Artist in Residence:
Kirk Vaughn Robinson
New for our 2018-19 Season!
…Can there be any day but this,
though many suns to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we miss:
there is but one, and that one ever.
– George Herbert
The image is representational of a number of things. The poem is the last portion of I Got Me Flowers from The Five Mystical Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The text is originally from four poems by George Herbert from 1633 titled The Temple: Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations. For brevity, I won’t go into how the text ties to the piece at this time.
Personally, I love the vibrancy of this image against the the black emptiness of the background. The setting sun has been an on-going theme for the artwork I’ve created for Vesper Concerts. In this picture the sun is shining behind the viewer, illuminating the main image for the viewer.
For me, the figure symbolically represents the earth, but the earth depicted as a man, collectively as mankind, out alone in the infinite darkness of the Universe. The piece is lit from behind, as if the earth’s topography is etched into it’s surface. I’ve seen pictures of Earth from outer-space where the oceans radiate this vibrant blue. The other colors are the mountains and valleys of the dry land.
I’ve titled this piece CREATION and tried to leave it open for interpretation. Which day of Creation is it? Is it the sixth day where Adam has been created, and he is looking out into space contemplating his place in the Universe? Or is it after the Fall, and he’s alone and looking for God in the vast emptiness?
Could it be the moment before man was even created, and the image in the picture is God contemplating, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” and we see, off in the distance, the lights from our constellation coming into being? Like in this picture, in the Old Testament Moses only saw God from behind on the mountain, and not his full face. “…you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
I painted this while I was on vacation this past summer. It was my time at the beach and view of the ocean along with the chance that my recording of Elgar’s Sea Pictures, op. 37 for orchestra and contralto, cycled through on my iPod. Dame Janet Baker’s rich contralto and interpretation of the text and musical line, along with Elgar’s sweeping orchestrations, hauntingly captures the serenity, power, and mystery of the sea.
Thy lips are like a sunset glow.
Thy smile is like a morning sky,
yet leave me, leave me, let me go
and see the land where corals lie.
The land, the land where corals lie.
The property line of the back field of our neighbor’s farm joined the edge of the seven acres of woods that our house was situated on for my very early years as a child in the mid 60’s. The woods that surrounded our house was my playground. Many of the tree stumps or the occasional downed tree trunk were some of the first theatrical stages upon which I performed. Both the simplicity and color of this piece is reminiscent of some of the Mid-Century Modern artwork that I associate with this time in my life.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Proceeds go to Vesper Concerts.
Ain’t It A Pretty Night
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.
Vesper Concerts Logo
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.
Arctic Circle Sunset
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.
It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere
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.
Summer Carnival Sunset
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.