The Brightness of the Day

Friday, March 23, 2012

opening reception: 6:00-9:00pm closing party with small concert: Friday, April 20, 6:30-9pm


The Brightness of the Day

world of Peter Whitehead: sculptural instruments, mertz, music.

PETER WHITEHEAD is a composer, songwriter, performer, instrument builder, and visual artist. Born in England, Peter has lived and worked in the US since 1975, exploring visual arts and music. His work in both fields has received critical acclaim. Growing up in London in the 60s, musically he gravitated to the guitar and the more experimental styles of Brian Eno, Robert Wyatt, Syd Barret, Frank Zappa, the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. Poetry and words took precedence and folk songwriters such as Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan became strong influences. Whitehead presently focuses his time on composing music for dance and film and instrument building, a career that has required a New York and San Francisco presence.
A fascination with unusual sounds, voices, early music and the instruments of other cultures inspired his extensive research and travels through southeast Asia. The travels motivated Whitehead to construct one-of a kind instruments containing found objects in a minimal format, often generating sounds with eastern nuances. Simultaneously his visual art work took on a collage style, or what Kurt Schwitters would describe as "mertz". Schwitters said his term Merz  "essentially means combining all conceivable materials for artistic purposes..." In the early 80's, inspired by the journals of Peter Beard, Whitehead began an ongoing practice of building collages in large books as a parallel visual world to his musical universe of cobbling sound with original instruments and vocals.

As a performer Whitehead's career encompasses both solo and collaborative work. In the early 1990s he was a founding member of the critically acclaimed Mobius Operandi performance group, known for its spectacular large-scale multi-media events.  He also co-founded Out of Round Records, an independent label featuring the music of a collective of San Francisco Bay Area musicians, instrument builders and visual artists. Peter wrote, directed and performed several live theatre performance pieces including, The Mission is Not Impossible, featuring his five-piece group The Lower Back People, funded by the SF Arts Commission. He has recorded numerous solo CDs and is featured in the Ellipsis Arts CD/book of experimental musical instrument builders Orbitones Spoonharps & Bellowphones. In the world of dance Peter has performed and composed scores for Susan Marshall and Company, Sarah Shelton Mann (Contraband) and Anna Halprin. His recent CD, The Brightness of the Day is Bigger than the Bed contains compositions for dance and film, including a commission performed in solo by Mikhail Baryshnikov. His music has also appeared in films by Matt Dillon, Ralph Arlick and Jennifer Thompson.

Peter Whitehead's exhibition at 60SIX: "The Brightness of the Day..."  presents found object instruments, never without a surprise, (i.e. a ski, giant water container, spoons,) paintings and mixed media collages, compiled over 10 + years, works which illuminate the whimsy, inventiveness and integration of Whitehead's world of musical and visual poetry. 

The Brightness of the Day