Artist in Residence

Artist in Residence:

Kirk Vaughn Robinson

New for our 2018-19 Season!

The title of this painting is “In His Hands.” I was doodling one day and came up with this really interesting shape which is now the bottom portion of the picture.  As I sat and stared, this idea for a light burst at the crook of the shape came to mind.  I was playing around with it and all of the sudden the rest of painting came to me – the moon, the color of “Space”, the intense lighting outline of the original shape (the space cloud as I called it), all came into focus for me.

I had worked on it for many hours and put it away for the night. When I came back to the piece the next day, I took one look and saw a very abstract hand in the shape of the space cloud with the thumb pointing up and the light burst of a distant sun coming from the palm of the hand and gentle graceful fingers blending into the silhouette of the cloud.

As so many things in my life are inspired by music, a recording of opera singer Leontyne Price singing a verse of a gospel song came immediately to mind, “…He’s got the sun and the moon in His hands…”

Kirk’s painting “Ain’t It a Pretty Night” is available for purchase as a limited-addition print, signed and numbered by the artist. Contact for details. Proceeds go to Vesper Concerts.

I was invited to be the Visual Artist in Residence for the Vesper Concerts in 2017 and to create individual pieces of artwork for each concert of the 2017/2018 concert season as well as opportunities for the images to be used for advertising for the series. Ideally, this artwork would capture the essence of the concert series, as well as the season, in one colorful glance.

In talking with Kristi Treu & Stacie Haneline I understood that they were wanting to launch Vesper Concerts in a new direction, but they still wanted to honor the history, hard work and accomplishments of the past. I started off looking up exactly what the word vespers meant. Vesper with a capital “V” was defined as, a planet (usually Venus) seen at sunset in the western sky. Vesper, with a lower case “v” was defined as, a late afternoon or evening worship service.

The challenge was, how do I capture this idea in a piece of artwork? With the romance of Venus and the the idea of early evening worship services, I came up with the concept of evening sunsets. I would create five different pieces that would be different interpretations and different artistic approaches to the idea of “sunset”.

Often when people think of a concert or a concert series, an image that might come to mind is dressed up, buttoned up, suits and fancy dress. In talking with Kristi and Stacie, what came across to me was a series that was accessible, open to all, and family friendly. The idea of family friendly stood out to me because it is something that is all inclusive as well as having the potential to introduce the next generations of concert goers to the Vesper Concerts series.

The first piece that I created was inspired by the idea of family friendly art and how a child might draw a sunset. I was immediately taken back to kindergarten, where my teacher, Mrs. Gavigan, would tape down large pieces of paper in front of me, and in front of each of my classmates, and invite us to put our fingers into the paints and create! This piece was a playful experiment for me to play and get my fingers into the paints, so to speak. Vesper Concerts also chose this as the new logo for the series.

One of my favorite pieces of music is an aria from the opera Susannah, by Carlisle Floyd titled, Ain’t It A Pretty Night.  In the aria a young Susannah sings of her longing for adventure and change from her life in a small Tennessee valley town in the Appalachian Mountains.   The instrumental opening introduction to the aria has always struck me as pure Americana and the quiet reverie of evening setting in. In my imagination, that instrumental opening and the night that Susannah describes, maybe starts with a beautiful, misty, watercolor mountain sunset that gives way to a clear, starry night.

As the February concert date approached, I was imagining how to interpret a sunset for this time of year. It didn’t make sense for me to create another sunset that felt warm and balmy. I was toying with the idea of a winter sunset, but also wanted to create something bright, colorful, and eye catching. This is my interpretation of a frozen northern ocean off the coast of the Arctic Circle. The frozen ocean reflects the clear, sub-zero, sky of a winter’s sunset.

Sunsets, sunsets, and more sunsets…I closed my eyes and asked myself, “How many sunsets can you come up with that aren’t repetitive and differ in artistic style?” I zipped around in my imagination, going from sunset, to sunset, to sunset of the myriad of sunsets that I have seen over my lifetime, and taken for granted to the point that, in this moment, I could no longer differentiate one from another. “Well, you’ve never seen a sunset from outer space,” came a reply. I’ve titled this It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere.

This is the last sunset of the concert season. It was a particularly frigid, snowy, winter’s day and my imagination wandered to summer. This piece is a geometrical, Art Deco flavored sunset at a summer carnival. The main image is representational of both the sunset and a carnival’s Ferris wheel.