ART: Of Martinis and Mod Science | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

ART: Of Martinis and Mod Science

Artist Ellen Langford told me recently that she was painting a violin for a symphony fund-raiser. I thought, "That's nice." I was picturing maybe a canvas with a vase of roses, a velvet curtain background and a violin, kind of like the painting over my piano teacher's fireplace. Wrong: She meant literally painting a violin.

The Visionary Violin Raffle is the brainchild of Eric Kegler, president of Erik Jason Interiors, who decided to have local artists, of varying styles, turn violins into works of very marketable art. So he ordered five violins off eBay and got two others donated; he then passed them on to seven local artists. The finished instruments will be raffled off at the Pepsi Pops concert in May 2003 and are on view at each concert preceding the raffle.

The violins themselves are as different as the artists. All are brightly colored—a subversion of the sedate image usually associated with violins. Wyatt Waters took Paul McCartney's guitar as inspiration, using bold Van Gogh-like colors on the front of the violin canceling out the f- holes and long neck with painted silver electric-guitar hardware to create a new instrument no longer in need of a bow. Tony DiFatta's creation uses bold yellow as the background with purple trim. A purple stand attached to the bottom props the instrument at an "angle of repose," perfect for viewing all sides. Eggplants, olives, green pears, flowers, and a dragonfly float around the face and back and olives dance around the sides of his violin. Common motifs found in DiFatta's work take a on a new air on this musical "canvas"—the martini glasses conjure for this viewer scenes from "Top Hat" with Fred Astaire dancing to soaring strings.

The fiddling song "Turkey in the Straw" was the initial inspiration for Ellen Langford, but the violin led her in a slightly different direction. The turkey turned into three chickens pecking around the feet of a languid Langford lady playing—what else?—a violin. The painted form nestles beneath and beside an f hole while her bowing arm and bent hip echo the feminine curve of the violin itself. The strings have been removed to expose the neck of the violin. An azure blue sky and cloudscape soars up the neck to reveal a small piece of a glorious larger picture that we must imagine, as the neck is only inches wide. The back of her violin is the "straw," an amorphous gold made from many layers and colors of paint.

Paint on a violin would certainly alter its tonality and sound quality, although decorated violins have a strong presence in history. Native artisans in Mexico create violins with carved and burnished wood to represent faces with gaping mouths as well as other decorative touches. One of the best-known and greatest luthiers of all, Antonio Stradiveri (1644-1737), created many highly decorated violins. He designed many for the Medici family with their family crest, as well as four Stradivarius instruments that reside in the Smithsonian today with names like "the Sunrise," "the Hellier" and "the Ole Bull." Inlays of mother-of-pearl and contrasting woods are also common in violin decoration. The difference between most decorated violins and those in the fund-raiser is that the former are still, ultimately, intended to create music.

The fundamental nature of the violin and its creation were particularly interesting to artists Richard Stowe and Tom Morrison. Stowe was concerned with maintaining the integrity of his instrument while embellishing and alluding to its creation. Parts of the instrument remain unpainted while others are colored in vivid red and deep blues, interspersed with circles and semi-circles in contrasting color. Bow-shaped objects appear to cut through the surface of the violin, evoking images of its life as an instrument and the process that created the instrument itself.

Morrison's treatment of his violin is, so far, the most extreme I've seen. (Two other violins are still with artists Patrick Grogan and William Dunlap.) Morrison deconstructs our notion of a violin to its most fundamental elements and lays them out like a detailed, mod-science exhibit. The violin is split open so that each half opposes the other across a vibrantly colored panel with sound-wave-like patterns of color between the two, echoing the curve of the case. The scroll is dissected, exposing holes for the tuners, yet the scrolls swim like graceful seahorses in a deep-blue tidal pool with other coral -like creatures made from other remnants. The whole work stands almost four feet high and about one-and-a-half feet wide, echoing the proportions of an intact violin.

When an instrument is no longer a conduit or tool to aid in the delivery of art, then it has the potential to be art itself. When music can no longer be played on a violin, the music. in effect, stops. The violin can now become the object of art—the final product in and of itself. The very nature of these artists' task objectifies the violin, making it the subject rather than music made by these instruments, making this a bold choice for a symphony fund-raiser for a symphony.

Mississippi's vital visual-art scene inspired Kegler to put together the raffle, as well as a desire to find a fund-raiser for the symphony that would appeal to a "young and hip" audience. When approached with the idea, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra conductor Crafton Beck was enthusiastic.

Six violins will be randomly awarded to raffle winners; the seventh violin will go to the person who sells the most tickets.

For more information on the raffle or to purchase tickets, call Crystal Allen at the Mississippi Symphony office (960-1565).by Emily Resmer

Artist Ellen Langford told me recently that she was painting a violin for a symphony fund-raiser. I thought, "That's nice." I was picturing maybe a canvas with a vase of roses, a velvet curtain background and a violin, kind of like the painting over my piano teacher's fireplace. Wrong: She meant literally painting a violin.
The Visionary Violin Raffle is the brainchild of Eric Kegler, president of Erik Jason Interiors, who decided to have local artists, of varying styles, turn violins into works of very marketable art. So he ordered five violins off eBay and got two others donated; he then passed them on to seven local artists. The finished instruments will be raffled off at the Pepsi Pops concert in May 2003 and are on view at each concert preceding the raffle.
The violins themselves are as different as the artists. All are brightly colored—a subversion of the sedate image usually associated with violins. Wyatt Waters took Paul McCartney's guitar as inspiration, using bold Van Gogh-like colors on the front of the violin canceling out the f- holes and long neck with painted silver electric-guitar hardware to create a new instrument no longer in need of a bow. Tony DiFatta's creation uses bold yellow as the background with purple trim. A purple stand attached to the bottom props the instrument at an "angle of repose," perfect for viewing all sides. Eggplants, olives, green pears, flowers, and a dragonfly float around the face and back and olives dance around the sides of his violin. Common motifs found in DiFatta's work take a on a new air on this musical "canvas"—the martini glasses conjure for this viewer scenes from "Top Hat" with Fred Astaire dancing to soaring strings.
The fiddling song "Turkey in the Straw" was the initial inspiration for Ellen Langford, but the violin led her in a slightly different direction. The turkey turned into three chickens pecking around the feet of a languid Langford lady playing—what else?—a violin. The painted form nestles beneath and beside an f hole while her bowing arm and bent hip echo the feminine curve of the violin itself. The strings have been removed to expose the neck of the violin. An azure blue sky and cloudscape soars up the neck to reveal a small piece of a glorious larger picture that we must imagine, as the neck is only inches wide. The back of her violin is the "straw," an amorphous gold made from many layers and colors of paint.
Paint on a violin would certainly alter its tonality and sound quality, although decorated violins have a strong presence in history. Native artisans in Mexico create violins with carved and burnished wood to represent faces with gaping mouths as well as other decorative touches. One of the best-known and greatest luthiers of all, Antonio Stradiveri (1644-1737), created many highly decorated violins. He designed many for the Medici family with their family crest, as well as four Stradivarius instruments that reside in the Smithsonian today with names like "the Sunrise," "the Hellier" and "the Ole Bull." Inlays of mother-of-pearl and contrasting woods are also common in violin decoration. The difference between most decorated violins and those in the fund-raiser is that the former are still, ultimately, intended to create music.
The fundamental nature of the violin and its creation were particularly interesting to artists Richard Stowe and Tom Morrison. Stowe was concerned with maintaining the integrity of his instrument while embellishing and alluding to its creation. Parts of the instrument remain unpainted while others are colored in vivid red and deep blues, interspersed with circles and semi-circles in contrasting color. Bow-shaped objects appear to cut through the surface of the violin, evoking images of its life as an instrument and the process that created the instrument itself.
Morrison's treatment of his violin is, so far, the most extreme I've seen. (Two other violins are still with artists Patrick Grogan and William Dunlap.) Morrison deconstructs our notion of a violin to its most fundamental elements and lays them out like a detailed, mod-science exhibit. The violin is split open so that each half opposes the other across a vibrantly colored panel with sound-wave-like patterns of color between the two, echoing the curve of the case. The scroll is dissected, exposing holes for the tuners, yet the scrolls swim like graceful seahorses in a deep-blue tidal pool with other coral -like creatures made from other remnants. The whole work stands almost four feet high and about one-and-a-half feet wide, echoing the proportions of an intact violin.
When an instrument is no longer a conduit or tool to aid in the delivery of art, then it has the potential to be art itself. When music can no longer be played on a violin, the music. in effect, stops. The violin can now become the object of art—the final product in and of itself. The very nature of these artists' task objectifies the violin, making it the subject rather than music made by these instruments, making this a bold choice for a symphony fund-raiser for a symphony.
Mississippi's vital visual-art scene inspired Kegler to put together the raffle, as well as a desire to find a fund-raiser for the symphony that would appeal to a "young and hip" audience. When approached with the idea, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra conductor Crafton Beck was enthusiastic.
Six violins will be randomly awarded to raffle winners; the seventh violin will go to the person who sells the most tickets.
For more information on the raffle or to purchase tickets, call Crystal Allen at the Mississippi Symphony office (960-1565).

Previous Comments

ID
84241
Comment

Can anyone tell me if Eric Kegler scouted the Jackson market before purchasing the five violins on eBay? I did, and I found very reasonable prices. In addition, do you think he might have asked one of the local retail outlets to donate one? Their name mention could also promote local business. Think Global, Shop Local. PS- Please know that I think highly of both the cause and the idea of The Visionary Violin Raffle. Just a thought. Please do not include my name, thank you.

Author
jakob clark
Date
2002-12-04T13:20:09-06:00
ID
84242
Comment

That's a perfectly good suggestion. We should encourage, and be encouraged, to shop local every chance we get. And that goes for Amazon, too, y'all! Think Lemuria, Choctaw, the flea market and other local book outlets. Thanks for writing.

Author
ladd
Date
2002-12-04T16:22:28-06:00

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