I have studied music for more than 50 years, beginning with piano at age ten.  When I hear a piece
that somehow taps into my inner core, soul... my mind begins to create compositions of colors,
forms, textures, highs, lows, depths, that are sometimes realistic, sometimes abstract.  I see and
hear sounds in color.  This is called synesthesia.  When working on a piece, new ideas that are
conjured may become multiple segments of one correlation.  Since I have not been able to play
the piano since the mid 1980s these correlations have been my way of connecting my art to
music, keeping it dominant in my life.

As a visual artist, I want to show that music is universal, a wonderful way of communicating
regardless of nationality.  Beyond any language spoken, it’s a way of reaching out to all peoples
and teaching tolerance of differences.  It teaches humility and a global way of thinking toward
humanity.

Music and art are part of our daily lives in so many ways, whether or not we are attuned to that
reality.  Art emerges in all skills.  Rhythm is executed in every movement we make – walking,
talking, thinking, eating, and perceiving our realities.  Everything in nature has a rhythm.

Art and music teach us how to appreciate our Mother Earth and how to become aware of our
environment in our daily lives.  Through art and music we can teach respect and bring gaps of
differences closer together in humane ways.

The entire body of my art work can represent my legacy as a woman, who is determined no
matter how difficult the adversities, to achieve as closely as she can her artistic goals.

                                                                               Melanie Sunbeam Smith

Melanie Sunbeam Smith grew up in the Woodford County, Kentucky community of Duckers.
Originally a student of music, she switched to fine arts in college after the onset of rheumatoid
arthritis at age sixteen.  She earned a BFA at Western Kentucky University and worked as an
artist in Manhattan before returning to her family home in Kentucky, where she continued to
produce art expressing her passion for music in a wide range of mediums, until her death in 2011.
Celebrating the art of
Melanie Sunbeam Smith
(1949-2011)

The Jane Chancellor Moore Gallery is proud to represent the legacy of this great Kentucky artist.  
This web page is a continuing work in progress, celebrating Mel's life and work, and offering
friends old and new an opportunity to view and to acquire her art.  Please
 contact us to arrange
for purchase or to obtain additional information about any of the art featured on this page.
ARTIST'S STATEMENT
"Trying to Make It Real, Compared to What..."
Mixed Media, $800.00
Top to Bottom:
"Gentle Indian Rhythms I"
"African Rhythms II"
"Gentle Indian Rhythms II"
Paintings, $325.00 each, $900.00 for set
Floral Pen & Ink Drawings
$350.00 each
"Flower that Opened My Heart"
Painting, $140.00
Chopin Preludes
Weavings, $275.00 each
"Final Collage Series, #1 & #2"
$400.00 each
These are among the final works completed by Melanie.
"Stormy Monday"
Painting, $350.00
"Bobby Sox Blues" (1) and "Jivin' with Love" (r)
Collage, $250.00 each
"Chopin Prelude No. 3"
Weaving, $275.00
"Bach Brandenburg Concerto" (l)
"Bach Prelude in C Magjor" (r)
Weavings, NFS
"Chopin" (l), weaving
"Mel's Last Collage" (r)
NFS
left, featuring mixed media,
collage, weaving and paintings.
Main gallery installation looking
right, featuring weavings, pen & ink
drawings and paintings.
"Playing with Strings" (l) and "Rockin' Roll Blues" (r)
Collage, $250.00 each
"Colorful Ego" (t)
"Stained Glass Heart (b)
Paintings, $75.00 each
                   2012 Memorial Exhibition

On July 7, 2012, Melanie's friends Durella Rodriguez, Cecilia Samuels and Dobree Adams  
presented a memorial retrospective of her art at the Grand Theatre Gallery in Frankfort,
Kentucky.  Both for those who were able to attend, and for Melanie's many friends around
the world who could not be there, we are pleased to share these pictures from the exhibition.  

At the bottom of the page we feature a selection of works from the exhibition that are available
for purchase through our gallery.  
The Color of Music, the Shape of Sound:
Melanie Sunbeam Smith's Bird & Bela in B Series
Mixed Media on Paper, 2000 - 2001
Melanie Sunbeam Smith created this series of works inspired by Don Sebesky’s “Bird and Bela
in Bb,” as recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on his album
Three Works for Jazz
Soloists & Symphony Orchestra
 (1979).  Obviously Sebesky’s work meant something special
to Melanie.  Not that it was unusual for her to create art from musical inspiration:  throughout her
career her creations included a myriad of such works including several large-scale weavings.  
However, this series appears to be unique among her output, for her to have devoted the time to
creating ten pieces based on this single theme.  We don’t know what drew her to this piece with
such sustained focus and determination, but throughout her life she had a deeply informed
passion for music, and especially for jazz and classical works, so it isn’t surprising she would
have been drawn to Sebesky’s fusion of the two in this recording that the composer described
as “A musical account of an imaginary meeting between Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker and Bela Bartok
in the form of a concerto for jazz quintet and orchestra.”  

The connection between music and vision in Melanie’s art is an expression of a rare condition –
in her case, a gift.  It appears she  experienced chromesthesia, a form of synesthesia (a sort of
cross-wiring of the senses) in which sound is perceived visually.  Thus when we look at her
musical paintings, we get a sense of how music appeared to her visually in form and color.
What an amazing world, and what a joy that we can share in it!

We know from notes on the backs of the paintings that Melanie began the series in 2000, and
that it was completed to this state by November of 2001.  However, we also know that she did
not consider the work finished, as again some notes to herself referenced her intention to add
further detail in pencil and perhaps other mediums.  But this was never to be.  We assume she
was unable to carry out her plans due to the progression of her rheumatoid arthritis, which
gradually reduced her dexterity and ultimately led her to abandon painting (and weaving) in
favor of the brilliant collage work that occupied the rest of her life.

So it was that when Melanie’s friend and heir Durella Rodriquez and I were planning a
retrospective exhibition of her artwork, in going through the treasured works she left behind we
discovered this series of paintings, literally on the bottom of a stack.  We realized at once that
this unique body of work – which had scarcely been seen, let alone ever mounted and exhibited
– deserved a spotlight all its own.  True, Melanie had considered it unfinished and abandoned,
but it is now as finished as it ever can be, and the quality of the work speaks for itself.  It also
speaks of the struggle and the triumph of a very special artist and person whom we were
blessed to call friend.  It is our privilege to share Melanie Sunbeam Smith’s vision with you.

                                                                                    Larry W. Moore

An exhibition catalogue is available for $35.00; see below to purchase.

The original works are available as a series only for $12,000.00.  Limited edition half-size prints
of the works are available for $120.00 each, or a set of ten prints for $950.00.  
Contact us to
purchase or for further information.
"Bird & Bela in B"  Section 9     44" x 18.75"
"Bird & Bela in B"  Section 3     44" x 11.5"
"Bird & Bela in B"  Section 5     44" x 14.5"
"Bird & Bela in B"  Section 5     44" x 14.5"
"Bird & Bela in B"  Section 10     44" x 19"
"Bird & Bela in B"  Section 6     44" x 11.25"
"Bird & Bela in B"  Section 7     44" x 14.25"
"Bird & Bela in B"  Section 8     44" x 14.5"
"Bird & Bela in B"  Section 2     44" x 11.5"
"Bird & Bela in B"  Section 1     44" x 11.25"
Exhibition Catalogue
$35.00 plus shipping
Click below to order