On this blog, a companion to "ArtSoPotent," I will write about the connection between visual art and other art forms, including cinema, dancing, poetry, and specifically music. This space will also serve to display images of my commercial work: Calligraphy, Collage, Note Cards, Hand-painted boxes, Handmade books,and other mixed-media works.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Seeing Jazz / Book Review

The book, "Seeing Jazz," is a compilation of art and music, showing how the two often nourish, mimic and inspire each other.

Filled with photographs of famous musicians and paintings, sculpture and mixed media of famous contemporary artists, the book is a feast for the art lover's soul.  Essays and words complete this stimulating book.

Some of my favorite art images are, "Negro Jazz Band" / Charles Demuth; "Cabinet of Dr. Buzzard" / Frank Smith; "Grand Jazz Band" / Jean Dubuffet; "Icarus" / Henri Matisse;  "Sketch to Charlie Parker's Music" / Norman Lewis; "In E Sharp" / Romare Bearden and "Dancing Couple #2" / Ann Tanksley, among many others.

Interesting writings and sayings on jazz include words from pianist Mary Lou Williams, author James Baldwin, poet Rita Dove, author Toni Morrison and author F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It was particularly interesting to hear musicians write about the making of their music - how actual set pieces develop.

I would recommend this book to anyone seeking to learn more about the art-music connection, or to anyone who loves jazz and/or visual art. 

"Art affirms plastically the ancient truth that life is equilibrated rhythm.  Art always realizes this equilibrium in life."       - Piet Mondrian  

"The rhythm of life is a jazz rhythm, honey.  The gods are laughing at us."
                                                    - Langston Hughes

"God breathes through us so completely.....so gently we hardly feel it....yet it is our everything.  Thank you, God.     - A Love Supreme:  John Coltrane / From the liner notes

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mixed Media Tidbits

- In keeping with the spirit of the season, I will be posting a few essays on the topic of giving, especially as it relates to artists.  Please look for that subject in the next few days on my ArtSoPotent  blog.

- I must share that the so-called "Christmas Spirit" is one I try to maintain all year round.  For me, that means a spirit of gratitude, awareness of what most matters in life and a spirit of celebration.  However, it's ironic that during this time of social gatherings, I'm yearning more for a time of reflection about the upcoming year.

- There are so many new movies opening lately that you wonder if you can see them all.  On my list are the following:  The Blind Side / The Princess and the Frog / Avatar/... and Invictus.  There are others that do not immediately come to mind.   I particularly want to see Invictus because Morgan Freeman is one of my favorite actors, but also because I have always admired Nelson Mandela as one of my heros.

- Some other heroes and sheroes are Martin Luther King, Jr., Madame C. Walker, Stephen Biko, Zora Neale Hurston, Mahatma Ghandi, Harriet Tubman, Phyllis Wheatley, James Foreman, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, and Frederick Douglas, to name just a few.  Please feel free to add your own in the comments section.

- Speaking of heroes, does anyone know who sang the song, "I Need a Hero?'  Was it Pat Benatar?  I know that Aretha Franklin had a beautiful song called, "Gotta Find Me an Angel."  Right now, I think the world needs more angels and heroes.  I'm sure they exist, but we need to hear more about them.  

- I have seen quite a lot of whimsical art on this site, but not as much contemporary, abstract, or cutting edge art as I would like.  I will be sharing links to these blogs as I find them, and would appreciate hearing of the ones you stumble upon.

- What I'm working on right now:  Abstract paintings on paper, canvas and board (mostly paper);  Collage on canvas;  Some really inspired colored pencil landscapes that will become paintings;  Handpainted paper mobils and, as always, note cards and greeting cards.  Some of my friends tell me I scatter my forces too much, but for me it's the only way to work!  When I'm working on what's in front of me at any given time. That particular work gets my most intense and most undivided attention!

- Please bear with me, as I have not uploaded any new imagery.  I have completed a substantial amount of recent work,  and will be sharing it soon.  Here are a few collage note cards to give you an idea of the type of forms that are in my larger-scale collage works: 


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Poets Read and Loved/ Part I

As both an artist and a humanist (as I believe many artists are), I am a lover of visual art as well as other art forms, including music, dance, literature, cinema, theatre and poetry. Having always felt these disciplines to be similiar in purpose but different in expression, I embrace them all as stemming from music, especially poetry.

In choosing these poems from books in my library, presenting some of my favorite poets, I open by sharing my view of a poem:


This is a poem

And I don't want
To say that.
Nor do I want
To say that.

This is a poem
So I don't want
To say it that way.
Nor do I want
To say it that way.

This is a poem
And this is what
I want to say.
And this is what
I want
To say.

This is a poem

So this is how
I want to say it
And this is how
I want to say it.

And this is how
I want to say it.
This poem.
This way!

copyright 2009, Georgette Jones

Small Wind

Let my being whistle down the corridor of your memory
Like a small wind under a door it cannot enter
Though you many never know that you are listening
You may still turn your ear a moment sometimes
To catch the love I will always be singing
And understand the music
However lost the words may be.

from "Pink Ladies in the Afternoon"
by Naomi Long-Madgett


We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise
And then, if we are true to plan
Our statures touch the skies

The heroism we recite
Would be a daily thing
Did not ourselves the cubits warp
For fear to be a king.

from "Emily Dickinson Poems/1866"
by Emily Dickinson

Final Curve

When you turn a corner
And you run into yourself
You know that you have turned
All the corners that are left

from "Selected Poems of Langston Hughes"

Ballad of the Man Who's Gone

No money to bury him
The relief gave Forty-Four.
The undertaker told 'em,
You'll need Sixty more.

For a first-class funeral,
A hearse and two cars-
And maybe your friends'll
Send some flowers.

His wife took a paper
And went around.
Everybody that gave something
She put 'em down.

She raked up a Hundred
For her man that was dead.

His buddies brought flowers-
A funeral was had.

A minister preached-
And charged Five
To bless him dead
And praise him alive.

Now that he's buried-
God rest his soul-
Reckon there's no charge
For graveyard mold.

I wonder what makes
A funeral so high?
A poor man ain't got
No business to die.

from "Selected Poems" of Langston Hughes

Love Sonnet IXXXIX

When I die, I want your hands on my eyes:
I want the light and wheat of your beloved hands
to pass their freshness over me once more:
I want to feel the softness that changed my destiny.

I want you to live while I wait for you, asleep.
I want your ears still to hear the wind, I want you
to sniff the sea's aroma that we loved together,
to continue to walk on the sand we walk on.

I want what I love to continue to live
and you whom I love and sang above everything else
to continue to flourish, full-flowered:

so that you can teach everything my love directs you to,
so that my shadow can travel along in your hair,
so that everything can learn the reason for my song.

by Pablo Neruda, 1904-1973

There is
who closes
You will

from "A Poem Traveled Down My Arm"
by Alice Walker

For Poets Read

Lines from poets past lull me
Into a mindset that I might blend
With icons whose words please me
Inside an arena where I might contend
To set forth in stone, authentic emotion

To imagine poems, then to write them
At once a struggle and a delight
To commit to paper, or recite them
With exquisite focus, to re-write
Roots so grand from seeds of notion

Then today, an offering divine
A path to discover what is mine

The succinct line this spirit sought
Seemed to stubbornly elude my request
In the climate created, refused my thought
But suddenly poured forth at its own behest
Heaven rendered from poetic devotion!

copyright 2009, Georgette Jones

Of the poets chosen for this post, Langston Hughes is the most entertaining while making  strong statements about serious subjects.  This is art.  In my opinion, the entertainment factor is most overlooked in much of today's contemporary poetry.  Heavy subject matter doesn't necessarily have to be heavy.  It is important to engage the reader.

Pablo Neruda's poetry is simply elegant, captivating and literary.  The above poem is one of my favorites by him.  Here is a man who truly loves his woman.  Ah, to be loved like that!

Like her novels, Alice Walker's poetry is courageous and biting.  She tells the truth with the voice of someone who has experienced what she writes - or at least thought deeply about her subject matter.   Her view of God is my own.

The book from which I chose Emily Dickinson's poem was filled with hundreds of her works.  I chose this one because it is well known and because everyone can relate to the subject matter.  Whenever I read Emily Dickinson, I am amazed at the paradox of simplicity and enigma in her words,  yet her overall meanings are always on target.             

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Why I Love Jazz

Because it is art. Like art it has colors, rhythms and lines. Like art it is free, allowing so many creative directions in which to flow. Or skitter. Or skip. Or skat.

Its colors are many. Ranging in mood from blue to green to red to orange. And even purple. The colors set the mood. The rhythms set the mood. The lines set the mood. But it's a funny thing about the lines. They never are straight. They wave and wobble. And sometimes they walk pigeon-toed or bow-legged or knock-kneed. But they have a lot of fun walking like that. Just like art. Lines are fun. If you choose to have fun with them.

I had to grow into loving jazz. I had to get to know it by spending time with it. By listening to what it had to say. I had to make it my friend until we finally became lovers. In my younger years there were specific jazz tunes that I enjoyed, but I limited my listening because I was somewhat suspicious of jazz. It was abstract music that didn't immediately explain itself to my impatience - especially the instrumentals.

Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzerald were familiar voices when I was growing up. Also, I liked a few artists like Gabor Zabo, Cal Tjader and Ramsey Lewis. I also liked Pharoh Sanders and Leon Thomas. But I avoided John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk because I found them quite intimidating.

Miles got into my blood one night when I was feeling low. I was frustrated because it seemed like no one understood the scope of the problem I was experiencing at the time. For some reason, I decided to listen to Miles' "Blue" album that belonged to a friend.

As I listened, the music was extremely emotional to me. It seemed to speak to me. Despite its sad tone, it was exquisitely beautiful. The instruments were soothing, embracing me and drawing me into another world. That night was a breakthrough for me. Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk became favorites, but I will admit I still am only marginally attuned to John Coltrane. Perhaps I need to listen closer.

In addition to those mentioned, some of my favorite jazz artists are Errol Gardner, Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Sadao Watanabe, Benny Goodman, Max Roach, Abby Lincoln, Ella Fitzgerald, Ahmad Jamal, Kenny Garrett, Chick Corea, Michael Franks, Carmen McRae and many more.

My favorite jazz instruments are piano, soprano sax and alto sax, exactly in that order. Fusion, bee-bop and swing are just a few favorite genres that immediately come to mind. My absolute favorite tunes are "So What" by Miles Davis and "But Not For Me" by Ella Fitzgerald.

The primary reason I love jazz is because it is the flip side of art, provoking the gamut of emotions while stirring the soul. As well, it is earth music bringing to mind stimulating visual imagery relative to just as many emotions.

Like art, jazz has the ability to provide escape from a sometimes cruel world. And for that reason it is a best friend. And a lover.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Few Favorite Artists

Lois Mailou Jones - As an African-American woman struggling to become a professional artist, I was glad to discover the art work of Lois Mailou-Jones about 15 years ago. After reading her biography from cover to cover shortly after that time, I felt proud of her accomplishments as a prolific artist, her achievements and awards and most of all, her dedication to documenting through painting, her travels to Africa, Haiti and France, among other places.

In 1998, I was fortunate to view her work at an art exhibition in Birmingham, Michigan, the same year that she passed on at the age of 98. Seeing her work up close was thrilling, to say the least.

The paintings of Haitian and African culture held Mailou-Jones' style in a manner that spoke of originality. Looking at her paintings, it was clear that here was work which has influenced many of today's painters of African-American culture. I found myself thinking, "Hmmm...so this is where it all began."

I am sorry that I did not get a chance to meet Lois Mailou-Jones at that exhibit. I have enjoyed viewing her work very much.

Stuart Davis - After seeing Stuart Davis' work in many of my art books, I bought his biography (on sale, of course). I wanted to know more about his complex abstract art renderings, most of which look like jazz on canvas.

I wasn't surprised that he was a jazz lover, a fact mentioned several times throughout his biography.

Stuart Davis probably influenced my interest in abstract art more than anyone else. I didn't know why I liked his work so much when I first saw it. I just did. And I feel the same way today. I don't know why I like it . I just do, and that's okay. Maybe it's the obvious confidence of his painting style.

Franz Marc - Of all the German Expressionists in the Blue Rider Group, Marc is my favorite. I love his semi-abstract paintings of cows and horses. The paintings of blue horses and the yellow cow are wonderful. When I first began experimenting in abstraction, I tried to paint like him, but my work eventually evolved toward it's own path.

I'm out of time, I will write about other artists another time. I have uploaded a video of Robert Henri's paintings that I didn't know existed (the video, not the paintings). I know he had other paintings, but being so enamored of his writings and teachings, I somehow never focused on his paintings. Tell me what you think about them.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mixed Media Musings

My enjoyment of Japanese animation began when I first watched the movie, "Spirited Away." I loved the quality of the graphics, as well as the wisdom, adventure and fantasy of the production itself. This particular movie experience was later followed by other Studio Ghilbi movies including "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Kiki's Delivery Service."

Of all the movies from that studio, my favorite was "Howl's Moving Castle," which I have watched at least twenty times in recent years. One of the reasons I'm so attracted to this particular movie is because it never fails to allow me to leave the outside world behind and forget my troubles. Another reason is because I love the theme song, by Joe Hasaishi, conductor of the Japanese Philharmonic Orchestra.

The theme from "Howl's Moving Castle" has been one of the few pieces of music that always gives me a feeling of happiness. This is the one descriptive word that comes to mind whenever I hear this theme.

Regarding fine art, the visuals that coming to mind when listening to this piece is a clear lake on a spring day, a family of birds flying through the sky or a quiet pastoral scene from some unknown location. This musical composition is light blue, white, pale green with other mixed greens......this composition gently swepts me to another place and time.........How does this musical composition make you feel?.......

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The ArtMusic Connection

"All art aspires toward the condition of music."

The above quote is one I have written many times because I believe in its truth.  The condition of music, that is, its rhythms and forms, is the foundation from which all other art flows.  Further, the various feelings which music evokes, are the same as those an artist might feel when making art or when a viewer sees art.

In my poem, "All Art," which is posted on my companion blog, "ArtSoPotent," I mention that all art is the same, but experienced in a different vein.  By this, I refer to a different sensory vien.  The music we hear is often capable of giving us the same feelings as the art we gaze upon.  Many musicians and visual artists I've spoken to are keenly aware of this connection.

An aware visual artist often can "see" the rhythms, cords and licks of a composition that is playing.  His brain might intuitively transform these musical elements into visual ones, without necessarily being technically aware that he is doing so.  The elements become colors, lines and forms.

This rather abstract concept can be most naturally applied to the genre of Jazz, relative to Abstract Painting....although most painting contains some abstraction...more about this later, as I am writing free-form here......   

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Music I Paint By

The music of Bob Marley and The Wailers was introduced to me in 1972 by a friend, of Jamaican ancestry. After hearing the album, "Burnin," which my friend had purchased during his vacation on the islands, I was immediately hooked on reggae music. The throbbing back- beat grabbed me, creating strong feelings for the passionate rhythm, the exotic instruments and the driving social messages. Also, the words to some of the songs were haunting, particularly "Redemption Song," which I memorized and began re-creating in calligraphic art form. It is yet to be completed.

My love of reggae music reflects my openess to all genres of music, just as the artist in me feels a kinship to all people. While I love and continue to learn about all aspects of my own culture, I also embrace any music that stirs feelings in me. This is particularly true when I'm painting.

Classical, Jazz, R&B, Gospel, Classic Rock, Blues, Country and even some Hip-Hop music have accompanied the strokes of my brush. But the music of Bob Marley has been my most consistent painting companion over the years......