MidCoast Fine Arts exhibits music-inspired “Pictures”

"Pictures at an Exhibition,” a series of drawings by Bruce Walters, will be displayed in the RiverCenter from March 1-9, 2013. The exhibit is curated by Ethan Leader of MidCoast Fine Arts. The exhibit is on display to coincide with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition at the Alder Theatre on Saturday, March 9, and in Centennial Hall, Augustana College, on Sunday March 10.

In 1874, the Russian composer Mussorgsky visited an art exhibition organized in honor of Viktor Hartmann, an artist and architect who had died unexpectedly at the age of 39. Mussorgsky was devastated by his friend's untimely death and wrote a piano suite that musically illustrates Hartmann's pencil sketches and paintings, with a recurring theme that represents the viewer's progress from artwork to artwork. Maurice Ravel arranged orchestral suite to be performed in 1922.  This series is Walters’ interpretation of descriptions of Hartmann’s original artworks. To tie the series together, Walters used a central figure carrying a conductor's baton. The series takes its first unexpected turn in the third drawing when this figure is drawn through a framed artwork by an image of a ballerina–entering a world apart from the gallery. (Hartmann sketched a scene from the ballet Trilby. Trilby's cast of characters included Svengali and influenced the 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera).

Quad City area landmarks are placed throughout the series. For example, Moline’s old train station becomes Baba Yaga’s hut and the Oakdale Cemetery entrance in Davenport is the source for the gates in the final image. In spite of such changes, Walters tried to keep faithful to the spirit of the music and descriptions of the artwork.

Bruce Walters is a professor of Art at Western Illinois University. Walters created the 100 ft. wide NASA projections on the exterior of the Figge Art Museum in 2012. His artwork has been displayed in more than one hundred solo, invitational, and competitive exhibitions, primarily in the Midwest, but also in England, Germany, Japan, New York, and Washington, D.C. 

The series is online at www.walters-mussorgsky.info.