Songpainting – Songs and Art


Songwriters Illuminate the Masterpieces.
Artists Illustrate Songs. Poets Inspire.
We Imagine.

canary yellow, cerulean blue
deep vermilion’s orangy hue
brown like oak, green of sea
are the colors that you give to me
(Footprints in the Snow)

“Songpainting was one of your best concert performances ever. In an era when literature, music, and the arts tend to come in a distant second to “reality shows” and endless sports drivel, it’s a life-renewing and hope-affirming moment to hear the great music and artistry of the your group. I am a firm believer that music and the arts are the ultimate achievement and healing balm for world-weary souls.”  (John and Mary, Elmhurst, IL)

SONGPAINTING is an ongoing cultural arts collaboration with Jamie O’Reilly at the helm.  Songpainting presents artists, writers and musicians who share and swap images, music, lyrics and conversation. Material is shaped for performance pieces, recorded and released on singles and CDs.


The Songpainting music features Jamie performing songs of Michael Smith and others, with evolving  musical ensembles that consist of guitar, cello, oboe, bass and percussion and harmony vocals  (Three Muses: Sarah Chang, Nia and Meg O’Reilly Amandes). Live shows feature projections of art by the masters: Picasso, Van Gogh, Seurat and Magritte and others.  Concerts also feature the work of local visual artists: Iwona Biedermann (Photographer), Leopold Segedin (Painter) Gabriella Boros (Paintings on Wood), Deborah Maris Lader (Mixed Media) and others.

THE SONGS
Songs from the original production of Jamie and Michael’s revue Hello Dali: From the Sublime to the Surreal are heard in this evolving program, with new material being generated on an ongoing basis.

Mona Lisa, is seen in various renderings, sketches and satirical take-offs. Don McLean’s Vincent is accompanied by Van Gogh’s oils. Paul Simon’s Rene and Georgette Magritte with their Dog After the War is a doo-wop ode to the surrealist painter. Photographer Iwona Biedermann’s “visual haiku on the subject of blue” a rendition of Lucinda Williams song Blue. Compositions by Michael include Hey Kid, inspired by Leopold Segedin, Blue Guitar, setting a poem by Wallace Stevens, and Waving to Picasso. The Ballad of Dorian Grey (appearing on Michael’s next CD) is seen with Caravaggio’s “Narcissus”. Sunday in the park is captured by Anne Carson’s essay, set to Michael’s melody in SeuratPortrait of Isabel, (a ghostly ballad heard here in the media player) is shown with a painting by the late, undiscovered Chicago artist Margaret Kennedy. Jamie’s lyrics are heard in In the Garrett, a tribute to the artist and the muse, and in Footprints in the Snow, inspired by Gabriella Boros’ Woman of Valor Series, with Peter Swenson’s musical arrangement.

ON THE RADIO
Women’s Media Group’s The Feminist Lens radio show Songpainting Women: Women + Art aired on WFMT Fine Arts Radio during Chicago Artist Month.
Jamie and Gabriella Boros talked about Gabriela’s series of paintings Woman of Valor, acrylic on birch panel, which inspired the song Footprints in the Snow.  Listen to the podcast of the archived program at wmgchicago.com. The featured artwork is Boros’ painting She Fears Not Snow.

HISTORY
The idea for the Songpainting Project began more than twenty years ago.
In 1989, Jamie received the diary of German Expressionist Kaethe Kollwitz as a gift. Kollwitz’s stories of motherhood and her work for humanity struck a chord with Jamie, who was then a young mother. Jamie created a solo musical piece, From the Place I Was Born at the Chicago Cultural Center for Women’s History Month.

An original musical revue Hello Dali: From the Sublime to the Surreal, was written by Jamie and Michael, and ran at the Victory Gardens Theater during its 2001  Tony Award-winning season, under the direction of Paul Amandes. The cast included Beau O’Reilly and Jenny Magnus. Dali garnered “Best New Work” and “Best Ensemble” After-Dark Awards for its “thrilling” songs and the “mesmerizing slide show,” (Chicago Reader.) The slide show was designed by Northwestern University Theater Department Emeritus Samuel Ball. Hello Dali was featured in the Chicago Humanities Festival “Words and Pictures”, and in tributes to Gertrude Stein, and later the Tree Studios, at the Chicago Cultural Center.

SONGPAINTING is an ongoing collaboration connecting our songs with visual art. 


Songpainting poster