Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Art in Music -- Odes to Artworks, Artists, and Art Movements

Part 2 of the "Odes" category of art in music. Here are five more songs in which musicians share their loving, serious, and/or confused homages to a variety of artists, artworks, or art movements. First, let's start with an eye-catching and fun music video:

Hold Your Horses -- 70 Million
This video brings to life several famous paintings from various time periods and genres as the band members take on the characters of each painting's subjects. While it is humorous that a man portrays Botticelli's Venus, the likeness to the painting created by the musicians is really stunning. Obviously this band, or at the least their video director, has a strong taste for historical art.

Rachel's -- Frida Kahlo
Though this song is instrumental, the title suggests it as an ode to the Mexican artist known for her self-portraits and surrealistic fantasies. The classically influenced musical group Rachel's has actually created quit a few compositions around the theme of visual art, this one being my favorite.

Sufjan Stevens art
Sufjan Stevens -- The Vivian Girls Are Visited In The Night By Saint Dargarius
The title clearly identifies the theme of this song -- the work of little-known artist, illustrator, and writer Henry Darger. Sufjan's energetic and eclectic style is an art in itself, but this dreamy instrumental interpretation of Darger's artwork is even more thought-provoking than words can describe.

Canadian art
Rheostatics -- Music Inspired by the Group of Seven (album)
Another instrumental, but this is an entire album rather than one song dedicated to the beautiful "Group of Seven." These Canadian landscape artists from the 1920s were showcased in a large exhibition sponsored by the National Gallery of Canada in 1995. The museum commissioned the Rheostatics to create this album inspired by the retrospective exhibition.

Jonathan Richman -- No One Was Like Vermeer
This, today's only lyrical song, ode to Vermeer's unusual painting style accurately reflects the art-making style of the Dutch artist, as well as his societal influence. The folk-rocker's thumping music provides a unique backdrop for the description of Vermeer's peculiar color choices and relatively unknown way of life.

Stay tuned for more "Art in Music" posts...

In researching the musings of various musicians about the topic of visual art, I found songs including mentions of art are somewhat limited in quantity, yet profoundly inspiring and memorable. I chose to sort my findings according to a few common themes and then present a review of each group on the following schedule:
  • ODES (Part 1) to specific artworks, artists, or art movements -- June 8 (4 songs)
  • LOVE songs, some hopeful and others confused, referencing art -- July 6 (6 songs)
  • HUMOROUS songs about art or specific artists -- August 3 (5 songs)
  • BIOGRAPHIES of specific artists' lives -- September 7 (3 songs)
  • ODES (Part 2) to specific artworks, artists, or art movements -- October 5 (4 songs)
  • BALLADS of heartbreak, using art as a metaphor -- November 2 (3 songs)
  • REALISTIC narrations of pain, hope, struggle, and life, presented with references to art -- December 7 (5 songs)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

PULSE Art LA -- Exuberant

After visiting several art fairs over the past year, I was a little uncertain as to what PULSE LA could hold that would top any of the others. Yet, I was also very welcoming of the idea of a large art fair weekend in the city of angels. Though other fairs are happening simultaneously this weekend (referred to collectively as ArtWeekLA), I choose to spend my time with PULSE -- a venue that is well organized based on my previous experiences.

The press & VIP preview began at 12pm Friday, September 30, 2011 with what appeared to be a somewhat significant crowd. While the VIP and will-call ticket holders waited in a long line to gain access, I was surprised to see the press area vacant (but for the worker.) I easily obtained my pass and scooted past the line of those waiting to get tickets.

With only a two hour window for the preview viewing, I had pre-made my list of "must-sees" -- mostly comprised of LA-area galleries, as I wanted to focus on what's happening locally, rather than the often more established galleries from New York, Miami, and other international art cities.

Christopher Russell, The Challenge Wind Makes VIII -- Luis de Jesus Gallery
Greeting me as the first booth near the entrance was the Luis de Jesus Gallery -- one that happened to be on my list. Showcasing a variety of their represented artists, I was immediately drawn to Christopher Russell's large painting full of texture and symbolism. Luis de Jesus, principle director of the gallery, shared with me several of the intended meanings of the two ships, the wallpaper patterns, and the background texture -- all stemming from a literary work also done by the artist.

As I perused the remaining booths, there were some that particularly caught my attention. I will go into more depth in the written article, to be published in the Winter 2011 issue of Visual Overture Magazine, but for now will tease you with some images below.

Overall, I found the PULSE Art LA event to be full of energy, even exuberant. Perhaps this is due to the fact that people are excited to have an international fair in Los Angeles, or perhaps just due to the high quality of art displayed. Whatever the case, I'm happy to have attended and hope this takes LA on a deeper path towards embracing contemporary visual art.

Photos from PULSE Art LA 2011:

Gregory Euclide, what clouded my receiving hand is the way i own sensation -- David Smith Gallery
Meeson Pae Yang, Entity & Coalesce  -- Blythe Projects
Mineo Mizuno, Teardrops -- Samuel Freeman Gallery
Mark Schoening, mad dash -- Blythe Projects