, as if a forest had impossibly escaped the desctructive grip of the city, and beyond this was the open city! Bright lights and cars and shops open at all hours and people walking along the sidewalks! All I had to do was cross the path, descend the hill, pass the forest and I would be back.
It sounded like a fairtale in its simplicity and nature.
I tiptoed across the stones, silenty passing against the house and taking care not to touch the grass or make a sound. I reached the hill and peered down it. To my right I noticed a tall shadow that was not a tree. It was the silouhette of the tollbooth I had seen earlier.
My heart stopped.
The tollbooth light switched on.
And there inside stood a figure in a long, dark coat and carrying a staff: a security guard.
"I-" I stammered in my broken tongue, "I'm sorry."
The guard stared at me and took a step out of his box. I could not see the expression on his face. He said nothing.
"I don't know where my house is."
"Are you staying in a hotel?" The guard sounded more confused than I did, but probably not because he didn't know the language.
I didn't want to make things complicated, "Yes."
With one finger he traced the shape of a flat, backwards 'L' before me, "Go back to here and then take a left."
"Yes. Thank you so much! I'm so sorry!"
I backed quickly out into the street and watched at the guard returned to his tollbooth and turned out the light.
I had escaped one potentially catastrpohic confrontation and was releaved. But now I was faced with the guards at the bottom of the hill again. I did not think that they might be just as helpful as the guard in the forest. I simply saw another potential danger. And as I thought on it I realized I could not return up the hill either as the guards up there had seen me pass through as well and would be suspicious of my coming and going.
In a moment of senseless confusion I turned down the hill, took the road to the right and walked directly into the parking garage.
In my attempt to avoid interaction and appear as normal and unassuming stroller at two o'clock in the morning I had managed to turn myself into a fleeing trespasser. Surely the guards had seen me again heading down the street and this time heading into the garage. I could not return to the street now. I had to find a way out from the garage.
The building was raised up from the ground on an elevated concrete foundation, affording a space large enough for motorvehicles to be parked beneath it. This space was only partially submerged however, and near the ceiling there were open holes in the concrete that were flush with the ground.
Pulling myself up through a concrete window facing down the hill I exited the parking garage and landed in a cemetary.
There was no light here. The cemetary covered the remainder of the hill and ended on the street the tollbooth road connected to. I simply had to find a way out of the cemetary and I would be on my way.
The street was not far away. Colorful and noisy it waited just beyond the iron fence of the cemetary. The cemetary, by contrast, was as cemetaries always are: dead. Clusters of large, sharply cut stones rose up at every turn, and ancient trees grew on the edges of the grounds, leaning over the property and swallowing any light. Even sound seemed to be muted here, absorbed by the dark.
I could not see my guiding stars.
Trying to follow a path the graves marked out I barked my shins and fell over lower stones. Whenever I thought I was descending towards the street the path would loop back up the hill. Looking at the gate I could not see an opening out of the cemetary. There seemed to be no way about it except to climb over the stones and over and then over the fence in order to get out.
And then I noticed the crows.
They were hard to miss. Although black as the shadows of the cemetary their eyes and wings shimmered purple when they moved. And through the muted, dense air their cries cut, to ring in my ears. They appeared suddenly and out of nowhere.
I could not tell how many there were but a number of them, at least five, would fly up to the trees and drop down at intervals on something in the middle of the cemetary.
I could not see what it was. I feared it was something dead. I carefully found my way along the winding paths to the center.
The space was slightly sunken and descending into it almost all light disappeared.
But through the darkness, there at the center I could make out a stone birdfeeder. Glaring its one dead eye up into the night the crows were falling to drink from its glassy vision.
I approached it and the crows took to the trees above, crying like babies.
Gripping the edges of the stone feeder with my cold, bare fingers, I peered into its inky depths.
And here at last I encountered the Black Emperor.

Albertus Seba

Today I finally picked up Taschen's Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, the massive, hardcover publication of 18th century Natural Historian, Albertus Seba's collection of colored plates illustrating an extensive representation of the natural world. I was fortunate enough to find it on sale at a local bookstore.
This will certainly be an excellent source of study and inspiration.


Moss decorated the edge of the stones. It was a deep, old green at its base where it spread out and clung to the pocked terrain of the rock face and a powerful, bright green at its surface where it accentuated tiny islands of vibrant color.
The moss was wild genius and Winston rubbed his head against it. He could not see its color, however, as it was the middle of the night. And while the sky was clear and the moon was out, everything reflected but varying shades of blue.
But he could feel the moss anyway, and it was spongy and pleasantly abrasive.

Wind whistled low over the stones.
Winston froze.
Before him was a tunnel and the ancient stones framed its entrance. The moss was a badge of seniority. A small window of moonlight hovered in the black mouth of the entrance reassuring an exit to any traveller venturing to pass. Sobered by the wind Winston looked up above the entrance at the enormous wall stretching as far as the eye could see to the left and right. He looked at the wooded ravine behind him, leading up to the entrance of the tunnel.

The wind whistled again and Winston disappeared into that black mouth towards the patch of blue moonlight beyond the towering wall.

Lost Cities and Current Events

Spent the better part of the day writing to different publishers and sending them samples of our work while taking breaks to work on the illustrations we are doing for the third issue of OneOneNine.
We are hoping we will like one of the illustrations enough to have proper posters printed for selling.
Also in possible merchandise-related news, we are trying to decide on an image for a small button we are looking to get made. To select an image that we like and want on a button is easy. What is difficult is choosing an image that is meaningful enough to be identified as Overture's but small enough to fit in the confines of a one inch diameter circle.

Unrelated, but far more fascinating, BBC had an article up a few days ago about a city found off the Western coast of India in the Bay of Cambay that is possibly 9000 years old.
Further research ensues.
I should probably mention that I just finished reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, so anything having to do with the sea and mystery are pretty much going to set me off.

Captain Mystax is an illustration we did for a close friend and while not completely related it was closest link to aquatic adventure I had on hand.