The Sight of Sound

TJC Gallery, Spartanburg, SC
August 16, 2023 – October 28, 2023

The Johnson Collection and the Spartanburg Philharmonic have collaborated on an exhibition celebrating the latter's 95 years in our community. Curated by Dr. Peter Kay, the artwork featured in the exhibition serves as a visual complement to the season premiere concert on September 16. Programming will include a gallery talk with Dr. Kay on September 21 and live music in the gallery on October 19.

From its inception in 1928, the Spartanburg Philharmonic has challenged eager listeners by presenting contemporary music alongside established works from the classical canon. The spark of a new piece is unparalleled; the experience of the premiere is something shared between those lucky audience members present. Likewise, the reprisal of a classic marks another important moment in time: an opportunity to share something cherished with a new generation of listeners. In mixing the two, new colors emerge. Each can be seen in a new light and approached with fresh ears. The Spartanburg Philharmonic has curated a 2023–2024 season that touches on this vital blend of diverse programming. 

To celebrate the symphony’s 95th year, the Johnson Collection presents The Sight of Sound. The works in this exhibition encompass the experience of sound and parallel the Philharmonic’s season premiere program. When attending a live concert, audience members are enveloped in the power and breadth of the full orchestra. Waves of colorful sounds and musical phrases pour from the stage, sometimes elegant and sometimes jagged. Individual audience members can each experience something different or be transported somewhere personal. For example, a musical piece may bring to mind a pulsing abstract landscape for one listener or a vast wilderness for another, complete with a towering mountain and pristine lake.

From the bright and bold clashes in Peter B. Kay’s Fanfare visualized through Tumble II by Sam Gilliam to the joyous grooves in Xavier Foley’s Soul Bass paired with Bernice Sims' Tent Revival, the concert opens with vibrant American compositions. Harvey Joiner’s Woods Scene showcases a glowing forest interior and complements the finale, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, Opus 95, which reflects the composer’s own discovery of the breathtaking expanse and beautiful intimacy of America’s New World. This exhibition is a celebration of creators—from both the visual and performing arts—crafting artworks that hopefully inspire generations for another ninety-five years.

Featured artists include Margaret Burroughs, Marie Johnson Calloway, Ida Crawley, Elaine de Kooning, James Denmark, William Dodge, Thomas Downing, William Frerichs, Sam Gilliam, William Halsey, McDonald Bane, Harvey Joiner, Edith London, , Xanti Schawinsky, Merton Simpson, Bernice Sims, Carroll Sockwell, Eugene Thomason, and William Walker.