Live art for the Redwood Coast Music Festival

Chromatic Water Theory XIII: Abstract Jazz

Painted partially live at the Basement in Arcata, then finished recently for the Redwood Coast Music Festival.

It’s been a ton of fun creating artwork for the festival, and at the festival as well. This Chromatic Water Theory series was literally born in the presence of world class jazz musicians performing in the Morris Graves Museum of Art in Eureka. The first few pieces I did for the official festival artwork included different elements, but as I painted live as the jazz acts rotated throughout the days and nights of the festival a simpler theme emerged- a visual combination of musical instruments and moving water.

I can’t think of too many manifestations of rhythm in nature as elemental and profound as the breaking of waves on a shoreline. Sure there’s sound waves, light waves, all sorts of wave phenomenon in nature, but water waves are special in that they are scaled in space and time just perfectly for human interaction. We can ride one at a time, or get pounded by one at a time if riding them isn’t your thing (or even if it is). We can experience one water wave as a singular entity. Not so with sound waves, or light waves.Perhaps even more than their rhythms, it’s the ability to move us physically that causes me to associate them with music. But I don’t want to make too much of it or overthink it, because like music, these paintings are just fun and feel so right.

Previous pieces from the series have focused on piano keys, drums, and various stringed instruments. The brass and woodwind instruments- saxophones, tubas, clarinets all seemed so foreign to my sensibilities. I can reference something as simple as a vibrating string and feel like I’ve done enough to evoke a guitar, but these alien instruments, full of tubes, and levers, and knobs, and who-knows-what- how do you distill one of those to a simple element? I have no answer. Maybe a better artist could do so effectively but the task eluded me, so I just went with the whole enchilada… er, saxophone, front and center. The keys beneath and the drum behind rounded out a nice trio. So there you have it

And also a poem…

When the music ends⠀
The lights go on⠀
And everyone slowly leaves⠀
Yet somehow the room is strangely dim⠀
Somehow darker than it was before⠀
When the house lights were off⠀
And the music filled the spaces⠀
Between the empty glasses ⠀
That are now also slowly leaving⠀
White rings on the wood tables⠀
As we hum to ourselves ⠀
And dissolve back into the cold night air⠀
And warm beds that await⠀

If we’d known then⠀
That the music would end in this way⠀
We’d have stayed all night long⠀
Played all night long⠀
And drank the bar dry⠀
Letting the jazz⠀
Lead the revolution⠀
Until they came with lights blazing⠀
To pry the saxophones and drumsticks⠀
From our cold dead hands⠀
To confiscate the pianos⠀
And abolish this beautiful night⠀

So now we sit in the quiet darkness⠀
Of a bright winter day⠀
Humming sad tunes to ourselves⠀
That we’ll later play softly ⠀
On our contraband pianos⠀
Sitting in our empty rooms⠀
With the lights off⠀
Because everyone knows⠀
The piano is just a medicine cabinet⠀
And the music will never end⠀

Chromatic Water Theory XIII: Abstract Jazz

Original Size: 24" x 36"
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Year Painted: 2019
Series: Chromatic Water Theories

Additional Artwork Information:

Method: Other Studio Work, Live Art
Location/Event: With the Pete Ciotti Trio @ The Basement, Arcata, CA
Date Painted: 10/19/2019
Nonprofit Beneficiary: Redwood Coast Music Festival
Funds Raised: $600

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