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People like to close their eyes at concerts — shutting out one of their more active senses — to focus on the auditory experience. But if you did that at a concert this weekend you’d have missed a huge piece of the point. Local video artist Ross Karre projected video clips and rigged up a colored light “instrument” to play along with music penned a century ago by Russian composer Alexander Scriabin.
Scriabin is thought to have had a condition called synesthesia, in which he saw color when he heard musical notes, or smelled a scent when he saw or heard something else.
He infused a composition with some of those sensory triggers, writing a part for an instrument called “color organ” — a piano keyboard that created color lights instead of sounds. Karre took that part and made it his own creation. Hearing about Karre’s invention convinced us to bring along our friends from NBC 7/39 to a rehearsal last week. You can see and hear for yourself in the video version of this synthesized synethesia that ran on the station’s Friday newscast.
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In other news:
• Local curator John Marciari’s been on quite a media tour since he announced his discovery of a painting in a basement at Yale that he’s concluded is a long-lost masterpiece from Diego Velázquez. Last week his find was featured in a radio interview on Here and Now.
• Aside from forgetting toothpaste (talk about stink, stank, stunk), the Grinch, also known as Jeff Skowron, is settling in for a few months in San Diego as the lead in The Old Globe’s production. We checked in with him on his first day of rehearsal for his second dispatch from backstage.
• “I hate classical music: not the thing but the name,” seethes New Yorker music critic Alex Ross. “It traps a tenaciously living art in a theme park of the past,” he continues in this excerpt from a new book. Ross is a widely regarded music chronicler and author of The Rest Is Noise.
• There’s nothing in the world like the public sculpture collection at the University of California, San Diego — so declares art historian John Walsh, who’ll be speaking at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla on Thursday. (U-T)
• Naked on the coffee table: A new book on nudes in American art by UCSD professor emeritus Bram Dijkstra formed the foundation for a discussion on KPBS’s These Days last week, including where Dijkstra draws the line between art and pornography.
• The San Diego Museum of Art is lending 47 paintings to a museum in China for an exhibit called “Visions of the United States.” (KPBS)
• A scheduled run of Jane Eyre at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, has been canceled due to “dismal” advance ticket sales. (U-T)
• Local artist Kelsey Brookes is teaming up with a local band to produce a stunningly colorful 7-inch vinyl record. (Sezio) You might recognize Brookes’ work from the bedroom wall we visited in September.
• Coloring outside the lines: Angela Carone, KPBS arts and culture producer, tells us about a family of artists living in South Park. The kids are “unschooled” — they have no curriculum or grading system. Their curiosity triggers what they’ll learn about and make art about.
• The U-T continues its great Masterpieces in Our Midst series with the story behind the Santa Fe Depot in downtown, San Diego’s “finest Mission Revival building,” built in 1915.
• A testy and thought-provoking discussion of the sailor’s kiss “Unconditional Surrender” sculpture on local artist Jocelyn Duke’s blog has her defending the oft-lampooned statue. Better to have any support for public art in the city than no art, she argues, calling critics of it, like former U-T art critic Robert Pincus, “elitist.” Pincus fires back: “The figures are cheaply fabricated and lifeless.”
• Speaking of public art, a local baseball historian wants to see a sculpture of Ted Williams erected near the waterfront.
• Peek inside an exhibition of Swedish design that just closed in this video post from the San Diego Fine Art Society’s ArtPulse.TV series.
• Finally, I shared a bit about my own violin ventures about a month ago when I went a couple hours northeast with my band, The Tree Ring, to record in Idyllwild. We’re a couple of months away from releasing that record. But in the meantime, if you’re interested, you can catch a snippet of the new music in this video of our musical bedlam in a cabin-turned-studio.
Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly said Walsh’s talk would be at UCSD. It’s about UCSD but is being held at the MCASD in La Jolla. We regret the error.