Art by Rob Levit

A Note About These Paintings And My Chamber Music America Composition Commission

I do not pretend to be a visual artist or painter but what I am is a creative artist. The following description details the process at how these panels arrived in my basement in the middle of March. I hope it gives a glimmer into the creative process, turning off the inner critic, perseverance, and believing in one's own abilities:

One day I went and saw the movie Pollock with my wife. Rent it! It was inspiring. Why? Not because it showed some drunk splashing paint on a canvas and selling them for exorbitant prices. Hogwash! If all the stories and legends were true then we'd all be rich by now. Jackson Pollock was certainly controversial but one thing the movie evidenced, and I believe accurately so, was that he arrived at his method after difficult transitions and inner wrangling. If anything, his later works were not improvised as largely thought. Pollock himself talked about the focus and deliberateness of his work. Once you begin to observe his work, without using typical silly clichés like a "kindergartner could do this", a more profound appreciation is achieved.

In any event, I could not get any of this movie out of my mind, especially the scene where Pollock broods and depresses over the mural he must design for Peggy Guggenheim and then proceeds to create it in a fit of creative rage, almost overnight. I thought to myself, "what if I try this?" The answer was go for it! Now I know have zero artistic training, except back in sixth and seventh grade, but what I do have is a compositional ability, an artistic sensibility, intense focus, and organizational skills. I have never studied formally and have never tried something like this since. In short, it was a one time deal. I hopped in my car and the lovely Kim at Art Things in Annapolis helped me pick out my supplies. My pre-requisite was that they be cheap -- twelve card board panels, basic watercolors, watercolor crayons, black pens, tissue paper, and a sketch pad.

Then I proceeded to work. Just for a glorious couple of days, I shut my inner critic off. I worked almost uninterrupted. I grew tired but kept on. I had twelve panels and I wanted twelve paintings so I know I had to live with what I created. I insisted that they must all be unique and different. I poked holes, strung things out of them, cut geometric designs, slathered them with paint, goo, and grease. Well, here they are! Am I a genius? Hell no!

What I am is not afraid to create! Are you an excuse maker who fears taking any risk, large or small? Get over it and be bold for a change. Who the hell cares what others may think. God forbid, they might even like and care about what you do. The response to these paintings has been overwhelmingly positive from skilled artists and the novice alike. It's the spirit that counts! I hope this page can be a testament to anyone who needs a creative boost. Trust yourself. How dare we constantly question our purest motives and constantly criticize ourselves. These paintings were created out of sheer joy and in retrospect, about as close to creative ecstasy as I've ever gotten.

How do these relate to my Chamber Music America composition? Interestingly, enough, two magnificent composers with whom I share this award but don't personally know (Jane Ira Bloom and Phil Markowitz), have an abiding interest in modern art and Pollock as well. Coincidence? The centuries old conspiracy to fuse the visual and musical continues! I am anxious to see what beautiful perspectives they create.

My composition, Perceptual Depths, seeks to delve deeply into how things can be viewed from multiple vantage points. Like Remedios Varos, the great woman artist, I will ask myself cosmological and perceptual questions and then in some untidy and rag tag way, assemble them into musical answers, which hopefully, will stimulate more questions! It wouldn't be any fun to solve life's mysteries, now would it. I want to be confused and perplexed. The search is half the fun!

Well, enough rambling, as I feebly attempt to explain my world. These paintings were created with Beginner's Mind. No expectations. They aren't for sale, sorry! They are personal reminders that I can, I can, if I just allow myself. So can you.

(Special thanks to Larry Melton for taking photographs of the paintings and Kim at Art Things for aiding and abetting my delusions of grandeur.)