published Sunday, May 27th, 2012

Music meets image in 'Sound and Vision: Monumental Rock and Roll Photography'

Whitney Alexander, left, and her children, Laurel Anne and Owen, visit the "Sound and Vision" exhibition featured at the Hunter Museum of American Art.
Whitney Alexander, left, and her children, Laurel Anne and Owen, visit the "Sound and Vision" exhibition featured at the Hunter Museum of American Art.
Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse.

• What: "Color and Sound: Exploring Music and Art" talk.

• When: 6 p.m. Thursday.

• Where: Hunter Museum of American Art, 10 Bluff View.

• Admission: Free with regular museum admission, $9.95.

• Phone: 267-0968.

• Website:

The photographs span almost half a century.

Elvis rides a train between Chattanooga and Memphis in 1956, the black-and-white image of his face just the slightest bit fuzzy as it stares out from Alfred Wertheimer's photograph.

In Jonathan Mannion's 1999 photo, singer Lauryn Hill's dark dreadlocks stand out against a textured goldenrod-colored background.

This is "Sound and Vision: Monumental Rock and Roll Photography," the latest special exhibition to come to the Hunter Museum of American Art.

A traveling exhibit organized by the Columbus Museum in Columbus, Ga., and guest curator Christopher Murray of Govinda Gallery in Washington, D.C., "Sound and Vision" demonstrates the marriage between legendary music and great photography.

"We felt like (it) was a great fit," said Hunter marketing director Katrina Craven. "It felt like the images were strong and came from some great photographers. From a subject-matter standpoint, we felt like this was a show that would have a broad range of appeal, and to do that during the summer was just great timing."

On Thursday, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga music professor Clint Schmitt will join chief curator Ellen Simak for a talk on the works called "Color and Sound: Exploring Music and Art."

Simak compared it to the String Theory program, where a work of art and a related work of music are examined in tandem.

"In this particular instance, the tie is especially close because these are photographs of musicians," she said.

Simak will discuss some details of the photographs and the work of the visual artists, while Schmitt will focus on the work of the musicians depicted and will play some recordings for the audience to hear.

Simak said two of the images that particularly stand out to her are of Jim Morrison and Michael Jackson.

The image of Jackson, with his face partially obscured by black lace, is a work by photographer Greg Gorman, inspired by an Edward Steichen image of actress Gloria Swanson.

"I love that kind of echo," said Simak. "Not only is it a beautiful photograph in its own right, but it has a great art history echo to it as well."

In addition to some truly iconic images -- The Who covered in a Union Jack flag, The Beatles in Harry Benson's "The Pillow Fight" -- the exhibit includes some interactive elements.

On one wall, questions are painted: "If there was a movie about your life, what songs would be included on the soundtrack? Why?" and "How did you rebel against your parents when you were a teenager?"

The answers, written in pencil on teal and violet Post-its, range from Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" to Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here." Rebellion ranges from "loud music" to a confession involving a stepsister.

In another room, a listening space features posters of concert etiquette created by the Hunter staff, offering tips for moshing, head banging, crowd surfing and stage diving.

"Music is so tied to memory. For most people, if you play a particular song from their era, it transports (them) back to that particular place in time. To marry that with a visual image is so evocative. It really takes people back," said Craven.

"There's something about seeing that image of Kiss from the mid-'70s that transports me back to my older sister's bedroom, and I remember those posters hanging on the wall."

Contact Holly Leber at or 423-757-6391. Follow her on Twitter at Subscribe to her on Facebook at

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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