New silent orchestra strums artistic dialogue


Samantha Laurey

DVC art gallery showing paintings and burnt violin for art show at Pleasant Hill campus. (Samantha Laurey/The Inquirer).

Samantha Laurey, Senior staff member

Diablo Valley College Art Gallery opened its doors with a new exhibit that explores Julie Comnick’s gallery, “Arrangement for a Silent Orchestra.”

The artist displays her exhibit using oil paintings, burnt violins in their cases, audio and video presentation. The show opened for free admission on Feb. 4 and is open until Feb. 28 during gallery hours.

Samantha Laurey
DVC art gallery displaying oil paintings and video of the ongoing show at Pleasant Hill campus. (Samantha Laurey/The Inquirer).

Comnick wants her audience to question the increase in technology and the decrease in cultural heritage by using violins in her gallery show. She had picked the violin because she had played this instrument throughout her life from eight to 17 years old. The violin stands as the cultural heritage due to its history in music. 

Comnick had started her project by collecting violins that were beyond repair for over 11 months to burn on a mountaintop. She decided to burn the violins from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., where the fire was monitored and recorded for the purpose of her show. Comnick had set up 11 canvas to paint different times of the burning to show its progress throughout the night. Finally, she had waited for the fire to burn out, so she could collect violins to put back into their cases with the ashes in them.

“The photographic references I’m actually working with are from a composite of multiple images. A given image takes close to a year for each piece, but I work on multiple pieces at a time which makes it more efficient,” says Comnick in a filmed interview on her website about the gallery. She talks about how she works with the video by separating it into photographs, then goes through them to choose what she would put onto the canvas she was working on.

“As you came around the corner of the gallery, you could see and hear the sound of the fire burning,” said Amy Landry, graphic design major. Landry explains that the sound of the burning added to the experience and made it much more immersive.

Samantha Laurey
Violin on display for art show at DVC art galley on Pleasant Hill campus.

Comnick was picked out by the gallery committee, that is made up of faculty from art, art digital media, and other departments that take turns picking what show will be displayed throughout the semester.

“As the coordinator, I work with the gallery committee to picking shows that are fresh and diverse. Our mission is to promote local artists and student artists for DVC.” said Arthur King, art gallery coordinator.

Hopi Breton, a sculptor instructor, had contacted her acquaintance, Comnick, and recommended to fill out a gallery proposal to display her show.  

“I really enjoy the show. I thought it was going to be just paintings, but when I saw the video and violins, it created a real atmosphere to the gallery,” said Breton

The featured artist will perform on the last day of the exhibit with a solo violin performance on Feb. 28 at 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.