Friday, May 04, 2012

Hope You Paint a Pretty Picture

Add a comma and my headline works another way: "Hope, You Paint a Pretty Picture."

Hope being recording artist Hope Harris, who returns this month with her new CD, "Picasso, That's Who! (And So Can You!)."

Hope delivers a tuneful art lesson, with songs about Picasso (the title track), David Hockney (Who Made the Splash?), Claude Monet (Impression, Monet), and Jackson Pollack (A-C-T-I-O-N).


Mixing media is always challenging. The most common form is music video. Movie musicals have also made a comeback, but not every year has a breakout success. Any combination of the audio and visual has its strengths and drawbacks. Many recording artists resisted making music videos, saying that the best images were always those in the listeners' heads. Well, MTV emptied out all those pretty little heads.

Getting kids to listen to music and think about art? Indeed, a fresh challenge. While it's great to have full lyrics included with the CD, parents may want to have a laptop or coffee table art book nearby so their kids can visually sample the artists that Hope sings about so passionately.

As you might expect, Hope pays tribute to each artist in an individual style. "A-C-T-I-O-N" sounds like a B-52s dance tune about dripping paint. "Swingin' Little Duck" (about Alexander Calder) has a jazzy swing band beat. "Dot in Motion" (about Paul Klee) is southern-style rock, complete with a slide guitar solo and Dixie Chick harmonies for the chorus:

Set a dot in motion and make it a line
Take it for a walk, see what you find
You just never know
Set a dot in motion
Be like Klee

"Picasso, That's Who!" is a breezy, fast-paced trip to an imaginary art gallery. It's a theme album that's more about creativity than empowerment, for once. And a celebration of the arts that steers children towards discovering and enjoying different forms of modern (and classic) art. There's nary a Rembrandt or DaVinci within earshot on this collection, and for once, that's a good thing. Put down the dropcloth, break out the finger paints, and cue up Hope Harris for a cherry afternoon of music and art appreciation.

"Picasso, That's Who!" is available on Tuesday, May 22 through cdbaby, Amazon, and New Sound Kids music independent reseller outlets.
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