Music can name the unnameable, and communicate the unknowable said composer Leonard Bernstein … and so plays “Musicalia,” the sound and shape of music in all formats, at the Arts Barn. As a companion to several musical events at the gallery in February and March, the “Musicalia” exhibit features art representing a broad range of music genres and artists.
Curated from a call to artists and by invitation, the exhibit’s featured artist is DC native Magruder Murray, who works in a unique style with a variety of media. There is so much to like in this exhibit. Its pieces will resonate with most. Curator Mary Weiss-Waldhorn’s talent shines once again as she has gathered artists who absorb musical emotion into their work and whose themes fit together seamlessly.
In addition to Murray, the exhibit showcases the work of Michael Auger, Goodloe Byron, Peter Foiles, Shanelle Jacobs, Michael Kuchinsky, Bill Mapes, Grace Newcomer, Alfredo Ortiz, Roxana Rojas-Luzon, Meg Schaap, Linda Slattery Sherman, Francine Stowe-Sinkler, David Terrar and Alexey Zoob. Glasswork by National Capital Art Glass Guild members Carol Sontheimer and Katherine Thomas is also on display. Local singer-songwriter and photographer Domenic Cicala shows two of his photographs in the exhibit. Don’t miss his additional photographs of musicians who have performed in the Arts Barn’s singer-songwriter series at the top of the stairwell. At the base of the stairwell is Alexey Zoob’s “Autumn Musicians,” a trio enjoying a respite from their playing surrounded by an Indian summer palette.
Glass artist Carol Sontheimer’s molded octave keyboards—dishes, trays or conversation pieces—are fused in three parts. Skillful measurement of time is employed to create each—1400 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes, then a lower temperature for the keys to contour fuse. “I sell a lot of keyboards in octaves,” Sontheimer said. “I started making them for a friend who is an organist.” Her “String Chorus Flowing I and V” are large square vessels of black, white and gray movement.
Favorites were Magruder Murray’s “Maybelyn,” Meg Schaap’s “Let It Be,” Michael Auger’s “Moonlit Players,” David Terrar’s “Let’s Make Some Noise” and the stylistic musicians captured by the discerning lens of Domenic Cicala.
Magruder Murray talked about his newest work, “Metro Jazz 4,” part of a series portraying musicians encountered in front of Metro stops each day while he rode to and from work, at the artists reception for “Musicalia” on Feb. 16. This piece depicts a young guitarist in a purple suit playing “Purple Rain” in the rain. The actual score from “Purple Rain” entwines the painting’s background, a technique Murray frequently uses. “God gave me a great number of gifts, but music wasn’t one of them,” he said, laughing. “This is the way I do music.”
Murray has been painting since he was six years old, attended the Corcoran School of Art in the ‘50s, and is a jazz lover. He studied architecture originally, but he went on to do graphic arts in the family’s U Street print shop, which is where he takes most of his inspiration. At that time, Murray told the crowd, U Street provided a rich arts environment. He became acquainted with many musicians who passed through the neighborhood, particularly at the Howard Theater. This continues to have an impact on his work and features in his new series, “People I’ve Met.” His first work stars a performer named Mother Blues who he met at a club in New Orleans.
Frances Stowe-Sinkler spoke of her introspective textile portrait “Through Me.” As an artist, she said that she “started very young with grandma and a whole lot of scraps on the floor!” She began quilting as a way to reuse materials in the home and was always surrounded by art and music. “I’m a big fan of music and it comes through in my art.”
Originally from Puerto Rico, Alfredo Ortiz came to Maryland in 1994 and began drawing at The Corner Pub in Silver Spring, which he frequented with colleagues after work. His drawings are done exclusively on napkins with scenes of what he is experiencing—people hanging out and having a good time. “The issue is the tissue,” he said, laughing. He has an extensive art background and recently took 53 of his drawings back to Puerto Rico where a gallery mounted and framed them for exhibit.
“Musicalia” is waiting for you at the Arts Barn through March 31, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.