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Blue Note: A Musical Interlude – Featured Artist Show at St. Pete Artworks




Opening Reception for James E Hartzell’s solo exhibition Blue Note: A Musical Interlude takes place on Saturday, September 10th from 5-9PM at St Pete Artworks, 2604 Central Avenue. Check out this Co-op Gallery featuring the works of 26+ local artists.

Reception will feature Live Music from Bud Good out front, refreshments in the back of the gallery and food by Gateway Subs. Blue Note will be on display from August 30th – October 2nd. You can also view the exhibit Tuesday-Sunday during regular gallery hours.

Blue Note is a collection of 29 paintings by James E Hartzell highlighting artwork inspired by music. The show features stylized portraits of musicians created from live sketches of local acts along with landscapes that are informed by the artist’s experience traveling. A loose or gestural quality present in the work is a reference to the improvisational spirit of Jazz and the famous label Blue Note Records, founded in 1939.

The artist pays tribute to other musical genres with artwork inspired by Blues, Reggae, Motown, Rock ‘n Roll, Hip Hop and Bluegrass. Enhance your experience of the show by scanning the art embedded with Pixelstix technology and listen to the songs that inspired these paintings. Or use the QR codes on the artist statement to access the show’s music and YouTube playlists.

James expands upon the story behind this exhibit with the following artist statement: Materials for the show originated from sketchbooks taken on travels around the Southeast, abroad to Jamaica and out to local venues in the Tampa Bay area. Being the guy with a sketchbook in a bar attracted some weird looks at first but it also opened up conversations, strangers became friends, and I began to work through my social anxiety of making art live compared to the isolation and comfort of a studio. Sharing these drawings with musicians like Charlie Morris, T.C. Carr, Geri X, Josh Nelms or The Cornfused Boys during a set break became a fun way to show appreciation for their craft while honing my skills at the same time. Getting out of my comfort zone to draw these bands was the spark that rekindled my love for drawing and painting regularly after making a move to St. Petersburg in 2015.

Similar to ‘plein air’ or outdoor painting, my goal for those initial drawings was to be loose, expressive, leaning into mistakes like an improvisational Jazz jam. Over time, the drawings which stood out were minimal line art pieces with stylized figures and lots of negative space. Taking these drawings and turning them into ink and watercolor paintings years later has been a challenge. Expanding the scope of the show was another goal to include landscapes and musical instruments that have inspired and connected me to a wider variety of music.

26 of the 29 pieces have been embedded the interactive technology Pixelstix, allowing you to delve deeper by scanning the artwork and accessing the show’s playlist of music that inspired each painting. I hope that viewers enjoy this exhibit, an intersection of art and music that seeks to capture the essence of a landscape or a band mid-performance, unlocking the sacred mood of that moment once frozen in time.

A portion of the Blue Note show’s proceeds will be donated to the Suncoast Blues Society, a 501(c)3 charity based in Tampa Bay, FL.

Enjoy this show in person or online via the link below, listen to the playlist that inspired the paintings and “shake a tail feather.”

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