BRATTLEBORO >> Norton Garber's (nortgar.com) "Ways to Strength and Beauty" (Wege zu Kraft und Schönheit) a multi media, site specific installation, will open for three weeks from Friday through May 22 in The Closet at Brooks House Atrium, a new and unique art spot in downtown Brattleboro.

Garber chose this modest and intimate space for the challenge of transforming it with a complex web of moving sound and light images. Major elements include: a kinetic sound sculpture, a 1925 German silent film, toy soldiers, video game sounds and shadows which surround the viewer. Six discrete sound/light pieces, both spontaneous and composed, subtly and continuously change to create a new, fertile environment which transcends any individual element. Images evoke historical and contemporary issues.

Garber's work with sound recordings and video began in the '70s when the work of improvisational artists like John Cage, Cecil Taylor and Anna Halprin inspired him to shift his attention from classical music to ambient sound and free improvisation. Along with this shift to more experimental music, Garber began incorporating dance movement, painting, and projected images. Eventually, this work grew into the more formal, multi-media installations Garber creates today.

In the past few years his audio work with ambient and sampled sound has been presented in collaborations with fellow Vermont improvisers in New York City (Spectrum, Muchmores) and Vermont (Vermont Jazz Center, 118 Elliot (chronicexpression.bandcamp.com). Recently, Garber and local musician Lex Taylor, have begun a series of jam sessions for teens at the Brattleboro Boys and Girls Club.


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Garber said his work for many years as a child psychiatrist influenced some of his choices in this exhibit. "Working with children in the playroom involved play and toys, so I felt on familiar ground bringing them with me into the studio." A background in neuropsychology led him to develop a series of hands-on workshops for learning impaired teens to help them understand their individual learning styles.

Just as listening and opening to new sounds and new connections prevails in improvisational music, Garber sees the elements which end up in his compositions to be "found, or stumbled into". His last work The person you are trying to reach (2014) presented at Brattleboro's Center for Digital Arts, began with overheard apocalyptic rantings of a street prophet on a Manhattan corner.

A similar random event inspired "Ways to Strength and Beauty." "I was looking for a black & white, Japanese silent movie I could pair with Tayu chanting of Bunraku puppet theater bouncing around in my head following a recent trip to Japan. Unexpectedly, the German film Ways to Strength and Beauty"(1925) popped up. I decided to run with it." Garber says that sometimes it is only towards the end of making a new piece that it begins to make sense to him.

Commenting on Garber's work, the digital artist Michel Moyse says: "Norton combines contemporary techniques of media, installation and performance through sensibilities that engage - as all good work does - the heart and mind in delightful, mysterious and profound ways."

The installation is available for public viewing over three weekends: Friday, May 6 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, May 7 and 8 from noon to 2 p.m. (featured as part of Arts Council of Windham County's ARTstravaganza Weekend); Friday May, 13 from 5 to 7 p,m,; Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15 from noon to 2 p.m.; Friday, May 20 from 5 to 7 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, May 21 and 22 from noon to 2 p.m.

Private appointments are available at other times by contacting Garber at nortgar@gmail.com