Review: Exploring the Relationship Between Art and Music at the Oak Park Art League

A common element that visual art and music share is their power to evoke an emotional response. Artists and musicians create works that not only unlock emotions, but also alter one’s mood, trigger memories, and act as a source of comfort and inspiration. Visual art and music have numerous parallels because they share elements such as harmony, balance, rhythm, and repetition. In the latest exhibition, Intersection: Art & Music, at the Oak Park Art League (OPAL), the relationship between art and music is explored through 22 works by 15 artists. This exhibition does not aim for the obvious cliches often associated with music—the pop culture aspect or paying homage to famous recording artists—but rather reflects how music not only creates an impact upon the individual, but upon society. Shanti by Gammage Bryan Gammage, Shanti, 2018. Acrylic on canvas. Photo courtesy: Oak Park Art League. Over the past 65 years, the guitar has played a major role in most popular music and two works in this show give us two different perspectives about this instrument. In Music is Love, Jeff Anderson pays tribute to the guitar heroes of rock music by creating the body of an electric guitar in mixed media. By just creating a stripped-down version of the body without the neck or strings, the viewer feels the raw power that can be produced by an electric guitar. Bryan Gammage’s Shanti on the other hand gives us a contemplative look of a woman sitting with an acoustic guitar in a pastoral setting—conveying that special oneness that only musicians can experience with their instrument. In the past few decades, many music groups have produced iconic album covers such as The Beatles' Abbey Road, Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run and Nirvana’s Nevermind. In this exhibition, some of the works could easily act as album covers. Jeff Jenkins' Phalanges Remix is an excellent example of this because of its 12"x12” size. Jenkins' use of subdued colors and texture along with a cryptic image of a skeletal figure would make this work most fitting for an electronic or prog rock album. Other works that could also function as album covers are Laveta Kirby’s surreal-like Redwings Moon that would seem fitting for a Pink Floyd album while John Padour’s Jitterbug — a dilapidated road sign in a rural setting—could be cover art for a John Mellencamp album. Jeffery Jenkins art Jeffery Jenkins, “Phalanges Remix”, 2021. Acrylic and mixed media on wood panel. Photo courtesy: Oak Park Art League. Some of the works on display also reflect the intangible quality of music. Susan Wolfe’s Into the Night and The Voices I Hear, are two vibrant works due to her bold use of color. When viewing Wolfe’s work, the condition of synesthesia comes to mind where some people experience seeing colors and patterns when listening to music. In Crescendo, Rests and Staccatos, Pamela Penney’s work gives the viewer the impression of a graph that measures the frequency of sound waves. And Lois Stone through her use of pale colors and bold brushstrokes, gives us an abstract view of a musical clef and musical notes that seem to be floating in the ether, ready to be captured by some composer on a music sheet. The Voices I Hear by Wolfe Susan Wolfe, The Voices I Hear, 2019. Acrylic on canvas. Photo courtesy: Oak Park Art League. Two works in this exhibition express how art and music address social justice issues. In Instant Karma, Deborah Peacock Stoklosa creates a stark contrast in her collage by integrating whimsical images with human rights issues. Joe Fournier’s minimalist drawing of Pete Seeger is a gestural work that expresses the emotional impact this folksinger had on his audience when singing about social change. The strength of this exhibition is that one can experience the harmonious relationship that exists between music and art. The symbiosis between these two art forms reflects the influence of one medium on the other. Jeff Jenkins, gallery manager, summarized this exhibition best when he stated, “I want people to see how each work has its own voice, each one speaking to the other while working together as a symphony.” Intersection: Art & Music will be on display through August 26. This exhibition is now open to the public and the opening reception will be held on Friday, August 13, from 7pm to 9pm. The Oak Park Art League is located at 720 Chicago Ave. in Oak Park. Hours: Tuesday thru Friday 1-5pm and Saturday 1-4pm. Admission is free.
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Thomas Wawzenek