‘It all starts with a line’: Marsha Hammel connects with jazz at TFAC

Published 8:30 am Friday, November 25, 2022

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Exhibit, “The Riff,” on display until January 


TRYON – On November 10, at the Tryon Fine Arts Center, Marsha Hammel’s jazz series, “The Riff,” went on display with several new works created for the show, including paintings of the legendary Nina Simone. 

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Simone said, “An artist’s duty is to reflect what they experience,” and figurative painter Marsha Hammel’s work truly embodies that sentiment. Hammel has found a way to paint not only what she sees but also what she hears.

One of the highlights of TFAC’s jazz series, running until January 6, was held Saturday night with a black-tie dinner, where Marsha and the Quentin E. Baxter Quintet collaborated. Marsha live-painted, accompanying the cool, precise rhythms of Grammy-winner Baxter and his bandmates, which included saxophone player Mark Sterank, pianist Demetrius Doctor, and fellow Grammy winners for their work with the band Ranky Tanky, trumpet player Chester Singleton, and bassist Kevin Hamilton. 

Marsha doesn’t always join the band, but her connection to jazz music goes all the way back to her childhood. 

“My parents had a big collection of jazz albums, so I had very early exposure to 40s and 50s jazz music. Jazz music has always been an important part of my life,” Hammel says. 

“Music to me is an emotional experience. I’m all about music.”

Marsha sees a clear connection between painting and music, finding parallels with tone and rhythm. “It all starts with a line, which represents movement, gesture, and form. Then I use the line to capture essentials of character and expression.”

“Then you move to color, which expresses rhythm and tone in my work,” Hammel adds. 

Her paintings featured in the exhibit depict several legends of the Carolinas, such as Nina Simone and Theolonius Monk, born in Rocky Mount, NC, Marsha’s hometown. Marsha attended the Governor’s School of North Carolina, eventually returning to the Foothills two decades ago, and has made her home here since.

 Marsha’s exhibit will be on display from Nov. 10 -Jan. 6. For those interested in her work, she can be reached at marshahammel.com. She is represented by the Gallery at Flat Rock.

For more information on the Jazz ’22 Community Outreach Series, please visit www.tryonarts.org/events or call TFAC at (828) 859-8322, Tuesday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Gallery hours are Tuesday – Friday, 12 – 4 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.