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The Consiglio-Zurick Show: music and film collaborate the Hi-Pointe

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 6, 2011 - It is always interesting when artists collaborate. Sometimes it's brilliant, sometimes it's flawed. Sometimes, it is a total train wreck with clashing personalities and colliding egos so at odds that those involved draw swords to passionately defend their individual craft.

Filmmaker R D Zurick and musician John Consiglio, both of whom live here, will have none of that. These two artists and friends genuinely enjoy working together toward a common goal: the perfect symmetry between visual art and experimental sounds.

The result of their most recent collaboration is THE CONSIGLIO-ZURICK SHOW, which debuts at 5 p.m. Sun., Dec. 11, at the Hi-Pointe Theatre.

R D Zurick has a lifelong passion for both visual art and film. This passion has become so consuming that it has led him down a different path as an instructor and artist.

John Consiglio has played guitar for a ska band named Black Market Peace. Zurich was turned on by his work with artist Zlatko Cosic; and, after meeting, he and Consglio became fast friends and cohorts. Zurick loves Consiglio's system of layering sounds from traditional instruments and from the world at large. Upon hearing Consiglio's work Zurick knew his avant-garde compositions would be a perfect symbiosis for framing his visual art.

Balancing live music with visual art can be a daunting task. Yet as an artist Zurick has embraced the opportunity.

"I have a lifelong tradition of loving narrative film but I have been so absorbed with it, seeing them, teaching them, making them, over the years that I have taken an alternative route to cinematic nirvana," he explained. "I have pared it down to its basic elements, throwing off its artificialness which means its traditional and obviously commercial efforts to copy other narrative media, particularly novels, theater and TV sitcoms. As a fan of art in general, but particularly music and painting, my own films and now video work share the purity of wordless music (in movement, rhythm, and tonal changes) and action abstraction painting (whose subject is itself)."

Zurick's work also reflects an affinity for Southeast Asian culture spurred by a 1997 trip to Thailand. "I discovered a lush green paradise, golden spires towering over giant palm trees, and temples so colorful that they are a shock to the eye," he recalled. "I also discovered very warm and beautiful people. My camera fell in love with Siamese imagery."

Zurick is quick to point out, however, that his connection to the region is not the main inspiration driving his artistic passions. "Whether I shoot in Siam or in old Missouri, the subject matter only serves to give each artwork its unique form and color as the original meaning of these subjects has been reduced (or I would say enhanced) by my abstracting methods."

Consiglio and Zurick's first collaboration, ANCIENT CITY, will open the show. Zurick sees the film as "a magical merger of sound and vision." This Thai-themed piece highlights Siamese culture and is accompanied by Consiglio's score, which accentuates the work's haunting atmosphere.

Next on the program is the debut screening of BUTTERFLY, a film that features video-manipulated glimpses of similar works by 50 area artists in 23 minutes.

For the finale, Consiglio is center stage improvising and crafting additional layers of musical support for Zurick's REALITY TRUNCATED OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP COMPLAINING AND LOVE ST. LOUIS, a film chronicling the various civic festivals held in the St. Louis area over a full year.

Although Zurick edited this rhythmic film three decades ago, upon hindsight, its retro look spotlights many now familiar faces, including Stan Musial, enjoying themselves at these celebrations. Consiglio's score weaves around the on-screen imagery giving these celebs the appearance of dancing in syncopation.

The three films form a triptych that spans Zurick's career. Zurick says, "Each piece was created without the others in mind. They are now grouped as a continual dialogue between videographer and musician. The show's unifying theme all along has been to pay tribute to this rare musical artist I am so lucky to work with. Therein lies the reason for calling it THE CONSIGLIO-ZURICK SHOW. Music itself becomes a unifying theme in as much as I make my videos as if I was making music, too."

According to Zurick, this show "exemplifies musical synaesthesia" by showcasing both his latest video presentation along with his previous films.

He hopes to use his Hi-Pointe screening as a launching pad for his one-man show, Zurick Looped, which features three video installations and a number of wall hangings on view for two weeks at the Soha Gallery, 4915 Macklind, with an opening at 6 p.m. Jan. 6.

THE CONSIGLIO-ZURICK SHOW is a bold attempt to capture the lightning in a bottle that occurs when two like-minded artists join forces to craft a single work of art that embodies their respective work while collectively gelling the senses of sight and sound into one program.

Rob Levy is a freelance writer.

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