PMP Violist Inspires Fantastical and Philanthropic Portrait

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BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY NOV 25, 2016

Two years ago, Perlman Music Program/Suncoast (PMP) invited local artist James Griffin to paint a violin for its Art of the Violin fundraising campaign. It was a fun experience, he recalls, but the real takeaway was a newfound addiction to PMP performance. “I was hooked,” he says. “I started going to all of the concerts. I just couldn’t believe how good they were.” Next Friday, the artist gives back with the unveiling of The Enchantress, a six-foot portrait inspired by PMP violist Molly Carr. Presented at the Dabbert Gallery for December’s First Friday Artwalk on Palm, giclee canvas prints of The Enchantress will be on sale with all proceeds going to support the PMP.

It was a year ago that Griffin saw Carr in concert and the awe still creeps into his voice at the recounting. It wasn’t just the caliber of the performance—though he can’t say enough good things about it—but the performance itself as a testament to the transformative power of music. Walking onstage and talking to the audience, Carr seemed but a quiet voice at first blush. “But then she started playing and this whole other person emerged,” says Griffin. “It was amazing to see how the music and her passion for playing it transformed her.”

Further transformed under the artist’s brush, Carr re-emerges as the untamable enchantress, radiant in the dark of a fantastical wood, drawing the spirits of the forest across her bow with a knowing smirk. That may not be what everyone sees on stage at a PMP performance, but that’s what Carr lets Griffin see, engaging the audience before every piece. “Everything had a story,” he says. “And when she starts to play, you can see them in your head.” In his head he saw gypsies, he saw unbroken wilds and he saw the enchantress. “It seemed to paint itself,” he says. “Maybe it was the magic.”

A former bluegrass fiddler, music remains an important part of Griffin’s life, whether it be through a live PMP performance or the tunes pumping through the paint-spattered CD player that is his constant studio companion. “I have music in me and I love it,” he says. “And when I heard the quality of these musicians, I was just blown away. Every time, I’m blown away.” And as music feeds him, The Enchantress allows him to return the favor.

With an opening reception at the Dabbert Gallery on December 2 at 6pm, The Enchantress will be available for viewing and giclee canvas prints available for sale. Griffin will be in attendance as will select PMP musicians who will put on a brief performance.

Pictured: James Griffin and 'The Enchantress.' Photo courtesy of Dabbert Gallery.

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