Art Is Art: Canadian Songwriters Share Visual Forms Of Expression

If songs are pieces of art, it stands to reason that the people crafting them are also able to create visual art.

This is proven with Art is Art, an exhibition of works by Canadian singer-songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Jann Arden, Sarah McLachlan, and Chantal Kreviazuk.

The exhibition, currently on display at the Ottawa Art Gallery Annex inside Ottawa City Hall, is designed to highlight “the synergy between visual art and music.”

It also showcases the works of Lights, Serena Ryder, Metric’s Josh Winstead, and Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene.

Marc Jordan, who has released more than a dozen albums and has penned songs for artists like Rod Stewart and Cher, told there is no difference between creating songs and creating art.

“They’re completely the same for me,” he said. “Music is shape and architecture and colour.”

Jordan acknowledged that music “is a little more ephemeral” than art but added that his lyrics are similar to his paintings. “They’re sort of abstract,” he explained.

“I actually call [painting] flat music and I think of it in much the same way, almost exactly the same way.”

Jordan said he paints a lot of instruments. On display at the exhibition is his interpretation of a guitar belonging to his wife, singer-songwriter Amy Sky.

“It doesn’t look much like a guitar,” he said, “but you can see the shape.”

Marc Jordan

Music icon Buffy Sainte-Marie agreed there’s no difference between making music and making art.

“It’s the same thing,” she said. “Same brain, different tools.”

Sainte-Marie told that she often paints and writes music at the same time — sometimes with the same themes.

“I do a lot of creating in my head and then I do what I have time to do,” she said of her process. “I’ll start something in my wet studio and then I’ll scan it into my computer and play with it there, and then I’ll bring it out.”

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Art is Art is free and open to the public until April 16 at the OAG Annex inside Ottawa City Hall.