Music is displayed rather than played Artist got his start as a performer

February 12, 1993|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Contributing Writer

For Ellicott City artist John Sealine, the pursuit of a musical career turned him into an artist of another variety entirely.

His "music collages" will be at the Carroll County Arts Council show that opens at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the council's gallery at 15 E. Main St., Westminster. This is the second time he has had an art show in Carroll.

For this Ames, Iowa, native who spent his high school and college years playing bass in a couple of bands that criss-crossed the state playing proms, a shot at the big time meant going elsewhere.

"Staying in Iowa is not good for art or music," he said with a laugh. "If you want to work in the arts, you have to go either east or west."

With a degree in journalism from Iowa State in 1981, Mr. Sealine decided along with several fellow band members to try for the big time in rock and roll. He wound up playing beer joints and dives in the Washington-Baltimore area.

He playing bass for such eminently forgettable bands as Subject/Object, Little Big and finally the Impact Buffaloes.

"It was our last gig and we were losing our guitarist, and then our vocalist decided to take a job with a school, and we thought we would just take a short hiatus," he said.

That hiatus began in 1987 and hasn't ended yet. For Mr. Sealine it meant the end of one career and the beginning of another.

He spends his days at the Waverly Press in Baltimore, where he has been the managing editor of new journals since 1986. He devotes his spare time to pursuing his art.

He is largely self-taught, even though his older brother, Eric, who is an artist in Boston, passed along valuable advice and suggestions.

It was in the dying days of his band career that he found himself staring during a break at a score that it was covered with scribbles, marks and arrows. It caught his eye and he suddenly saw beauty in it. The thought occurred to him that the really important thing wasn't the music but the notations on the score.

He began experimenting using actual scores and arrangements from his songs and then added photographs, X-ray positives and paint to render musical structures into the art form known as music collage.

"Music collage has been around about 20 years," said Mr. Sealine. "When I had my first exhibition, 'Poems of Photogenic Wars,' at the Unicorn Gallery in Fells Point, I composed original music as an accompaniment, which the viewer listened to as he looked at my work."

Some of the experimental music contained notes from the artwork. One of his musical compositions from the show "Astigmatism" briefly was heard on Baltimore radio stations.

"This medium represents for me a real deep spiritual need, and what it represents for others I have no idea," he said.

Mr. Sealine incorporates into his work the theory that measured progression as represented by written music forms the horizontal line, while the abstract medium is illustrated by the vertical line. This produces, according to the artist, "a dream-like and evocative quasi-dimensional environment."

The show, which continues through the end of the month, also includes crafted jewelry by Kim Hildebrand, Kelly Kilduff, Matt Moran, Leonar Pisano, John Sosnowsky and Linda Van Hart.

Hilary Pierce, executive director of the council, said, "The quality of this exhibition is reflected in the work, and I'd put this show on in New York or Washington."

After the opening, the Poetry Forum will give a reading from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Information: 848-7272 or 876-8550.

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