Dirt Road Blues : Exhibition


Opening : 6pm Thursday 21st April 2011
Exhibition runs through to May 10th 2011
Retrospect Galleries, 52 Jonson Street Byron Bay


Let’s simply start by saying two words, Bob Dylan – the revolutionary man that has changed minds & inspired millions. This legendary songwriter and musician arrived on the music scene back in the 1960’s and for almost half a century, has released an album each year shadowing the preoccupations of generations.

Bob Dylan’s contributions to the music industry cannot be compressed into a single page much less a short paragraph. His song writing is often held as his highest accomplishment, blending textural visual images, a stream-of-consciousness lyrical attack, and time-honoured folk traditions to create a sound and sense that strike listeners as somehow new and ancient simultaneously. Dylan has shown steadfast devotion to traditions of American song, from folk and country/blues to rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly, to Gaelic balladry, even jazz, swing and Broadway.

Retrospect Galleries thought it only fitting that this legend be honoured and celebrated with an exhibition that ponders, reflects and portrays Dylan in all of his glory.In this group show, Dirt Road Blues, artists respond to the legacy of his incredible lyrics and music.

The multifarious works range from lyric interpretations right through to portraits of the great man in performance mode.

The Dirt Road Blues exhibition opens as the legend himself flies into town, ready to headline a powerhouse line-up at the 2011 Bluesfest. This Byron Bay event won a swag of awards in 2010 including 2010 Australian Event of the Year, Best Cultural or Arts Event and the 2010 The International ‘A Greener Festival ‘Award.

Interestingly, participating artists have commented that they actually enjoy painting or art making to Bob Dylan music! Contributing artists include Lisa Lee, Donna Malone, Craig Martin, Luke Hallam, Simon McLean, Sarah Crawford, Susan Gourley and Shane Martin.

Lisa Lee’s enigmatic and faceless portraits show a bluesy figure masterfully playing his apparatus. The fluid movement and intensity of the works capture the gestures of this musician faultlessly. Lee has also created an arresting image of Dylan, Man in the Long Black Coat, walking soulfully with cigarette in mouth (pondering a lyrical creation?) – while the world rushes by.

Craig Martin’s delightful watercolour work The Beautiful Blues, shows a solitary figure, seated in a mystical forest, communing with his instrument – formulating notes that morph into flowers that make their way to a higher plane.

It could be said that Luke Hallam’s staring portrait in blue, titled Just Bob, reflects the intense spirituality of the man. Of all matters religious, Dylan once said “This is the flat-out truth: I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music. I don’t find it anywhere else.”

The loose, energetic work of Sarah Crawford, The One You Love, features a combination of portrait and lyrical text – translating in image the fact that truly superior music does not date and that Dylan’s work holds a place that spans generations.

In 2008, Bob Dylan’s unique contributions to American arts and letters received acknowledgement in the form of a Pulitzer Prize. His is the first popular musician to receive the honour. The citation from the Pulitzer committee recognized his “profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.”

Dare I say that this wide-ranging body of works reflects the depth of variation in Dylan’s own musical career? Decide for yourself! Retrospect Galleries Byron Bay proudly and humbly honour this man with beautiful, humourous, enigmatic and energetic works on show from Thursday April 21 to May 10.

Visit Retrospect Galleries for further information.