Icons for Atheists and Songs for the Silent


This Friday Chicago gets a chance to see some songs. Yes, see them.
Jon Langford, of the Mekons for one, as well as a good number of other bands (don't tell the punk kids he's also part of the kiddie rock band the Beasties) is opening his show "Song Paintings" at Thomas Masters Gallery this Friday.

Back in the day Langford gave up painting in favor of being in bands. It was easier for him to write songs than get paint onto a canvas. But then he started investigating why one creative process might be so much easier than the other. It was through that investigation that Langford's songs got into his paintings, and occasionally a painting or two got into his songs.

You may have seen some of Langford's paintings before at Delilah's or down at Yard Dog Gallery in Austin, TX. Monochromatic depictions of the faces of music legends stare back at the viewer with a few choice words circling around their heads. "These were a sly wink to the old Christian icons," says Langford. "Only they were Atheistic icons for me." Often based on publicity photos the images capture the musician's determined hopefulness put forth for their fans, even when reality was falling apart.

Langford's animal paintings stem similarly from this fascination with capturing a singular moment. "I was interested in the old zoological drawings," says Langford. "How the page would be blank with the creature alone there. They would become almost iconic. Or in bird manuals, how they really try to tie down the species in one drawing." Words would then come in to act as a counterpoint to the creature on the canvas. A single line from a song fleshing out the reason for the panting.

This show will feature larger format works than Langford has been known for. Stretching this comfort zone was necessary since the entire lyrics to each song are painted onto the canvas rather than just a few choice words. Themes range from birds to bridges, and singers to skulls, covering the breadth of Langford's inspiration.

Jon Langford will be in attendance for the opening going from 5pm until 8pm, 11/14 at the Thomas Masters Gallery, 245 W. North Ave. Texas Rockabilly legend Rosie Flores will perform and beers from Three Floyds Brewery will be featured.

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