Music as Image and Metaphor – Selections from the Kentler Flatfiles

“Music as Image and Metaphor”  Selections from the Kentler Flatfiles

January 22 – March 20, 2021

Music as Image and Metaphor brings together forty-one works by twenty-eight artists from the Kentler Flatfiles focused on the theme of music. The theme of music-as-image includes works that were directly inspired by or are illustrative of sound art, while the image-as-metaphor theme encompasses a diverse group of works that, directly or indirectly, reflect the structure and artistic goals of musical composition and improvisation. As an incentive to the viewer to pursue these rich connections more deeply, the exhibition also includes a suite of one-minute musical responses to each graphic work, specially created for the installation at the Bartlett Center. Some of the connections are direct and clear, others poetic or even fanciful. Whatever the connection, this exhibition celebrates the ongoing dance between the visual and the aural that is hundreds, if not thousands, of years old.

Musical Responses: To listen press the AUDIO button under each artwork on the Kentler exhibition page.

The show includes a suite of miniature musical correspondences, one for each visual work, created by composer-pianist Michael Kowalski and percussionist-composer Allen Otte. Kowalski and Otte explore the various ways that a musical composition can relate to a visual composition: as a gestural dialogue, as a thematic extension or development, as a compositional analogy, as a soundtrack, or as a spontaneous reaction. The results are often surprising, sometimes baffling, but always illuminating.

The Kentler Flatfiles are an essential element of Kentler International Drawing Space since its founding in 1990. A compendium of artworks by more than 290 local, national and international artists, this living archive represents the breadth, quality and variety found in contemporary drawings and works on paper today. The Flatfiles are available for viewing by the public and have become an important resource for artists, collectors, curators and anyone interested in the field of drawing and prints. Selections from the Kentler Flatfiles are regularly presented in guest-curated exhibitions at Kentler and in traveling shows.

Kentler has also just installed 2 companion shows to Music as Image and Metaphor: Variations in Black & White. Ten artists from the current exhibition in Columbus are presented in Kentler’s front gallery with black and white works on paper. If you are interested in the sister show in Brooklyn, please click here.

Co-Curators: David Houston and Florence Neal
Musical track by Michael Kowalski and Allen Otte


Herbert Brün, Beth Caspar, Phillip Chen, Abby Goldstein, Takuji Hamanaka, Keiko Hara, robin holder, Richard Howe, Hannah Israel, Mary Judge, Kazuhiro Nishijima, Ralph Kiggell, Rosalinda Kolb, Jiří Kornatovský, Robert Lansden, Simon Lewandowski, Jim Napierala, Florence Neal, Margaret Neill, Morgan O’Hara, Gahae Park, Jaanika Peerna, Scott Pfaffman, Orlando Richards, Susan Schwalb, Viviane Rombaldi Seppey, Molly Snyder-Fink, Hugh Williams

January 22 – March 20, 2021

Virtual Panel Discussion: February 25, 5:30pm

A catalogue accompanies the exhibition.




David W. Houston is currently the Director of the Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Artist and Curator Florence Neal is Co-Founder and Director of Kentler International Drawing Space in Brooklyn, New York.

Composer-pianist Michael Kowalski and percussionist-composer Allen Otte have been collaborating on musical projects since the early 1970s.  In addition to his work as a soloist, teacher, and composer, Otte is a founding member of two of the most important multiple percussion groups in the United States, the Blackearth Percussion Group and The Percussion Group/Cincinnati.  Kowalski was a pioneer in computer-assisted sound synthesis and algorithmic composition in the 1970s.  After years of composing primarily for percussion, dance, and electronics, he turned to theatre and chamber opera in the 1990s. Kowalski’s “Gringo Blaster,” commissioned and premiered by Otte and the Percussion Group/Cincinnati, is available on an Einstein Records CD of the same name.

For more information, click here.

SPONSORS OF Music as Image and Metaphor:

Kay Broda
Judye Harris
Janice Watson