Artist John Carlson Paints the Blues

Fri 2/21 @ 5-9PM

Last summer, Cleveland-based painter John W. Carlson took several trips down south to the Mississippi Delta, the birthplace of American blues. It was his way of finding some solace over the drug overdose death of his son.

“It was through blues music that I was able to grieve the death of my son,” says Carlson. “I was given permission to moan and weep but also to embrace this burden, and finally lay it down.”

It also produced the series of paintings that make up his latest show, Blues, which goes on view this week at HEDGE Gallery at 78th Street Studios. In it, he looks at the connection of blues music to adversity, and its role in helping its practitioners cope with their hardscrabble lives. His impressionistic style incorporates oil stick drawings, impasto paint layers and collaged found objects.

Says the artist statement: “John has incorporated aspects of his travels, such as the sound of insects, the unrelenting heat, smells of the river and the vastness of the fields into his recent work. He intends to take viewers on a visual journey to the places in our souls where the stories of survival, love, loss, and joy come from.”

The show also features images by photographer Shari Wilkins on abandoned homes printed on homemade paper, along with her family tree series.

There’s a preview reception at the gallery Wed 2/19 @ 6-8pm; the show opens on Third Friday, Fri 2/21 @ 5-9pm and will be on view through 4/3. Carlson will do an artist talk, with a performance by Oberlin choir director Jessie Reeder Thu 3/5 @ 6-8pm.

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