S_V_H Africa Final Image

Africa: acrylic paint, with six canvases, with wood and aluminum features. About 50 3/4 inches in length by 32 inches high, by about 3 1/4 inches in-depth.

After one month of work Africa is finished.  I created this artwork to be the submission to this years Artwest Exhibition. Although, if accepted, this work would be installed in a library,  I did shake-the-tree, by adding sound, although tone down:

This artwork’s look, comes from more than the usual amount of internet research, that included the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, African music, and African fashion.  Like Toto, at the time of the music’s release, I have never been to Africa.  In fact “I’ve never been to Spain,” but I kinda like the popular African instrument, the Marimba, which work well with this artwork’s soundtrack.   Africa’s experimental rectangular format, cut the length of this artwork from over eight feet, to just over four feet, in length.  For this musical theme I think the two connected backgrounds canvases, each 10 x 20 inches, gave this  artwork a solid foundation, plus added a lot of sculptural depth to the entire work.  The dimensions of this Artwork make me wonder what I could call this art style.  I have tried and rejected, painting,  mixed media, outsider art, the Russian art style Constructivism, the Combine art style of Robert Rauschenberg,  Conceptual Art, and finally every current art style that deals with Interaction.  I have nothing. Therefore I default to Mixed Media on the entrance forms, because this Art hangs on a wall, unlike traditional Sculpture, and Other just songs icky.

I used many different colors in this artwork, which lead me to stop and write what colors went where. That became an issue because the theme of this artwork has an unusual story telling look.  Starting from top left to bottom right, this artwork begins with the night and the stars. That leads to a sunny day with rain. Than from the bottom left you have the Serengeti, with rain again,  and finally on the bottom right there is Mount Kilimanjaro.

After a long month of working on this project, I want to now move on.  As I said before, I expect this Artwork to be rejected for submission. That means it will probably sit out-of-the-way, on the left easels, until I finish my next big project.  Than there will no longer be any room for it, and that is when it will be off to Storage. But while it is in the studio, it will be an example for change for the next artwork. The look of Africa does present new opportunities.  What, and how, and where I will take this art, I have no idea, but I believe it is time to take a fresh look at the relationship between music and painting.  That leaves Three Dog Night to help motivate me to keep on keeping on. And if you have forgotten, and you should never forget (no matter your age), “Jeremiah was a bullfrog
Was a good friend of mine:”


Scott Von Holzen




S_V_H Africa image 4

Africa image four.  I am near done, so I wanted to push this image out.   The large violet and blue piece of wood is my interpretation of Mount Kilimanjaro as part of this artwork’s theme.


The rest of the artwork, displays even more my interpretation of the story of the lyrics and the musical theme of the song, Africa.


Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Africa image 3

Previous early new year paintings have anticipated directional changes in style to come in the new year.  Africa continues that trend with the added incentive that it will be my submission for the local library juried show, this April.  For 2019 the library is celebrating its 40th Art West exhibition.  Last year I entered the wonderful In The Mood, which until today was the header picture for this blog.  That artwork was not accepted.  That surprised me. What was and am I missing?  I suspect that same result with this years Africa submission, because this is a “celebration” year for the Library.  That means, and this is only my sense, that the entry competition will be strong with a prejudice tilted to the popular and known local artists.  My hope lies with the two experienced artists doing this years judging.  One of them may will have a momentary Art insight with the independence to invite me.  They may see Africa as I do as a leading contemporary artwork, not just locally, but everywhere.  If nothing happens, maybe they will have the respect to email my rejection, without my requesting.  Otherwise no regrets,  I still will have a great Artwork to start to a new year.

This third image shows the upper and lower music mounted to the background.  Drilling holes and screwing canvases together brought back memories of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons Artworks, and the care needed to support and align canvas parts correctly. I had the easier option to attach the top and bottom canvases to the top and bottom edges of the background, but that looked too two-dimensional.  The top section theme is the night sky and the day with rain falling. The lower music color theme  is the Serengeti, along with the eventual addition of mount Kilimanjaro.

During our local Art association Christmas party, Sandra an artist,  who had exhibited along side me in a fall art show, suggested that to increase the interest in my music paintings,  that I could take a song like Blue Moon, and paint that as a landscape with a blue moon. Although her thinking had merit I felt a little taken back.  I did not tell her that most of my artworks already include colors, and design aspects related to the music,  or that if I did paint the song Blue Moon,  a blue moon would be certainly be a visual point of interest, along with other shades of acrylic blues.  I did thank her politely, and turned away, stunned that I had nothing else to say.  Only now do I understand my silence: I have never had to defend my artwork to strangers.  Up to that Christmas party moment no one,  beyond close family and my first CVA meeting in Wausau, over the last thirteen years, have ever challenged the merits of my art.  Sandra, was a big surprise, and a come to Jesus moment.

For now here are two examples of this art connecting paint to flow.  This is a an image of Waylon’s guitar and the artwork Waymore’s Blues.

(Photo by Stephanie Chernikowski/Redferns)

Another example of Sandra, and her Blue Moon effect, take look at George Harrison’s guitar and the artwork My guitar gently weeps:


Scott Von Holzen

Post 578

S_V_H Africa second Image


This second staged image of Africa, shows the music laid out on the background.  In the past I would build these artworks one section or piece at a time, and then mount what I had to the background before moving on.  With this artwork, similar to the Christmas painting, I am constructing and painting all the parts of the music before attaching anything to the background.  This saves time,  but doing all the construction at once can be tiresome, repetitive, and show little progress.  Having all the pieces available, does cut the stress of making sure everything fits in predefined background.  What stays the same, and is consistent from the very first music artwork,  is that I add the music to the background from left to right.

I  mention in my last blog entry, the 29th Annual Midwest Seasons exhibition,  for which I submitted this years Christmas painting.   I waited all week of December 10th, their timeline, for a notification. Finally, on Friday afternoon I emailed the CVA in Wausau to ask for an update.  Surprisingly, I receive a quick response.


“Dear Scott,

We would like to thank you for submitting your artwork for the 29th Annual Midwest Seasons exhibit. We had an outstanding collection of entries this year with over 200 images for the juror to review. We were greatly impressed by the amount and quality of all of the submissions.

We regret to inform you that the juror did not select your entries for the exhibit. We hope you will continue to submit work for future competitive exhibits, as the juror changes every year. Each juror has a unique vision for the show and your artwork may be viewed differently by our next juror.

We hope you will join us for the Opening Gallery Gala & Awards Reception for the 29th Annual Midwest Seasons exhibit on January 18th, 2019 from 5 to 7pm.

Thank you for submitting your artwork and for supporting the Center for the Visual Arts.

Kindest regards,”

x xx x x x x x x  x


I take all these type of rejections as a sign that I am either ahead of my time, and not understood, or that what I am doing is not art in the Juror’s mind.  I have not yet received my first acceptance, so I don’t know which way to lean.  The fact that none of rejections ever come with an explanation, makes it impossible to learn how the Contemporary Art World works.  I may eventually make my way, which will require even more determination, time, and luck to stay, for according to the Eagles there will always be a new kid in town.

Scott Von Holzen


Africa first image

This artwork starts its build from the music of Toto.  For this first image you are seeing three separate pieces stacked up.  The top and the bottom aluminum sections, with the covered canvas for print protection, is for the music.  The only lyric, the word Africa,  will be in the middle section. Africa looked to be an artwork over eight feet in length.   Another long and narrow artwork caused me to think it was time to change the elongated structure common in my artworks.   I decided to break a apart the music, and stack it creating more of a rectangle artwork.  In order to connect, and separate both pieces of the music, I choose to add a wider middle size of canvas.  I bolted two 10 x 20 inches canvases together for the background, and to be the base for the two musical sections.  For this middle background canvas, to give this area value,  I choose the Serengeti to be the visual theme.  After a lot of taping and using a squeegee to spread a number of paint colors I got the look of a grassy plain,  with a few green trees in the shape of a musical staff, that worked.

The official, music video of Africa by Toto, is awful, dated, with a poor story line and token African references.  I prefer this later live version for the first 4 minuets or so, and then the rest is filler.



Better, is this video of  AFRICA, by the Angel City Chorale.  Africa has a Gospel sound, that for me, is the emotional appeal of this music.


Scott Von Holzen