Chords and Color: An Evening of Performance Art

Montclair artist Jennifer Levine and musician Scott Massarky combine their talents for a unique experience @The Art Studio

It all began at an illustrators' get-together three years ago. Montclair artist Jennifer Levine recalls when she first met her now dear friend and artistic collaborator, Scott Massarky. “I remember spotting him. He was a total ball of energy and we ended up becoming insta-friends.” 

Buoyed by a shared love of music and art (both Levine and Massarky are musicians and visual artists) the friendship naturally flourished. It was only fitting that their life passions ended up entwined in their relationship.  Levine explains, “Scott gave me a CD of his music for my birthday and it became my number one score to paint to; his music is so heart-opening, it created just the mood I love to groove with when I paint.”

Since Massarky provided such a motivating soundtrack, Levine decided to take it a step further. “It occurred to me one day it would be cool to have Scott playing live while I painted. Scott was willing to indulge me and we began this incredible journey of mixing our creative juices.”

Initially, it was Massarky’s playing to Levine’s painting, but the two have also floated back and forth from canvas to instrument. “When Jennifer and I started this process together, I would play a song and she would paint off the energy of the music,” Massarky explains. “With each session the process has changed and now I have become a bit of a facilitator and mostly hands-off director, of sorts.  I try to choose a song that Jennifer will be able to pick images out of and once in a while suggest an image, or even draw it on a canvas.”  

Although Levine’s apartment has sufficed for their work together, the creative comrades are ready to bring their artistic collaboration to the public.  The duo will present and perform at @The Art Studio on Glenridge Avenue in Montclair on Saturday, September 10, 2011.

“Painting a Song: A Night of Performance” will include a concert with live painting, artwork and a video of their rehearsal process (which Massarky filmed and edited.  See clip here.)

“I think the evening will be a very unique experience," Massarky predicts.  "The paintings on the wall will become a set list of sorts.  When we play the songs, people will have visual guides to make it more of a sensory experience.” 

Suzanne O’Connor, owner/operator of @The Art Studio, is thrilled to host such an event.  

“We've done this once before, with a folk singer and a comic book artist who drew pictures to the narrative,” recalls O'Connor. “It was very funny and really showed the strong relationship between music and visual art.  Jennifer's work is a natural for music; to me it is visual music.  Her colors, shapes and themes bounce around her canvas in a very joyful, lyrical fashion.”

O’Connor says the event will include a large canvas hanging on the wall with Massarky stationed in front playing music, while Levine paints.  “It will be like we are voyeurs in a way, peeking in on what it might be like to be in the artist's studio room as she begins a new work,” she notes.

Doors will open at 7:30pm and the performance begins at 8pm.  There will be a $10 cover which will include light refreshments, and BYOB is encouraged.  CDs and artwork will be for sale as well.

“I hope people fall in love with the process, go home and put on their iPods, crank up the stereo and paint!” O’Connor enthuses. 

Space is limited, so call 973-744-6484 or go here to reserve a spot.

Lucia September 16, 2011 at 09:44 PM
People who "think in colors" are believed to have Synesthesia, which has several prongs: Grapheme (where people associate numbers and letters to specific colours); Sound which triggers certain images or colours; etc. Philip Glass, the American (minimalist) composer, has been using colours as a platform for his work for decades. You should check out his information/bio when you have a chance. He did a great "color Wheel" for Sesame Street to help children understand the concept. He believes "B flat is the color blue". (as quoted from a NY Times article about 6-8 months ago about using colours to help children learn) Vladimir Nabokov (of Lolita fame) wrote about synesthesia in several of his novels and may have been where his hypothesis surrounding the migration of the blue butterflies originated from. Also, the well known Russian painter and theorist Kandinsky experimented with image-music correspondence in his paintings. All things you may want to check out. Best of luck with the show. Sounds terrific!


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