Exhibition Tour Guide Series: Guest blogger Chelsea Nagayama

Sadly, this past Sunday was the final day for the The Record and The B-Side, which exhibited art, influenced and created with records and record sleeves by local Pacific Northwest artists spanning from Portland to Anacortes, respectively. I personally enjoyed the juxtaposition between the B-Side and The Record because the B-Side showed a current perspective of the local music world’s intersection of audio and visual art, while the The Record showed the past and present influence of records on the art world.  It was super great to gain a deeper understanding of records and music culture by the programs set up during the duration of the exhibit. I got see the record cutting process and even got my own record cut by the amazing dude, Mike Dixon, who was doing a residency with his record company PIAPTK Records. Now, I have my own personal one song record cut into Plexiglas.

I led the Youth Advisory Board from the Experience Music Project (EMP), led by the program’s teacher Jonathan Cunningham, during the final week of the exhibit. The Youth Advisory Board is a program that high school aged youth are working together through their passion for music to drive the involvement of their peers at the EMP. This high school aged group was an ideal group because of their invested relationship with music and their youthful perspective of what records mean to a young viewer during the revival of records as a medium for musicians to produce their music.

The EMP student’s will be acting as tour guides for the EMP in the future and actually pulled inspiration for their video wall, which displays music videos of past and present artists. Students jotted down names of local musicians to research so they could create a local perspective for their music video wall display. A theme these bright students really understood was the aspect of time in the exhibit. Time is represented by the ephemeral quality of the record’s vinyl material, the way listeners interact with a record player and how a record must be played through, and the nostalgia and reference to the past records have.

An activity I did with this group, that I encourage you all to do, is to choose a record sleeve of an artist you have never heard before and describe what you think the artist sounds like based on the cover art. Then, play the record and compare your previous thoughts with what you hear. It’s a really interesting activity to understand and consider the dynamic relationship of audio and visual art. The EMP group chose Black Candy. The album cover is black with white messy cursive writing of Black Candy and a quintessential piece of sugary cellophane wrapped candy drawn expressively with squiggles.  The EMP group suggested it would sounds metal, maybe hardcore, and that there was definitely going to be an edge. The sound was less metal and more grunge than they imagined. Go have fun and explore the recently booming record world, or better yet find a gem from the 70’s or 80’s!

I hope you all had the chance to check out The Record and The B-Side because the Henry is sad to see it leave, but new exhibitions Now Here is also Nowhere and Like a Valentine: The Art of Jeffry Mitchell are opening on October 26th. The Henry will be having an Open House that night from 7-10 pm for the public, so come out, enjoy art, and party on!

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