ArtPrize artists paint music in unique exhibit

“I’m painting music,” said Farchi. “I’m not painting the musicians or the instruments, I’m painting sound.” File photo
“I’m painting music,” said Farchi. “I’m not painting the musicians or the instruments, I’m painting sound.” File photo

The members of Paint in Action resemble regular artists except for two things. One: their canvases spin on their isles. Two: they paint music.

That’s right: music.

Friday night at the Looking Box the band Bennett played while artists Tali Farchi and Royce Deans painted for an ArtPrize exhibit.

They are members of an art group called Paint in Action, a company whose mission is to focus on “art without boundaries.”  They take a multimedia approach to artwork by combining the genres of paint, music and sometimes even dance.

“I’m painting music,” said Farchi. “I’m not painting the musicians or the instruments; I’m painting sound.”

“We paint music which, is different than painting to music or painting with music,” added Deans. “We internalize the music and respond to it.”

Both Farchi and Deans sit in front of rotating canvases when they paint, their backs to the musicians. Focused intently on their work, they apply brush strokes in time with the beat, increasing and decreasing their rate of work in conjunction with the melody.

For the two painters, live music is an essential part of the experience. The duo painted to recorded music last year at Art Prize. This year’s presentation, according to them, was entirely different.

“The painting is more direct and has more life than recorded music,” said Farchi “What we did here, with only live musicians, has much more life.”

For Deans, having the musicians in the room makes for better art.

“There’s so much more energy,” said Deans. “The experience is so much better when we’re in a room with the musicians that are actually generating the vibrations that are making the sound.”

“The personalities of the musicians bring life to our painting,” added Farchi.

Energy and personality are two things Bennett has in abundance. The young band is active on stage, stomping feet and moving with their music. Between sets they engage the audience in banter, alternately promoting future shows and making jokes at each other’s expense.

Their “vibrancy,” as Farchi phrased it, contributes to the atmosphere of the room. The audience has a chance to actively engage a collaboration of music and art, each enhancing the other.

“It’s really cool to see the arts interacting together,” said Bennett violinist, mandolin player and vocalist Nick Rolls. “A lot of the time people leave the visual out of the music, but it’s an incredible representation of what music and art can be.”

For Bennett guitarist and vocalist Josiah Gentry, Friday night offered a snapshot of Grand Rapids.

“It felt like a perfect picture of Grand Rapids,” said Gentry. “There’s always these little hubs, things that not everyone knows is going on but they’re the coolest things. Tonight was a reminder of that, it was a privilege, and an excellent experience.”

The Grand Rapids-based Bennett is composed of three members: Nick Rolls, Josiah Gentry and Nicholas Warren. They combine the sounds of keyboard, accordion, violin, mandolin, guitar and vocals to create a unique blend of sound.

And it seems to be working for them. Bennett spent the summer touring around the Midwest and, in August, they won the competition GR’s Got Talent.  Their success this summer helped them begin work on an EP, which is scheduled for release some time next month.

This isn’t the first time Bennett and Paint in Action have worked together, and it may not be the last.

Bennett vocalist, keyboardist, and accordionist Nicholas Warren said the band enjoys the atmosphere of the shows with Paint in Action.

The affection is mutual.

“Those guys are fabulous.” Farchi said about Bennett, “Their sound drives me to paint.”

For more information about Bennett visit bennettband.com, and for Paint in Action visit paintinaction.com

About the Author

Matt Medendorp

Matt Medendorp is a Chimes guest writer for the 2012-13 school year.

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