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Meet the artist: Todd Matus


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"Luthier-Sofia Bulgaria" by artist Todd Matus is part of the "Photography and the Violin" exhibition, opening Sept. 5 at the Stutz Art Gallery. Matus took the photographs while working in Bulgaria in the mid-1990s.


"Bridge in Landscape" by artist Todd Matus is part of the "Photography and the Violin" exhibition, opening Sept. 5 at the Stutz Art Gallery. Matus took the photographs while working in Bulgaria in the mid-1990s.


"Atelier Office" by artist Todd Matus is part of the "Photography and the Violin" exhibition, opening Sept. 5 at the Stutz Art Gallery. Matus took the photographs while working in Bulgaria in the mid-1990s.


In the hands of a skilled musician, a violin can make alluring, breathtaking music.

But before that musician can play a note, an artist of a different kind has spent hours plying the wood, coating it in lacquer and creating the instrument to exact specifications.

Todd Matus wanted to capture both the beauty of the finished product and the lives of the people who create them.

Matus’ exhibition, “Photography and the Violin,” will open Sept. 5 at the Stutz Art Gallery in Indianapolis. The twofold show combines the violin-making work of Matus and three other local master violin artists: Alexander Leyvand, Ted Skreko and Chris Ulbricht.

Tying in with that is a collection of photographs Matus has taken since 1994 of violin makers in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe.

The exhibition starts with a reception 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 5 at the gallery, 212 W. 10th St. The show runs through Sept. 26 and is open to the public 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

A second reception will be from 4 to 9 p.m. Sept. 16.

Why was this something you’ve wanted to do?

Because I’m in the violin world, and I’ve been an artist here at the Stutz for many years. My photography and violin making overlap.

How will this show be set up?

One side will be all violins; the other will be photographs I’ve taken. These are all very large format photos in full color.

How did you get into violin making?

I was totally ignorant about it. I have an art history background, and I was teaching at Herron (School of Art). A student suggested that I take a summer job out at this violin shop. Craftsmanship in general is something that interests me, so I did it.

How did that job go?

It took a while to get my bearings and figure out what I was doing. But the deeper I got in, the more I wanted to do it. It all worked out.

How has violin making gone hand-in-hand with your photography?

In making violins, I had the chance to go to Sofia, Bulgaria, to help set up a violin shop. This was while it was still a communist country. But I got to see the whole transition. I was working with the people living there and was deeply involved in the transition. I documented that whole process and kept those (images). That’s what makes up these photographs.

How do these photographs show what it was like in Bulgaria at that time?

One reviewer said that you see a lot of photographs of revolutionary change where there is a lot of violence, but you rarely see photographs of revolution that is peaceful. He seemed to think I captured that. There is a lot of emotion in these images.

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