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Kara Patterson's Words of Art column: Art, music blend in Art Affair exhibition

11:35 AM, Jan. 11, 2013  |  Comments
Andy Watkins, a spray paint artist, contributed this piece called 'Band Gate' to the exhibit at Art Affair.
Andy Watkins, a spray paint artist, contributed this piece called 'Band Gate' to the exhibit at Art Affair.
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Appleton artists Brandon Van Dalen and Andy "Cosmo-Joe" Watkins both are connected to music and the visual arts.

Watkins, who sold Art Affair Gallery in Menasha to Van Dalen last June, looks back fondly upon his days in a band and rarely paints without music on in the background.

For the past three years or so, Van Dalen has played a mix of pop, rock and punk music as the performer Strategic.

Van Dalen, 28, and Watkins, 35, are two of eight Wisconsin artists with work on display in "Music & Musicians," a show of music-related artwork at Art Affair. Van Dalen says the show is the gallery's first collaborative exhibit since the gallery came under his ownership.

"I saw a lot of artists (who display work at the gallery) had pieces that were music-themed, so I thought that would be a good direction to go with a collaborative show," Van Dalen said. "And being a musician and loving music helped."

The exhibit runs through Jan. 24 at the gallery, 196 Main St., Menasha. Admission is free.

Watkins, a spray paint artist who sold Art Affair so he could focus on creating his art, contributed a piece called "Band Gate."

"That piece was inspired, basically, by my life as a musician," he said. "'Band Gate' is the depiction of the gift of music coming to us as people. It comes from the universe to us. It's a matter of being open to it."

Watkins and Kimberly artist Gary Gossens worked together on "Child of the Universe," a work in acrylic and spray paint on canvas.

"Gary (Gossens) and I are good friends and he had the idea to paint a painting of Janis Joplin, an artist both he and I really respect," Watkins said. "He wanted something out of this world and sci-fi for the background... I painted several planets in a cascading size order overhead to give the impression she's coming from a perspective beyond where we're at."

Gossens painted iconic rocker Joplin in the foreground, depicting her wearing large, rose-colored glasses.

For his solo pieces - likenesses of musicians including John Lennon, Paul McCartney, B.B. King and Jim Morrison - Gossens employed his technique of painting with acrylic and epoxy on mirrors.

"It settles in all different kinds of weird swirls and dips," said Gossens, 65. "Once it settles, I decide what it's telling me to put on it. ...Some of the background bleeds through from the first process. Some of the mirror doesn't get covered so depending on how the light hits it.... it looks like (the musicians) are on stage."

Neenah artist Greg Bracken revisited several paintings of prominent jazz musicians that he had displayed at the Fox Jazz Fest.

For inspiration, Bracken thumbed through books on the genre.

"My favorite piece... is a guy playing a clarinet. That was in pastel and it's just a cool piece," said Bracken, 54, who said he rose to the challenge of painting the instrument and the musician's hands. "Just everything kind of worked in it."

Jane Coenen, 52, of Kaukauna, typically shoots nature photography. For this exhibit, though, she captured shots of her nephew's guitar.

"I wanted to give it to him as a gift," she said. "I took multiple shots of the same angle and then I just gave him one that I wanted him to have."

Among Van Dalen's works on display are his black-and-white photos of a drum set and a microphone. "Band Practice" and "Mic Check" reflect his past experiences in a band.

"I think art and music, they both have a way of speaking to us," he said.

- Kara Patterson's Words of Art column focuses on Fox Valley arts. She's reachable at 920-993-1000, ext. 215, or kpatterson@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @KaraNPatterson

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