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Buddha Blues: John Hillmer Paintings and Prints at Bordello Galeria

By Kristen Fry

John Hillmer has been creating jazz and blues art for many years. He’s painted stage backdrops that have made appearances with Ray Charles, Keb’ Mo’, John Lee Hooker, Taj Mahal, and Maya Angelou. He’s also done illustration and design work for numerous art, music, community, and literary festivals across North America. Music, migration, madness, and Mexico remain common themes.

“Buddha Blues”
By John Hillmer at Bordello Galeria (courtyard)
Sat, Nov 19, 1–5pm
Sun, Nov 20, Noon–3pm
Órganos 19 (half block off Hernandez Macias)

He’ll bring that mix in the form of paintings and prints to the lovely Bordello Galeria courtyard this Saturday and Sunday afternoons in what gallery owner Barbara Poole calls a “pop-up show.” Fittingly, Hillmer’s exhibit coincides with this weekend’s San Miguel Jazz and Blues Festival.

It is Hillmer’s own migration from north to south and back again that has deepened his design, his colors, and his ideas of myth.

The show is dedicated to John’s mother, Ellen, who passed away earlier this year. “There are times in life,” he says, ”when singing the blues is not an option. Thankfully, the blues form itself, much like Buddhism, is a reminder to sit with everything, just as it is, as heart-wrenching as that might be.”

Yes, he says, the expression is different, but the essence is quite similar—to be curious about, compassionate about, to question, to divine everything. Without exception. And to create. That’s art. That’s the blues. And that’s the celebration. Come and celebrate this weekend. Just as you are.


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