Tuesday, June 9, 2009

K. O. Simms on the June Art Loop

A truck with a large painting in the back pulled up to Veritas Wine Shop, and a man unfolded himself from the driver’s seat. Artist K. O. Simms is here to meet and greet people at his exhibit inside the new riverfront wine store.

Simms is a man who enjoys creating his work among his “subjects”. He has often set his canvas up on busy street corners in Wilmington. He told me he likes to paint things as they happen, and he would love to paint a concert in progress.

His work at Veritas includes a sizeable interpretation of the Wilmington Riverfront, done in acrylic with a palette knife. The knife strokes form a rough texture and shapes that made me feel as though I could reach into the painting and touch objects inside. “People ask me, ‘don’t you ever use brushes?’, says Simms. “But I prefer working with a palette knife.”

Many of his works have a jazz theme and incorporate bright or rich coloring. His Billie Holiday piece depicts her with vibrant flowers in her hair as she croons into the microphone. The background is an intense blue, with a bass player vanishing into the space. Clifford Brown shows the trumpet player at the heart of the piece, clothed in a bright green suit.

Other works capture day-to-day city happenings. His East Ninth Street and Pine displays heavy red bricks on the buildings. The people portrayed are those he knows, such as an old man collecting trash on the street. “He was always out there, trying to maintain the neighborhood,” noted Simms.

When talking about his painting of a wedding, he spoke expressively of the young ring bearer and his recovery from childhood cancer. Simms’ art clearly not only illustrates events and people he reveres, but also celebrates the “little things” in everyday life here in Wilmington.

An active art instructor, K. O. Simms teaches primarily at “The Gibby” in Middletown. He’ll also be offering a course on Painting in Nature at Wilmington’s Blue Ball Barn on June 14 as part of Alapocas Run State Park’s summer programming. For details, call the park office at 302.577.1164.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Rainbow Chorale turns ten

“June after June giving up, giving in, giving out: trumpeting the exquisite, excruciating pleasure of growing here” is how poet Susan Windle blessed the Rainbow Chorale on its 10th anniversary concert.

Windle recited her work, Into the Blue: A Blessing from The Rainbow Chorale. As gifted a performer as she is poet, her reading sent chills down my spine as I realized how spellbinding a professional recital of a poem can be.

Pianist Hiroko Yamazaki gave a sparkling performance of Clearfield’s music, punctuated with soaring flute played by Mindy Bowman and ringing vibraphone played by Colin Bunnell.

Andrea Clearfield was pleased with the premiere. “It was exciting to be involved because in ten years, this was the first piece ever commissioned by the chorus.”

Chad Nelson, bass, was glad that two former directors had attended the concert. “It’s really exciting to have both Alison Skinner, who was our Artistic Director from 2007 to 2008, and Elliot Jones, who was our founding director, here tonight.”

Jones conducted the Chorale in a spectacular arrangement of Somewhere Over the Rainbow which he had instituted as a quasi theme song for the group. The a cappela harmonies in this song were impressive indeed.

Artistic Director Stephen Caldwell is carrying the banner of fine performance.

See http://www.therainbowchorale.org/.
**Above artwork created by Lynn Hessler.

SOWETO Festival double-header

Melomanie co-hosted A Concert for Peace with Pacem in Terris on June 5 at Grace United Methodist Church. The concert featured ensemble members and guest artists in a repertoire of "Music Uniting the World". This was a fundraiser for both organizations, held in conjunction with the 20th SOWETO Festival Art Exhibit at Grace Church.

The music began with three vivacious movements of Paris Quartet in D Major by Georg Philipp Telemann. Guest artist & Baroque violinist Linda Kistler and Melomanie's Baroque flutist Kimberly Reighley played with such verve, switching off parts of the lively Vivement, that in the audience local conductor Lawler Rogers remarked to me, "I wanted to get up and dance after that!"

Composers Chris Braddock and Mark Hagerty had pieces featured in the program. Braddock's Pluck showed the versatility of the harpsichord, the sound of which evoking a "country music" feel, and proved that period instruments are not mired in the sands of time.

Mark Hagerty's Alla Raga (see 5/25 post) ended with a magnificent, rapid stretch of notes played by Richardson with each hand, as she improvised a melody with her right thumb. It sounded as though she had three hands on the keyboard!

The concert ended with the last three movements of Telemann's Paris Quartet. Cello, harpsichord and guitar were joined by fast and furious notes from the Baroque violin, viola da gamba (played by Donna Fournier) and Baroque flute. As the piece concluded, the audience gave a standing ovation.

Before the concert, the SOWETO Festival exhibited works from several noted regional visual artists. From the light blues in Doris L. Hill's Bambi Blue mixed media piece to the deep blue hues of the abstract I Rise from Eunice LaFate, the artwork seemed to depict man's global struggle.

Debbie Hegedus' work There are so many hungry people, is made up of a bottle and landscape with silverware dangling from it. Inside the bottle reads a quote from Ghandi: "And God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread." Michael J. Riley's pencil on paper, entitled No Fancy Parade, showed a lineup of African-Americans unrecognized for their service to society: a soldier, a pastor, a teacher, and the line goes on.

The art exhibit will be open to the public at Grace through August 15, a portion of all artwork sales will benefit Pacem in Terris' charitable efforts.

See www.melomanie.org.