Gordon and Alta Solomon are a creative couple, and certainly romance is not lacking in their relationship.
With Alta writing poetry and taking photographs in her spare time and Gordon following his passion as a full-time artist, creativity abounds in this relationship.
For their most recent exhibit at Full of Beans, however, their relationship was their inspiration, as Alta’s poetry and Gordon’s painting blended in a unique medium.
The exhibit has also afforded the married couple a chance to give back to the community, as 10 per cent of the proceeds from the exhibit will be donated to the National Council of Voluntary Organisations. Alta works as one of the NCVO’s Youth and Community workers and she is also the personal assistant to the organisation’s chief executive officer.
‘I started working for them in May 2007. I absolutely love it,’ said Alta.
Eight years ago, Alta joined her husband in Cuba where he spent three weeks studying lithography as part of the National Gallery’s Artist Away programme. During that time she wrote a series of poems, and after reading them Gordon suggested the idea of painting canvases to accompany her writing.
‘We went to New York in February for our first joint exhibit and I took my book [of poems] with me and Gordon said that he should do paintings to my poems,’ said Alta. ‘I said okay and that’s basically how it started.’
The idea had come up from time to time in the past few years, she added, but it was the trip to Cuba that provided the opportunity for the project to take root.
‘I have literally hundreds and hundreds of poems but none of them linked like they are in this series,’ said Alta. ‘I wrote all of them while in Cuba about different events that happened to me personally. I use poems to recall things that happened to me – I have a terrible memory – and these poems record what happened to me while I was in Cuba.’
It’s not an easy task, to interpret poetry and then take that interpretation and turn it into images on a canvas, but the husband-and-wife team worked closely on the project.
‘I read the poetry to him and some of them he was like ‘what are you talking about?’ and I explained to him what was happening as I was writing the poetry,’ Alta said. ‘As I was doing that he formulated the images in his mind and he would sketch them out on his own on pieces of paper as they came.’
The paintings not only represent Alta’s poetry but also pay homage to Cuban artwork through their style and vibrant colours.
‘I did this style because of my time in Cuba; I saw so much great Cubism over there. Part of the programme I was in looked at the Cuban masters, so I went to the home of Adigio [Benitez], one of the Cuban masters who worked in Cubism. So this was the vibe I got from Cuba,’ said Gordon.
He is humble about the challenges of creating works of art based on someone else’s ideas, referring to his wife as his muse. He named the exhibit ‘The Painter’s Muse’ in dedication to her and her poetry.
‘This wasn’t too challenging – this show is my muse,’ he said. ‘I haven’t seen poetry and paintings side by side in an exhibit before.’