Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Trendy Painted Violins

At this year's Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, the event celebrates its 20th year with a painted violin project. Keeping in the theme of twenty, 20 violins were commissioned to be painted by 20 local artists and are to be auctioned off for at a '20s dinner-auction gala.

This article reminds me of a few weeks ago, when we had a post about our attempts to auction off a Mexican Folk Violin on eBay. It was an instrument that has been lying around the shop from some time now, and we never were able to liquidate it.
When a local artist stopped by shop, we thought here's a chance, let's give him an opportunity to be creative and sell it for him. 3 re-listed auctions later, still no bids. There are somethings, as hard as we may try, that just cannot sell on eBay.

Although our venture wasn't profitable by any means, we tried to see if this kind of folksy instrument art market exists. You might think that these creations would be found on
the sidewalk sales and street markets of the local arts or bohemian parts of town. There seems to be a bigger trend at work here.

Painted violins have caught the eyes of those with philanthropic aims. The players involved in this creative process is the
artist and a non-profit organization. The local artist is granted creative exposure and his completed instrument is held up for charitable auction or fund-raiser toward the organization. Such collaborations have been extended beyond its originators to all across the community and brought them together for civic festivities. In the 2005 March-April's issue of SYMPHONY: least 40 organization across the country- the vast majority of them orchestra, but also the occasional arts or community center- that have conducted a violin art project over the past three years, some making it a regular, if not annual events.
In other words, this phenomena is in the same zeitgeist of community based art projects such as the famous CowParade or New York Apples. For a more in depth analysis of this painted violin trend, definitely check out Rebecca Winzenried's article over at SYMPHONY magazine.

This raises trend interesting question though. If people are finding incredible appeal and success with these painted violins in the world of good causes, why not in the land of profit? You could argue that there have been some success.

Those bright rainbow color factory spray painted ones don't count. Neither do some of those violin backs by Gliga. Certainly electric violins with polychromatic colors or Walmart's Barbie Violin don't either (if any one finds one, please do send us one for auction).

Many of these attempts are rather sloppy; almost like slapping decal flames on the back of your hotrod and calling it "pimped". The same kind of lagging quality is even found with some of these non-profit creations. Artists are donated cheap fiddles to begin with. Fund raising deadlines takes away the cuts away at the artistic quality. And unfortunately, function is inevitably lost for aesthetics.

Wouldn't it be an interesting venture for shops to arrange a collaboration between the violin maker and the painter? Purists, and traditional craftsmen could not fathom such an idea.
The only brush they want touching instruments are the ones coated in varnish. History though tells a different story, as such ventures did in fact happen.

Case in point:
the King ViolonCello by Andrea Amati.
Experts say this instrument was built around 1538 but in 1560, it was painted to serve as one of a set of 38 stringed instruments that were painted and gilded for the French court of King Charles IX. Justice and glorification of the King are the themes depicted on the back. Read up some more on and see some other views of this masterpiece at the National Music Museum.

If any of you makers, painters, or readers out there ever feel inspired to look at these instrumental works of art, here's a list of links to some galleries of instruments that we found interesting:

1 comment:

Pepperpourri said...

Hi. Nice blog you have here. I love the photos of the violins! I just happened to come accross your blog from somewhere. By the way, I play the violin.

Will continue to visit your blog in the future.


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