Follow the Blues from Mississippi to Chicago in Wicker Park's Jackson Junge Gallery


"Memphis in the Meantime," mixed media collage on board is 36" by 60"

Will Armstrong, artist and musician, takes you on his journey tracing the Blues. Beginning his chronicle in 1930s Clarkston, Mississippi, Up the Mississippi: A Journey of the Blues is in Jackson Junge Gallery, 1389 N. Milwaukee Ave. 


"Maxwell Street Blues," mixed media collage on board, 36" by 60"

The exhibition traces the ebb and flow of the music he loves from its roots in the rural Mississippi delta into parts of Mississippi, up the Mississippi River into Memphis then straight up to Chicago. "Each piece is specific to a part of the story and the show gives the full narrative," explains Armstrong. 

A resident of Richmond, VA, Armstrong presents the visuals of each chapter of the story, imparting the feel of the time as well as the visual. 

Each piece is as layered as the story it tells. "I start by applying Gesso to a wood panel then do a loose fluid sketch, using watercolor pencil. Another layer of sealant then ink all of my lines with an oil base pen and another layer of varnish ending with a layer of acrylic," said Armstrong. 


"Love in Vain," is mixed media collage, 48" by 72"

He incorporates maps and sheets of music of the era, using a primary black and white palette often drawing the eye in with pops of color, then using texture to cause it to linger as more detail unfolds. 

"I generally paint about my travels, but this time I took a diversion to paint the travels of music," commented Armstrong. Considering that music is his second passion, it is understandable how he came up with this series. 

Educated as a graphics artist, Armstrong is also a musician and hosts his own radio show which features American roots music, blues and early hillbilly. By each painting, he includes a quote from lyrics that apply to the subject. For "Memphis in the Meantime":

"We've been hanging around this town
Just a little too long a while
You say you're gonna get your act together
Gonna take it out on the road
But if I don't get outta here pretty soon
My head's going to explode
Sure I like country music
I like mandolins
But right now I need a telecaster
Through a vibro-lux turned up to ten

Let's go to Memphis in the meantime baby
Memphis in the meantime girl"

His large bold pieces will be on exhibit through Oct. 26. Gallery hours are Monday - Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.



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