Kaki King turns her music into art


One of my favorite things about AfterEllen.com is that it introduces me to brilliant lesbian entertainers, some of whom I would never know otherwise. Of course, I’m as skeptical as you are when an artist is called a “brilliant lesbian.” But I doubt I’ll get much grief for attaching that description to Kaki King.

Actually, “brilliant” seems inadequate in view of King’s talent. Her mastery of the guitar has impressed everyone from Rolling Stone to TED. And just in case you haven’t seen that remarkable TED performance, you should watch the 15-minute video.

Now King is taking her guitar virtuosity to the visual arts world with “The Exhibition,” which opens Friday at the Littlefield Gallery in Brooklyn. King told Spinner that the concept came from a comment by King’s friend Lennie Peterson on her guitar playing:

He thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if I put paint on the tips of my fingers and then played the song. He thought that everything I am doing was very choreographed and methodical, and wondered what it would look like — where my fingers would travel. That was really the start.

King invited 16 people — recruited from MySpace and Facebook — to create original visual pieces, each based on one of her songs and using an actual guitar. Ovation donated the blank guitars.

Photos documenting the process appear on King’s Facebook page. Here’s a sample.

You Don’t Have to Be Afraid

Never Said I Love You

I Need a Girl Who Knows a Map

At the opening, King will return to the project’s inspiration by putting pink paint on her fingers and performing “Playing With Pink Noise” on her trademark blue Ovation guitar.

The guitar later will be auctioned to benefit VH1’s Save the Music Foundation. The other guitars will be on sale by the individual artists.

A photographer will document “The Exhibition” for online viewing by those of us who can’t make it to the show. I hope that includes a video of King’s performance. If the show is successful, King may expand it into a traveling show. I hope she has a lot of those blue guitars, just in case.

What do you think of “The Exhibition?” If you participated, what Kaki King song would you use? If you are lucky enough to attend, come back and tell us about the show.

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