'The Gift of Spring' interprets beauty of music for Britt

'The Gift of Spring' interprets beauty of music for Britt

Traipse through the woods above the Britt grounds in Jacksonville, and you might find the spot depicted in this year's poster for the Britt Festivals.

The scene shows a young woman at rest among a stand of mature trees. She holds a parasol and wears an old-time dress that dates her back a century or more.

Unlike many previous Britt posters, this one makes no direct references to music. Yet the image is musical in its own way, insists its creator, Gabriel Mark.

"Beauty is musical," says Mark, who titled the piece "The Gift of Spring." He was chosen from about 10 other artists to do the poster.

Does the knowing look on the belle's face suggest that she has seen into the future and can glimpse the Britt amphitheater below her? Is she a timeless muse of the arts? Does she hear music in the air?

"It would have to be classical music," says Mark. "I was aware that Britt started as a classical music festival."

Mark declines to place the image in a specific decade or era, saying simply that "the setting is a romantic time period infused with Britt soul."

The piece "honors Jacksonville's heritage," he adds.

The artist's wife, Naomi, served as the model. Yes, she was wearing the ankle-length dress when she and her husband headed into the woods one day earlier this year to set up the scene. She posed by the trees, while he made sketches and took photos.

The poster, available at the Britt concession booth, was made from an oil-on-canvas painting that Mark completed in his Talent studio.

"I tried to re-invent the cliché of a woman with a parasol, and give it depth," he explains.

Mark's gallery, Élan, is located at 245 W. Main St. in Jacksonville. Hours are irregular. Call 899-8000 for an appointment.

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