The Jazz.com Blog
August 09, 2008 · 1 comment
I’ve always found myself fascinated by images of jazz musicians caught in the heat of performance. Years ago, I covered the walls of my college dorm room with these pictures (most of them clipped from magazines), and derived some quirky comfort from the dozens of artists arranged in hodge-podge fashion from floor to ceiling. Here was my personal over-sized orchestra, a silent cacophony that perhaps intimidated visitors (or maybe they had other, better reasons for staying away).
I still get a kick from a striking jazz photo or painting. I find that the best of these works evoke that transcendent aspect of jazz that almost defies verbalization. A great jazz concert takes on ritualistic and almost mystical proportions, and celebrates the artist’s total commitment to the intensity and immediacy of the moment. Such proceedings are inspiring not just to hear, but also to see. Jazz art is a type of metaphysics made visible.
Jazz.com tries to share a little bit of this magic in its Visual Jazz galleries. These on-line exhibitions cover a wide range of artists, but all of them aim to capture this elusive essence of a musical performance. Many of the leading jazz photographers have their own “virtual” galleries on site, including Herb Snitzer, Jos Knaepen, Ray Avery, Marcel Fleiss and Ron Hudson. Other galleries feature the portraits of Suzanne Cerny and Michael Symonds, the tango art of Karen Kucharski, or the abstract jazz-inspired paintings of Martel Chapman. Sometimes these works achieve almost a hyper realism, while others approach the music more indirectly, but no less powerfully.
Today, jazz.com launches a new gallery featuring the impressionistic paintings of Jerry Blank. (See his portrait of Charles Mingus to the left.) Jerry Blank's tribute series The Art of Music presents over-lapping images on vertically elongated canvasses that grab my attention with their half collage and half kaleidoscope effects. And check out that beatific light that shines down from above! (I always suspected that Mingus gave off an aura during certain especially charged solos.) These are paintings that effectively capture the vibrancy of a live performance. I was not surprised to learn that one of Blank's stated goals is to pique the curiosity of the younger generation and perhaps inspire them with a desire to check out the music of the performers he celebrates in his works.
Blank's watercolors, acrylics and oils can be found private and public collections throughout North America and Europe. They are currently featured in galleries in New York, West Palm Beach, Hilton Head, Chicago, Houston, San Jose, and Las Vegas.
Site visitors are invited to check out the Jerry Blank gallery here.
This blog entry posted by Ted Gioia