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FRI 25 OCT 2019 : “Violins of Hope” came to Louisville, Kentucky. The internationally impactful touring exhibit provided an opportunity for learning and reflection through restored violins that survived the Holocaust. The Louisville Orchestra is proud to be a partner giving voice to these amazing instruments in this performance.
Review and Reflections by Jan Kirstein
The “Violins of Hope Concert” with the Louisville Orchestra and guest performers wove an excellent musical experience both haunting and familiar in their Oct. 25, 2019 production at the Kentucky Center for the Arts, in Whitney Hall. Their sound was a rich canopy of many well placed harmonies that evoked a haunting depth of tragedy. Beauty emerged through music that captured not only the perfectly defined memories of the Holocaust but the lingering hopes that emerged as time moved forward from this harrowing event.
My personal favorite was the first piece, by Israeli Composer Paul Schoenfield, the “Klezmer Rondos Movement. “ (1989.) True to its name, this piece flew into a lively, captivating rhythm of the Klezmer gypsy bands of Barcelona, Spain . The melodic harmonies reminded me of Bela Bartok with the influences of Hungarian Folk Music harmonics as well.
But just as I began to get captivated and uplifted by the rhythms of a joyful, lively band sound, the music would suddenly shift into a haunting diminished 7th chord that lent a harrowing and wrenching sound much like the energy change I remember when I went to at a wild party in a Louisville mansion on the river when I was in college. When we first got to the home, kids were all throwing phone books wildly into the air in joyous celebration. Later that evening,, however, one of the boys that actually lived in the mansion was on the livingroom floor threatening to kill himself. He had a loaded gun to his head. The energy change of this event very closely matched the harmonic changes that reoccurred throughout this musical piece. The entire effect was haunting, rich and full of melodic pathos. I can’t describe it well, but I was broken down in tears throughout the first two pieces before intermission.. Never before have I so strongly been affected by music. Stunningly haunting beauty rose from the orchestra in a perfect melodic capture of the times and events of this harrowing age and the course of history decades ago.
The second piece by William Schuman, “Judith: A Choreographic Poem” bled into my tears and perceptions much as a continuation of the previous piece. The music etched a sound reminiscent of bare winter branches against a dusky grey evening sky. Again the diminished 7th chords laced the work and lent an impending sense of a universe that was being malformed and slowly crushed and distorted by impending forces of strange and incomprehensible origin. The dancing was very moving and gave the music a resonance and counterpoint component that enhanced the richness and depth of the experience. Once again, I was left in the throws of profuse sobbing. I am glad it was dark where we were sitting.
The intermission came and went. Then we had John William’s pieces from “Schindler’s List.”. For some reason, these pieces did not have as much effect on me and I became restless. I think I was all cried out maybe and emotionally spent. But then came the Michael TilsonThomas “From the Diary of Anne Frank.” This was Joy’s favorite piece. It resonated with her as she has read and reread Anne Frank. Catherine Blades read and her voice was clear, strong, emphatic and besearching, much as I had always imagined the voice of a young Anne Frank would sound.
So there you have it! Any more moving, and I would have had to be carried out in a straight jacket! I am glad my friend Joy was driving.
This was a performance I will never forget, and it is my hope that they have a recording made so you can hear the wonderful sounds of this important performance.
Every artist has a prefered method of showing their work, either to a gallery, or to the public in general. In this issue, I am asking you to share your experiences and opinions on these matters with me so I can share on this blog for everyone.
I have asked you readers for your experiences before, on matters involving presenting your art, and as a result, we have received all kinds of wonderful advice from a large variety of artists. So today, I want to put some questions to you regarding presenting your art work and see if you can send me some of your experiences or advice. I will them publish the responses I get. You can post here under comments, or you can email me here.
So one basic question is:
How do you present your work in a portfolio when you are approaching a gallery for the first time?
If you use three dimensional format, and show actual works, do you show actual pieces if they are small, and in what kind of presentation? For larger pieces, do you show photographs?
Do you use a portfolio for paper pieces? Or do you bring framed works and canvas works after the first meeting and interest is shown?
Do you have a go-to frame that you prefer for presenting your work? Please elaborate and share brand and retail mega deals if you know any!
If you use digital format do you bring an IPad? Or have an online website that you get them to see?
Please send me your thoughts, ideas and experiences! I will compile the data all of you send me and share it a soon to follow edition of this blog.
Thanks so much for sharing your ideas, knowledge and expertise!
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I have been talking with people a little bit about showing my work in a variety of possible venues. One woman I spoke with said, “Well to show in a gallery you have to have more than a couple of pieces.”
She obviously doesn’t know me. (Yet.) Here is this week’s work!
Photographing the Work.
It is much harder to photograph this stuff than to paint it. I have discovered that my cell phone takes better photos than my Nikon 35 milimeter SLR Digital camera. And my cell phone is not even high end. It’s a smart phone but rather cheesy, I thought.
The photos below are taken by my cell phone.
But the cell phone captures higher detail, better color, and is higher resolution. I have an app on my phone I use called “Camera.” How creative. Anyway, it apparently bumps up the quality quite a bit from my bare smartphone camera, which is really pretty close in quality. My cell phone is an LG Cricket. (I go cheap whenever I can. )
Today, by coincidence, I was looking in my studio for a particular piece of Japanese rice paper that I had misplaced, when I came across this little doll-like figure I had made when I was two years old. My 93 year old mother had saved this little doll for me and gave it to me one of the last times I saw her.
Also coincidentally, I am going to see her again at the end of this week, so I decided to include the little doll in one of my current collages.
I added a “Hi 5” on the drawn part of the collage. I also added a variety of quick marks reminding me of what it felt like to be a kid again. I work with childhood memories from time to time in my work, as it takes me back to my creative origins and original unbiased urges, unrestrained by propriety and judgemental restraint.
Ironically enough, though the title suggests the hand-slapping connection of one person’s celebratory smack of another’s hand, this little creature appears to have no hands, or arms, for that matter.
I can distinctly remember when it occurred to me at age 3 that people’s arms grow out of their torsos, not their heads. I could not believe my vast ignorance at thinking this preposterous error previously. I remember having to readjust my entire paradigm of my understanding of human anatomy to be able to proceed forward from that day on.
Apparently I had not yet had this epiphany when I made this doll. I think my mother must have surely helped me with some of the details on it, like sewing on the buttons for eyes, or maybe demarcating the facial features with a few simple lines. But she claims it was “all Me.” She said she saved it because she thought it showed unusual ability for such a small child.
Thank you Mother for your observation and awareness.
Now I have the opportunity to love and learn some things from my two year old self! I only hope I can access my true fire and intuition as well as I did as a two year old child.
After all, Picasso did say: “Children are the best artists.”
Collages and writing by Jan Kirstein
Nancy Hillis would be proud of me. I created an enormously ugly painting today and IT WAS SO FUN!! Boy was I on a roll! First I started off and it looked pretty nice, then I kept “futzing” with it. Finally I just let loose and flew into a foaming at the mouth painting frenzy, keeping in mind all the virtues of painting “the Ugly Painting” which she stipulates so articulately in her new book: “The Artist’s Journey.”
The more I painted, the uglier it got. Finally I was just making moves in the paint completely removed from any preconceived notions.
Nancy Hillis would be proud. Why don’t you tell me the story of your ugliest painting? Maybe you have made one uglier than mine and would like to tell me about it!
Quotes from Nancy about the “ugly” painting.:
She says “Ugly” paintings threaten you because they’re unfamiliar and unruly, and emerge unbidden without your consent. They subvert your need for control.”
“Your “ugly” paintings are vitally important. In fact, these paintings are probably more important by several orders of magnitude than the work you like and value.”
“The cost of dismissing your rejected, “ugly” paintings is you risk missing discovering something until now invisible in you trying to become visible.”
“Just as the chrysalis is the nascent form of the butterfly, the “ugly” painting is the raw essence of new, experimental work.”
“Cultivating an attitude of experimentation is one of the most important and potent things you
can do to develop and evolve your art,” says Nancy Hillis.