Exploring Color

By Brown, Margaret L. | Southwest Art, March 1, 1999 | Go to article overview

Exploring Color


Brown, Margaret L., Southwest Art


I'm sitting on my couch on a rainy Sunday afternoon listening to a 1955 recording of Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo." Saxophonist Johnny Hodges explores all the shades of blue here, from a deep, somber sapphire to bright wisps of cerulean, bringing to mind Alexander Theroux's essay on blue in The Primary Colors [1994 HENRY HOLT]. "Paradoxically, it is the only one of all the colors which can be legitimately seen as essentially symbolic of dark and light both," writes Theroux, "oddly black in the night and almost white as the horizon by day."

Ellington sought such artistic exploration in his orchestrations. "A musical instrument is in a sense a color instrument," he said, "and music should be scored to give full value to every possible shading and blending."

Like Ellington, the artists in this issue express emotion and observation through explorations of color. Albert Handell describes himself as a colorist with a strong tonal background. "I came to Santa Fe 17 years ago and fell madly in love with the light and the colors: the oranges, yellows, purples, blues," he says. …

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