In the Arms of the Willow

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How does one go about turning a Monet into music? Behind the scenes of Gallery of Echoes with Shadowbox’s Gabriel Guyer.

My name is Gabriel Guyer. I am 35 years old and the Bassist and Co-Composer for the Gallery of Echoes project, a multi-media, multi-disciplinary collaboration between Columbus Museum of Art and Shadowbox Live. I have been a Musician and Visual Artist my entire life. Gallery of Echoes in many ways is this fascinating culmination of my life’s experiences. Though I know this isn’t nearly the climax of my existence or my life as an artist, bringing these 2 art forms together in such a unique way is an event I have somehow always been moving towards.

I grew up in a house filled with Classic Rock from the 60s, 70s and 80s like The Doors, Steely Dan, Rush, Jimi, Zeppelin, etc. As I got older my tastes expanded into other genres of music like Soul, R & B and went deep into Rap and Hip Hop for a very long time while dabbling in Classical, Jazz, Lounge and World music along the way.

As a musician I began my life as a Vocalist. I picked up my first stringed instrument, the Violin, in the 4th grade. Soon after I switched to Trombone and stayed with it for several years. However as I reached High School I picked up the Guitar. Being a teenage male with a guitar taught me a lot about songwriting and how to express myself emotionally through my instrument (laugh). Several years later while working in the early days of Shadowbox Live, we lost our bass player. Out of necessity – though perhaps destiny – I picked it up and haven’t put it down since. It speaks for me and from my heart better than any other musical instrument I’ve ever touched.

As an artist, I grew up in a house that was filled with my mother’s Watercolors and Acrylics. She had a gift for sharing her imagination and feelings through abstract work – using mainly art nouveau and still life. Very expressive and very feminine works. I use pen and pencils in my Visual Art, but I have explored many various mediums throughout my life. I’ve never been a painter; in fact I’m terrible at it, so consequently it’s one of the mediums that fascinates me the most.

Perhaps needless to say, Art and Music have been two of the most import factors in my life.

French Impressionism has influenced me since I was young and Claude Monet has inspired and enlightened me through all of that time. For me, Monet’s work has always felt light and inviting. … the way that he could turn an everyday something or somewhere into a place that you wanted to be. He takes you into that world. As you stand at a distance looking at the whole picture, all you want is to be closer. You want to see more detail. But as you draw near, instead of revealing these details you see brushstrokes and texture. This almost blurred vision seems to help the piece to surround and envelop you.

I have seen many of Monet’s works and have been blessed to see several in person. I certainly do not know his entire catalogue of work. However from my experience, Weeping Willow is a very unique piece that the Columbus Museum of Art is lucky to have.

I had never seen a Monet like this before. It was very dark. As I walked up to this piece, explored its colors, and compared it to what I know of Monet – all I could think about was the intense and deep emotion he was expressing. Though I believe Monet is actually inviting us, the viewers, to this safe place where we may comfortably share the darker parts of ourselves.

As I came into writing the music for this piece, I really wanted to speak to each of these elements. The main time signature for the song accompanying this piece is an alternating 7/8 to 8/8 that feels good but is slightly off kilter. That directly speaks to my comparison this piece to his other works.

I also felt a somber, minor tone coming from the painting, which had something of an unexpected flow to it. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to use my chorus pedal and give it that fat, wavy tone to match the natural behavior of the piece.

The main guitar line was a perfect compliment to my languid bass line with each quick 16th note creating tiny, individual leaves on the limbs that tumbled down.

The keys fleshed out our environment with one laying the foundation of rolling hills that we don’t see in the actual artwork but are merely implied. All while the other keyboard creates a gentle breeze that moves the limbs slightly and invites you to come inside for your self-expression.

As we move into the heavier section of the song, it represents the emotion trapped within the weep of the willow. We have stepped under the canopy and are taking our moment to scream and release all of our anger and pain.

Now that we’ve let it out, we can begin to rebuild our confidence and courage – coming back out from beneath its branches. This leads us into my quiet solo section.  Here I tried to communicate the feeling of regrouping and just beginning to take new chances emerging and looking at the world with new eyes. You feel good. You feel lighter.

As the song flows into its outro, I see it as looking back to where our experience began and feeling the call of the willow as we did when we first stumbled across its path.

Perhaps not every song in Gallery of Echoes has given me the illumination that I feel with Weeping Willow, but every song most certainly has its own, unique experience. I truly believe that we, Light‘s performers and composers, have found a new and provocative way to express these wonderful works of art. I hope you will come share our interpretation. And perhaps you will have your own interpretations that wildly differ from ours, but that is exactly what this performance is meant to celebrate. The most beautiful thing about art is that it can be seen and felt in so many different ways.

I was able to smuggle out a rough copy of the recording to share with you. Please know this isn’t a finished product, but it will definitely help you understand the vision we have.

Weeping Willow by Light

Art inspired by art inspired by art.

Gallery of Echoes has only 7 performances at Shadowbox Live from May 1st – 4th

To get your tickets or more information on Gallery of Echoes, please visit the Shadowbox Live website. For more about Gabriel Guyer, visit the author’s website.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Guest Blogger, Gabriel Guyer, Bassist and Co-Composer for Gallery of Echoes

Artful Mother’s Day Brunch at Columbus Museum of Art

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Catch the last days of Toulouse-Lautrec and La Vie Moderne, and treat your mom to a delicious and artful brunch at one of the most lovely spots in Columbus during our Mother’s Day Brunch on May 11, 2014. Enjoy spending the day exploring the galleries accompanied by a relaxing lunch in Derby Court.

Reservations available from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM (Space is Limited) Please call: 614.629.0359. Adults – $35, Special Member Price – $30; Children 12 and under – $15, Special Member Price – $12.

Surge Columbus Ignite For Teens

Surge Columbus Ignite for Teens

We had tons of new teens in our space making beats in the sound booth, creating stencil art, and participating in button-making during last week’s Surge Columbus Ignite event. We met some truly inspiring teens and their families who are interested in creative after-school learning opportunities!

SURGE Columbus is a collaboration between Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Wexner Center for the Arts, WOSU Public Media, and COSI, and is made possible by a grant from Battelle Memorial Institute. Columbus is one of the few cities in the country to have this kind of innovative collaboration for teens.

Below are some more pictures from last week. Keep an eye out for the Surge Columbus segment on an upcoming episode of WOSU’s Broad & High.

Columbus Museum of Art’s SURGE: public space, Drop-In Studio Time for teens continues every Thursday from 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM. Columbus teens are welcome to join us for this weekly drop-in program that includes pop up events in the Studio and Innovation Lab, experimenting with technology and art supplies, and just hanging out.

Surge Columbus Ignite

Surge Columbus

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

- Morgan Anderson, Columbus Museum of Art Teen Programs Coordinator

Gallery of Echoes: Art inspired by Art inspired by Art

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Imagine if you stopped to look at a painting, it unfolds in front of you, moving through space to cover every inch of your vision…Music transforms the brush strokes into melodies and harmonies that become the painting’s soundtrack. And nearby, live performers may experience the work through dance, song, and spoken word.  Art inspired by art inspired by art.

These are the opening words to Gallery of Echoes, a multi-media, multi-disciplinary collaboration between Columbus Museum of Art and Shadowbox Live presented by PNC Arts Alive. According to Stev Guyer, Executive Director of Shadowbox Live, the singular production is the first of its kind.

“We were very excited to work with Shadowbox on this brand new kind of collaboration,” said CMA Executive Director Nannette V. Maciejunes. “Gallery of Echoes is a unique experience that bridges the gap between the visual and the performing arts. It’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced.”

To create Gallery of Echoes, Guyer and fellow members of the band Light selected works of art from the Museum’s collection and composed a 21 song cycle inspired by those works. Next, Chief Video Editor David Whitehouse designed an imaginative video segment inspired both by the visual art and the music written for it. Lastly, Shadowbox Live metaperformers were sprinkled throughout the production. The result is a completely original art form.

“As observers, we too often consider different disciplines of art as completely separate beasts,” said Guyer.  “But all art is connected at very base and very visceral levels.  ’Art inspired by art inspired by art.’  That is what Gallery of Echoes represents.”

Gallery of Echoes opens Thursday, May 1 with performances May 2 – 4. Students, seniors, military, and CMA members receive a $5 discount for all shows, except opening night.  For more information and reservations, call the Shadowbox Live Box Office at 614-416-7625 or go online at www.shadowboxlive.org.

Above: King Lake, California by Albert Bierstadt one of the more than 20 works from CMA’s collection used as inspiration for Shadowbox’s Gallery of Echoes.

Project Pivot Teens at Roy G. Biv Gallery

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If you were one of the more than 500 visitors to this month’s Gallery Hop in the Short North, you might have been stopped by a strange traveler outside of the ROY G BIV Gallery, and beckoned onwards to explore a magical realm of cosmic wonder…

Who are these mystical beings? Interstellar travelers? Creatures from another dimension? Nay! Secrets of the Cosmos, open at ROY G BIV Gallery through March, was produced and executed by a collective of 20 young artists with whom I work as part of CMA’s Project Pivot. Now it its fourth and final year, Project Pivot is a four-year research project partnering with the Arts and College Preparatory Academy (ACPA). The teaching team includes ACPA teachers, as well as, teaching artists from CMA. The program follows an emergent curriculum model, flexing the content of the curriculum to respond to student interests.

Project Pivot began in the 2010-2011 school year, giving students the opportunity to remain with Project Pivot for all four years of high school. CMA is conducting formal evaluation to help us uncover the benefits of this experimental approach to high school education. Project Pivot is generously funded by the Ingram White Castle Foundation and the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation

So how does a collective of 20 young artists go from this to this?:

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Creating a show like Secrets of the Cosmos is the work of several months. As spectacular as the performance itself was, the hard work and effort the students put forth in its conception and installation was, itself, amazing to watch.

Though I would love to share with all of you the entire process, in the interest of time, and because they say it better than I do, here are the Pivoteers’ thoughts about the process of installing and performing for an audience of 300+ strangers in a public gallery:

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“It was fun to set up but you got a really serious sense about it, like “oh, this surreal, we’re really making our ideas happen now?”

“It was kind of a reality check in a sense. It was like “this is really happening, we are gonna do this in front of so many people.’ It was kind of nerve wracking”

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“Having people help you… it’s a lot easier.”

“Everybody was talking and helping everyone out.”

“It was exhausting but exciting at the same time just to know all the work we have been doing for the past several weeks would be presented to an important audience.”

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“I was nervous in a good way. There was kind of a little rush of people and the energy in our room was very high, and eerie, and there were like butterflies in my tummy.”

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“The whole thing is a cycle, and in the project, the process felt like that. Some people even came back through again, so it’s true that the end of something is really the beginning of something else.”

“We are so lucky to have had an opportunity like this. I think it was the best it could’ve been, I’m so fortunate for the amazing things we are doing and becoming.”

Over the course of this year, our students have thought, questioned, searched, reflected, made, remade, learned and relearned, tried things out, got silly, got serious and, in the end, created something unforgettable to share with their community. As an educator, I get to see and delight in all these moments of discovery. I am honored and grateful to have had this chance, and I can’t wait to see where these students go from here, both with their final project (sunset, at Glen Echo Park!) and beyond.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Cat Lynch, Teaching Artist for School Initiatives

Art Lab Teens and Social Sundays

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Art Lab’s most recent Social Sunday was a fun and engaging learning experience for both our teen interns and Museum visitors. Art Lab teens drew inspiration from artists who work with unconventional materials to create engaging artwork.  The teens specifically looked at work by Cole Blaq, an artist exhibited in CMA’s Think Outside the Brick exhibition, and Jan Vormann, an artist who created a collaboration called Dispatchwork.  Both artists work with LEGO, an unconventional medium easily relatable to audiences of all ages.

Art Lab interns decided to use the ideas of unconventional materials and engaging artwork to create an interactive experience for museum visitors. Using storytelling as a relatable medium and performance as a means of engaging communication, the Art Lab teens created six distinct experiences throughout the hallways, galleries, and public spaces of CMA.

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If you joined us for the last Social Sunday, you may have noticed an interesting character making shadow puppets with visitors in the Toulouse-Lautrec and La Vie Moderne: Paris 1880 – 1910 exhibition.  Or perhaps, in the European gallery, you saw Bathsheba come to life as two ladies-in-waiting pampered guests like royalty while facilitating a discussion about the painting’s history and potential meanings.  Or maybe you simply heard the sounds of a dedicated violist practicing her craft while challenging visitors to consider something they would like to improve upon.  Our Art Lab interns engaged museums visitors in dialogues about art, society, and life through both performance and play. Challenging themselves to overcome feelings of awkwardness and shyness, our teens put themselves out there to create truly unique and meaningful experiences for Museum guests.

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Art Lab interns will hold their third Social Sunday on March 16, 2014 from 1:00-3:00 PM, and their final Social Sunday of the year will be held on Mother’s Day, May 11th from 1:00-4:00 PM.  Join us to experience what these awesome teens have to share. And as always, Sundays are IHeartFreeSundays, with free admission, including special exhibitions.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Sohayla M. Pagano, CMA Education Intern

Art of Matrimony Gallery

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For more than two thousand years, the ketubbah, or Hebrew marriage contract, has been an integral part of Jewish culture. Found in the homes of married Jews, whether wealthy or poor, scholar or layman, in the West or in the East, ketubbot provide a wealth of information concerning the artistic creativity and cultural interactions of Jewish communities. As testimonies to the sacredness of marriage, works of art, and repositories of Jewish history, these magnificent treasures offer insights and delights in equal measure.

Our Art of Matrimony exhibition (April 1, 2014 – June 15, 2014) features diverse ketubbot dating from the twelfth through the twenty-first centuries.

Join our online gallery of ketubbot by uploading a photo of your decorated marriage contract to Instagram and tag it #CMAketubbah.

Can We Really “Study” the Visual Arts?

The creativity of LEGO

Cindy Foley, the director of education at Columbus Museum of Art, wrote an article for LearnNow.org asking the question “Can We Really ‘Study’ the Visual Arts?” In the article, she shares a unique perspective on what the visual arts can do for students—and why our kids need quality arts experiences now more than ever.

Here’s an excerpt:
At a time when politicians, policy makers, and educators are hand wringing over how we can develop creative thinkers who can begin to address the problems of our time, we can do something about it. Young children naturally think like artists, and with our encouragement, advocacy, and steadfast belief, we will help them develop lifelong habits that will sustain them into adulthood. Our future counts on it.

Read the full story.

(Pictured above: a creation made during Doodles, a Columbus Museum of Art drop-in program for adults and children 6 up who can experiment with fun materials and create art together.)

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Cindy Foley, Director of Education

Why Not Try

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Why not try is a new mantra I’ve been trying to wrap my head around. I have a CMA visitor to thank for this statement.  It was in the form of a tape creation at one of our in-gallery activities in the Center for Creativity, and now hangs at my desk as a daily reminder.  I arrived one morning to see it hung among the dozens of other tape creations made over a busy weekend.  It caught my attention immediately.  I think I may have laughed at the pure simplicity and boldness of it.  I said it aloud.  “Why NOT try?”

We try lots of new things here at CMA. We try new materials. We ask visitors what they’ve tried during their visit to CMA that day on our Join the Conversation board.  We try to make visitors feel welcome, comfortable, and give them permission to create, experiment, and have fun.  As an employee who spends a lot of time in the galleries, I am particularly conscious of each of our visitor’s experience.  I want visitors, of all ages, to feel that CMA is a place they can explore and try new things.

Sometimes I hear visitors get discouraged at an in-gallery activity, feeling they might fail.  They’re hesitant to try something that is new and unfamiliar.  Gavin and his grandmother came to CMA on a quiet weekday morning to explore the newly re-imagined Wonder Room.  They joined me at an area where visitors are encouraged to draw a tree.  The grandmother immediately began to try the white pencil on the black paper, making various branches.  Gavin was hesitant.  “I’m not a good artist,” he stated.  “What makes you say that?”  I asked him.  “I can’t draw.” he replied.  Grandmother and I didn’t take that as a good reason.  We were encouraging and persistent.  “Just try and experiment with the white pencil on the black paper,” we suggested.  Grandmother and I continued to draw and doodle.  Gavin slowly made a mark on his paper. Over the next 15 minutes Gavin tried numerous tree drawings, making different markings, sharing his wonderings out loud with his Grandmother and me; “This kind of looks like a shoe when it’s upside down…”  Drawing and talking together became an enjoyable activity for all three of us.

I want all visitors to draw a tree, or put a puzzle together, or make a design using colored tape and note cards, or build something using only white LEGOs.  Trying something creative can be scary, or overwhelming, or confusing, but that’s okay.  There is no failure in trying.  Something wonderful could happen while you’re trying it out!  The important question is, why NOT try?

By Kelsey Cyr, Visitor Engagement Assistant

Art Lab, Project Pivot, and Teens at CMA

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If you happened to be in the museum on Wednesdays recently, you may have noticed the surplus of high-school-aged youth engaging in various activities. Project Pivot, the 4-year partnership with the Arts and College Preparatory Academy (artcollegeprep.org), is a high school program that experiments with formal and informal learning. Pivot and Art Lab meet every Wednesday. Pivot in the Studio and Ready Room and Art Lab in the Innovation Lab.

Art Lab, the out-of-school internship kicked off its first day recently with a photo shoot, gallery tour, sound booth intro, and zine workshop. More than 30 teens from four area high schools applied to the program and scheduled interviews with CMA staff. Only 15 were selected to participate, including Art Lab alumni who applied to come back for a second year.

From October until May, teen programming staff and mentors will be pushing teens to re-define what it means to be an artist, either as a profession or a way of existing curiously in the world. Members of the program will be encouraged to evaluate community need, and will be given resources to conceptualize events for museum visitors on our free Sundays.

In mid-November, Kansas City based artist, Sean Starowitz will be working with both Art Lab and Project Pivot on respective program initiatives. One of the reasons Sean was picked to work with our teens, is due to his belief that socially engaged art brings people together in unique ways, which create pathways for meaningful interactions, conversations, and experiences.  Art Lab’s first Social Sunday of the year will be a collaboration between Art Lab teens, CMA staff, Starowitz, and museum-goers alike. Stop in Sunday, November 17 from 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM to see what Art Lab teens have in store.

TeensatCMAThis Thursday November 14 will also be our first Drop-in Studio times for teens from 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM. Teens can hang out together and check out our Studio and Innovation Lab, mess around with Garageband, PhotoShop, a sound booth, and green screens, plus Studio time with art supplies, crafts, and a sewing machine. All are welcome, no registration requested.

Interested in serving on the Teen Event Council? The Teen Council meets monthly on the second Wednesday of each month from 4:30 PM -6:00 PM, rotating between COSI and the Columbus Museum of Art. Contact Morgan Anderson for details.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Morgan Anderson, Teen Programs Coordinator