ELEVATED | Looking at Innocence: Art and Music Inspired by Children

08/14/14 | By | 77 More
PORTRAIT OF INNOCENCE – An unpublished image from Carl Marcus's Portraits of Innocence series, this is a photo of Jacqueline Garcia, the daughter of Juan Garcia, a cook at La Cocina de Luz. Marcus has been photographing her since she was an infant. "This image haunts me," he said. "There's something in her face that isn't visible in the faces of American children."

PORTRAIT OF INNOCENCE – An unpublished image from Carl Marcus’s Portraits of Innocence series, this is a photo of Jacqueline Garcia, the daughter of Juan Garcia, a cook at La Cocina de Luz. Marcus has been photographing her since she was an infant. “This image haunts me,” he said. “There’s something in her face that isn’t visible in the faces of American children.”

The Child is Father of the Man.

–William Wordsworth

Telluride photographer Carl Marcus didn’t know, as he watched the children he was about to photograph doodle away on their iPads, that he would one day use their artistic inspiration in his own work.

He was more interested in capturing their portraits at the time.

Interested, too, in using those photographs in a searching exhibit, recently closed, at the Wilkinson Library. Entitled “Portraits of Innocence,” the display presented close-up photos of 50 children’s faces in an attempt to answer the question, when does that state of ideological purity end? “When does innocence actually dissolve in a person?” Marcus said. “When does a person go from having no agenda, from purely having fun” to the calculating world of adulthood: a world built around seeking rewards and avoiding punishment?

If the portraits didn’t answer that, they at least raised provocative questions: what was behind those sweet, sly smiles? those limpid gazes? The older a child got, Marcus noticed, “the more visible were the shadows of the masks.” (Several photos still hang in the Wilkinson’s Children’s section; see more at Marcus’s website, portraitsofinnocence.com.) Yet even as the exhibit attempted to explore two sides of humanity – simple beauty and also, perhaps, a darker side – Marcus found himself returning to the way the kids drew those doodles. The ease with which he’d seen the kids produce art made him want to give the iPad a whirl, himself. “I didn’t use their drawings as the basis for my art,” he emphasized. “But the way they used the iPad gave me the idea to fool around with it, too.”

And he did. Then he put the works away for a year.  When he returned to them, “I brought them into Photoshop and printed them on different types of paper,” he said. One of the images became the T-shirt for this year’s Jazz festival (it sold out). Others are on t-shirts on sale at the Toggery. The collection itself hangs in the casual confines of the Mexican restaurant La Cocina de Luz, an unusual and inspired place for fine art, though not altogether surprising when you consider that the restaurant’s owner, Lucas Price, is something of an artist himself, and has an excellent eye. (“He used to draw me princesses when I was a girl, and I would color them in,” said his daughter, Elan Price.)


COWGIRL DANCE – Artwork by Carl Marcus inspired by children's drawings on an iPad. Marcus's works are on display at La Cocina de Luz. (Courtesy photo)

COWGIRL DANCE – Artwork by Carl Marcus inspired by children’s drawings on an iPad. Marcus’s works are on display at La Cocina de Luz. (Courtesy photo)

Here, on the walls of La Cocina, what emerges from Marcus’s sensitive, shrewd photographic exhibit – in this, his resultant exhibit – are simple, exuberant shapes; bright colors, lively forms, nothing veiled, moody, or enigmatic. No shadows, unless Marcus put them there deliberately, to emphasize the weightiness of the shapes. Marcus is good friends with Lucas Price, and the Guatemalan cooks Price employs, and often swings by La Cocina several times a day. “It’s so much fun to watch their smiles,” he said of the restaurant’s guests, who check out his art. When you look at the works, “What do you see?” he asked me. That was easy: only happiness.

And that is another kind of innocence.

More information and prices of Marcus’s art are available at Wizard Custom Framing, directly across the street from La Cocina.

In Concert: Chamber Music

The Telluride Chamber Music Festival finishes up this weekend, with four concerts between now and Sunday – for a complete schedule, visit telluridechambermusic.org – and next week, the 11th San Juan Chamber MusicFest begins. Both events bring extraordinary classical music to this region not only to connoisseurs, but those who are only just learning about it. This Friday morning there will be a special free concert for children, a staple feature of both festivals, at the Sheridan Opera House beginning at 11 a.m., and a Wright Opera House concert for children next Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. featuring Dr. Wolfgang Amadeus Schmutzinberry (better known as classical guitarist Rami Vamos, a teaching artist for the Chamber Music Society at New York’s Lincoln Center).

The Ouray festival places special emphasis on introducing classical music not only to the youngest generation, but everybody else. They – that is, the programmers, in particular Artistic Director Max Levinson – do that through a Classical Café, an informal get-together with guests seated at café tables and much interaction between musicians and audience. The theme of this year’s café, Classical Music From Around the World, features famous, and very likely familiar, pieces of music, such as Chopin’s “Military” Polonaise, a processional dance so uplifting that Polskie Radio broadcast the piece every day during the German invasion of Poland at the outset of World War II to inspire the Polish people. And there is a gentle introduction to Beethoven: his Eyeglasses Duo, a silly name for a playful duet for viola and cello written for the stormy German composer’s great companion, Baron Nikolaus Zmeskall, an accomplished amateur cellist. Beethoven played the viola, and some believe he intended to perform this piece with his friend. The festival concludes with a salon performance at a private home Sunday evening. That event is sold out, but tickets remain for a concert at the Wright Opera House next Saturday night, featuring Levinson on piano along with violinist Nurit Pacht, cellist Julia Yang and Emily Brandenburg on viola. The program, entitled Slavic Soul: Music From Eastern Europe, features pieces by Dohanyi (Serenade for Strings); Bartok (his “Out of Doors” Suite, which includes imitations of Polish fauna in summertime, including the ribbiting of an Hungarian Unka Frog, a witty selection for this time of year); and Dvorak’s Piano Quartet in E-Flat Major. Dvorak composed the Quartet at an extremely happy, productive time in his life, surrounded by a large and loving family and receiving numerous honors for his work. He completed it in just six weeks – on August 19, 1889. Earlier in the month, as the writing was clicking along, the composer contacted his publisher: “I’ve now already finished three movements of a new piano quartet and the Finale will be ready in a few days. As I expected it came easily and the melodies just surged upon me. Thank God!”

Just a week later, he would begin writing one of his most magnificent pieces, the Eighth Symphony.

The San Juan Chamber MusicFest is sponsored by the Ouray County Performing Arts Guild; tickets may be purchased online at the Guild’s website, ocpag.org, where a complete description of events is also available.

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