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Gallery opening features performance video Six artists document their work-in-progress


WESTMINSTER -- The Carroll County Arts Council's new gallery will open in Sozra sound and a burst of abstract art at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Hilary Pierce, the council's executive director, chose a multimedia sight and sound performance for the opening of the group's new center at 15 E. Main St.

"The Sozra Sound Project: Exploring the Origins of Creativity and the Influence of Sound," by John M. Sosnowsky of Union Bridge, features a 7-by-12-foot canvas painted by six area artists and a video detailing the painting's creation.

With splashes of a wide range of colors, the canvas dominates one wall of the center's 1,800-foot space. The video also will be shown at the opening.

The video shows the interaction of artists, sound and cameras. While Channel 55's cameras rolled, the artists used color to interpret Mr. Sosnowsky's "new age" music.

During a four-hour session, as his 23-minute composition played continuously, Sozra, Mr. Sosnowsky's professional name, and five other artists filled the blank canvas with myriad bold strokes and light dabs of brilliant paint.

The project tested Sozra's theory that a connection exists between sound, color and creation, he said.

Sound might have something to do with everything we see, he said, as it evokes colors and creates a stimulating environment. The project was meant to show the influence of sound on the creative process.

"I have no idea how this project will progress," he said to viewers at the beginning of the tape. "You will find out as we do."

Mr. Sosnowsky said he tried to empty his mind of all distractions before entering the studio.

"We had no discussion before," he said of the artists involved. "I wanted our thoughts to bubble out of the spirit and onto the canvas."

He put the first mark on the canvas, and the other artists soon followed.

"We all pulled together," he said. "Everyone volunteered to be part of the project. They were all familiar with my music and had faith in creativity."

Soft lighting immediately draws the viewer's attention to the canvas. Pat Flaherty, lighting director, placed a parachute between the painting and the lights, and focused all light on the canvas.

Mr. Sosnowsky asked the artists to dress in black so that the only color in the studio would come from the paint.

The artists each walked tentatively to the canvas and worked. They quickly lost track of each other, Mr. Sosnowsky said.

They frequently stepped back to survey the piece before returning to add color.

The artists commented to the cameras between strokes. Patti Anne Battaglia, of Baltimore, said finding the right outlet is the key to unleashing creativity.

"Artists take in stimulus, digest it and spit it out," said Dan Shapiro, also of Baltimore. "The creative act is not simple. I don't where it comes from, but I accept it."

Westminster artist, Kevin Dayhoff, called the creative process a curse.

"How the artist deals with that curse is what counts," he said.

The video was filmed in April and completed recently after

months of editing.

"When Hilary saw the rough draft, she asked me to premiere at the new gallery," said Mr. Sosnowsky.

The project, which Ms. Pierce calls "provocative and exciting," gives the council an ideal opening composition, she said.

"Video is a cutting-edge medium with boundless potential," she said.

The exhibit, which includes other works by the artists, will run through Aug. 28. The video also will air on Channel 55, the cable community access channel, at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 10, 12 and 14.

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