Since spotting him at a November gig by Corey Harris, Feedback has been eager to catch up with local musician and artist Darrell Rose. He got his chance last week, with a sneak peek at Rose’s contributions to McGuffey Art Center‘s new members exhibit. Rose also performs a free set on January 16 at Milano Café with a new world music trio.
"I don’t close the book on influences," Rose told me during an hour-long talk last week. The better for his work. Read more below.
"New York, New York," by Darrell Rose
Rose first exhibited his paintings in Charlottesville in 1996 at Mudhouse; he continued painting until 2002 when, among other things, a heavy touring schedule with legendary reggae band The Wailers forced him to put his brushes down for a bit. Rose has also taught percussion since 1980, to an estimated 3,000 students.
"The mind was ready, but the body was catching up, saying ‘Hold on, there,’" said Rose. He resumed painting in 2004, and said last week that he’s "ready to appreciate the opportunity" to exhibit at McGuffey.
Rose said he "grew up in music" (his mother bought him Hendrix’s Are You Experienced? when he was 16), and a musician’s vocabulary comes through when he talks about his paintings—abstractions that move viewers through geographies and chronologies of cities and social movements. (Reviewer Catherine Marshall takes on Rose’s work and the new McGuffey exhibit here.) He talked about "going into [his] African rhythms" while he works; he mimed brushstrokes, his motions similar to those of a drummer.
In addition to his thousands of drumming students, Rose spent time last year teaching art classes for inmates at the Buckingham Correctional Facility. He spoke vividly of their work, pointed to two of his own pieces on the McGuffey walls—a brighter palate than the rest—and said they came from the slightly darker place his work at Buckingham exposed him to. It was "a reality check in humility," he explained.
Rose also described himself several times during our talk as a student—"a lifetime student," a "student of the process." He jotted notes in a Basquiat notebook; a few of his paintings employ a crown similar to the icons used by the same painter. For Rose, being a good teacher seems to mean being an attentive student, honoring previous lessons through careful integration in his own work. Drop by McGuffey and take a look.