Out & About

Painting brings memories of planting musical roots

By Jared Wright -- Telegraph columnist

There's a piece of art hanging above the nightstand on my bedroom wall. Its black frame is nicked and dented and the glass covering the image is a bit scratched from taking part in numerous moves. Despite the housing's slight dinginess, the piece has stuck with me through the years and is always one of the first to go up on a wall where it's easily seen.

Inside the frame, there's a simple scene. A light gradient fades down onto two-dimensional clouds, and a black, pen-lined frame separates background from foreground, where there are a few red tulips that look to be bent over from the light pressure of early-morning dew. The petals of those tulips are drawn to spell out a band name, the name of a band that I started shortly after moving back to Macon about 10 years ago.

Despite having lived in the city before, Macon was still a bit strange to me at that point, and I realized quickly that the prospect of starting a band was more daunting than it seemed in a place where I didn't really know many folks who could help facilitate success in such an endeavor.

As such, we played wherever we could: dirty bars, sidewalks, even some horribly awkward graduation parties and wedding receptions ("Don't you know any Lynyrd Skynyrd songs?").

It often felt like we weren't getting anywhere. When Craig Burkhalter walked up to me unexpectedly one day to hand me that personalized drawing of a few clouds and tulips, I was slightly shocked. I didn't know that anyone was really listening, and I couldn't fathom that someone would take the time to create something inspired by the music I was creating.

But more importantly, that kind gesture felt like a housewarming gift. I'd seen similar drawings hung in welcoming places around town and owned by other musicians that I'd shared the stage with. I was a moment that I felt a little more connected, felt like I didn't have to do as much on my own. To me, the drawing that still hangs on my wall has come to represent what any arts or music scene is at its basest level: a network of people mutually supporting and unselfishly encouraging each other.

I still see Craig's prints, drawings and paintings in the houses of those musicians who I've grown closest with, and I saw many of the those people at his final show before closing his studio at the Contemporary Arts Exchange a few Fridays ago. Craig is moving on to bigger and better things, but the community that he helped create will still be around, linked by his creations.

So thanks for the memory, Craig. Thanks for facilitating those connections, and best wishes as you move on.

Jared Wright is a member of Field Note Stenographers, a collective of local musicians who write about shows in Middle Georgia. He is also a musical historian, curator and archivist. Contact him at fieldnotestenographers@gmail.com.