Music To Your Eyes 

The Dixon gets "In the Mix."

T he Dixon Gallery and Gardens joins the "50 Years of Rock and Roll" celebration with a new exhibit, "In the Mix: A New Way To See Art in Music."

The exhibit, which will be displayed through July 18th, showcases work from local musicians, photographers, and graphic artists.

"The purpose is to further show the connection between art and music," says Jeniffer Church, guest curator for the show. "The exhibit is mainly composed of artwork by local musicians who are very talented, even though it is not what they do primarily, and there are some examples of the art created around music.

"In Memphis, the communities are all connected," says Church. "Artists and musicians share so many struggles and challenges. It's nice to see that the two work together so harmoniously."

The collection in the Mallory Gallery is small -- about 25 pieces.

"This is by no means a comprehensive show," says Church. "It is a brief exhibit giving you a glance at the talent that is here in our own backyard. One of the interesting aspects of this exhibit is that it is the first time for many of these artists to show their work."

That artists play in bands and musicians paint is not dogs-loving-cats shocking. Creative people, after all, tend to be creative in many ways. "I think it may be a surprise to some, but it's something that's very natural," says Church. "These musicians do art for themselves. They don't have to worry about pleasing an audience or the pressures of the industry. They can feed their creativity with art."

A prime example of the multitalented is Jimmy Crosthwait -- puppeteer, washboard musician, percussionist, sculptor, et al. His piece at the Dixon is a towering spire titled Tambourine Totem. "He oozes creativity," says Church.

Singer-songwriter Cory Branan offers an inside look at his songwriting process with intricate sketches and writing in pages torn from a journal. Also mixed "In the Mix" is an acrylic painting by singer Val Joyner, a comic strip drawn by Lucero frontman Ben Nichols, drawings by Susan Marshall, plus works by musicians Jim and Luther Dickinson, Gerard Harris, Reba and Wayne Russell, Greg Roberson, Lamar Sorrento, and Jeannie Tomlinson.

"Tomlinson was bass player for the Marilyns, an all-girl punk band that used to play at the Antenna," says Church. "It's really interesting to see [her working] with forged metal, which requires power and an edge, like her music."

William Eggleston, "the father of color photography," may have the most rock-and-roll past of all this exhibit's artists combined. Included are Eggleston photos of Jody Stephens on a Big Star album from 1974. The late Jack Robinson is another renown photographer whose work is represented. On loan from the Jack Robinson Gallery are images of '60 icons, such as Tina and Ike Turner.

Musical mainstay Sid Selvidge's photos capture his life -- on stage, back stage, and on tour with blues greats.

Graphic artists often go unrecogonized for their work -- logos, cover art, and posters. "In the Mix" presents the work of local graphic artists, such as a three-color serigraph created by Michael Carpenter for the band Lucero and the cover art for Rob Jungklas' Arkadelphia CD, which won Brooke Barnett a Memphis Advertising Federation "Addy" award in 2002.

Portrait of Lucille, a painting by Ellis Chap-pell, is a Gibson guitar shrouded in neon and inspired by B.B. King's affectionately named guitar.

In conjunction with the exhibit and the Dixon's Third Thursdays: Art After Dark music series, blues artist Richard Johnston will perform on the lawn on June 17th. There will be a cash bar and a free fajita/quesadilla bar. n

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