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Harmonic Shock Meets Art at Hollingsworth Gallery’s “Music Is the Muse”

| August 14, 2010

shock art hollingsworth gallery music is the muse

'Robot Lovers in Shock,' on a date at Hollingsworth gallery. 'She's recent. He's been around for six months,' says artist Sean Loyse, who created the robots with Ian Chamberlain. 'Then we decided he needed a woman.' (© FlaglerLive)

When you go to Hollingsworth Gallery at City Walk tonight or in coming days—as you ought to if you crave an instant vacation from the ordinary—you’ll notice what may briefly look like two shaggy, traumatized creatures, staring at three not quite shaggy but equally traumatizing paintings.

Go Tonight:

  • “Music Is the Muse” opens tonight, Aug. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Hollingsworth Gallery at City Walk, 160 Cypress Point Pkwy, Suite 210B. There’ll be live music. The exhibit runs through Sept. 28.

The creatures, sons of motherboards and other scraggles of computer hardware, are “Robot Lovers in Shock.” They’d have to be. They’re staring at a new work by Richard Schreiner that has the head of BP executive Tony Hayward drilled into the body of a helpless Doberman, his paws drowned in crude oil. To emphasize the point (because nothing Schreiner does gives subtlety an inch), the oil literally spills out of the frame in blackness painted onto the wall holding up the canvas.

That’s just one of the shocks the robots are looking at. The two others, hung on a blood-red wall that creates a spill-effect of its own, are amputees, both of them women, in something like a crimson-pink fog: Diana Gilson’s “Home from Iraq: American Amazon II” and “Learning to Walk: American Amazon III.” Both have a bit of turquoise blue—a more hopeful color—beginning to descend from above, but the women, what’s left of them anyway, is still shrouded in red.

And that’s just the beginning. No wonder the robots are in shock. If you look closely at their faces (two old computer screens) you’ll see the reflection of the paintings as if imprinting themselves on the robots’ brains. The two robots are the work of Sean Loyse and his nephew, Ian Chamberlain, who graduated Flagler Palm Coast High School last May. Hollingsworth Gallery owner J.J. Graham saw them at Loyse’s studio and requisitioned them for his latest show, “Music Is the Muse.” Graham positioned the loving (and in their own way, lovely) robots, who appear to be holding hands, not only to look at the art, but to reflect the way others might look at it as if to say: be shocked; you’re in good company.

Not that the collection of works by 18 artists is defined by that introductory installation. In fact, it isn’t. It gets easier, or at least less jarring but equally challenging after that.

“Music Is the Muse,” the latest show at Hollingsworth Gallery, opens tonight at 6—with live music by Flagler Beach singer Carol Brown, wine and more. The artists in the show, many of them from the Flagler County Art League and the gallery’s own Southeast Contemporary Artists Coalition, were encouraged to submit work—or create it, as many just did—that was inspired by a song or a particular piece of music. That’s how each work appears in the show: with a brief narrative of its meaning and its connection to the music that inspired it. “I throw these themes out there and I never know what I’m going to get,” Graham says. He got plenty that the artists themselves don’t necessarily know how to explain.

Joan mangano

Joan Mangano, still discovering her own painting. (© FlaglerLive)

That should put you (and anyone else who experiences the joys and jams of contemporary abstract art) at ease: Precise explanation or anything that passes as dogmatic “understanding” of an abstract work contradicts the experience that created it, or the varieties of reactions that it compels. Just listen to Joan Mangano, who’s been painting since she retired in Palm Coast from Buffalo 16 years ago, describe her watercolor, “Out of the Rain,” inspired by her daughter singing the song by the same name: “I would imagine that somebody is striving to get out. I don’t know who she is exactly. She could be my daughter Diana, coming out of the rain. You see the rain is coming in. It almost looks like a vessel. It wasn’t exactly intended to be a vessel, but for some reason it looks like a vessel to me when you stand back. It could be a bubble, it could be a raindrop, it could be whatever you want it to be actually.”

Mangano’s is a new work. It looks finished. It isn’t necessarily so when you listen to her describe it, as shapes in the frame look like the motion still animating them in her mind—or in the mind of whoever might look at the painting. In other words, the painting is having the desired effect. With music, the effect might be even stronger.

“A lot of people’s appreciation for the auditory is more advanced than their appreciation for art,” Graham says. “Art can be musical too, and when associated with music, and that form of expression and freedom, I think especially with this kind of more contemporary art, you understand the relationship between the two. There’s a bridge there. I think with the songs playing, people looking at the words, maybe they’ll be aware of that.”

welson ryan money

Weldon Ryan's 'Money' (© FlaglerLive)

Weldon Ryan, who heads the Flagler County Art League, speaks of his work as still “boxed in” by the traditions—he calls them constraints—of representational or realistic art. His explicit “Money,” set to the Pink Floyd song of the same name, has all the precision of a stock market’s tickertape seen through an artist’s eye: a hand sprung from an unmarked grave, clutching bills, with pennies spraying around the fist. It’s not Lincoln’s face on the pennies, but skulls. The idea came to Ryan during a couple of sleepless nights. The painting was the result of several sessions in his 120-degree garage this month. “It relates with what’s going on today with politicians, the money, corporations, and the whole night of the living dead thing,” Ryan says. “It seems like a bunch of lost souls, all they’re doing is grabbing the money. They don’t have a care for anybody else. It’s just about the money. They have no emotions. So they are like the living dead.”

Keep an eye on the floor when you’re at the gallery, if the floor doesn’t draw your eye almost as much as the works on display. The floor flows in trails of colors that Graham designed the way he repainted the gallery’s walls ahead of the show. When Graham’s 3-year-old son Gabriel comes to the gallery, he follows the floor’s trails as if on an imaginary rafter. Graham hopes the same happens to visitors during the show.

When live music isn’t playing, the show’s soundtrack will—all the songs or pieces of music that inspired the works on display, played in a loop. “It really works with this show,” Ryan says. “It’s a great idea. Music is a muse. Most artists work from music. We get so inspired, we get into a flow, it creates a whole energy in itself that in turn comes into you, you actually paint and express better because it just really helps you, it motivates you.”

tom gargiulo row your boat palm coast artists

Detail from Tom Gargiulo's 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat,' part of 'Music Is the Muse.'
(© FlaglerLive)

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11 Responses for “Harmonic Shock Meets Art at Hollingsworth Gallery’s “Music Is the Muse””

  1. celestinewolf says:

    Loved the show! The “robots in love” were an unexpected and delightful treat to walk into upon arriving! Our community is so blessed to experience the generosity and creative ideas of J.J. and friends. Thank you for bringing a bit of So Ho to Palm Coast!

  2. Dave D says:

    First of all I have to thank you and and your colleagues at Flagler Live for another amazing article, the work you are doing for the community and for Hollingsworth is much appreciated. It was a pure pleasure to work on my piece, and the entire show, from the very beginning and in my case during the show as well haha. It is a blessing to be a part of something so beautiful, watching people find the energy of Hollingsworth and funneling the passion into their own life is one of the best experiences I have had so far in my life. I’m already looking forward to creating the next show, meeting new artists, and of course building the relationships I already have with the many skilled artist and good friends I have met throughout my time at Hollingsworth. I look forward to seeing some new faces 12 – 6 on the weekdays for our open floor painting sessions. Leave your mark in our minds and on our floors the same way I hope we have made a mark in your life. Thank you to whoever read this far, peace be with you and have a great day!

  3. Rudy Smith says:

    Art opening or drinking party? The Hollingworth Gallery continue to live in a world completely out of touch with real raw ART. One becomes tried quickly with the pseudo works being passed for art. Student level at best.

  4. EVA BISHOP says:


  5. j.j. graham says:

    For the record some of the work in the show was student work. It even said so right next to the pieces. Rudy probably is not familiar with the Cobra painting movement. These were very communal artists who often would show their students work alongside their own. They were especially fond of children’s work, much like Picasso, they placed more importance on creativity and originality. I can’t help that I love my students and enjoy sharing their work as long as it fits into the overall mood of the show. Art doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does need to be interesting. Rudy, I went and looked at your work online. You are a very talented illustrator. I’m sorry though, I did not see the rawness you alluded to. True art is not contrived and is not to be mistaken or compared to illustration which should be appreciated in it own light. If this confuses you, come by and talk to me, we’ll have a drink. (non- alcoholic of course.) Peace, love, and CHICKEN GREASE! – j.j.

  6. Rudy Smith says:

    J.J. sounds like you are the one confused. I am not an illustrator and I don’t know whose works you are referring to. I was a visitor to the gallery and I found the opening boring, the work sloppy and you drunk.

    Sound like The Hollingwoth Gallery is above criticism. But really, this gallery would be closed in a week in a larger municipality. Free rent helps. Of course when you are the only shop in town, one starts to take oneself way to seriously… the truth is your work has degenerated and so has the gallery. I visited an opening about two years ago. Then the energy was fresh, alive and the excitement grand, but after last weekends disappointing opening… well time tells all.

    You mush be having a great time with the locals…. some kind of ART GOD. But really my opinion does not truly matter, the work speaks for itself.

    So again, K.M.A. if you do like an opinions that differs from God J.J. of Hollingworth. Thanks for the drink offer… by I’ll pass.

    Much Love

    Rudy Smith


    Eva your cap LOCK is on.

  7. Terri Reddington says:

    Mean Mr. Mustard award goes to Rudy Smith

  8. J.J. Graham says:

    Very funny,
    Rudy I visited where you show you work online. Some of the work there was quiet good, but the site is also riddled with huffers, dosers, and left over rejects from the rave era. I’ve seen my share of “PSEUDO” Crumb-like, Geiger-ish dementors and they all secretly want to be the art-god you say I’m trying to be. Hollingsworth gallery is a work in progress and is not perfect. I don’t even consider my work to be the best work on the wall in this show, it doesn’t have to be, I am not an art God, nor do i wish to be seen as such. Had you actually gotten to know me a bit you would have found out that I had only 2 hours of sleep leading up to the show. I’m an ex- bartender I know my rate of tolerance. The prohibition is over – you guys lost. Also I received 6 months free rent for build out, its been almost 2 years now, and if you saw the bills this place accumulates on top of what i have to shell out to support a family you would soil yourself.
    No only are you misinformed about me your are misinformed about yourself. I’m going to post your description of yourself from your facebook page.
    Personal Information:
    Rudy would describe himself as: amazing, beautiful, hyper-intelligent, super-talented, endlessly amusing, and “nice”.
    I don’t see it man, You’re bitter to the bone.
    When you criticize other people you open yourself to criticism. You don’t hold up.
    I’m bored with you, I think I’ll go get a “PSEUDO” taco from the Taco Bell. chase it down with a Pabst.
    Meanwhile I’ll let you get back to painting Bert and Ernie pictures.

  9. j.j. graham says:

    I would like to thank everyone who participated and attended this show . I would also like to thank Pierre for the beautifully crafted article he produced that focuses on the work of some fellow artists that have become very dear to me. It is a shame that I have allowed it to be tainted by a misguided attempt to detract from an amazing night. Now that I’ve had a bit of time to reflect I can see a bit more clearly. Hollingsworth gallery is a child within a child city. In that aspect I am very protective of her, much like I am protective of my son. In the past I have always been able to bear constructive criticism. Venomous attacks require a little more discipline. Now that the smoke from my gun jumping has cleared I can see. So let me clarify. If one were to look back at the previous article Pierre wrote ( just click on arts and culture) and scroll down to the bottom you will see a comment posted by one Rudy Smith, on Aug. 8th, in which he makes pretty much the same statement as his review of the opening. This show was not even hung then and the windows of the gallery were blacked out. Below his comment I retaliated somewhat harshly not realizing that one of my students had logged into the gallery computer to make his own comment. It was wrong of me to make fun of Rudy’s name. Especially when my first name John is equally as common and often attached to his last name, for that I apologize. Here’s were Rudy messes up though. According to him he hasn’t visited the gallery in 2 years until the night of the opening. Still he sites the work as boring in his comment on the previous article.. So if Rudy was truly at the show he was there with a chip riding on his shoulder, a chip that would distort his critical eye. Being that the show was the most exciting and well attended show in the history of the gallery, an intoxicating experience in its own right, I’m beginning to think that rudy like a sniper was shooting his bullets from a distance. If so then there is a much more sinister force at work here. Attacking the gallery was just an attempt to draw me out, so that he could launch his attack on me personally. Weldon Ryan the new president of the Art League and I were engaged in conversation long after the gallery had cleared, I think he can agree that I was not the blithering drunk rudy would so like to paint me as. This is a venomous attack on me, not the gallery, by someone who seeks to benefit by putting me in a bad light. In the future I will have to become more jaded when dealing with sour grapes. This time though I am mashing them under my feet so the rain can wash them into the drain where they belong. Rudy if that is your real name you got a little sloppy. Truth prevails.

  10. Jennifer Tomczak says:

    Elitism may hold a place amongst the contemporary development in social valuation, but you will not find any type of arrogant mindset within the exuberance of Hollingsworth Gallery! What you will find, however, is the essence of emphatic, passionate and socially conscious art; EXACTLY the type of cutting edge, relevant, thought provoking art which thrives in larger metropolitan areas. To be a part of Hollingsworth Gallery and the intensity behind its creation, is to immerse oneself in the symbiosis of art that penetrates to the core of the human soul; where elegance meets emotional significance, where human passion dives into an ocean of pure visual feast.

    I’ve attended nearly every art opening over the past year as well as having had the privilege to witness John J. Graham creating, teaching and guiding students, artists and the public alike. I’ve seen JJ evoke raw emotion from students, digging deep into their creative centers to produce keen works of inspiration. I’ve watched as he respected the psyche of aesthetic subjectivity in allowing an artist’s voice to permeate from ethereal to physical manifestation. I’ve experienced the rapture of a class from a room full of people ‘making art’ to its transmutation of a room full of creators uplifting souls through art culture. So, yeah, I can see where JJ might appear “god-like” to people with outrageously large egos. Though, if there is an “art-god”, JJ Graham is more of an art Buddha, embracing the interconnectedness of art as a community, advising students to be artists unto themselves, sprinkling words of wisdom that convey non-attachment; “Stay in the present moment, allow your work to evolve”.

    It is unfortunate that Mr. Rudy Smith’s critique of Hollingsworth Gallery is a hollow diatribe of spite at best and, at worst, a clear defamation of character. Mr. Smith, a more philosophically objective criticism of JJ Graham would have spared you from committing libel; attacking JJ’s personal and professional character in an attempt to negatively affect his public standing and with no evidence to back up said claims.

    Kudos to you, JJ, for your clear headedness, your compassion and your kindness.

  11. Weldon Ryan says:

    JJ with his ideas of creating an oasis of creativity within Flagler County is exactly what we as a society in Flagler need. I see a hard working Idealistic and creative person that has the strength and the thoughtfulness to overcome negative criticism. JJ’s lack of sleep from curating and putting this wonderful show together should not be misconstrued as drunkenness. Think of the art galleries that has come and gone. None had the energy as the Hollingsworth Gallery. As for artists that criticize and disrespect others to exact bitterness, that’s just cruel! Come together and find what we have in common as artists and build on our creative energies.

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