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The Abstract Art Interview:
The Artist's Language


Over the years, I have been interviewed many times. Four of these interviews, however, stand out in my memory as being most extraordinary. They are the long, fascinating conversations I had with radio host T.D. Mischke.

Photo of Harley Hahn by Tai Kerbs.

Mischke (as he is generally known) is one of the most interesting and talented radio hosts I have ever met. In January of 1994, he started to broadcast late at night from the U.S. Midwest. Over the next 20 years, Mischke gathered a huge cult following that extended throughout many states and into Canada. (At night, 50,000-watt radio signals travel a long way.)

Eventually, Mischke left terrestrial radio and, in May of 2014, created The Mischke Roadshow, a podcast radio show featuring weekly interviews with a variety of interesting people. Because Mischke produces everything himself and because he is not bound by the limitations of commercial radio, his podcasts are of the very highest quality. (You will find more information about Mischke at the bottom of this page.)

So far, I have done four interviews with Mischke:

• Interview #1 — February 1, 2011
• Interview #2 — January 1, 2012
• Interview #3 — December 19, 2012
• Interview #4 — June 17, 2015

Let me invite you now to listen to Interview #4, which is devoted to abstract art. Mischke calls this show The Artist's Language.

To help you follow the conversation as you listen to this interview, I have created a list of the topics we discussed. Before you listen, please take a moment to scroll down and read the list. Then click on the link below to listen to the actual interview.

Topics discussed by T.D. Mischke and Harley Hahn
The Artist's Language — June 17, 2015

1. Introduction (Mischke).
2. About Harley Hahn (Mischke).
3. About Harley Hahn (Harley).
4. The essay Understanding Abstract Art.
5. Harley's Web site (www.harley.com).
6. Abstract paintings invoke feelings, capture emotions.
7. Comparison: creating abstract art = writing poetry.
8. Artists create a vehicle to create emotions in observers.
9. Abstract art can be hard to understand (Mischke).
10. Comparison: abstract art = poetry in a strange language.
11. Great abstract art "talks" to you visually and emotionally.
12. We all speak this non-verbal language.
13. Ask yourself: What do I feel? (not: What do I see?).
14. Short musical interlude
15. What was the artist feeling?.
16. You already speak the language of art - just tune in on it.
17. Feelings exist as bodily sensations, not as thoughts.
18. With abstract art, ask yourself: "What do I feel in my body?"
19. Are there any advantages to abstract art? (Mischke).
20. Yes: Every time you look at abstract art, it's different.
21. Yes: Abstract art accesses your non-verbal unconscious.
22. Is abstract art similar to a Rorschach test? (Mischke).
23. No: With abstract art you don't verbalize what you feel.
24. How can you tell if abstract art is good? (Mischke).
25. You notice the composition (energy, movement).
26. When the artist is good, nothing happens by accident.
27. You notice the balance (colors, proportion, subtlety).
28. Have you been thrilled by a work of abstract art? (Mischke).
29. Yes: Seeing Pollack's Lavender Mist changed me forever.
30. Yes: When I first saw Pollack's Lavender Mist.
31. "Seeing that painting changed me forever."
32. "It felt like the space inside was eternal." (Mischke).
33. Consider life the way it really is.
34. Eckhart Tolle: The great truths are there all the time.
35. Ernest Becker: Death is ever present, but we deny it.
36. We are all going to die one day.
37. Limited mortality causes our need to feel immortal.
38. When we are able to enter a painting, we feel unbounded.
39. Woody Allen: "Eventually, nothing's left at all."
40. Woody Allen: "Job of the artist, why is important to go on?"
41. Why is having children so important? Why do we do this?
42. As I grow older, I hide less and less from impermanence.
43. The idea that time is limited is what gives meaning to life.
44. If life were eternal, how much would a day mean?
45. Because life is limited, every day means everything.
46. Steve Jobs would give all his money to return for one day.
47. All we have is the moment. That's all there is.
48. A full day of moments is beyond riches.
49. Steve Jobs: How wonderful that life is so brief (Mischke).
50. Woody Allen: "Death is the single best invention of life."
51. Don't let something else drown out your own inner voice.
52. Live every day.
53. Eckhart Tolle: "Live."
54. Short musical interlude
END

If you like Mischke and want to listen to more of his interviews:

What is the Mischke Roadshow?

Listen to more of Mischke's podcasts

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