The same way a line of notes floats up and down through the canals of the human ear, as do brushstrokes on a canvas on the receptive cells of our eyes. Often, a painting can have the same effect as a song, or one can compliment the other, heightening the beauty of both. The new gallery exhibit, “Look & Listen,” seeks to explore that partnership.
Created as a class assignment, the exhibit is the brainchild of a group of Herberger students. One of these student curators, printmaking senior Tiernan Warner, said that when thinking of possibilities for this assignment, she and her partners agreed that “music was something that we are all passionate about, in our own capacities.” Then they realized that the relationship people have with music is not entirely acoustic.
“We cannot see the music we love, but we connect to the art that musicians have chosen to represent (it),” Warner said.
Warner and her partners sent out a national call to artists also interested in the intersection of visual art and music. Warner said she was afraid they would receive a lot of “posters advertising bands.” What they got instead were thought-provoking submissions that interpreted the prompt in exciting new ways.
One of the artists whose work is featured in the exhibit is Neal Calvin Peterson. His submitted work, an album cover for “Duality,” is the first in a series of albums entitled “Infinite Religions.” It deals with the simultaneous passage of “Life” and “Death” as both literal songs on the album, and as concepts. He found this exhibit intriguing because it made him think about the musical process differently than he was used to.
“Layering songs with unique identities is similar to layering any type of artistic medium … you have to remain aware of textures, patterns, and relationships.” Peterson said. “Every sound has a unique character that can be translated visually. It’s like synesthesia.”
Another artist, Brian Cirmo, has a piece entitled “The Artist and Bob Dylan Watch the Sunset” featured in the exhibit. This work is one in a series called “The Idolatry Drawings” and it depicts a relaxed, colorful camaraderie between the subjects, one of whom is the legendary musician. This piece is a sort of fantasy scenario, but according to the artist it is a representation of the connection great music produces.
“(Great musicians) become a part of our thinking and feeling. They are with us when we watch the sunset and when we’re in the studio.” Cirmo said.
The exhibit is also about the culture of music, and the conflicting interests involved.
Artist David Willison’s contribution to the gallery, “Iconic-Ironic #3” is a tongue-in-cheek promotional poster for a surreal collaboration by Marylin Manson and Robert Smith from The Cure. In it they are singing the classic soft rock anthem, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
“(It’s) essentially humorous but does raise subtle questions about the role of creativity and artistic independence in a world that places a premium on sales, marketing and the bottom line,” Willison said.
These and other works can be seen in an understated display case in the Harry Wood Art gallery in the Art Building on the Tempe campus from April 11 to April 25.
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