Valerie J. Christell
University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee (M.F.A.)
University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign (B.F.A.)
View my work at my websites:
GuitarTown guitar – “Red Hot Red”
My guitar, Red Hot Red, is all about the essence of Les Paul: his musical prowess, passion, energy and inventions. Altogether, they’re expressed in visual and symbolic terms within my piece.
With Paul being nicknamed “Red Hot Red” and “Rhubarb Red” for his hair, and with red being the color of passion, I knew I had to incorporate red into my guitar. As my artwork expresses angst through layered, textural images in black and white, the plan for this piece was to build a grey foundation with layers of black and white, expressionistic images articulated with flaming red lettering for his nicknames. Then I saw this red guitar. And when we all went up to choose a guitar and the red guitar was being ignored, it was clear it was mine and that its rich color would play an integral role in its creation.
The guitar front features exaggerated, textured images of Les Paul’s eyes in addition to his hands playing his guitar. These are juxtaposed with fragments of a hand-written version of his Dark Eyes sheet music. And Paul’s moniker, “Red Hot Red,” blazes in rhythm at the edge, following the guitar’s contour.
The guitar back focuses on quotes by Les Paul about his creative process encased in undulating shapes along with the names of equipment he invented set in solid shards. They either flow around or target a faded image of his 8-track tape recorder. And Paul’s other moniker, “Rhubarb Red,” flashes his creative passion at the side, following the guitar’s curvature.
Neck & Headstock:
The guitar neck has one of Paul’s eyes at the base with a line of music shooting out from it as a symbol for his musical vision.