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Soul connections: Art Walk and chamber music

By Marcia Wolff

Maybe you are searching among the branches for what only appears in the roots.


The tree is a mysterious symbol. It represents life and it points us to an aspect of the spiritual concept: as it is below, so it is above. In our day-to-day lives we often see only the branches. They could be nude in the winter, but come spring the tree is beautifully transformed. Although once bare, the branches now bear leaves, flowers and fruit. Something happens that we cannot see that lies below in the dark, in the underworld where wisdom, alchemy and life conjoin. The same is true for a human who carries the seed of life that begins in the winter and the following summer a child is born. Miraculous, all of it! It is no different for the creation of art and music. Where does it come from, and how is it incubated, before, voilà, a new creation appears? Poets, wise and holy people and Carl Jung ask us to look and listen within.

August Art Walk presents the tree at Galería Manuel Chacón. Artist Marcela Herbert, who also is the director of the Museum of Art in Querétaro, loves trees. When asked what is meaningful to her about trees she offers this: protection, shade, food, seeds, beauty and a variety of woods with which to construct. The tree symbolizes presence, dignity, strength, home and the ability to share. In a group of Aspen trees, if one dies, another Aspen arises out of the dark; they share roots and are able to birth a new tree.

In Herbert’s “Juntos,” a large painting using acrylic on board, a portion of the trunk appears as polished inlay of beautiful wood, such as mahogany. Juntos, a gathering, a group, a committee is often united in purpose. Herbert says that there is much that we humans can learn by observing the tree. They gather together sharing, supporting, and nourishing. Like an altar of various forms and shapes, trees are worthy of honor.

All of the names of the paintings, such as “Forteleza,” a fortress, and “Convivir,” to coexist, have been chosen purposely for Herbert’s large, medium and small paintings. They reveal the depth of the artist’s feelings about trees. A close-up view of branches and roots in hues of teal done in encaustic, a beeswax and carnuba wax, seems like the resin of a tree. Titled “Profundizar,” which means to deepen, the artist asks us to go within and to look deeper at our roots, our values, our true natures. Entering the Galería Manuel Chacón, we are invited to walk further into the forest for some self-examination and to delight in Herbert’s depiction of trees. Turning to leave, we can offer gratitude for the gifts of the trees.

And speaking of trees and gratitude, the International Chamber Music Festival offers us the beautiful instruments of the violin, viola, and the cello as well as the piano. Before being seated inside the lovely Teatro Ángela Peralta, there is an inspiring display in the lobby of the different stages of the making of a violin, also a gift from the tree. The elegantly feminine design of the violin, the intricate layers of care in construction is not only a creation of physical beauty but also a tool that can open our heart.

No one that I have met at the festival can say that their heart has not been moved by the talent, the expressive ability of the artists who engage and bring through their own souls, through their instruments, both subtle details and exuberant, dynamic movements of the composers they have chosen. Chamber music is referred to as “a gathering of friends” in intimate conversation. It can be seen as another form of Juntos.

The Enso String Quartet, 2010 Grammy nominees, communicate with their eyes, their full bodies the spirit of Mozart, Bartok and the dramatic anxiety-producing story of composer Jancek’s Kreutzer Sonata. In contrast, the Daedalus Quartet, who have performed in Carnegie Hall and other leading musical venues, reveal a quiet, subtle and tightly detailed communication style with each other and the audience as they play the string quartet compositions of Haydn, Mendelssohn and Smetana. None are just repeating music from sheet notes. They reach down to their roots and spread their branches wide.

While there is still another week of chamber music offerings, by the time of publication the International Chamber Music Festival will have come to completion until next season, when we can again embrace the gifts of the tree.

Marcia Wolff, MA, is the author of Friction Becoming Pearl: A Slow Awakening. She offers classes in writing and collage making. For information write to

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