Skip to Main Content

Shared Exploration: Music and the Visual Arts

Oliver Lee Jackson, artist; Marty Ehrlich and Oliver Lake, musicians; and Harry Cooper, senior curator and head of modern art, National Gallery of Art, in conversation with A.B. Spellman, poet, music critic, and arts administrator American painter, printmaker, and sculptor Oliver Lee Jackson (b. 1935) has created a complex body of work that masterfully weaves together visual influences ranging from the Renaissance to modernism with principles of rhythm and improvisation drawn from his study of African cultures and American jazz. On view from April 14 through September 15, 2019, at the National Gallery of Art, the exhibition Oliver Lee Jackson: Recent Paintings presents 18 paintings created over the past 15 years, many of which are being shown publicly for the first time. Jackson’s often large-scale paintings blend figural elements of bodies pointing, kneeling, drawing, and playing instruments with colorful abstract compositions and vigorously worked surfaces. To celebrate the exhibition opening, the Gallery hosted Evenings at the Edge performances by the Marty Ehrlich Ensemble and TRIO 3, featuring Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman, and Andrew Cyrille—collaborators of Jackson and the influential Black Artists Group. On April 12, 2019, A. B. Spellman, distinguished poet, music critic, and arts administrator, moderated a post-concert discussion with renowned jazz musicians Ehrlich and Lake, along with Jackson and senior curator Harry Cooper. The conversation explored the relationship between music and the visual arts, ranging from shared experiences in Saint Louis in the 1960s to the present day.