Friday, April 20, 2018

Dennis Gonzalez's "Star System Compositions"

Best known as a musician, Dallas-based Renaissance man Dennis Gonzalez is also a gifted visual artist, and sometimes his various creative endeavors cross over. A couple of years ago, a gallery in my neighborhood presented his works on paper under the rubric "The Enigma of Divination" in conjunction with a performance by his recently-formed trio Ataraxia. Currently, "Star System Compositions" -- a collection of his graphic scores -- is on display in the gallery at the Baylor Health Science Library (3302 Gaston Ave., Dallas TX 75246) through June 17. Gonzalez's depictions of constellations incorporate elements of collage, pen-and-ink, geometric forms, and standard musical notation. Their subject matter unites the artist's interests in the cosmic, the spiritual, and the musical.

"Orion (For Cornelius Cardew)," for example, pays tribute (in golden hues) to the British composer, who explored similar territory in his collection of scores entitled "Treatise." One of the most visually complex scores in this group, "Andromeda (For Turiyasangitananda Alice Coltrane)," juxaposes a big, golden sun with groupings of colored squares, and Sanksrit writing. "Aquarius, Delphinius, and Orion II" -- a commission from Gonzalez's son Stefan for the improvisational duo Mother II -- has a strong simplicity, dominated by two large circles, with a cropped nature photo around the border. "Proxima Centauri" (illustrated above) is dedicated to Fort Worth guitarist-promoter Kavin Allenson (whose offer of a gig prompted Ataraxia's formation), and will be familiar to owners of the Ataraxia record. "The Heart Asterism (For Carol Gonzalez)," depicts a pattern of stars suggesting a heart, as befits a dedication to the artist's wife. Gonzalez's two-dimensional creations are as engaging as his music. See them while you can.


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