What piece of art changed your life? How did it affect you?
As the child of a painter, the visual arts were part of my consciousness even before music. And the work of art which molded me was my father’s own Fulbright Triptych, a work in three panels measuring 14 feet by 8 feet, showing his studio and the view beyond.
There is much surrounding the painting that shaped me. My father painted it with complete disregard for practicality, or for the world’s opinion. It was his first painting, a wildly ambitious project, begun while he was in Germany on a Fulbright grant expressly dedicated not to painting but to print making. To eke out their grant and allow my father to paint without distraction, my parents lived in an attic room with half the roof missing, sleeping on the floor surrounded by furniture borrowed from a neighbor’s garden.
But it is the work itself that truly marked me. My father’s primary interest in art is in its humanity. He is not drawn to the surface of his subjects, to the rendering. He is interested in the life of things. He will travel across continents to see paintings that move and inspire him. He isn’t concerned with the historical context of a painting, or the color theory behind it, or the symbolism of the iconography within it.
It is difficult to explain what draws him to respond to a painting, and what causes him to paint the way he does. I suspect that this is because he thinks in visual language. All of his paintings and drawings tell stories. They aren’t allegorical or illustrative or didactic. They simply tell the story of the person who is modeling, of the apples on the plate. And that is not something that can be translated into words.
When I look at the triptych I see where I come from aesthetically. And if I wanted to tell someone who I really am deep inside, I would just need to show those three panels.
Pianist Simone Dinnerstein's 2007 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations was a critical and commercial smash, topping Billboard's classical chart the week it was released. Soon after, Slate.com urged its readers to "go hear her, and get religion." We have ample opportunity this week, when Dinnerstein performs with the BSO this Thursday and Sunday at the Meyerhoff and Saturday at Strathmore.
[image: courtesy Simone Dinnerstein]