Standing at the front of the stage, Dan Dunn’s paintbrushes are dancing on a canvas while the Houston Symphony plays behind him. White cloth is draped everywhere as protection from the splashes of purple, blue, and orange paint.
What starts as an unidentifiable kaleidoscope of colors becomes a portrait of Ray Charles. Dunn is a speed painter and he’s performing at Jones Hall this weekend.
At rehearsal, he brought up a critical issue that some symphonies face today.
“And classical orchestras all over the country are struggling to keep their doors open,” Dunn said. “And so, by me being able to bring my art into it, and marry it with the music, maybe we’re doing some good,” he added.
Dunn performed with Houston Symphony last year for their Fourth of July concert, but was more of a side act. This time, he’s the main attraction in what they’re calling Paintjam.
The symphony’s Lesley Sabol says to her knowledge, no other orchestra has done this.
“This is something new, innovative, and relevant to what we’re trying to do at the Houston Symphony. And bringing in hopefully a new audience, whether it’s younger or more interested in visual entertainment with an orchestra,” she said.
If Paintjam is a success, it could go national — and even international.