Private Stash

The apexart gallery in Tribeca hosted an exhibition called Private Stash: A Musician's Eye, a collection of art curated by musician Fred Hersch.  I attended the opening with my mother as we are both art lovers and often attend art openings and exhibitions at local museums and galleries. Known for their daring and unusual exhibitions apexart is also known to nurture artists and showcase their works at their various locations all around the world.  Art is truly a global experience with apexart and as an art lover I appreciate that they try to connect the artist with the art lover as much as possible.  Mom and I have been to this gallery several times already.  We discovered it as part of an art walk and have come back again on our own.  Each time we go we enjoy ourselves and learn something new.  This time was no exception. The apexart website says the following about the Private Stash exhibition:

Most of the discussions about or by musicians are centered on what they hear. This is natural, as the job of any musician is to make what's on the printed page of music or what's in his or her inner ear audible to those who are listening. "Classical" musicians try to take music that we may know and re-interpret it for us so it sounds fresh. "Jazz" musicians organize their improvised flights so that the music can sound composed, while retaining a certain spark that comes from when something is created on the spot and is unique to that performance. Yet not much is written about what musicians see. Some musicians (and non-musicians) are synesthetes, and for them a musical key (or a number or a letter) appears as a definite color. I do not have this gift, but the exhibition Private Stash: A Musician's Eye is a look at the way that my visual world influences and affects my work as a composer and musician. -Fred Hersch

I did not know much about the composer Fred Hersch before attending the art opening.  I did read online that he is an American jazz pianist and composer and music educator.  Hersch studied at the New England Conservatory and has traveled and performed internationally. His collection of artwork is eclectic by nature and was also international in its origin.  There were photographs, sculptures, papier-mache, folk art, quilt-like fabric art, and historical items such as stamps and the signatures of important historical figures.  All of the pieces were personal to Hersch in some way and there was a recurring theme of animals (birds, cats, dogs, and fish) and pianos of varying size and stature.

The collection not only featured art but also had a musical component.  There were lists of his favorite songs that crossed most musical genres, sheet music of his original compositions, and audio samples of an opera that Hersch had written as well as actual video of said opera.  The opera was inspired by dreams Hersch had while in a coma for several months.  The audio samples were featured on mini iPods that hung from the wall, note cards attached to the wall beside the hanging iPods described the songs from the opera and the dreams that inspired them. The final piece to the collection was the actual video of a performance of the opera in a miniature media room carved out of the back of the gallery.  My mother and I sat and watched a few bits of the opera---the nature of its origin and its themes were truly inspiring to me as a writer.

Mr. Hersch was present during the opening and my mother and I actually got to speak with him.  He was quite friendly and passionate about his collection as I spoke to him about some of his most intriguing pieces.  I enjoyed the opera immensely and my favorite pieces of the collection included some of the folk art, photographs and a few unusual pieces.  Pieces that stick out the most in my mind were a miniature sculpture of a bird-lady and cat-lady playing the piano side by side, papier-mache fish shaped lamps and sculptures of cats and dogs.

I was also inspired by Fred Hersch's story of personal triumph as he overcame a health crisis and used that experience to create art and breathe new life into his work.  I felt motivated as a writer, as I often am when I'm around other artists.  I believe that sometimes our most painful or trying experiences can be used for creative expression and also gives us tremendous personal strength.  We learn that we are unbreakable and can overcome almost anything life throws at us.  But most importantly we can use our experiences to help and inspire others.

While the theme of Private Stash may have been to show us a vision of the world through a musician's eyes and to show us his way of thinking, I found something more under the surface.  Hersch's personal and professional triumphs and his love of art coincided in a way that was deeply personal and passionate but also very inspiring---which is for me what art is all about.

For a glimpse of the exhibition, view pictures that I took here.