Images of Music: When Two Forms of Art Merge

On Tuesday, May 16, 2017, AAFSW and its Program Chair, Sheila Switzer, hosted an inspiring program entitled: “Images of Music” at the Dean Acheson Auditorium at the Department of State. This was a fascinating morning of art and music offered by two extraordinary artists: Susanne Eisinger and John Gardecki (the “Chopin Man”).

Susanne Eisinger, ASID, MFA, graduated in 1972 from the International Institute of Interior Design in Washington, DC. For many years, she was a successful interior designer with her own firm. Her lifelong love of fine art led her to explore a formal education in Art at the Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Virginia. It was around this time that Ms. Eisinger visited an art exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. As she walked into the beautifully lit room, filled with the vivid colors from the Impressionist paintings surrounding her, she was startled by the sound of a full orchestra playing in her head. Ever since, the music to which she listens brings the suggestion of which colors will dance on her canvas as she paints. Excited by this new vivid experience, she continued her education at the Corcoran School of Fine Art and at Montgomery College in Maryland. Susie received a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art and a Master’s Degree from the University of Maryland and Vermont College of the Union Institute. She went on to win several University Awards and scholarships and exhibited in many juried shows, winning both first and second places. Her paintings adorn the walls of many serious art collectors, corporate board rooms and reception areas, as well as elegant private homes. A member of the WIPAC board, Susie resides in Potomac, Maryland with her husband, Clayton, who is the WIPAC’s current president.

Known as the “Chopin Man,” Mr. Gardecki plays the piano in the European romantic tradition. At the Van Cliburn Competition, the Dallas Times press described him as “a Chopin pianist in the manner, born with Old World generosity of expression…” A second generation Polish American, John was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and studied piano privately with Dorothea Ortmann Seletzky, a magna cum laude graduate of Peabody. John also worked with Dorothea’s father, Prof. Otto Ortmann, director of the Peabody Conservatory (1928-41) studying harmony and music theory at which time, John won 7 “superior performance” ratings sponsored by the National Federation of Music for seven consecutive years, unsurpassed to this day. He performed with the Baltimore and Gettysburg Symphony Orchestras and at the Governor’s Mansion in Annapolis. As guest of AAFSW, in May 2014, he performed an all Chopin program at the Department of State and last September he was invited by General Motors Corporation to perform at the Kennedy Center in celebration of Poland.

John is the current WIPAC CFO. John graduated in 1959 with a B.S. in physics and he went to UCLA for a Master’s Degree in systematic musicology, and studied harpsichord with Malcolm Hamilton, winning competitions and performing with the school’s chamber orchestra. As a graduate student, he also managed UCLA’s first electronic music studio. He was a telecommunication specialist and engineer with ITT in New York where he met his wife Chateau who encouraged him to go back to his music. In 1992, he received an M.A. in arts administration from Columbia University.

During this AAFSW event on Tuesday, May 16, as Ms. Eisinger was being inspired by the music, she transported the romantic music played by Mr. Gardecki on the piano to her canvas with vivid colors! All of us in the audience witnessed this breathtaking concept taking life as a pianist was “in concert” with a painter. As the pianist performed on the piano, the artist painted in bold abstract creations the colorful interpretations of the music! Ms. Eisinger says that “she sees colors, when she listens to classical music; she hears music as she enters a museum room filled with artwork.” On the other hand, Mr. Gardecki is a pianist who interprets musical scores in terms of tonal colors. Teaming up the morning of May 16 at the Department of State, Mr. Gardecki and Ms. Eisinger produced together colors that came alive on the white canvas within the context of music and art. Thus a new painting of the “Images of Music” was born in front of our eyes! The new painting was auctioned off and found a good home in the hands of one of the members of AAFSW’s audience that very morning!

Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen
AAFSW President