A wounded Johnny Cash stoically puffs his chest outside of a prison. Hank Williams' upturned palms are pierced and bloody. A woman in a long, black veil crouches over a grave.
These are all powerful images by artist Nora Othic, who has drawn enough pictures for two different music-themed art shows. The first exhibition, Rock & Roller, opens with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Thornhill Gallery, 11901 Wornall.
The show features Othic's interpretation of song lyrics.
There's a portrait of a "headknocker," as described by the Foreigner tune. Van Morrison's "Madame George" plays dominoes in drag. Also represented: David Lee Roth's "Ice Cream Man" and Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne."
In her artist's statement, Othic explained that creating the scenes for the songs was more challenging than she expected:
The first thing I realized is that country lyrics do not particularly lend themselves to illustration ... we think of them as being about pickup trucks and trains and hound dogs, but when you actually examine the great songs, they are about drinking, being broken-hearted, losing again ... lots of verbs and not many nouns. With rock and roll, by contrast, you get an abundance of visual images ... you know that it's raining in London, the werewolf is nattily dressed, his hair is perfect and he's carrying a Chinese menu, or that guy driving the V-8 Ford has a New York brim and a gold tooth displayed.
On the country side, Othic found it easier to draw portraits of the artists. "I began to think of some of the country-western icons as Renaissance or Baroque saints, wrestling with sin, guilt and redemption," the artist said. Hence, the piece "Hank Williams Receives the Stigmata."
Othic's country collection, C&W, also includes Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris and more.
That show opens at the Late Show Gallery, 1600 Cherry, on First Friday, February 4.