OAK PARK — The Brickhouse Art Gallery in Oak Park is primarily used to hold art exhibits for local and national artists who welcome the opportunity to showcase their work in the facility.
When it was local artist Gerry GOS” Otis Simpson’s turn to display his artwork in the building made of red-colored bricks, he used the Brickhouse as part of the exhibit, and he literally made music flow out of it.
Simpson’s 40-piece project, “A Touch of Jazz and Other Sounds,” was housed in the gallery for nearly two months. The colorful exhibit is a remarkable collection of new photographic, figurative and abstract artworks by the fine artist and photographer.
“It has been a great experience having a place to work in (the Brickhouse),” Simpson told The OBSERVER. “It has been a dream of mine because it’s filled with bricks and I have bricks in so much of what I do. The Brickhouse gave me so much room and space to let the entire vision roll out.”
The Brickhouse art director Barbara Range, Simpson said, “challenged” him to reach a level of creativity that would pay “tribute” to vocal and instrumental sounds as well as “make music for the eyes,” Simpson said.
Discussed in June 2012, the project managed to pull out the artist’s love for all genres of music and construct them in black-and-white images, painted on canvas, and assembled by using material such eight-track tapes, reel-to-reel, cassettes, and vinyl records. In addition, there are painted sculptures, collages, and painted musical instruments on display.
Simpson had done a shorter version of the A Touch of Jazz exhibit in Sacramento. But the Brickhouse’s location definitely allowed him to expand and enhance his vision.
“I did a scaled-down version of it at Underground Books a couple of years ago,” Simpson said. “I considered that my 45 record. But this version (at the Brickhouse) is the full album/LP on wax.”
Simpson, who is from the Garden State of New Jersey, was keenly interested in the Brickhouse because it reminded him of buildings on the East Coast. Brick buildings are often incorporated in his artwork.
“If you look at my work the tall buildings represent my home,” Simpson said. “The bricks in my work also stand for strength and power. You can huff and puff but you can’t blow it down.”
Aside from Simpson’s current art exhibit, it must be noted that he was a musical artist as well. Right out of high school he was a singer in a band that toured Canada and Florida. He ended up on the West Coast (for 29 years in California and 13 in Sacramento) after he won a contest to design and model clothes. Simpson uses both places, California and New Jersey, to magnify his artistic expressions.
“California is my home, where I sleep, and where I create,” Simpson said. “But I always go back east and bring back as much as I possibly can to mix it into what I do. If you will…I try to make it sing.”
The Brickhouse Art Gallery is located at 2837 36th Street in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood. For more information, call (916) 452-1240.
By Antonio R. Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer