An Ode to Dreamers and Music Makers

Posted on May 10, 2017

I just installed this painting for The Music Makers exhibit at Pleiades Gallery in Durham, NC. The painting, An Ode to Dreamers, is made of layer upon layer of oil paint, cold wax, graphite markings, oil pigment sticks, and imbedded paper illustrations I made of various musicians.

Given the theme title of the exhibit, I was thinking about the poem Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy in his book Music and Moonlight (1874). Sir Edward Elgar set the ode to music in The Music Makers, Op 69 (1912). You may have heard the opening lines of this poem in many different media and cultural references, including being uttered by Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) at the start of his song, Dream. It is a poem about the cultural importance of artists (I’m including visual artists as well as musicians).

We are the music makers,

And we are the dreamers of dreams,

Wandering by lone sea-breakers

And sitting by desolate streams;—

World-losers and world-forsakers,

On whom the pale moon gleams:

Yet we are the movers and shakers

Of the world for ever, it seems.

 

With wonderful deathless ditties,

we build up the world’s great cities.

And out of a fabulous story,

we fashion an empire’s glory.

One man, with a dream, at pleasure

shall go forth and conquer a crown.

And three, with a new song’s measure

can trample an empire down.

 

We, in the ages lying,

in the buried past of the Earth,

built Nineveh with our sighing

and Babel itself with our mirth.

And o’erthrew them with prophesying

to the old of the New World’s worth.

For each age is a dream that is dying,

or one that is coming to birth.

 

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