Art and music improvisation: an observation and reflection

Watching an art and music improvisation session reminded me of the various collaborations I’ve had with artists in London, Utrecht, Crete, and Brugges. It’s about the process.

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As a finishing touch to my recent application for an innovation grant, I asked the Maui-based artist Mike Takemoto if he would consider having his students collaborate with mine. I was thinking along the lines of an exhibit of paintings of musicians, music instruments, or music notes. It would be an extension of the piano ensemble poster exhibit that I “curated” and organized with the photography teacher Harvey Reed and his photo and design students last spring. Such interdisciplinary collaboration raised awareness of the activities we wanted to promote.

Continue reading “Art and music improvisation: an observation and reflection”

Duo in color at North Meadow House Concert in Connecticut

A painting of our piano guitar duo live in concert in Connecticut!

What a delight to see us captured in a painting while we were playing on 23rd October 2010 in Connecticut! We documented our travels of Autumn in New England in a five part-blog starting here. In part 5, we remembered our concert at Mark and Beverly’s home. What fond memories we have!! Thank you, Ms Rosebrooks! Hope to meet you in person one day — and see your painting!

Bekkers Duo at North Meadow House by Anne Rosebrooks, October 2010
Bekkers Duo at North Meadow House by Anne Rosebrooks, October 2010

Boston hibiscus in Maui

Rob Judkins’ latest painting Boston Hybrid Hibiscus strikes in chord in Anne Ku who is bound for Maui where hibiscuses are plentiful, but her duo partner Robert Bekkers is bound for Boston.

The announcement of a new acryllic painting by my friend Rob Judkins in Columbus, Georgia made me stop and ponder.

Rob (whom I’ve always called Robby) and I went to high school in Okinawa, Japan where hibiscuses are very common. We have a variety of flowers in our garden in Utrecht, Netherlands — but no hibiscuses. After many years of not seeing such tropical and subtropical flowers in Europe, I nearly forgot how beautiful they are.

When I went to Maui in 2010, I saw them again. Hibiscus reminds me of my wonderful childhood in Okinawa.

Boston Hybrid Hibiscus 4x36 acrylic on canvas by Rob Judkins
Boston Hybrid Hibiscus 4x36 acrylic on canvas by Rob Judkins

Rob Judkins wrote in his e-mail of “Rob’s Latest Painting” the following passage:

The Boston Hybrid Hibiscus is one of my favorite flowers in my yard. The blooms are as large as a dinner plate and last only one day. The plant is about five feet tall and five feet wide. Every morning during June and July and into August there are 10 to 15 new flowers.

Dutch guitarist Robert Bekkers is on his way to Boston. I presume the Boston Hybrid Hibiscus comes from Boston otherwise it wouldn’t have the name. I am on my way to Maui. We will live apart for some time to come — he pursuing full-time studies in Boston while I find my feet in Maui juggling my passions of yoga, music, writing, and more.

I hope to see a Boston Hybrid Hibiscus when I am in Maui.

Jim Collier: American painter in Amsterdam

In the case of Jim Collier, I met him before I saw his paintings. I confessed that I was not aware that Jim’s paintings were for sale until I came to Galerie Strous.

An exhibition for a painter is like a concert for a musician. We are for hire. Our CDs are for sale. For the artist, an exhibition also brings opportunities for future commissions.

At the “Muziek en Amuses” house concert of 17th April 2010, I was invited to the opening of a new solo exhibition of Jim Collier, an American artist based in Amsterdam. The invitation postcard was a beautiful reproduction of Jim Collier‘s “Twelve Houses, Amsterdam 50 x 105 cm” on one side. I posted it onto my refrigerator, as a reminder to visit the Galerie Strous on the Prinsengracht in the month of May.

As much as we wanted to, neither Robert nor I could make it to the opening on Sunday 25th April, for Robert was giving a solo performance in Voorschoten.

A gallery opening such as this was bound to attract interesting people, as I discovered from the photos on Facebook the next day.

By “interesting,” I mean people with interesting lives and perspectives — people I find fascinating to engage in conversation — people I could admire and learn from. I have met some of my most interesting friends at gallery openings and private viewings: the artist Yousif Naser and the late architect/ceramist Ayyub Malik, to name a few. What these people have in common is originality of thought. They are creators with their own philosophies and opinions. I like the buzz I get from talking to them.

In the case of Jim Collier, I met him before I saw his paintings. Only upon my second visit to his apartment in Amsterdam, did I realise that the huge close-ups of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Duomo of Florence were not photographs but oil paintings. Jim’s art is so real that one can’t help but wonder where the brush stroke begins and ends.

Jim Collier exhibition in Amsterdam
Jim Collier exhibition in Amsterdam

Inside Jim’s art studio in an 17th century canal house on Amsterdam’s famous Keizersgracht is a grand piano. How often do you find a grand piano in an art studio? Or an artist who can play the piano? Below, I believe, is a self-portrait of the artist (born on Halloween) at the piano. As a musician, I would love to see more paintings of musical instruments.

Painting by Jim Collier
Painting by Jim Collier

On Friday 28th May, I finally got the chance to visit Galerie Strous to see Jim Collier’s paintings of Italy, Amsterdam, and flying elephants.

It is quite a different experience to see an artist’s work previously seen in his home in the public space of a gallery. In Jim’s home, the paintings were part of the interior decoration. It was a seamless path from the front door to the kitchen — not a gallery where you would pause at each painting. At the gallery on Prinsengracht, the paintings were featured on white space with the occasional scupture by the gallery owner Leon Strous. The environment changes the context of the viewing experience.

Although the gallery was a public space, the presence of the owner offering a glass of rosé to the visitors made it personal. I should say that Galerie Strous is a private gallery, but the space was publically available to those that entered it on days that it’s open or by appointment.

I toasted a glass of cold and crisp rosé wine to Leon. “Won’t you join us?”

“I can’t,” he declined. “I am on duty.”

“You enjoy meeting people who come here, don’t you?” I asked Leon.

Leon Strous, sculptor and gallery owner
Leon Strous, sculptor and gallery owner

I can’t imagine all visitors receiving VIP treatment like me and Carole Anne. We sat across from Leon at his desk and discussed cultural economics. What kind of people buy art? What motivates people to own art? Can live music attract people to visit an art gallery?

I confessed that I was not aware that Jim’s paintings were for sale until I came to Galerie Strous. An exhibition for a painter is like a concert for a musician. We are for hire. Our CDs are for sale. For the artist, an exhibition also brings opportunities for future commissions.

I was hoping to meet the artist. Perhaps this blog post will take me there.

Anne Ku and artist Jim Collier in Amsterdam
Anne Ku and artist Jim Collier in Keizersgracht, Amsterdam