Night

When I first saw Tony Smith’s Night I instantly thought of Brian Eno’s ambient series - specifically, Music for Airports. Although the sculpture’s size and flat black color command attention, standing in its presence invites a sense of calmness to an otherwise chaotic environment. Just as Eno created a series of music pieces that strive to change the audio atmosphere of a bustling airport, Night invites a break away from its environment riddled with color, movement, and texture. With that in mind, it seemed obvious to pair Night with a piece of Airport-esque ambient music.

Chris Grabau
St. Louis 2014

Kindly Gepetto

Both Tom Otterness’ Kindly Gepetto and Kevin Buckley’s musical interpretation nod to the complexity of Gepetto’s intentions in the story, Pinoccio. Otterness’ sculpture is a large round bronze figure who is crafting an identical figure in his hand with a mallet. Both figures are childlike - almost innocent looking.

Buckley’s musical score shares a similar aesthetic. The piece is almost cartoonish in tenor and sounds as if might be a slightly more lethargic cousin of Raymond Scott’s “Powerhouse.” I can easily hear the track back a Looney Tunes cartoon of a toy manufacturing company.

However, both pieces hint at something a little more ominous. The larger of the two figures in Otterness’ sculpture is frowning while preparing to to strike the smaller figure with a mallet. Its unclear to me what the frown suggests - perhaps danger, caution, sadness, or maybe even anger.

Buckley’s score has darker overtones as well. There is a jarring percussive edge to the score that hints of the sound of grinding of machines - like a caucaphonous toy factory cranking out toys by the thousands.

Perhaps both pieces ability to contrast innocence with danger suggest a bit of a cautionary tale of the potentially outcomes between man (Gepetto) and machine (Pinoccio). After all, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Chris Grabau
St. Louis 2014

Untitled, Two Rabbits

In the mid 1990s, a magazine was launched that chronicled Japanese youth culture and the fashion styles worn by the “kids” hanging out in the Harajuku district of Tokyo. “FRUiTs” spawned a global movement with its images of brightly clad, thoroughly original, self-assembled examples of self expression. FRUiTS is inspired by punk’s legacy and thrift store chic and has a distinctly Japanese visual style and sense of fun, play, and confidence.

When I first saw Tom Claassen’s two white rabbits, I immediately imagined a group of Japanese teenagers standing around these smooth, shiny cartoon rabbits. They were texting each other, laughing, and making plans for that evening’s adventure. The texture and layering of their fashion colliding with the simplicity of the rabbits. Their colorful and patterned clothes in stark contrast to the plasticine white of the sculptures, but, in the end, united by a sense of playfulness and humor.

- Benjamin Kaplan
St. Louis 2014

Adam and Eve

Nikki de Saint Phalle sculpture. Adam and Eve looks like summertime. Two lovers sitting at a picnic. He is dressed in solids and squares. She is in patterns and curves.

When writing for this sculpture, we wanted to make a pseudo classic rock ballad. Something that might blare out of a Subaru Brat as it cruses through main st. Hopefully, the piece compliments the optimistic mood present in Falle’s sculpture.

- Chris Grabau, Magnolia Summer
St. Louis, 2014

Tai Chi Single Whip

Taijitu is the Chinese word for the symbol we commonly know as Yin and Yang. We are all familiar with the classic icon where white and black share equal parts of an interlocking circle. This Taoist symbol generally represents the idea of opposites living in harmony.

Practitioners of the martial arts ascribe to this ideology of opposites when they speak of and execute techniques that are either hard or soft. Hard is opposing, responding with to force with force using the attackers momentum against him or her. Soft is yielding, responding to force by deflecting the attackers force by exerting the least amount of energy possible while pushing the attacker off balance.

Ju Ming’s Tai Chi Single Whip presents a substantial, chunky stone figure performing the moving meditation of Tai Chi. When I first encountered the sculpture, I was attracted to the softness of the pose as it contrasted to the hardness of the materials. The physical weight of the piece balanced against the litheness of the figure calls to mind the essence of the Yin/Yang symbol and martial artists concept of hard and soft. This guy can move gently if he chooses, but can also crush you with his substantial weight if you antagonize him.

My musical approach to it erred on the side of the softness, enhancing the perceived gliding motions our sculpture man is attempting to make. I didn’t want to get crushed…

Benjamin Kaplan
St. Louis, 2014

Aesop’s Fables

Some compositions in this collection hue closer to the stories about the individual artworks and play a real role in enhancing the narrative or uncovering new meanings to that narrative.

That is certainly one way to approach the problem, but that is not quite what is happening in Andre Anjos’ Aesop’s Fables. Inspired by the sculpture by Mark di Suvero, this composition is all about the synthesis of process and materials. This composition, much like the sculpture by which it is inspired, has enormous weight and power. One can hear the sounds of steel manufacturing: trip hammers, rivet guns, acetylene welding torches, and beautifully colored parks bouncing off the concrete floor. All these sonic cues are tied together by a powerful drum beat that sounds as if large girders, swinging from massive cranes, slam together midair.

- Benjamin Kaplan
St. Louis, 2014

White Gloves Four Wheels

Freedom is at the core of Kevin Buckley’s interpretation of Jim Dine’s sculpture White Gloves, Four Wheels. We see Pinocchio, that wooden boy we know so well from childhood stories, arms outstretched, back arched, reaching for the sky. His body language suggests that he is celebrating. Maybe his freedom from the tyranny of being wooden? Maybe his acceptance of that same fate? Whatever the metaphysical achievement we are witnessing, Kevin Buckley brings it to life with his simple, charming and uplifting melody.

But do we notice a hint of melancholy underlying this celebration? Is it bittersweet? Maybe Pinocchio, enjoying the freedom from his wooden body misses the familiar limitations? Or now that he has once and for all come to terms with his limitations he has a twinge for the dream he has let go? I think that is the beauty of Kevin’s composition, it encourages us to ask as many questions as we are challenges us to answer.

- Benjamin Kaplan
St. Louis, 2014

Lifestyle

Digital Technology consumes our contemporary lifestyle. We have created it to serve our needs, but in many ways, we serve technology instead. I will be the first to admit this cultural criticism is far from original. It is as old as computers themselves. But that concept is what comes immediately to mind when I look at Jonathan Clarke’s Lifestyle. It strikes me as a classic mainframe computer that has been put out to pasture, sitting in the most unusual of computer graveyards.

Andre Anjos composed a truly foreboding funeral march, a requiem for all technologies past, referencing bleep and bloops of punchcards and dot matrix printers, while slipping in a little Philip K. Dick, dystopian warning about the power we place in that technology. If someone were to write a eulogy for HAL 2000, this is the music that would be playing underneath it.

- Benjamin Kaplan
St. Louis, 2014

Zenit

Mimmo Paladino’s Zenit is such a unique creation. With its elongated neck, slender legs, and long torso, this is a regal horse that integrates both a deep, noble sadness and a certain whimsy into its design. It has all the markings of a Rodin sculpture, imperfect and hand-made, but with none of Rodin’s realism. This horse is a sketch, an impression cast in metal.

The grace of the animal is in stark contrast to the very solid, geometric 10-sided dodecahedron that is the horse’s rider. This juxtaposition leaves us with so many unanswered questions…How did these to characters meet? Where are they going? What could they possibly have in common?

To interpret such a piece takes the ability to fuse the disparate perceptions of what these objects mean and the notions of why they have been united. Composer Rick Deja does that with aplomb. Much like the horse and its star companion, Deja’s composition strikes the ear in very different ways. First with a melodic groove that lulls the listener in a steady rhythm and then tops it with the intense moan of a saxophone that hints at the chaotic freedom of free jazz. It’s like if Dave Matthews Band and Ornette Coleman took a vacation together to Mali and after a night of drinking, they decided to play on the streets for money.

- Benjamin Kaplan
St. Louis, 2014

Voyage

When Magnolia Summer met to compose songs for this project, Voyage was the first track we created. Jean-Michel Folon’s sculpture displays a solitary figure traveling alone in a boat to an unknown destination. Whether the person is leaving or arriving is unclear. The voyage is what is the focus. The track is a fiddle and mandolin tune (thanks for Kevin Buckley on violin) that I hope resembles the persistence, optimism, and solitude of the journey.

- Chris Grabau, Magnolia Summer
St. Louis, 2014