Is it in their DNA? Possibly a “creative genius” gene that science has yet to discover? Or is it an otherwordly gift – one that is physically untraceable? Perhaps it’s just an excellent work ethic. How best do we explain these iconic songwriter/musicians who seem to have enough talent left over to create masterful work in an entirely different medium? Apparently there is something tying the audio and visual arts together – a place in the universe where sight and sound inspirations collide.
In celebration of this mystery, Rock Cellar Magazine presents our 3rd photo essay in a series: 7 MORE musicians who also happen to be darn good visual artists.
Best-known as the Starman of KISS, Paul Stanley has spent the past five years building his portfolio as an abstract painter. Stanley’s vivid, colorful works include paintings of hearts, stars and symbols of peace.
Stanley made his professional debut as a painter in 2006, exhibiting and selling original works of art, and as of 2011 has had about twenty shows.
“I discovered I wanted to paint about 10 years ago. Whether or not somebody can paint is really subjective. I started painting because I wanted another outlet and another way to express myself. I didn’t do it with the expectations of showing it to anybody. I was doing it purely for myself.”
New York By Night
In 1980 Miles Davis began to focus his talent in a new direction and began to seek expression not only through music, but also through visual art. In contrast to his rich formal music education, as an artist Miles was mostly self-taught.
He began with primitive figures, and experimented in color and composition. He became inspired by the Milan-based design movement known as “Memphis” whose theme was based on blending hot colors with clashing shapes. He worked under this influence for nearly two years during which time he created a substantial collection of work.
As his style matured his direction changed; swirling abstracts and strong African inspired textures began taking shape. Davis filled his studio with tribal masks and haunting images of African art, and began to incorporate the essence of this rich imagery in his paintings. He transformed his world of sound into shapes and colors and worked primarily with acrylic, pastels, pencil and markers, especially favoring large canvases with ample space.
Mellencamp – Cain & Able
John Cougar Mellencamp, an icon of American music, has been in the public spotlight for over twenty-five years. While recording a string of number-one hits and working as a founding member of Farm Aid, he also has found time to develop his talent as a painter.
Mellencamp began pursuing oil painting in 1988 as a means of further artistic exploration. His first subjects were friends, family, and landscapes reminiscent of the French impressionists. Later his work evolved into a personal style of portraiture.
Art critics have drawn parallels between Mellencamp’s work and the dark, shadowy paintings of the German expressionists. Mellencamp believes in art not only as a means of self-exploration but as an incentive to make people more curious about the world. His work has been exhibited extensively in the Midwest and the South, with many of his paintings purchased for private collections.
It Was The Hat
They Gave Me A Medal For Dreaming Of You
Watching You Think
Woman In Red
When Leonard Cohen famously turned his back on the music industry in 1994, he retreated to a Zen monastery on Mt. Baldy, in the San Gabriel Mountains. The musician took the name Jikan — meaning “the Silent One” — and devoted himself to an ascetic lifestyle and to the study of Rinzai Zen philosophy.
After five years in seclusion, he emerged with a new book of paintings, drawings, and poetry.
Although Cohen has painted consistently throughout his life, the series of works completed at the monastery shed light to his mysterious time on Mt. Baldy.
Recurring motifs in Cohen’s work include: nude female silhouettes, self-portraits, and of course, a wry sense of humor.
Dry Heads, 1978
World Champion, 1977
“Every time I’ve made a radical change it’s helped me feel buoyant as an artist” – David Bowie
Art-school-trained rocker David Bowie moved to Switzerland in 1976 marking the beginning of what his biographers refer to as “The Berlin Era.” After purchasing a chalet in the hills to the north of Lake Geneva, Bowie took interest in pursuits outside his musical career. He took up painting and produced a number of post-modernist pieces. While touring, he began sketching in a notebook, and photographing scenes for later reference.
Bowie’s art is heavily influenced by his personal favorite artists: Frank Auerbach, David Bomberg, Francis Bacon, Francis Picabia, and Marcel Duchamp.
Mens Room Sign
Womens Room Sign
The Coffee Cup, 2008
Bike Rack, The Villager, 2008
The artist David Byrne is most associated with his role as a founding member and principal songwriter of the new wave band Talking Heads. Byrne has additionally has gone on to work with various media including film, photography, opera, and non-fiction story writing. He has received Grammy, Oscar, and Golden Globe awards and been inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
As a visual artist, Byrne, whose work has been shown in contemporary art galleries and museums around the world, creates mainly public art installations – many of them anonymously.
In 2008, David Byrne and the New York City Department of Transportation, in conjunction with New York art gallery Pace/Wildenstein, unveiled nine Byrne bicycle racks and installed them in various locations throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn.
An avid bicyclist for almost 30 years, Byrne had submitted original design ideas named after specific locations and neighborhoods, which the DOT enthusiastically agreed to install. The bike racks are now on permanent loan to the city, and remain in their locations.
In an industry career spanning more than fifty years, Micky Dolenz, best known as drummer and vocalist for the Monkees, has most recently added visual artist to his resume.
Dolenz explains his inspiration for his paintings as so:
“A few years ago, while studying physics in England, I was struck by the beautiful images captured by the electron microscope, and those images are what I am depicting. I describe my work as still life of things you can’t see.” “I do careful research for my art, not to ensure that my images are technically accurate, but to ensure that they are aesthetically so.”
MORE JUST LIKE THIS:
The Visual Art of 9 Famous Musicians – Part 1
The Visual Art of 8 More Famous Musicians – Part 2