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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: June 9, 2017

A colorful exhibit gets matched with music at the Portland Museum of Art

Written by: Bob Keyes
"Construction," by Hans Hofmann.  Image courtesy of the Portland Museum of Art

“Construction,” by Hans Hofmann.
Image courtesy of the Portland Museum of Art

As part of its examination of abstract artist Hans Hofmann’s works on paper, the Portland Museum of Art collaborates with the Portland Symphony Orchestra on Friday night for a light recital and gallery talk that makes connections between art and music, painter and composer.

For “Viola in Color,” part of the museum’s PMA360 series, PSO musician Russell Wilson will perform two movements from Quincy Porter’s “Suite for Viola Alone” in the Palladian Gallery in the L.D.M. Sweat Memorial Galleries, where the Hofmann show is hanging. Performances are at 5:45 and 6:45 p.m., and each will last just a few minutes. Seating is first-come, first-served.

Simultaneously, textile and installation artist Pamela Moulton will lead drop-in art-making projects, drawing inspiration from the paintings and the music.

“Hans Hofmann: Works on Paper” is on view through Sept. 3. The exhibition looks at Hofmann’s ink drawings, watercolors and other works on paper, which are less known than his rugged abstract expressionist paintings. German born, he came to the United States in 1930, settled here soon after and stayed until he died in 1966.

The orchestra’s musical curator, Martin Webster, chose Porter’s viola suite because it matches well with the emotion of Hofmann’s paintings. “When you walk into that room, what you will be struck by first is a flood of color – rich, saturated, exuberant color,” he said. “I feel like Hoffman played with color, and there is a real sense in his art work of improvisation.”

The Porter piece begins with dark-hued ambers, colors commonly associated with the sound of a viola. As the piece evolves, its palate becomes much brighter and the tune more lively. “I am hoping we can connect the idea of color with tonal color,” Webster said.

Porter and Hofmann same some parallels. Both were born in the late 1800s, and both died in 1966. Hofmann came to the United States from Europe for the first time in 1930, which was the year Porter wrote this piece, while living in Paris on a Guggenheim Fellowship. This piece and his performance of it in 1931 helped establish his reputation as a composer and musician.

“Viola in Color”

WHEN: 5 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Palladian Gallery, Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square

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