Music has always been a binding art form that has informed and influenced other forms of art, especially the work of painters. Whether it is used as a vehicle in the production of art or directly applied as subject matter, music has been synonymous with a great variety of art and creation.
English painter David Hockney would choreograph an intense drive that he timed out to Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyries.” He would drive a windy road at different speeds, with the song exploding from his car stereo until he found the perfect length of road that would allow him to drive up to his seaside home as the song came to its dramatic end.
I too put together different pairings of music and roads, generally dirt roads, in attempts to master this exercise. It is truly rewarding to plan one of these experiments and pull into the driveway and have a song perfectly end as you put your car into park. Matching music with the act of driving also releases an emotional response to the entire moment which can become notable, a new memory and greater appreciation of a piece of music.
Jean-Michel Basquiat would paint to music, as many creative people do, when making art. His interaction with the music often ended up in his paintings and as word play in his work. His stark works often depicted musicians and conveyed the rhythms of what he was listening to while creating.
In my recent group of paintings entitled Night Rambles in Shadows with Liquor Store Blues, I used a combination of these techniques to draw out a show that would reflect the influence music and travel has had on what I create. I researched several songs and pulled lyrics from these songs that had an impact on me in various ways at various times.
Songs often lay a marker for me of a specific moment. Once I had chosen a lyric and drew out a memory of that lyric, I let the creative process take over assembling the visual and emotional work. The art became primitive or demanded more detail. Planning also took into account colour, canvas dimension and the construct of the room I would be showing the work.
To accompany the work, I created a Spotify playlist people attending the show could access on their phones and listen to while viewing the exhibit. This also became a vehicle to sharing music with the viewer they may not have known about, or music that they were familiar which drew on their own connections to the songs.
Troy Cook’s collection Night Rambles in Shadows with Liquor Store Blues is on exhibit at the Fernie Museum gallery this summer. Admission is free for members, $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and free for youth ages 17 and under. ferniemuseum.com