Guitars are things of beauty, their sensuous shape and gleaming surfaces conveying a sense of the music that can lie therein. Bowling Green area artist Gail Christofferson sees the music that guitars can create in a different way from a musician’s sensibility; she uses old guitars to create works of art that allow the instrument to continue to sing, but with notes of joyful color rather than those notes found on a musical scale. Gail’s glass mosaic guitars will be on display at the Anna Bier Gallery beginning on October 7, opening in conjunction with “One Night In Memphis,” a special event presented onstage at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall by Darke County Center for the Arts. The art exhibit will be open from 6 p.m. until DCCA’s “One Night In Memphis” begins at 8 p.m.; the artist will speak about her work at 7 p.m.
As graphics arts businesses began producing computer-generated designs about twenty years ago, Gail realized that she missed the tactile aspect of her chosen profession, and turned to art glass, beginning by working with stained glass. However, she felt stifled by the perfectionism required for that medium and turned to mosaics, enjoying the creative freedom found when working with the smaller glass pieces.
Her work has gained national recognition, and includes a recent installation at the airport in Nashville where her colorful creations dangled from the ceiling as travelers arrived in and departed from “Music City.” In one of the pieces from that installation, a lovely landscape highlighted by a blue, lavender, green, and burnished red and orange sky above rustic buildings wraps around the guitar; this is Gail’s rendering of a design from her daughter Claire’s first art project.
Among the other delightful pieces on display are several portraits of music icons, including Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, an especially appropriate inclusion, as “One Night In Memphis,” is a tribute to an impromptu Sun Records Studio jam session featuring Johnny and Elvis, as well as Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. Other beloved stars recreated in black and white glass pieces artfully arranged on a guitar are Dolly Parton, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin.
Other striking works include an elegant eagle soaring in a turquoise sky, his feathers realistically formed from black, grey, and taupe glass pieces, and a close-up of a sternly magnificent owl whose golden eyes peer at the viewer. Two guitars are adorned with a seafaring motif; in one, a silvery glass anchor stands out against a nautical blue background, and in the second, a blue-eyed fish with mouth wide open goes for an actual fishing lure.
Sunflowers have been a favorite subject of the artist for many years; “Classic Gail” picturing brilliant yellow sunflowers on a blue background, brings to mind the classic sunflowers painted by Vincent Van Gogh. Lush flowers bloom on several of the guitars; however, an especially evocative piece, “Moon Dance” spotlights a starkly bare tree with a silvery orb hovering above. Several guitars are covered with various geometric designs; “Square Fair,” made entirely of colored glass rectangles, reminds one of a quilt constructed of fabric pieces, while “Groovin’” features an intensely hued dramatic spiral design in deep blue, burgundy red, bright orange, and chartreuse yellow glass.
Gail has worked with at-risk youth, cancer patients, and the homeless, enabling her clients to experience the therapeutic effect of successfully creating a thing of beauty, and believes that art provides an outlet for personal expression, lifting spirits, and building hope for almost everyone. Likewise, the joy she finds in producing her one-of-a-kind pieces is communicated to the viewer as each charming piece is contemplated.
The unique mosaic guitars of Gail Christofferson will be on view at the Anna Bier Gallery, located within Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall, through October 28; don’t miss the opportunity to discover her joyful output. The Gallery is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and by appointment as well as during special events at Memorial Hall. For more information, or to arrange a tour at other times, contact Anna Bier Gallery Director Tamera McNulty at 937-564-5863.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.