Monday, January 7, 2013

Rescue Me!

If you are down in the doldrums and want to be rescued, my suggestion is to medicate yourself with a good dose of art and music.  I recently had the perfect sort of day...a morning visit to see an art exhibit of Federico Barocci bookended with an evening musical tribute to Fontella Bass...who could want for anything more?

Entombment of Christ, 1579-82
Federico Barocci
Oil on canvas 116 1/8" x 78 5/8"
Chiesa della Croce, Senigallia

And who is Federico Barocci and Fontella Bass, you may ask? Federico was a Renaissance artist famous in his own time, but rather forgotten otherwise. Fontella was a soul and gospel singer who had one big hit with the song "Rescue Me",  in 1965.  

Fontella Bass
July 3, 1940 -  December 26, 2012
R.I.P., Divine Diva

The St. Louis Art Museum is essentially in my own back yard and less than 5 minutes away.  But to get to the church where Fontella's memorial was to take place required Mapquest.  And interestingly enough, Mapquest chose a 30 minute route through the most gangster-ridden, dangerous neighborhoods you can imagine. "Maybe this wasn't such a good idea", I thought, as I barreled past boarded up buildings in the bleak, battle-zone blocks of North St. Louis.  Funny how Mapquest doesn't take the particular property of personal peril into account. Well, perhaps the route was all part of a pilgrimage experience, so as to get a deeper understanding of the roots of black music.  You gotta show some respect to the dearly departed, so I took my chances. 

Amazing grace! The adventurous ramble ended up at a large Christian church in an outlying suburban locale.  I quickly observed that I was definitely one of a minority complexion, but was received with sincere warmth and welcome by the assembled family and friends. What then commenced were prayers, poems and musical selections of gospel, blues, and soul that righteously rocked the roof off. An after-set followed in The Duck Room at Blueberry Hill, which is practically in my own front yard. It was indeed a fitting send-off to Fontella.

Studies for the Virgin's hands
Federico Barocci
Charcoal with red and pink pastel heightened with white on blue paper
10 13/16" x 15 1/2"
Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

My message today is to get off the couch and go see some good art and listen to some good music - it is out there and likely in your own front or back yard! And if you haven't yet seen the current exhibit of Barocci at the St. Louis Art Museum, you'd better run, because it runs only through January 20th. You will be awed by the intimacy of sketches and drawings that build up to the finished paintings.  You will be able to observe the creative process of a great artist. The show is composed of 134 pieces, assembled from all corners of the world, so this will save you a lot of money and time in travel expenses. Better get going and you'll feel like you're in heaven!

If you still need rescuing, listen to Fontella:

  1. Fontella Bass - Rescue Me (1965) - YouTube
    Mar 6, 2009 - Uploaded by John1948Five
    The 1965 classic "Rescue Me" is widely regarded as the greatest record Aretha Franklin never made. The song ...


  1. Love this "duet" of art and music in one evening.
    The sketches show the working mind during thought.
    Such an aesthete you too

  2. Dear Joyce - I was just thinking about you! Missed you in New Orleans last call at the bar!