Michael Biberstein actively worked on this project until he passed way. There are many notes, sketches, drawings and watercolor renderings, supporting with detail the overall layout of the work ahead. He had a sample of the ceiling analyzed to determine what type of acrylic paint would be most appropriate. Because of the importance of this Church's restoration project, Mike concluded that professional restorers would be assisting him throughout the process and had already chosen a couple.
As most of you may know, Mike was to do this work pro bono, just receiving a per diem to cover basic expenses. Most of the funding that was budgeted to be raised, was primarily to pay for the assistants, paint and materials.
After Mike's sudden death, all involved in the project - the Pastor, architects, engineers, technicians, restorers and sponsors - met and unanimously agreed that the ceiling was to be completed following the original painting of the church's architectural model.
The sad reality of Mike's death has triggered a need to reassess and readjust the original project. A larger team of technicians and experts will be needed to manage, advise, direct and supervise the work. As a result, the overall budget will need to be increased to allow the completion of what Mike came to call “my ceiling” and his friends and admirers called “Mike’s ceiling”.
Mike loved music. Classical, blues, ethnic, rock, pop, reggae, but mostly jazz, music was essential to him and he always listened to it when painting, drawing, sketching or just day-dreaming. When going for a trip, the choice of what music to take along was a fundamental part of the general planning.
He often said how sorry he was that he never learnt how to play an instrument. He also said that, had he known how to play one, maybe he would be a musician rather than a painter. Or both.
He used music - or rather 'atmospheric sounds' - in several of his shows. Sometimes, when all was quiet, he would sit by the piano and play isolated notes. He made no attempt to link those sounds together in any melodious fashion, but was nevertheless music. I liked to call it 'his inner compositions'.
He started collecting music at an early age - from vinyl to CDs and back again, he never stopped collecting. Sadly, weeks after his death small packages from Bensons World,, Ayler Records, Amazon were still arriving.
When we saw Fonte Santa for the first time, and even before it was clear that it would become our home, he looked at the ruined watermill and sensed that it could be turned into a fantastic music room. "It's a dream come true", he said. "Musicians can practice, play, improvise jam sessions, do recordings... The sky is the limit." I think Doubledog Productions were born that day, even though the dog, who would be called Doubledog, still hadn't seen the light of day. Over more than a decade, many young (and some not so young) musicians came to stay in Fonte Santa because they liked it, liked us and felt welcome. While eating a plate of Menu N°1 (spaghetti al dente with Mike's famous tomato sauce), they relaxed, enjoyed the wine, the conversation, the music, the chess games. The concept of Dream & Drone Orchestra was born in one of those long nights and Mike's sketch of how he conceived it (a spiral representing the matrix of D&D - the instruments, the musicians and the way to improvise the orchestra) was followed by the musicians at Santa Isabel's Church, a concert both as an homage to Mike and as a fundraising event for the painting of the church's ceiling - a project that he was just about to start. (Ana Nobre de Gusmão)