Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tony Renner's Sonny Rollins Variations

This is a numbered series of improvisations for Sonny Rollins by St. Louis artist Tony Renner, who has agreed to contribute again this year to the Poetry Scores Art Invitational.

He posted them up on four successive days in mid-July and, protean dude he is, I'd guess he cranked them out on those four days. Tony came to visual art in young middle age and seems to have the stuff pouring out of him faster than he can catch it - and he's a good art catcher.

This year's Invitational is dedicated to The Sydney Highrise Variations by Les Murray, a long poem about modernity, vertical space and the rise of the Australian city.

Though I see from a very sharply written review that Sonny Rollins played the Sydney Opera House in June 2008 for his first Australian appearance, I admit he doesn't have much to do with the themes of Les Murray's poem that Tony and the other 38 confirmed artists will be responding to for this year's Invitational.

That sharply written Sydney review by John Clare does talk about how in the sixties Sonny "would sometimes shatter it all into cubist fragments fashioned from falsetto wisps, barks, fog horn drones and hollow crooning," which sounds a bit like the mouth music by Les I recorded that we have incorporated into the score.

Probably I got Sonny Rollins on the mind since he is coming to the Touhill on Sept. 19 for what one fears will be his last St. Louis performance.

But really, I had something else in mind when selecting these images to preview Tony Renner's contribution to our Invitational. Rather than content - I have been looking for explorations of vertical space by the artists to post up in previews - this is an example of analagous form, since this is a series of variations - the Sonny Rollins Variations, as it were.

Here is hoping Tony pours out a series of variations for our Invitational! I'm also looking forward to seeing what scrap(s) of language from the poem she chooses for the title(s) of his work, which is the premise of the show.

The 2009 Poetry Scores Art Invitational will be held Friday, Nov. 13 at The Luminary.

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