Local painters, poets and musicians will celebrate the transition from winter to spring in a presentation of original works Saturday on the Sterling campus of Northern Virginia Community College.
The event is the culmination of a months-long collaborative process, in which eight pairs of poets and artists created poems and paintings around the theme “Springtime in Winter.”
Musicians from Herndon High School will accompany the mixed-arts presentation, performing works written for the project by two local composers.
Mike Maggio, who teaches writing at the Sterling campus, conceived the mixed-arts project last year while visiting the Reston Art Gallery and Studios.
“It struck me to do something with poetry and the arts,” he said. He asked Joan Kelly, an artist who displays her works at the gallery, whether she would be interested in collaborating with a poet. The gallery’s owner, Pat Macintyre, wanted to get more artists involved, Maggio said.
Maggio, of Herndon, is the regional vice president of the Poetry Society of Virginia. He put out a call for poets through the group and invited eight of them to look through the gallery and select an artist with whom they would like to work.
“I wanted them to learn about each other’s process, because being a writer, you follow one process; being an artist, you follow another,” he said.
Poet Steve Bucher of Marshall said he was immediately drawn to Macintyre’s paintings of trees, a subject that features prominently in his poetry. He gave Macintyre a selection of his poems with references to winter and spring. Macintyre said she “just fell in love with” Bucher’s poem, “Winter Crows.”
“She did a really exquisite painting that totally grabbed what I was trying to express in that poem,” Bucher said.
Macintyre had also started another painting showing starlight through pine needles. Bucher wrote a poem to accompany it, based on Lyra, a constellation visible during the transition from winter to spring. The constellation is part of the Greek myth of Orpheus’s ill-fated journey into the land of the dead to retrieve his wife, Eurydice.
As he wrote the poem “Lyra,” Bucher sent Macintyre stanzas to show her where it was going. She sent back pictures of her painting-in-progress, “Night Pines.”
“The thing about a poem is, you think you know where you’re going with it, but you often don’t until you actually get done with it,” Bucher said. “It takes on a life of its own — I guess like a painting does.” Bucher said he wanted his poem to end in daylight rather than darkness, moving “from night and underworld to spring and dawn.” Macintyre responded by using the second panel of her painting to show daybreak.
“We really created a collaborative piece together that neither one of us would have done on our own,” Bucher said.
Maggio recruited composers Jesse Guessford and Brian Scarbrough to write music in response to the eight pairs of poems and paintings. A string ensemble of Herndon High students will perform the pieces Saturday, under the direction of Bette Gawinski, orchestra director at Herndon Middle School.
The Sterling presentation will be the third and final exhibition of the “Springtime in Winter” mixed- arts project, featuring the musical performances, readings of the poetry and a display of the paintings. It debuted at the Reston Art Gallery in January, followed by a presentation last month in Herndon.
The presentation will begin Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Waddell Building on the Sterling campus of Northern Virginia Community College.