Musical Forms

This past spring I received a Cullen Grant in support of efforts to create a new body of paintings. The goal for this new series was work that evoked musical forms.

A little over a decade ago I collaborated with a pianist, Gustavo Toloso, in a public recital where I created works of art in response to his performance of Ginastera’s Twelve American Preludes. As each of the preludes was incredibly brief, I ended up treating my on-stage role as performance art–although 12 mixed media works were made and exhibited at the conclusion of the performance.

With this experience as a backdrop, I decided to return to music-inspired works, this time confining the visual character of my paintings to the language of maps. Having worked directly from piano compositions before, I changed the tactic. This time I would focus on musical forms: the organizational structures of types of music (e.g. the sonata form). The three paintings which appear with this post are the results of this inquiry. Each indicates the musical form in its title.

Two paintings completed earlier in 2011 have been added to the Artwork page.

Etude, 2011, acrylic on paper, 13,5″ x 48″ ©

Pastoral Sonata Fragment, 2011, acrylic on paper, 10.25″ x 36″ ©

Fugue, 2011, acrylic on paper, 10.25″ x 36″ ©

Magellan’s Circumnavigation at Hilton Worldwide

In May of 2010 Hilton Worldwide purchased Magellan’s Circumnavigation for its new corporate offices in McLean, Virginia. The new headquarters were opened to coincide with the rebranding of Hilton as the international hospitality company it had become, Hilton Worldwide. The selection of Magellan’s Circumnavigation was intended to reflect the corporation’s international scope and mission. The work was placed with Hilton Worldwide by Sheryl Fiegel of Art Specialists LC.

Mapping at the Katonah Museum of Art

Lewis and Clark will soon be appearing in Mapping: Memory and Motion in Contemporary Art, October 3, 2010-January 9, 2011, at the Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, New York. The exhibition is the curatorial project of Sarah Tanguy, an independent curator and critic, as well as Curator with the Art in Embassies Program, Washington, D.C. It features work by 38 artists, notably Vernon Fisher, Joyce Kozloff, and Paula Scher. An illustrated catalogue will be produced to accompany the exhibition.

Regarding the exhibition, Sarah Tanguy wrote, “Mapping: Memory and Motion in Contemporary Art takes a look at current map-based art works that originate or draw on actual locations. Encompassing the stars, the land, and the built environment, the exhibition will bring to life exciting strategies that artists have used to chart or track their subjects, distilling them into art objects and activities that choreograph location through time and space.”

Sarah Tanguy has curated over 150 exhibitions since 1983. For more information on her past projects, visit

Darwin’s Voyage

I recently completed a work (see below) inspired by Charles Darwin’s historic voyage on the HMS Beagle. History buffs are likely to recall that 2009 marked the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, a book whose conclusions are drawn directly from the observations made on this journey, which makes the subject of this painting timely. Besides that, recent events in the news bear striking resemblance to experiences Darwin, Fitzroy and crew had on their voyage. Chile’s earthquake this past spring, parallels one that happened during the 1837 voyage which caused much amazement and wonder because there was no loss of life from the quake or the tidal wave it spawned.

On a more personal note, it was my reading of Alan Moorehead’s Darwin and the Beagle that reignited an interest in mapmaking and eventually led to this series on journeys. My knowledge of this journey was more intimate; hence, this voyage occupied a privileged position in the series and demanded a different level of conviction. Its narrative features had to be stronger and more evocative. And like Darwin’s experiences, the painting had to come perilously close to sensory and conceptual overload.

Darwin and the Beagle, 2010, acrylic on paper, 36″ x 48″ ©

This work will be exhibited later this summer at Richard J. Demato Fine Arts Gallery in Sag Harbor, NY.

Newest Work

Magellan’s Circumnavigation, 2010, acrylic on paper, 48″ x 32″©

 Cook"s Third Voyage

Cook’s Third Voyage, 2009, acrylic on paper, 36″ x 48″©

Lewis and Clark

Lewis and Clark, 2009, acrylic on paper, 36″ x 48″©

During the summer, with the support of a Cullen Grant from Abilene Christian University, I began a series of paintings based on historic journeys. An exhibition of Chinese landscape paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC set me to thinking about the tradition of representing or encapsulating a journey in a vast landscape. Several paintings of this intent appeared in that exhibition and they creatively implied the passage of time as well as narrative content. I thought that my use of the language of maps could function in a similar way, but could increase the evocation of time and more fully imply the story of the journey, all within an abstract format.

The paintings I completed dealt, in sequence, with Lewis and Clark’s exploration of the land west of the Mississippi, Captain James Cook’s final voyage, the one to discover the Northwest Passage, and Magellan’s voyage around the world. A wide variety of maps of the traversed areas were woven together to represent the journey. By using maps of different types and from different eras, and by duplicating references, I was able to broaden the scope of time and imply the varied climates and conditions that were encountered along the routes.

Recent Work from Spring 2009

This work was inspired by a Chinese landscape painting, but took its immediate structure from a geological map and its seminal color scheme from a map of Israel, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine.

Holy Land

Holy Land, 2009, acrylic and clay on paper, 46″ x 26.5″©