The painting shown above is titled “Background Music” and features my husband, Baer, with his Martin OM28V model guitar. I recently donated a limited edition print of this painting to be auctioned off to help support an online forum that is designed to bring Martin guitar owners together to share their love of the instrument and music. These talented folks from around the world make a pilgrimage once a year to a little town called Nazareth located in Pennsylvania which is the birthplace of the Martin guitar. Baer and I have been attending for several years now and always enjoy the experience. The auction went well, I’m always happy to help a good cause and in this case music and art melded just right.
Baer plays and sings beautifully. Me….not at all. In fact, sometimes, while driving my truck down a country road, I’m inclined to sing to a favorite song at the top of my lungs….only to see small animals run away in terror. I’m convinced that it is not the sound of that Chevy engine that is making them flee, but the harsh wailing coming from the cab that has penetrated their wooded bliss. And so it is that my husband and I co-exist. He sings but cannot paint and I paint but cannot sing and yet….sometimes…the two overlap and a piece such as “Background Music” is born.
Baer acquired this guitar a few years back by trading a Rolex watch that his ex-wife had given him. He justified it by saying that he was trading bad mojo for good mojo and I agreed with his logic. He conferred with an instrument dealer in Virginia and the deal was struck. And so it was that the Rolex was packaged up and shipped, sight unseen, to the dealer and the dealer had the guitar shipped, sight unseen to Baer. The two items crossed over each other in transit somewhere along the east coast and both arrived at their destinations in fine condition leaving both parties thrilled with their acquisitions.
The following year I decided to create the painting and started working on it in April. In late May my father (who loved seeing my work in progress) stopped by for a visit and asked what I was working on. I brought the painting, half completed, down for him to view and he loved it. My father also loved to hear Baer play and sing so I suppose it was no surprise that he liked the painting. As it turned out, that would be the last time my father ever viewed my work. He passed away a few weeks later suddenly and unexpectedly. It would take another four months before I could bring myself to enter my studio to finish this piece and when the final signature was laid out I burst into tears with the knowledge that my father would never see the completed work.
A few years later Baer decided to embellish his guitar with a small ivory heel cap. He asked me to sketch a 1×1 inch bear paw track which was then emailed to Bob Hergert, who is a master micro-scrimshaw artist in Oregon. Baer commissioned Bob to scrimshaw the paw print sketch onto the small ivory piece which was then fitted onto the heel plate of the guitar by another master in his craft, luthier David Musselwhite. Once again, music and art were intertwined.
My husband has told me on more than one occasion that I have taught him how to “see” things differently. That sunset. That tree. Or a simple glass of iced tea. In return he has taught me the names of nearly all of the separate parts of a guitar and the nuances of the musical note in his splendid voice which will forever be the background music of my life.