Joseph Bertolozzi might have celebrated the launch of Bridge Music‘s fourth season being installed on the Mid-Hudson Bridge, but that doesn’t mean he’s taking a break — we are pleased to share the news of his newest public art project “Beacons of Music!”
From April 14 through August 26, a very unique musical “performance” will be held in Beacon, New York. The “club” is the side of an old factory building and the 28 musical artists will be arriving as striking seven foot tall photographic portraits in black and white to sit in the windows of the building. These artists live or play regularly in Beacon, and for this summer will be celebrated as a part of BMW of the Hudson Valley’s “Beacons of Music.” The project will be located at the Roundhouse at Beacon Falls, 2 East Main Street.
Composer Joseph Bertolozzi and photographer Rob Penner, both Beacon artists with national reputations, are taking an old factory building under renovation at the Roundhouse, an hotel, event and residential complex, and are fitting its windows with seven-foot-tall portraits of many of the singers, instrumentalists, teachers and other music makers who provide the vibrant soundtrack of the city’s performance halls, bars, restaurants, festivals, schools and churches. Many musical traditions flourishing within the city are represented, with styles ranging across rock, classical, folk, hip hop, world, avant garde, blues, sacred, pop, jazz and beyond. Onsite signage identifies the musicians and connects the public to them online with more information and listening opportunities at beaconcool.com.
Inspired by publicly displayed historic photos of old Beacon in local banks and other businesses, Bertolozzi had the idea to create photos chronicling the city’s musicians of today. “What a great way for the citizens of Beacon to recognize how many of our friends and neighbors, even the friendly face we always trade smiles with on the street, is actually spending their time making music, bringing it to our local halls, our national airwaves, and in some cases bringing their sounds of Beacon to international audiences,” says Bertolozzi. “This project also offers another visual feast at an end of town already enjoyed by so many residents and visitors alike for the beautiful views of the falls and for other public art on buildings like the vibrant Electric Windows. We hoped when we started that people would like the
idea, and from the great folks at The Roundhouse to our many sponsors, so many people jumped on board to make this fun idea a great gift to the public. We even involved Beacon High School in creating mini video documentaries of several photo sessions. There has been real community involvement from start to finish.”
Though Bertolozzi has a history of creating public art, it had previously been exclusively through musical performances and recordings, with projects for the City of Poughkeepsie, West Point and the New York State Bridge Authority. But a photographic exhibit was new territory for him. After initially asking Penner to take his picture standing in the water at the base of the falls, the two expanded upon the idea to celebrate ALL of the musicians that are making Beacon a place for music makers and music lovers alike.
Photographer Rob Penner was glad to bring this idea of Bertolozzi’s boldly to life: “I’m a big fan of Beacon and want to do what I can to help bring interest to our city and our resident artists. The photographs of the musicians are characterized by a strong black and white contrast. By using a stark, white background I am able to create a sense of drama. My intent was to evoke reactions from my subjects that would reveal their character and personality; who they really are behind the incredible music.” Indeed, through his composition of each subject, some pictured playing or with their instruments, others in conjunction with their musical partners or simply looking out their window at passers by, the effect of the group of photos is powerful, almost rhythmic and musical in its own right.