(The George Colligan Trio. Oil on linen, 36”x48”, 2018 and The George Colligan Trio. Ink on paper, 11”x14”, 2018 by Ken Marunowski)
Forget Warhol’s late sixties prophetic dictum that “In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.” Bend artist Ken Marunowski more than quadrupled that number with one hour and forty-eight seconds of fame! Okay, that might not be entirely accurate since it is neither world fame nor that particular duration Ken truly achieved, but it is the total playing time for award winning jazz pianist George Colligan’s latest CD release Again With Attitude, for which Ken’s artwork was chosen to adorn the front cover.
The cover art is, in actuality, a cropped version of a 3’x4’ oil painting that captures George Colligan’s performance last year at Mt. Bachelor Riverhouse Jazz where he lit it up with jazz legends Buster Williams, upright bass, and Lenny White, drums (think Miles Davis, Bitches Brew). Ken based the blue, purple and crimson colored, expressive painting on a series of ink studies he made and photographs he took at the show. An artist of musicians, landscapes and large-scale abstractions, Ken was invited to the concert series by Associate Producer Elise Franklin who spotted the artist sketching live music on Thursday evenings at Currents at the Riverhouse. Captivated by Ken’s quick, gestural responses to the live music, Elise and Executive Producer Marshall Glickman deemed Ken the Resident Artist of the series. At the closing concert of the season, which was to be the last ever for Riverhouse Jazz, Ken presented the painting to Marshall as a gift for his extraordinary efforts in bringing world-class musicians to Bend, something for which all lovers of jazz are incredibly grateful.
No stranger to depicting live musicians and the feeling of the music they evoke, Marunowski made a regular practice of doing so in Duluth, Minnesota where he lived and taught at the University of Minnesota Duluth for eight years. Favorite bands of his to listen to and draw or paint while there included Charlie Parr, whose foot-stompin’, finger-picking jams came to Bend in 2017, and indie rock group Low, whose eerie lyrics and mesmerizing rhythms lull listeners into a trance-like state. Both bands now own some of Ken’s work. At one outdoor venue featuring Sheila Raye Charles, daughter of Ray Charles, the artist completed a series of charcoal and pastel works on paper, one of which Sheila purchased for her personal collection. In 2018, the Sunriver Music Festival honored Marunowski by selecting his mixed media painting of Leonard Bernstein as the official publicity image for the season, which appeared on posters and the concert series program as well as in press releases and promotional articles. Many of Ken’s large abstractions, often musical in sensibility, are currently displayed at the Cascade School of Music located on Third St. and Emerson, across from Walgreens. Stop in and check out the artist’s work.