Of gods and guitars:
With ‘Guitar Gods,’ on display at Fancy Pants April 4-5 (Women’s Weekend Out), musician Vicki Price adds visual art to her repertoire
Friday, March 21, 2014 12:15 PM
It would be hard to find a person in Northeast Iowa who doesn’t know the music of Joe and Vicki Price.
Indeed, the much-loved couple -- residents of Decorah but on the road much of the time, touring all over the U.S. -- have been making music together for more than three decades; and, in that time, have opened for such notables as Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon, Pine Top Perkins, Homesick James, Honeyboy Edwards, Louisiana Red, Al Green, Greg Brown and Iris DeMent.
Something a lot of their fans might not know, though, is that Vicki also loves to draw and paint.
Inspired by a conversation among friends about “guitar gods” (Clapton’s name came up, she recalls), and by the Mexican and Southwestern art she has loved since she first began travelling out west, Vicki has for the past few years been working on a series of multi-media creations comprising a collection she calls “Guitar Gods.”
Whimsical, colorful, even provocative, the pieces are combinations of paint, found objects and paper cut-outs that come together in bold and playful expressions of the sheer joy to be found in music, dancing and, indeed, the arts in general.
When Sharon Huber, co-owner of Fancy Pants in Decorah, was conspiring with her friend and business partner, Debbie Paulson, about what to do to celebrate Women’s Weekend Out (Friday and Saturday, April 4 and 5), she thought displaying and selling Vicki’s art work in their store would be a great way to do that.
“I’ve been fortunate to see several of Vicki’s pieces in her home - including her guitar cases which she has embellished,” Huber says. “I am so excited that she is sharing her art with her friends and the public -- and I cannot wait to own my own Vicki Price print.”
Prints from the “Guitar Gods” series will be on display and for sale at Fancy Pants, 411 W Water St. in Decorah, Friday and Saturday, April 4 and 5. Vicki will be there for part of both days, as well.
For hours and more information, call 563-382-8898.
A conversation with the artist:
DN: How did the “roots of blues” piece come about?
VP: The “roots of blues” was inspired by the work of Dan Dalton, a folk artist from Portland, Ore. I saw his work at the Blue City Deli in St. Louis where we perform. He does folk art portraits of blues musicians. I really loved his work and wanted to incorporate it in something of mine. The idea of the tree and Joe and I picking our music off it -- with our favorite blues artists as the roots -- seemed natural.
How does the Frida (Kahlo) piece fit into the “Guitar Gods” series?
Frida Kahlo has been a real inspiration to me as a woman and as an artist. Her independent spirit, her love of beautiful things, her relationship with her husband, Diego. She made beautiful, thought-provoking art. The idea that most of her life she was overshadowed by her husband. That he created larger-than-life art, while most of her work is on very small canvas. I believe that she inspires me spiritually to work at what I love and in that sense she is a guide in my life. So it seemed natural to include her as a guitar god.
Could you say something about the religious elements in this series?
Religious art and iconography have always caught my attention. Some of the most beautiful artwork in the world is religious in nature. It is also that way with music, whether a Gregorian chant or a gospel choir -- some of the most moving pieces of music have been created around religious themes. “Guitar Gods” was never meant to insult peoples’ religious views, but rather to show my feelings that music, art and religion are closely connected.
What gives you the most satisfaction about making visual art? About making music?
Visual art is a way to create physical beauty, it is something we see and touch. I love the process, the dreaming of the picture, then figuring out how to create it. Then just sitting back and looking it.
Music connects with our sense of hearing. As we listen to music, images fill our head which we will always connect with that song. That is why I never watch videos. They rob me of my feelings and ideas about the song and put someone else’s vision in my head. Then I am stuck with that vision and lose my own. Since you are not dependent on a visual stimulus to enjoy music, you feel it on a different level than the visual art. The majority of our life experiences are based around what we see; music allows us to “see” in a different way.
What draws you to the Mexican-inspired qualities in your visual work?
Joe gave me the book “A Hundred Years of Solitude” right after we met. He had traveled extensively in Mexico and loved the people and culture. As I read more Latin American and Mexican authors I felt inspired by their magical realism. Their way of seeing the magical in the everyday. When we began touring out west I was exposed to more and more of the visual art and just loved it.
Why did you decide to start selling prints of these pieces?
Most of the people that come to the house have enjoyed the paintings and thought I should sell them. I never found any reason to really do that until we had a setback last year on the work we were doing on our next CD. We record in Nashville in a friend’s studio located in his house. Last June there was a fire and the studio was destroyed. Unfortunately, all of our 2” tape and most of the work we had done on our next CD was lost. This has cost us time and money. So to get the project back on track I decided to start selling prints and using that money to finish the CD. For $50 you can pick a print and help us finish up the CD. It is working out very well so far.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I would just like to add that while I am serious about my music both as art and as a business, I have always done the painting for myself. It is my relaxation, so I am not altogether comfortable with putting it out there. I never considered it anything special, just something I love to do. There are real visual artists out there, I am amateur status and I know it.