A friend tipped me off about a painting at the Harrison Center for the Arts in Indianapolis. Via their Flickr site, I viewed a stunningly morose piece by Kyle Ragsdale, entitled "Maestro Farewell From the Prairie: The Orchestra Wore Black". I was literally taken aback by this work. The sadness--and depth of it--hit me with a force I did not expect, and brought up intense feelings regarding the whole mess that CEO Simon Crookall created when he fired Mario Venzago, only 5 weeks before the ISO season began.
This painting, for me at least, captures the mourning the ISO and its concertgoers, fans, and patrons felt at Venzago's departure, and are still feeling today. The funeral-like procession the musicians are on in this painting is such a good representation of what is going on with the orchestra right now, in so many ways.
Yes, the orchestra played the national anthem at a recent Colts game, and there's been announcements of a group in residency at the orchestra, and other things, but in general there truly seems to be a cloud over the ISO, and there has been ever since Crookall made his unwise, and foolish move. We now hear of the largest deficit the ISO has ever seen--$2.8 million. Statements are being issued that sound akin to "donations need to be beefed up or there's gonna be serious trouble". People have been let go. The musicians accepted a contract that cut their salary by 12%. (can you imagine how bad that the contract they rejected, 76-0 was??) Rumor on the street is that things at the ISO feel odd, and strange. No doubt many of the musicians are missing Venzago, and very much so. On his site you can read some feedback that people had in response to his dismissal/firing. Some of them are deeply touching, and it's obvious that many of them are from musicians.
This painting embodies all the sadness and pain that has come about since Venzago has been gone. No one can deny how empty things feel without him; how odd, out of place, and just how wrong things seem since his involuntary departure. Kyle Ragsdale's work of art captures these feelings, and more, perfectly.
This painting, and others in the collection will be at the Harrison Center For the Arts through early December. I urge you to see it as soon as you can.