Painter, cellist and video production company create postmodern dreamscapes

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Pictured: Natalie Helm, cellist. Photo courtesy of Storyvox.

What do you get when you take Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 to the beach, interpret the beach umbrellas anchored in the sand through a painter’s eye, and then break those umbrellas through a kaleidoscope of projectors and floor-to-ceiling screens? On February 18th and 19th, a small number of Sarasota art lovers will attempt to answer this impossible question as a collaboration of creatives at their Prime Yields B(e)ACH DAY.

The creatives in question are Ringling College painter and chief curator Tim Jaeger, Sarasota Orchestra principal cellist Natalie Helm, and a committee of video production engineers from Storyvox. Together, the three parties created a comprehensive exhibition of sights and sounds that fuse classical forms into a postmodern dreamscape.

“I really enjoyed my Beach Umbrella series and it was very well received,” says Jaeger of his colorful expressionist coastal scenes, “but I wanted to see what else I could do with it.” It was on that end that Jaeger’s paths crossed with another artist from another medium on a similar quest for new pastures. That artist was the cellist Natalie Helm.

During the pandemic, Helm began toiling at home to improve her already impeccable technique. She also asked herself what else she could do in terms of performance. “Bach’s six cello suites are something every cellist wants to achieve,” Helm says, “and I decided during the quarantine that this was the season for it, and I knew I wanted to work with a different artist on each suite.” Her Bach Immersion series of events has already resulted in a fruitful collaboration with Sarasota Contemporary Dance, where a bit of theatre, dance and artistry lent her first Bach suites a unique context. But B(e)ACH DAY takes context to a whole new level.

The glue that holds the entire collaboration together is Storyvox’s visual magic. Known for their cinematic, brand-centric video production work that borders on documentaries, the outfit has used its extended reality studios in the Rosemary District to unleash their own creativity with projection mapping and other technical magic. Using Jaeger’s paintings as the main ingredient, Storyvox will project parts of its Beach Umbrella series onto multiple beach umbrellas set in real sand, while a giant 10ft high screen will show animations of the paintings synchronized with the cello suite.

“I’ve been trying to explain it to close colleagues for months and it’s still hard to put into words,” says Jaeger. “But I was really inspired by the Van Gogh Experience (also coming to Sarasota in March) and wanted to see if there were any artists here who could conceptually do something on this scale. It’s more intimate, but I hope it’s a really inspiring experience for people.”

The two evenings of performances will take place on February 18 and 19 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Storyvox’s XR Studio at 1490 Boulevard of the Arts in the Rosemary District. While the studio is free, it only supports a limited number to maximize the experience for those in attendance and to ensure safety.

Pictured: Natalie Helm, cellist. Photo courtesy of Storyvox.

Click here to view the teaser.

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