LES BLANK PROGRAM 1 (MAESTROS)
Rating: NNN Like Werner Herzog, whose antics he has captured in Werner Herzog Eats His Own Shoe and Burden Of Dreams, Les Blank seems obsessed with the idea of “ecstatic truth”: the poetry that bubbles up in documentary cinema when dusty data cracks open, revealing some deeper truth that fact cannot contain.
Blank locates this most ineffable truth in his portraits of three artists: the jazz trumpeter of 1964’s Dizzy Gillespie, the Texas bluesman of 1968’s The Blues Accordin’ To Lightnin’ Hopkins and pop artist Gerry Gaxiola in 1994’s The Maestro: King Of The Cowboy Artists. By today’s standards, Blank’s search for truth in black musical traditions feels a bit prickly, reflecting the worst aspects of the white quest for authenticity in the American black experience.
From the same vantage point, The Maestro stands out. Blank is fascinated by Gaxiola – an artist who never sells his art, a cowboy crooner who can’t really sing – because of his various inauthentic affectations. As with Gillespie and Hopkins, Blank treats Gaxiola as a piece of living performance art. This seems to be a thread that connects the three maestros, all men whose lives feel inseparable from their art, their art inseparable from the truth. JS Apr 30, 9 pm, Innis Town Hall.