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Season 5, Concert 3

Thursday, May 5, 2005, 7 PM
Featured visual artist:
Jonathan Sandmel


Monochrome (2005)
World Premiere
Jonathan Bailey Holland [website]
influenced by the artwork of
featured visual artist, Jonathan Sandmel
Sarah Brady, flute
Melanie Auclair-Fortier, violin
Dale Henderson, cello
Sarah Bob, piano


3 Miniatures for Laurie Sheck (2005)
World Premiere
Mike Baggetta [website]

  1. Black Night
  2. The Harbor Boats
  3. White Noise

Mike Baggetta, prepared guitar


Count it down (2005), World Premiere
Simple (2003)
Broken (2004)
Julie Rosenthal [website]
Julie Rosenthal, vocals and guitar


Lipstick for alto flute and tape
Jacob ter Veldhuis
Sarah Brady, alto flute


Improvisations based on the artwork of Jonathan Sandmel(2005)
Shelf Life (2005)
World Premiere
Planet Earth
Jeremy Udden 
[website] and Nathan Blehar, saxophones
Phil Grenier, bass, and Mike Johnson, drums

Artist’s Statement
The three major pieces featured in this concert are the culmination of a year-long project studying color, shape and camouflage. With the Iraqi War hitting its stride in early 2004, I wanted to explore war in an abstract painting. There are different ways of visualizing war, but camouflage, as an integral part of modern warfare’s aesthetic, was the perfect source of inspiration for me.


In researching the origins of camouflage, I encountered the 1950′s work of the minimalist Ellsworth Kelly. Kelly had been trained as a camouflage artist by the American military during the second World War. His training in camouflage seemed to influence his work with minimalism. He used line to break up simple shapes into more complex ones, and used color and value to confuse the relationships between foreground and background elements.


The original camouflage artists are the animals, to whom French researchers turned to decipher how camouflage works, and what makes it successful. Animals like the Silk Moth are designed to look like dead leaves to some predators, but can reveal large frightening eyes to others. Many animals contain double messages in their color patterns. Similarly, the latest military camouflage clothing contains a double code. On one level, their uniforms disguise them, but they also contain reflective bar codes that can be read at a distance to identify one group of soldiers from another.


I too wanted my work to encode a double message. At first glance, I wanted the viewer to receive the more obvious message: this is an abstract painting. The second message was hidden, more insidious. It was three letters, the acronym: IOU. The message emerged from a vocabulary of tilted, curved and straight lines, and seemed to be the potent message I had been searching for.


IOU was a message to the people in war who are personally affected: The civilians, the soldiers, the war photographers and journalists. IOU was for the debt of money incurred in fighting a war. IOU was the apology to the victims that follows modern warfare a generation behind the atrocities.


As I worked through the different interpretations, I attempted to conceal them all. IOU was an exercise in hiding, where the goal was to be lost instead of found, and the pictures became their colors, no longer their meanings. Although war, camouflage and coded messages were the origins of these works, the issues of color, line and value took over in the studio and had to be resolved on their own terms. My hope is that this trio of paintings escape their violent origins. My hope is that they precipitate war’s dark side into something lighter, something uplifting and even beautiful.