The Integration of Art, Music and More: Robin Rose

“Arts integration” is one of those trendy education buzz-phrases. But this buzz isn’t all noise, and it’s hardly new. Using the arts as primary pathways to learning dates back to John Dewey and the Progressive Education Movement, which flourished between the late 19th and the early 20th Centuries. The difference today is that there are facts to support arts integration theories. A 2007 Boston Globe article, for example, reports data showing that including the arts in a child’s day raises standardized test scores.

I’m heartened by organizations such as Young Audiences, which helps bring artists to areas schools, particularly those designated Title I. As LPR staffers learned on a recent tour, participating schools saw a rise in attendance and a decline in discipline referrals when an artist was working with students. And I’m pleased that LPR is able to present Robin Rose, whose art will appear on the cover and inside our Summer 2013 Music issue, to show how society can be explored through the lens of one person’s creative efforts.

I know no one better than LPR art consultant Michael Salcman, whose essay “I Look for Mysteries: The Art of Robin Rose” will appear in the Music issue, to illustrate how deeply a visual artist can be integrated into and affected by the historical events, scientific discoveries and artistic innovations of his era. So I asked Michael to preview the piece.

Robin Rose

Robin Rose with Echo Mandala, one of the works in our Music issue and part of his Crescendo installation.

Here’s what he had to say:

Robin Rose is a singularly apt selection as the featured artist for the Music issue. His practice of painting and object-making shares many similarities with the artistic practice of a musician such as Miles Davis. As you will learn from the essay, this Washington-based artist not only lays down his paint strokes to the rhythm and mood of music but is also himself an experienced musician who played synthesizer for Urban Verbs, a well-regarded and often-recorded rock band.

A practitioner of meditation, Rose not only looks to music for its empathetic relation to painting but also creates sculptural objects and installations that use actual instruments such as guitars and accessories such as reverb foot pedals. Similar strategies have informed the work of other contemporary artists such as Bruce Nauman and Christian Marclay, a video artist and object maker admired by Rose.

Kind of Blue, the beautiful Rose painting gracing the Music issue cover is emblematic of his polymorphous artistic career. It takes its name from the famous Miles Davis album and its coloration from the intersection of jazz and blues. Its subtle circular elements resemble those in Disks of Newton, the 1911-12 series by František Kupka, one of the true pioneers of abstract painting who similarly recognized the mystical relationship between sound and shape. Indeed, the use of planetary shapes is representative of a universal connection between art, music and physics, scientists having discovered that the fundamental note of interstellar space is B-flat!

As I point out in the essay, “mystical experiences, scientific theories of time and philosophic positions were critical to the development of a truly abstract art movement” only years after the publication of Einstein’s theories. I think you will enjoy meeting Rose, a poetic humanist whose life and art contain multitudes, both on the pages of the Music issue and as a presenter at the launch reading.

The LPR Music issue is available for online pre-order. In addition to Rose’s art and Michael’s essay, it contains an interview with Young Audiences Teaching Arts’ Chris August. Issues will also be sold for $10 from our table at LakeFest 2013, held June 14-16 in Columbia, MD, and at our launch reading, held on June 22 at Oliver’s Carriage House in Columbia. Both events are part of the annual Columbia Festival of the Arts.

Online Editor’s Note:

For an insider’s view, see “Meet the Neighbors: Columbia Festival of the Arts.” And for an example of how far-reaching acknowledgement of the connection between music and astronomy can be, see “Black Holes Emit B Flats as Emmylou Stirs the Universe.”  But be forewarned: NASA wants us to note that humans have no chance of hearing a true cosmic performance since the B-flat of black holes is 57 octaves lower than middle-C.

2 thoughts on “The Integration of Art, Music and More: Robin Rose

  1. clarinda harriss

    Great piece! Great pic, too. Looking forward to the launch party where these wonders will be explored in person. Must tell you that I keep “hearing” that low rumble 57 octaves below middle C. My mind boggles, my stomach rumbles in sympathy.


  2. Pingback: An Annotated Tour of the Music Issue | Little Patuxent Review

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