It sometimes helps an artist to be married to a musician. For Becky Frehse, known around Tacoma for her painting and mixed media work, that musician is husband Greg Youtz, composer, professor of musicology at Pacific Lutheran University and erstwhile bassoon player. Married to Youtz 23 years, Frehse has recently completed a body of paintings and collages translating Youtz’ sounds into visual elements – and the work’s up now in a solo show at Seattle’s Gallery 110.
Youtz is also known around town and further afield. He’s had work premiered by the Tacoma Concert Band, the Tacoma Youth Symphony and, next February, the Tacoma Symphony, not to mention numerous chamber music concerts and reciprocal programs in China, where he frequently travels.
Until now, Frehse says, she’s stuck to using fragments of actual scores in her work. But now she’s interpreting his notes and rhythms into her own visual elements, incorporating broken instruments (a sight that affects musicians as would a badly hurt child) into beautiful, abstract compositions.
Says Frehse: To my artist’s eye, musical notation seems like a code that is only partially understood, and yet can be seen as beautiful and mysterious in the abstract.” Most of “Learning to Read Music” was made while Youtz was in the throes of composing his new percussion concerto, to be premiered by the Tacoma Symphony in February, though she incorporates ideas and color schemes from other composers such as Schoenberg, Scriabin and Stravinsky.
Becky Frehse’s “Learning to Read Music” is open noon-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday through Dec. 30 at Gallery 110, 110 3rd Ave. S., Seattle. Free. 206-624-9336, www.gallery110.com, www.beckyfrehse.com