A Full Spectrum of Art

Full Art Spectrum strives to demolish barriers between disciplines

Full Art Spectrum wants to bring mash-up techniques to the fine arts. This Friday at the Downtown Coffee Emporium the group will hold its first public collaborative event in which musicians and writers respond to visual arts on display there. (It’s also a salute to Macy’s Music Festival weekend.)

Among the art works on view will be three paintings, each the product of three artists who are members of Full Art Spectrum. The artists worked individually — the first painting a layer, followed by the second, then the third — with sometimes-surprising results.

Among those responding to the artwork will be a group specializing in improvisatory music, the Wabi Sabi Jazz Experiment.

“Each musician will select an art work or two on display and compose a melody and chord progression inspired by the artwork, then the music will be performed live, without prior rehearsal,” says Liz Wu, Wabi Sabi musician and Full Art Spectrum member. (Wu is also a CityBeat contributor.)

Roy W. Jones, Full Art Spectrum co-founder with Frances Grimes, says some visual artists whose work will be displayed at Coffee Emporium have also been paired with writers to “create original works together.”

Jones stresses that guidelines are elastic.

“Maybe the writer will react to a painting, vice versa, or they will work hand-in-hand to create simultaneously,” he writes in an e-mail. “It’s completely up to them.”

Among the Full Art Spectrum “word artists” participating Friday are Jones, poet-rapper Paul Smith, poet Randy Bell and writer John Burris. Bell’s written response to a work by artist Angie Unger will be posted next to the art. Visual artist Cassandra Willoughby is creating a work in response to a poem by Michael Dukes; the two works to be displayed together.

This event marks an expansion for Full Art Spectrum, which already has a mixed-arts discussion group that meets the third Saturday of each month at the Speckled Bird Café (1766 Mills Ave., Norwood). While there “artists of any discipline and skill level meet as peers,” Jones says. That gathering usually draws about 15 to 20 people.

“We’ve had short stories read, rappers, poets, even a poetry slam,” Jones says.

Jones, who himself composes and performs music, writes and is a visual artist, sees Full Art Spectrum as a way to overcome artificial barriers between disciplines. He and Grimes (who produces local-artist shows for Malton Art Gallery) say their goal is to provide an environment in which artists of any form of expression can exchange ideas.

Artists of different types already mix at the highest professional levels, Jones says. “But for the semi-pro, the amateur, there’s nothing,” he adds. “We just don’t talk. All art comes from the same source — our creativity. I think everybody’s an artist. We need to experiment, but not just to be entertained. Our intention is to create a network of artists. When a poet tries to comment on a painting, he may not have the vocabulary. He may talk about rhythm instead of composition.”

Full Art Spectrum aims to bridge such gaps.

CityBeat attended the July discussion group, where the business at hand was friendly critique of works presented. Photographer Samantha Zimmer presented a photograph of a section of a World War II plane, its body painted with the likeness of a woman. It was exhibited on an easel and her negative contact sheets were nearby. People had a few minutes to take a close look before open discussion began. Jones asked about the lighting in the photograph on view, which he liked and thought vital to the picture. Zimmer said she shoots only with available light and this particular photograph had been taken at night through a fence at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton. She further explained she did long exposures with a hand-held camera.

Painter Unger, who will be participating at the Coffee Emporium event, subsequently presented a vertical painting with a blank center and its corners filled with suggestive but abstracted forms. The empty middle bothered people.

“Good,” Unger said. “That’s exactly what I wanted it to do. Bother people.”

Whether the work offered up bothers or enthralls people, Friday’s event at Coffee Emporium should serve as a lively public introduction to a potentially invigorating new arts group.

FULL ART SPECTRUM’s next event is 7 p.m. Friday at Coffee Emporium (110 East Central Pkwy., Downtown).

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