25 May MUSED Podcast: “4 For the Physical” with Troy Murrah
I first met Troy Murrah after watching a spirited, sweaty kinetic performance of his two-person band Restavrant (pronounced “restaurant”) at a dive bar in Downtown Los Angeles over a decade ago. What I didn’t know at the time was that Murrah is also a visual artist. When his mother Judy Murrah — a renowned artist, quilter, author, art educator, and former VP of Education and Administration of Quilts Inc. — passed away in 2017, he poured his grief into making art after years of keeping it on the back burner of his busy life.
Restavrant’s music combines old school blues with the genres of DIY punk, classic country, hip hop, and techno. Like Murrah’s music, his artwork pairs the unexpected. Combining his mother’s love of quilting with his artistic talent, carpentry skills, and architectural training, his elaborate wooden artworks feature the geometric patterns of traditional quilts as the backdrop of his detailed drawings. Using architectural renderings and black-and-white photography as reference material and inspired by his love of the “Old Masters,” his drawings reveal worlds that only exist in his mind.
In addition to his fine art, Murrah also makes functional art. Check out his artwork on his “Built Quilt” website and in the “Album Artwork” section of his band website. Follow him on social media: Facebook; Instagram; and YouTube.
Enjoy our conversation.
~ Melissa Richardson Banks
ABOUT TROY MURRAH: Troy Murrah is a visual artist, artisan craftsman, and a musician who founded the DIY punk/blues Restavrant as a one-man band, now a duo with Tyler Whiteside. An athlete who originally started his college career with goals to become an architect, he shifted gears and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art from the University of Texas, Austin. After finishing his degree, which included a semester studying painting in Europe, he ventured to Los Angeles after receiving an offer to do set design and production for Cirque du Soleil, which led to more than 20 years working in that capacity. In 2008, he began making music and named himself “Restavrant” as a joke. His mother’s death in 2017 pivoted his focus back to fine art and much of his new work incorporates her love of quilting. In addition to the “Old Masters” such as Michelangelo, his artistic influences include Joseph Cornell, one of the pioneers and most celebrated exponents of assemblage, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
RECORD RELEASE PARTY & LIVE PERFORMANCE on SAT 5/29/2021 @ 8 PM (Pacific): Troy Murrah and Tyler Whiteside of Restavrant celebrate the release of their new limited-edition 10″ clear vinyl EP at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, California (details at www.alexsbarstore.com). Buy your copy in advance HERE and get it signed at this free event. The first 100 customers receive a collectible poster featuring artwork by Murrah, while supplies last.
BOOK RELEASE: Murrah’s book”Wood Mosaic Projects: Classic Quilt Block Designs in Wood” is available on June 29, 2021 by Fox Chapel Publishing (pre-order HERE). The first of its kind, this 144-page guide shows how to incorporate timeless quilt styles into works of wooden art and features tips on selecting patterns, cutting pieces to fit snuggly, adding color, and putting it together. An inspirational gallery of the author’s work is included.
ABOUT THIS PODCAST
Hosted by me, Melissa Richardson Banks, the “MUSED: LA 2 HOU” podcast focuses on topics tied to life journeys connected to Los Angeles and Houston, literally and/or figuratively.
A year ago, I started thinking about doing a podcast that connected my worlds in Los Angeles and Houston. While my friends who are baseball fans might say otherwise, the two sprawling metropolitan areas are similar in so many ways — sister cities of sorts. In some ways, Houston leads the way and in other ways, Los Angeles is on top. That’s why I love these two cities so much. I get the best of both worlds. The two photographs of each city below describe how I felt at the time that I shot them: one as I was leaving L.A. (“Keep Something Alive”), which in hindsight, forecast my year in 2016; and the other shortly after I arrived in H-Town (“I Might Love You”), which mirrored how I was then beginning to feel:
Since August of 2016, until the pandemic, I have commuted monthly from Houston to Los Angeles where I had lived for over two decades. In Southern California, I am known for my work producing, promoting and navigating the art world, which includes managing the Chicano art collection of Cheech Marin, documenting the fast-changing Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles as a photographer known as @DowntownMuse, and running my consulting firm CauseConnect. In Texas, I was able to lay low for a while, enjoy art every day, and be a tourist while re-connecting with my family. My photography continues in Houston and I share images of life here online as @MUSEDla2hou (formerly @HTownMuse). Because I felt “MUSED” out and that is how I came up with the name of my podcast: “MUSED: LA 2 HOU” (if you are from New York, we pronounced HOU as YOU!).
While this is not my first podcast (I hosted and produced “A.D. Live” in 2013 and “A Muse on the Road” in 2015), this time, I had to learn and understand in-studio technology since my previous podcasts were more of an impromptu “woman on the street” format. I am learning so much, so forgive again how I am releasing this – learn with me! Between paying clients and contracted projects, I began researching what I should do, and then Covid messed up my originally planned format (hosting guests in my home, along with a live audience, salon style). Now, I also have had to learn editing and how to remotely bring guests into the mix.
- Wes Brown and Todd Piersen generously have given time and direction to me. Their Tenet podcast is amazing (subscribe!) and I am the featured guest in one of their episodes.
- Christopher Fudurich — mixer, sound engineer, producer and musician — thankfully assisted me with much-needed technical assistance when I first launched this podcast.
- David Strother (electric violinist and composer) and his musical collaborator Scot Ray (lap slide steel guitarist) graciously have allowed my use of a clip of their song “Gravity Plate” from their album “Space Yard” that has my Houston image as its cover. Buy their album on Bandcamp by clicking HERE.
- Jon Berry — award-winning designer and photographer — designed my podcast logo.