These paintings are not made with brushes nor paint, but they are most certainly art.
Soundpainting, an orchestral technique of creating a live tapestry of music, words, and acting is the brainchild of the artist Walter Thompson — and both the founder and the form are back at the Irondale Center in Fort Greene, a place familiar with the avant garde performance art as well as Thompson.
“It’s like riding a roller-coaster,” said Terry Greiss, the executive director of the Irondale Ensemble, who has been a part of the orchestras of music, words, and movement that Thompson creates with more than 1,200 gestures participants memorize. “You really are standing out there not knowing what the next moment is going to ask. There are so many hand gestures, you get confused and you may do the wrong thing. And it’s up to Walter to take your mistake and use it.”
Thompson, who invented the form in the early 1970s, has become a bit of a cultural emissary, taking the technique around the world where it is used as an exercise to teach, among other things, elements of music to children.
Not intended for kids alone, the art form will make adult first-timers and veterans alike feel a child-like wonder.
“The experience of a viewer is first of all it’s surprising all the time. You don’t know where the pieces are headed, because they’re not usually in a typical structure,” said Hollis Headrick, the Chairman of Irondale’s board who will also be drumming in Thompson’s latest Irondale excurison.
“And sometimes Walter likes to involved the audience in the soundpainting as well.”
Soundpainting with the Walter Thompson Orchestra at the Irondale Center [85 South Oxford St. between Fulton Street and Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene. (718) 488-9233. www.irondale.org] June 8 and 9, 8 pm. $15.