For two years, Angie Beach says she practically begged Lori Preusch to create artwork for Music in the Mountains.
Beach is executive director of MiTM, the classical music festival running now through the end of July.
“Frankly, I stalked her,” Beach said. “Her work speaks to me.
“I chose this year’s theme: fairy tales,” Beach said, “and along with Melanie Palmer, a volunteer who has been with the festival longer than any of us, we worked on this together. Melanie went through all the music and described each program. Then, we Googled and paired music with titles. Lori’s art happens to be perfect for our theme.”
Preusch’s illustration depicts a magical scene worthy of the Brothers Grimm. A barefoot child playing a violin rides though a misty forest on a very large bear. Titles of individual concerts vary from “Beauty and the Beast” to “Prince Charming.”
“Every painting of mine tells a story,” Preusch said. “Rhapsody” is the title she gave to her cover art.
“Once I got the idea,” Preusch said, “it took about a year to paint.”
The original acrylic painting measures 25 by 36 inches. A formal, high-definition giclée print will be auctioned at the Pops Night Benefit on July 20. For those who want to purchase greeting cards, visit Preusch’s website, www.dandelionpress.com, or area stores where they are carried.
“I’ve been painting for about 35 years,” Preusch said. “I have a gallery in San Francisco which carries my original artwork.
“I’ve known Angie a long time. She came to a signing for my children’s book, Delivering Dreams. She asked if I’d be interested in working up something in my style for Music in the Mountains. Normally, I don’t do custom work, but she convinced me.”
Over its 32-year history, the festival has featured many different kinds of art for its posters, brochures and advertising. In the early years, silhouettes of instruments served as a kind of logo until a leaf-violin design became a signature. The festival tent has appeared in various guises as well as general Southwest imagery. In the last decade, the organization occasionally conducted an art competition. It’s always a gamble.
The contest model begins with a call for submissions followed by a public display and finally ballot voting. Results are usually mixed. Too often, open competitions devolve into popularity contests. Generic favorites usually win, and in our part of the world, that often means formulaic landscapes.
In 2009, however, MiTM graphics turned a corner. Music Director Guillermo Figueroa had chosen the theme: “Passión!” As memory serves, Figueroa said he wanted cover art to underscore the theme of emotionally stirring music. Someone had seen Stanton Englehart’s enigmatic figurative works from an early period – The Women Series. Figueroa apparently saw the paintings and thought one would visually support the theme.
It made a beautiful poster, with the focus on a semi-abstract seated woman, Englehart’s “Gaia,” or Mother Earth. The artist added a dancing figure in silhouette. Elegant in its simplicity, the image conveys intense human feeling.
That’s the task of visual art, especially for a music festival.
Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.