Jess Schlanger
Curated by Ree Schonlau Kaneko
March 17 – April 23, 2005

Jeff Schlanger, born in New York City in 1937, a graduate of Music & Art High School and student of Maija Grotell at Cranbrook, has created public art projects on three interrelated subjects: Peace, Resistance to War and Music.

musicWitness® paintings and sculpture have been part of all nine Arts for Art Vision Festivals held each May in New York. musicWitness® was featured as a painter in performance at the Tampere, Finland Jazz Happening 2000 - 2003, in Paris at Sons D'hiver 2004 and as graphic artist in Canada at the Guelph Jazz Festival in 2002. Exhibitions of this work have also been held at San Francisco's Intersection for the Arts in 1999, Webster University in St. Louis and the Hunterdon NJ Art Museum.

Events at downtown New York performance spaces include four installations at the old Knitting Factory on Houston Street, three permanent pictures in the Leonard Street Knitting Factory, installations in the Orensanz Art Center on Norfolk, the Electric Circus on St. Mark's, The Center on Mulberry Street, the Learning Alliance on Lafayette, Improvisors Collective on Avenue A and El Bohio on East 9th Street. The CUE Art Foundation is now a few blocks west of the former location of Warren Smith's Studio WIS, part of the vibrant Loft Movement which catalyzed the beginning of the musicWitness® Project in 1975.

Over 30 recording covers have been made at the request of many leading musicians including Julius Hemphill, Muhal Richard Abrams & Roscoe Mitchell, Charles Gayle, William Parker, Billy Bang and Kidd Jordan. Color features on musicWitness® were published in Japan by Morning magazine, Germany byBeQ! and France in Papiers Nicklés #2, 2004.Chile New York, a war resistance project, is a black wall of 400 ceramic Faces, Figures and monumental Jars, selections of which have been seen in forty installations across the USA including the Everson Museum in Syracuse, Laumier Sculpture Park in St. Louis, Bennington College in Vermont and the Renwick Gallery in Washington DC. Total installations were mounted at NY State College of Ceramics at Alfred in 1978 and the City University of NY Graduate Center Mall on 42nd Street in May 1980.


For the last 34 years, Ree Schonlau Kaneko's career has been dedicated to supporting the visual arts by promoting the creative art making process.

Her mission to provide artists with studios, stipends, living spaces, technical support, exhibitions, and critical review culminated with the creation of the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in 1985.  Housed in a 100,000 square foot warehouse in Omaha, Nebraska, the Center, since its inception, has awarded extended residencies at its studio and workshop spaces to 650 artists.

Pursuing this exciting adventure has enabled Kaneko to organize more than 320 exhibitions and lectures on contemporary artists and their work.  This vivid, hands-on learning process has also enabled her to serve as a leading consultant to Partners for Livable Places, DC; Capp Street Project, CA; Navy Pier Chicago; Montalvo, CA; New Arts Forum; The City of Omaha; the University of Nebraska; The Louisiana Council for the Arts; the City of Daytona Beach, FL, as a frequent panelist at NEA forums in Washington, DC and as guest lecturer throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Through the insightful funding of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Kaneko along with seventeen other residency leaders formed the Alliance of Artists' Communities in 1991, an organization which has subsequently grown to make an enormous change in the field of artists' communities today.

Kaneko's current project is to build a program and space that celebrates creativity in the arts, sciences, and philosophy, to open in 2008.




Vision of the musicWitness® :

Look deep within a source of living sound.
Colors gleam and pour out music's tears,
run together inside both eyes,
falling as well in open ears.

Two hands reach towards this listening,
fingertips in movement, dance and flow,
drop wet colors on hot-sized cotton, 
touching, applauding as they go.

Conceive these papers as connected:
seen together they unite.
Extend a seismographic scroll
throughout these vivid times tonight.

Feel the rhythms driving music river
fuse to panoramic view:
families of living musicians
bring home the gift of art to you.

musicWitness® is a sustained engagement
with live improvising musicians.
Singing through the tactile colors
of drawing, painting and ceramic sculpture,
this Vision contributes to the creation of a new 
reality - Peace now, in our time here together.


by Ree Schonlau Kaneko

Sound electrifies the images that pour out of Jeff Schlanger.
In constant movement, he records the energy of sound.
New sound being created right in front of him - front row - in the same time frame, the same moment.
All this energy is strung together and forms a vibrant solo statement in these drawings.
When you see this work, you can hear and feel it.

Jeff Schlanger is a real time two-handed painter who situates himself in the midst of other artists creating new music.
He can hear it happening - after some 30 years of working with some of the most talented and avant-garde jazz musicians, Jeff can perceive the shift - the new sounds of contemporary Jazz.
That's a very exciting place to be.
Each hand responds to the sound, Jeff feels those lines, those colors, that intensity.
And he puts it directly as it happens on to the paper.
One form dissolves and another takes its place.
The flash of the spirit is witnessed and recorded here.