Four beautiful musicians playing Renaissance instruments in an elaborately carved wooden boat look real enough to touch. Yet, like their creator, Brigham Young University art professor James C. Christensen, they are "from the land a little left of reality."
The musicians are exquisitely detailed angels, and their gold-trimmed vessel floats through the air as its passengers bring night to the world. The artist describes their responsibility as bringing the "harmony and tranquility of evening itself" to Earth, a task they complete with the help of a higher source."Evening Angels" is the newest artwork to spring from Christensen's prolific imagination. For more than a decade, Christensen has been building a solid reputation as a fine arts fantasy artist. His one-man shows of fairies, nymphs, flying fish, hunchbacks and barnstorm pilot explorers searching the universe on corroded flashlights fueled by tomato soup have established his reputation as one of the pioneers in the fantastical art movement of the late 20th century.
As the leading fantasy artist for the Greenwich Workshop, a prestigious fine art publisher in Connecticut, Christensen has used his imagination as a trigger for dozens of paintings. They have been made into limited edition prints - all complete sellouts. Unlike his other works, however, this painting has an added dimension of sound.
"I wanted to hear the angel's music," Christensen explains, "and turned to my kindred spirit Kurt Bestor, a gifted Utah composer I had collaborated with at BYU.
"When I started considering the music seriously, I knew the only man who could tell me about the angels' music is Kurt. Our collaboration really worked beyond our hopes. It's not just two artists approaching a subject from different directions; it's a partnership of sound and image."
Audiences can see and hear the results of that collaboration Monday, Sept. 12, at 7:30 p.m. in Abravanel Hall in a concert called "Evening Angels." Tickets are available at $8 and $10 each at ArtTix outlets and at the concert's sponsors, Framework and Repartee galleries in Salt Lake City, Park City and Orem.
Christensen was raised in Culver City, Calif., and studied painting at BYU and the University of California at Los Angeles. He has been commissioned by both Time/Life Books and Omni to create illustration for their publications. He has had one-man shows in the West and Northeast, and his work is prized in collections throughout the United States and Europe.
Bestor's musical interests first flourished in his native Wisconsin. He studied classical music and jazz at BYU and worked as a musician and staff arranger at the Osmond Studios in Orem. He has worked steadily in television, and he and long-time collaborator Sam Cardon received an Emmy for their soundtrack of the 1988 Winter Olympics coverage.