Family collaboration creates multimedia installation for Art Tour

  • Jaffrey artist Chris Reid works on a three-panel painting that will be on display as part of a multimedia installation at her studio this weekend during the Monadnock Art Tour. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Jaffrey artist Chris Reid works on a three-panel painting that will be on display as part of a multimedia installation at her studio this weekend during the Monadnock Art Tour. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Jaffrey artist Chris Reid works on a three-panel painting that will be on display as part of a multimedia installation at her studio this weekend during the Monadnock Art Tour. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—Jaffrey artist Chris Reid works on a three-panel painting that will be on display as part of a multimedia installation at her studio this weekend during the Monadnock Art Tour. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Jaffrey artist Chris Reid works on a three-panel painting that will be on display as part of a multimedia installation at her studio this weekend during the Monadnock Art Tour. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Jaffrey artist Chris Reid works on a three-panel painting that will be on display as part of a multimedia installation at her studio this weekend during the Monadnock Art Tour. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/6/2021 2:41:13 PM

Wander into Chris Reid’s new studio this weekend and you’ll experience vibrant colors jumping off the canvas of her plein air painting capturing a snapshot of her expansive gardens.

But just as quickly as your eyes lock in on the yellows, pinks and greens of Reid’s pastel creation, your ears will notice more than just the typical chatter that accompanies a stop along the annual Monadnock Art Tour. That’s because an eight-speaker surround sound set-up will be playing an immersive soundscape composition created by Reid’s daughter Leah.

The two have talked for a long time about collaborating on an installation and thought of no better time to pull it off than during the region’s oldest art tour and the opening of Reid’s Jaffrey home studio.

“We’ve just been wanting to work together and creating this visual and sound installation is special,” Leah said.

“I love the idea of the visual and the sound together,” Reid said.

The three-panel painting zeroes in on Reid’s collection of Black-eyed Susans and Sedum Autumn Joy and is part of her Bee Conservancy series. The soundscape is a 20-minute exploration into the sounds of Jaffrey center, nature’s work happening in Reid’s garden and the rhythms of Reid at work.

Each panel is 27 by 48 inches – created at the same time of day, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., to capture the light at just the right moment.

“And that’s when all the bees come out,” Reid said.

The bulk of the pastel work was created over a few days, but like any artist, Reid has been tinkering with it ever since. Her garden is an often-used subject in her landscape work and during the height of the summer months, its activity and explosion of bright colors make it a perfect muse.

“There’s just something so special about mom’s gardens,” Leah said.

The same can be said about Leah’s soundscape, which has been weaved together from hours of recordings. The familiar sound of the Jaffrey Meetinghouse’s bell ringing in the distance, the sound of bees, hornets, and insects humming and buzzing, geese flying south, birds, and trees swaying in the wind.

“It’s days' worth of recordings I’ve accumulated for this project,” Leah said. “It’s a massive amount to condense into this soundscape.”

In the work, these sounds are combined with Reid speaking about her inspirations and garden, and the sounds and rhythms of her painting en plein air. The listener will even hear Reid’s unique stroke work and the process of completing the piece from underpainting to final touches.

“She’s captured the essence, the stroke work, the feelings,” Reid said.

“The sounds of mom working are nostalgic for me,” Leah said. So are all the sounds she was able to capture around her childhood home, including the bell which she has used in so many of her compositions over the years.

The two artists are each other’s biggest fans and the opportunity to work together is a bit of a dream come true. And by no means is it planned to just be a single collaboration.

“We both inspire each other,” Leah said.

“And this is the year we decided we were going to launch it,” Reid said.

The hope is that they will be able to find an institution that can house the installation for an extended period of time. And in the future, the goal would be to expand the collaborative efforts to an even more complex, multi-room experience.

The work is about taking a step back and observing the beauty of nature. The installation brings together their shared love of gardening, and their awe of the bees that visit the garden year after year. The work enables others to experience the beauty of this scene and be immersed in the sounds that surround it through the two artists’ eyes.

“I just want people to be immersed in this like I am,” Reid said

But it is not simply art with music – the work explores sight, sound, and environment – taking the senses to a level that reveals the bees, the wind, and all the ambient sounds adding to the visual expression of movement, texture, and emotional expression that takes place in painting. The installation is both meditative and stirs up emotions.

“It’s so interrelated the two,” Leah said. “The pieces don’t really work on their own. They’re designed to work in conjunction with each other.”

The hope is that the work also highlights pollinator gardens and the important creatures that live among them.

The installation will be open during the Monadnock Art Tour, Oct. 9-11. Reid’s studio will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and masks will be required inside. It’s designed in a way that people can pop in for a quick look and listen or sit for the entire 20-minute soundscape and dive deeper into the details of the painting. Reid will also have works for sale and both artists will be present to discuss the installation.




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