Photo by Emily Floyd
This Saturday, sound-art duo Beatrix*JAR, Bianca Pettis (Beatrix) and Jacob Aaron Roske (JAR), will be taking over the Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center for Sonic Circus, an event where a host of musicians and sound artists will lead kids and adults through fun and participatory experiences of creating new and interesting sounds.
Photo by Zoey Melf
This isn't the first time Beatrix*JAR has been featured at the Walker. Back in 2007, they were a part of mnartists's Festival of Appropriation, which brought together mixed-media artists as well as people working in collage and assemblage. Then last year, they were guest artists at Art School, an educational program for members where they gave a rundown on what sound art is all about.
The duo started off as musicians, playing venues like First Avenue and 7th St. Entry. More recently, Beatrix*JAR has pursued a different route, exploring how sounds can become an art form, much like an abstract painting, without as many rules as music generally has.
"Sound art is more playful," says Beatrix. "Music tends to be more technical, and it has a lot of rules in relationship to the musical instruments. Sound art is more like a painting. It's up to the artist to convey the message they want."
"Music can feel restrictive," JAR says, though some musicians have taken those restrictions and flipped them over their head. In addition to being looser and freer with sound art, the audience becomes a participant. "We like the audience to cross the line and play our instruments, to be part of the experience," he says.
Free First Saturday, 2012
Photo courtesy Walker Art Center
The outcome is not always "musical," JAR says. "It's about process." JAR says that it's fitting that as part of the "Art Expanded, 1988-1978" exhibit, currently inside the museum, John Cage's 33 1/3 installation of hundreds of records invites participants to come in and play, creating a number of different sounds that happen simultaneously.
Similarly, the Free First Saturday event includes Current DJ Danny Sigelman using vintage records and tape players to juxtapose songs and sounds from days past.
Also on the docket for Saturday is SLAM Academy, a local electronic music school, that will be teaching beat making. "They teach classes on how to use complex computer software," says Beatrix. For the event, you can make sounds with your voice, which will be turned into sound later in the day.
In another activity, led by Piano Lab's Ed Vogel, you can match your name to notes on a keyboard by creating your own color-coded score, which will be played throughout the day and collected for a sonata.
Another guest artist on Saturday will be Dawn Schot Klotzbach, who will be creating a wind-chime laboratory, where objects such as pvc piping will be used to create sound. Similarly, artist and composer Philip Blackburn will be showing off his constructed contemporary instruments made out fishing line, coat hangers, and cat-food cans as inspired by Aeolian harps, which create music from the wind.
Some regular old music will happen during the day as well, with performances by the New Orleans-inspired King Baron trio playing at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and accordion and musical-saw duo Dreamland Faces playing at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.
Finally, as Beatrix*Jar are also visual artists. They've made an interactive zine for the event that incorporates their drawings. The piece lets you write about your reflections over the course of the day, and ask questions at each of the stations.