“All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray.
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day.
I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.;
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.”
—California Dreamin’, The Mamas & The Papas
Timeless and hauntingly nostalgic, the song inspired Barbara Blankenbiller to say it ornamentally. “I was experimenting with jewelry and the technique of metal folding, and it kind of lend itself to the theme.” She was not alone. A chorus of creative expressions captured on canvas brought alive the everlasting hits of yesteryears at Your Claim to Frame’s opening night reception and concert. “Inspired by … Music,” each artist was handed a list of the Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Songs of All Time and asked to choose one to illustrate a work of art.
Mary Button picked “Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard. “My paintings, Summer Treats and Winter Ambrosia, are both inspired by Little Richard’s ‘Tutti Frutti.” The fruit reminded me of Carmen Miranda and my friends decided I should have a Carmen Miranda hat. And then today, I found out that Carmen Miranda’s hat was called ‘tutti-frutti’!” she exclaims, donning with élan the attractive headgear adorned with lush artificial fruits.
“Tutti frutti, au-rutti
Tutti frutti, au-rutti…
Got a gal named Sue, she knows just what to do
Got a gal named Sue, she knows just what to do
She rock to the east, she rocks to the west
But she’s the gal that I know best.”
—Tutti Frutti, Little Richard
For fashion illustrator Amanda Lee Condict, Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes” was the obvious choice: “I had recently begun a new series using collage as a background for shoes. When the theme came up for the show, it was easy to pick a song. This is the second canvas of my new series of collages featuring shoes. Of course, I used the Elvis Presley version for my inspiration. It’s a mixed medium, mostly acrylic paint combined with a collage.”
“Well, it’s one for the money, two for the show
Three to get ready now go cat go
But don’t you, step on my blue suede shoes
You Can do anything
But lay off of my blue suede shoes.”
—Blue Suede Shoes, Carl Perkins
Mary Ann Hoffman completes the picture of the “four friends who designed that Carmen Miranda hat for Mary Button” and this is her first time at the show hosted by husband-wife duo Brian and Becky Williams. “The four of us get together once a month if we can and we inspire each other,” she says. Hoffman’s entry to the show ‘Bilando’ translates to dancing around and is inspired by ‘Dancing in the Streets’ by Martha & The Vandellas.
Speaking of past shows and throwing light on the piquant themes, Brian said: “Last year, the focus was on the elements – Earth, Fire, Air and Water. The first of this year’s shows featured the top 100 movies of all times, and today we have the top 100 songs. Next show, probably late September or early October, will be based on the top 100 books of all times.”
“It has to be a theme that’s broad enough to throw up a lot of different ideas for the artists,” suggests Becky Williams. “And we try and do something different, something the galleries in the area have not already done.”
Priciest among the offerings is a sculpture titled “County Jail” with a tag of $2,500. Press the lever on top, and Elvis Presley can be seen through the window performing his signature moves. It is one of Mike Hale’s many “fun creations” featuring Elvis Presley. A celebrated abstract painter, Mike confesses to being “fascinated by Elvis” for all of his 26 years as an artist.
“You can do it with Johnny Cash and Frank Sinatra, but there is something very cool about Elvis.” Especially known for his iconic illustrations in the 1990s of the flamboyant singer and performer, Mike reminisces: “I had Elvis like a messiah figure, in a fun way. The Graceland (longtime home of Elvis Presley) way, which was a kind of a mecca for Elvis fans.”At the show, Mike’s Elvis-on-canvas is a $1,200 stunning “mixed-medium, acrylic on wood panel with gemstones, made from recycled objects.”
Sharing the spotlight with Elvis was Jimi Hendrix and “Purple Haze”, coming alive to one-time English teacher Trudy Moore’s brilliant brush strokes.
“Jimi Hendrix was considered a world class musician, I often wondered how ‘purple haze’ affected his performance. Did it enhance or hinder it? It was certainly a substance near and dear to many musicians.”
“Purple Haze was in my brain,
lately things don’t seem the same,
actin’ funny but I don’t know why
‘scuse me while I kiss the sky.”
—Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix
Working with acrylic, Trudy also captured the all-time great “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge in a second canvas. Pointing to the fluid lines and alluring element in her creation, Trudy says: “This painting is a memory of a statue I once saw, and it inspired in me those feelings of joy one first feels when falling in love.”
Trudy’s brushstrokes showcases love and Liam Harkins’ lens plays with fire, inspired by the songs “Great Balls Of Fire,” “Ring Of Fire” and “Light My Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and The Doors. A photographer with “a military and police background,” Harkins got spectacular prints of his shots on metal. “This is on aluminum,” he explains. “It is a whole lot of process that requires you to first print the photograph in reverse and lay it down on a press. Then you put a piece of metal face down on it and it’s heated to 400 degrees and left there for few minutes to catch the image. I took the photograph of fire burning with a low lens, with about a minute-and-half exposure.” The end result is four frames titled ‘Light of Fire.’
For Your Claim to Frame owner Brian Williams, it’s all a matter of perception and clever orientation. “At a Florida university designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, I captured this shot of a corridor. I had it in my inventory for a while and was showing it in its regular orientation, when the idea struck.” A 90-degree clockwise turn and the corridor was transformed to “Reflection” of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” Simply put, different strokes for different folks.