Posts on this blog usually begin with and include a picture of the contributor of the tone(s). In regards to these In Memoriam Tones, I’m avoiding that tendency; for these images are meant to convey the loss or absence of a person from our Pittsburgh landscape–the artist Rick Gribenas, who passed away earlier this year. He died when he was 31, as he was undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Around 2001-2002, Ayanah began collaborating with Gribenas. Their collaborations consisted of print-making and mixing music together. “I believe we met each other at A.I.R. (Artist Image Resource) on the North Side,” Ayanah said. “When we played music together, Rick would come over to my house, he’d bring his cassette tape deck, a stack of tapes and a computer, and he’d alter sound from the tape deck in real time. I worked with two CD turntables. We didn’t talk a lot about thematics before we’d begin playing–we just let these ‘conversations’ unfold.”
Around 2005, Gribenas left Pittsburgh for grad school at the University of Illinois in Chicago. That same year, Ayanah had a solo show at A+D 11th Street Gallery in Chicago (Columbia College’s gallery), and one of their recorded pieces was part of he exhibition. The photograph above is documentation of their 11-minute piece, A&R. The two ringtones contributed by Ayanah are excerpted from that collaborative piece, and are dedicated to Rick in memoriam.
“When he returned to Pittsburgh after completing his graduate studies, Rick left this note in my mailbox. I kept meaning to respond to it, but didn’t,” Ayanah said. “I never caught up with him. That’s why I decided to create some tones in memoriam. It’s an opportunity to bring closure. It just feels right.”
Last week, Ayanah and I listened to the track and talked about excerpts that would capture the essence of their music-making collaboration. We both thought that Gribenas/Moor@3:41 would make a great ringtone or phone alarm, and then we selected Gribenas/Moor@7:10 as a second tone.
These are the first memorial tones in the project. Thank you, Ayanah, for your thoughtful contribution–a contribution that responds to my project’s focusing question with sounds from the not-so-long-ago past that still resonate in the minds and in hearts of many Pittsburghers who knew this young artist.
What did Pittsburgh sound like? Sometimes it sounded like the handiwork of Rick Gribenas.