I'm In An Opera

Ok...not ME...but my work is going to be featured in a multi-media opera.  It's one of those wonderful opportunities that drops in a persons lap. 

The composers name is Peter Michael von der Nahmer.  His operas have been staged all over the world.  He is from Germany and currently living in New York City.  The McKnight Foundation generously funded his visit to New Ulm and the community art center The Grand has been facilitating his activities.

He seems to thrive on collaborations, as he has been very busy collaborating with many of New Ulms residents.  I was invited to meet Mike and discuss the possible use of my paintings in the opera he was working on. 

I met Mike had a terrific conversation about art and music.  We seemed to have very similar approaches and philosophies about our respective work.  Of course what he does is entirely different than what I do.  Yet I think that is one of the interesting things about collaborations.  You discover that a person, another artist, working in entirely different forms, has parallel interests and creative motivations.  His work has a rhythmic structure that "feels" like my paintings.  For me it's a kind of "syncopated" sound.  Or movements with sharp pushes of energy.  Hard to explain but I can feel it in my arm when I paint. 

The production is titled Growing Young/Growing Wise and I have no idea what it is about or what it will look like.  For the record I love that.  Mike has an incredibly organic, flowing quality to his creative process.  We talked, we exchanged emails, we talked more, I've been listening to his music, he's been looking at my paintings and the thing has grown.  He's also been doing the same with all the other collaborators.  For a lot of the process I wasn't at all sure what we were doing.  It changes and moves.  It is a living, breathing, moving created thing.  I think Mike will be making adjustments right up to the performance.  It looks to be an amazing multidimensional experience. 



I was inspired to create some new paintings by two of his musical compositions.  One is titled, Small Object the other ReflectionsSmall Objects tells a story, it has a strong narrative that I responded to.  Reflections have a very different feel to it and I ended up creating a bunch of work in response to its tone, feel and movement.  We have talked a lot about the emotional impact of a work of art.  That's always been a difficult idea for me.  I think emotionality is somehow more "hardwired" into the musical experience.  Although James Elkins in his great book "Painting and Tears" writes extensively about the phenomenon of people breaking down into hysteric fits after looking at certain paintings.  So it can happen.  I've never cried while looking at a painting, although I've cried while reading a poem.  Poems get to me.

It's this Saturday August 26th at the State Street Theater, New Ulm.  Time, 7pm. 

Here is a link to one of Mike's works.  Check it out you will love it.