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Patchouli to blend folk music, art at Norris exhibition Sunday

ST. CHARLES – A kaleidoscope of guitars painted on canvas combine to create a vibrant flock of birds in one of the paintings that is being exhibited through Sunday, July 12, at the Dellora A. Norris Cultural Arts Center in St. Charles.

“Science tells us that everything is a vibration, so [I] symbolize everything as an instrument; something that we know vibrates music,” artist Bruce Hecksel said of a painting entitled “Migration 1” – a part of the exhibited series “Terra Guitarra,” which uses guitars to render colorful landscapes and life. “We’re all really these vibratory essences and it’s about unity; it’s about the interconnectedness of everything. ... People are used to the quantum world these days, so it touches on that, but in a very accessible way.”

Not only a painter with a penchant for guitars, Hecksel is a guitarist himself. He and his wife, Julie, formed world-music-infused band Patchouli 18 years ago.

The award-winning folk-music duo will combine art and music, as part of Norris’ “Music in the Gallery” concert series at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 7.

“Our primary thing is playing music ... but we like to incorporate art and music if we can – that’s kind of our thing,” said Julie Patchouli, who is the group’s lyricist and singer. “It’s a unique opportunity to not only hear music, but see it.”

Fifty-six of Hecksel’s paintings will create a colorful backdrop during what will be the fifth of six concerts in the inaugural season of “Music in the Gallery,” said Norris treasurer Mark Smith.

The Patchouli concert will provide attendees with a “combined music and art experience” for just a little more than the cost of a movie, Smith said, adding that the “Music in the Gallery” series provides an intimate space for up-close and personal live musical performances.

Patchouli’s “new American folk” sound blends elements of folk, pop, flamenco and jazz with world beat rhythms, while their instrumental group, Terra Guitarra, centers on flamenco-inspired songs using the acoustic guitar. Songs from both incarnations of the group will be performed at the event.

“We’re kind of like storytellers while we’re singing, and we lead people on the journey of why we wrote a song, especially with the instrumental music,” Hecksel said.

Patchouli and Hecksel have been on quite a journey themselves. Having toured nearly every state in the country over the last 18 years, the current Wisconsin residents have recorded 18 CDs and have their music played on radio stations all over the world, but, Hecksel said, being in St. Charles is like being home.

“Especially at [The Norris]; there’s always a special energy [at an art center], because there’s something fortunate about a place that has been set aside by somebody to represent art. It has an intention,” Hecksel said, adding that integrating music with art is his favorite way to perform. “Combining [art and music] together ... really shows who we are as artists and what we’re trying to communicate. A picture is worth 1,000 words.”

Know more

WHAT: ‘Music in the Gallery’ concert featuring Patchouli

WHEN: Concert will take place at 3 p.m. June 7; and the art exhibition runs through Sunday, July 12

WHERE: The Dellora A. Norris Cultural Arts Center, 1040 Dunham Road, St. Charles

TICKETS: $15 for adults and $10 for children

INFORMATION: or call the box office at 630-584-7200, ext. 10

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