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Bob Dylan's visual road trip

Seeing the road through Dylan's eyes
Seeing the road through Dylan's eyes
Mark Borghi Fine Art

Mark Borghi in Bridgehampton, New York will present “Bob Dylan - The Drawn Blank Series” at Mark Borghi Fine Art from July 4 to July 18. The opening reception will be held on July 3, 2014 kicking off the busy Independence Day weekend in The Hamptons, according to a statement by the gallery today (June 27). Bob Dylan the living legend folk rock artist had a whole other career as a visual artist. He made a series of drawings and sketches while traveling on the road during the period of 1989 through 1992. The paintings in “The Drawn Blank Series” are a wonderful counterpart to “Dylan’s prose, poetry and music and cast a vibrant light on the creativity of one of the world’s most important and influential cultural figures,” added a statement by Mark Borghi Fine Art.

According to a spokesperson for the gallery: “The expressive works in The Drawn Blank Series depict the extraordinary, intimate and personal moments in Dylan’s travels through this remarkable series of portraits, interiors, landscapes, still life, nudes and street scenes.”

We all love and appreciate Dylan’s moody, poetic songs, so now Dylan fans and art fans in general can revisit his visual imagery through a series of moving and resonant paintings and drawings that were created in 1989 through 1992. They serve as a sort of visual diary of Dylan’s road trips and experiences during that period. The viewer can discern the musical artist’s loneliness and isolation in the images he created during that period. However the colors he uses like powdery blue and the flowers depicted in vibrant rose red seem to echo Dylan’s internal optimism about his journey and his life’s path.

“A dedicated visual artist for more than four decades, Bob Dylan did not publicly show his work until 2007, when an exhibition of “The Drawn Blank Series” was held at the Kunstsammlungen in Chemnitz Germany, followed by an exhibition at the Halcyon Gallery in London in 2008,” adds the spokesperson. In 2007 at the time of the unveiling The New York Times added: “In Bob Dylan’s extraordinary collection of paintings, we are given insight into the expressive, unvarnished way this artist approaches the world and reminded he is that rare person who can move effortlessly between music, word, ink and paint….Yet again and again, he reflects life back to us with a truth and simplicity that defy words.”

“His brush strokes are like his voice, straightforward, rough, occasionally fragile, but always intent on illustrating the treads of human experience. Seemingly unworried about how something looks, he’s not after artistic perfection but something larger, a moment, a feeling. The effect is enthralling,” added The Times in its review of his visual art.

The artist’s most recent series of paintings, “Bob Dylan: Face Value” was exhibited at London’s National Portrait Gallery in 2013 and is currently being presented at Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark.
Bob Dylan a revered songwriter and musical artist has sold more than 110 million albums and performed literally thousands of shows around the world in a career spanning five decades,” added the press materials.

In 2012, President Obama bestowed Bob Dylan with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, for his “considerable influence on the civil rights movement of the 1960s” and his “significant impact on American culture over the past five decades,” stated Obama. Dylan was also awarded a special Pulitzer Prize for “his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.”

Staten Island arts fans interested in viewing his work on the opening reception on Thursday, July 3 may view his work from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at 2426 Main St., Bridgehampton, New York at Mark Borghi Fine Art For further information please visit http://www.borghi.org

About Bob Dylan
Added The Mark Borghi web site on www.borghi.org: “Although internationally known as a singer and songwriter, Bob Dylan is also an author, film director, actor, disc jockey and visual artist. One of the most influential and, at times, controversial figures in the music of the past five decades, he has sold over 110 million records around the world and since 1988 has played around 100 shows a year in the ‘Never-Ending Tour’.” According to the web site Dylan paints from observation. In Dylan’s own words: “I’m pretty much interested in people, histories, myth, and portraits; people of all stripes.”

Born into a close-knit Jewish community in Duluth, Minnesota, Dylan was originally named Robert Allen Zimmerman. The family relocated to Hibbing when his father contracted polio, and he spent the remainder of his childhood there. Dylan taught himself piano and guitar and played in several bands; by the time he went to the University of Minnesota in 1959 he was hoping ‘to join Little Richard’. Dropping out of college after a year, he moved to New York in 1961, began to play at various clubs and signed up with Columbia Records. The following year he produced his first album and officially changed his name to Bob Dylan. After his initial interest in rock ‘n’ roll, his focus fell onto folk and protest music; he was heavily influenced by Woody Guthrie, adds Dylan's biography on the Borghi site.

“Many of Dylan’s early songs were made famous by other artists, such as Joan Baez, who promoted him and was his lover in the early sixties. In 1965 Dylan married Sarah Lowndes, with whom he would have four children; he also adopted her daughter from her first marriage,” adds the web site. Divorced in 1977, he was married to Carolyn Dennis from 1986 to 1992 and had a daughter with her as well. “In the late 1970s Dylan converted to evangelical Christianity, returning to Judaism in the 1980s and subsequently distancing himself from organized religion," added the Borghi web site.

“From his performances in Greenwich Village coffee houses, festivals and rallies in the early 1960s to his stadium rock concerts of the 1970s and subsequent worldwide tours, Dylan has built his musical reputation on the strength of live appearances. He has appeared alongside such major artists as George Harrison, the Grateful Dead, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen,” added his biography. Over five decades he has released more than 50 albums and written in excess of 500 songs, some of the most famous being ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’, ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’’ and ‘Like a Rolling Stone’. His songs have been covered more than 3,000 times by artists as diverse as Sonny and Cher, Duke Ellington, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Jarrett, Guns N’ Roses, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Marley, Pearl Jam and Neil Young. Dylan may never have graduated from college but he received
an honorary doctorate of music from Princeton University, New Jersey, in 1970 and another from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, in 2004. President Clinton presented him with a Kennedy Center Honor at the White House in 1997, recognizing the excellence of his contribution to American culture. Dylan’s song ‘Things Have Changed’ from the film Wonder Boys (2000) won him an Academy Award in 2001.

In addition to winning 11 Grammy Awards in rock, folk and general categories, he has achieved six entries in the Grammy Hall of Fame, which honors recordings of ‘qualitative or historical significance’ at least 25 years old, adds his biography on the web site for Borghi. Dylan dates the origins of his work as a visual artist to the early 1960s. In "Chronicles" he writes: “What would I draw? Well, I guess I would start with whatever was at hand. I sat at the table, took out a pencil and paper and drew the typewriter, a crucifix, a rose, pencils, knives and pins, empty cigarette boxes. I’d lose track of time completely…. Not that I thought I was any great drawer, but I did feel like I was putting orderliness to the chaos around.”

“A few drawings reached the public gaze on such album covers as Music from Big Pink (1968). Then in 1974 Dylan spent two seminal months studying art with Norman Raeben, son of Sholem Aleichem. He was attracted to the teacher’s philosophy and his ability to describe truth, love and beauty. Later, Dylan ascribed responsibility to Raeben for changing both his outlook and his technique,” added his biography. “He put my mind and my hand and my eye together, in a way that allowed me to do consciously what I unconsciously felt,” adds Dylan in his own words on the www.borghi.com web site. Dylan explains that he drew the “Drawn Blank Series” “as a way of relaxing and refocusing his mind while touring America, Europe and Asia. When approached by a gallery wanting to exhibit the works, he returned to the images and reworked them. Digitally enlarging the drawings, he transferred scans onto deckle-edged paper and in eight months during 2007 created 320 paintings in watercolor and gouache. “A single picture would emerge as a set, colored sometimes delicately, sometimes brilliantly, with different elements emphasized. ‘He riffs with color across the same simple black-and-white sketches the way he plays songs in concert, sometimes making subtle changes, other times brutally overhauling them” adds http://www.borghi.org.

Staten Island art and music enthusiasts can learn more about what Dylan’s career as a visual artist by viewing Dylan’s work on display at Mark Borghi Fine Art in Bridgehampton over the busy July 4th weekend!