The Arts

November 4, 2013

Karl Julius Lieck: Slaying the Two Headed Dragon.

2013-08-27 11.18.45

There is nothing conventional about Brownsville native Karl Julius Lieck, and it might be partially due to his multicultural background. His father’s ancestors came from Germany, Spain and France, and his mother’s ancestors boast Mayan and Spanish ethnicity.  “It’s a great advantage and a blessing, for I appreciate and draw the best form all these cultures,” said Lieck who professes to never painting these backgrounds on purpose, but rather arriving at them instinctively. “When I trust my instincts, I achieve provocative results,” he said.

Lieck was introduced to the world of music at a very young age quickly becoming a child prodigy performing at piano recitals in his hometown. One day, while practicing his piano lessons, Lieck felt compelled to carve a chicken on his mother’s piano. “That’s when it all came together; with a bad well-deserved spanking, and a drawing of a chicken” Lieck said enthusiastically.

Art and Music continued to be Leick’s passion while attending James Pace High School where he cemented a solid base that led him to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of North Texas, and a Master’s Degree in Music Composition from Louisiana State University.

Lieck’s Getting Personal exhibit, currently housed at the Historic Brownsville Museum, is a group of paintings inspired by collective and personal human experiences. Like following notes on paper, Lieck guided me through his exhibit where I sensed their tune and grasped their story, for Leick believes that art cannot only be about technique, but about sending a strong and meaningful message.

The coexistence of art and music bear tridimensional visions, rhythm, repetition and beat through powerful emotions.   “I have to capture all that I hear and see in paintings and music and it is a lot of information; the challenge is to know what to use and what to discard both when writing music and painting,” stated Lieck.

Singing Lampreys From Outer Space (featured photograph) was inspired by a dream as many of his paintings are; dreams, childhood memories, self-discovery and thoughts of mortality are the central themes of his exhibit. After discussing a few of his paintings, I came to realize that Lieck seemed uneasy about getting old, so I had to ask. “It is a mixture of sadness and regret but more of anticipation,” he responded. “I make each day count. As you get older you want to use your time more wisely, with more fortitude and purpose.  I want to bring to the table something worthwhile – whatever I’m working on it’s going to be the best for my viewers. I seek a collective human experience,” he said reflectively.

In his role of art instructor for the summer programs at the Brownsville Museum of Fine Arts, Lieck instills in his students the need for constant reinvention. His advice is to never get comfortable with your work to avoid falling into mediocrasy.  “Be on edge all the time and your work will flourish,” said Lieck who craves originality in everything he does including sitting down on the floor to paint with his canvas leaning on the wall. “I’ve gladly become a slave of my work; when I’m not writing music I’m painting, and I have to keep my job in order to pay the bills.”

Lieck is voluntarily swaying away from surrealism directing his attention to a more minimalist and visceral style to make his message clear and universal. “There is always going to be a very personal point of view to reach people across all backgrounds and religions, but now I want to tear my work down to the bare bones in order to accomplish this goal.”

With his eyes closed and his hand gently swaying as if directing a symphony, Lieck narrated the story behind his new composition based on a book by Willa Cather titled Paul’s Case. As he described the plot, he introduced each set of instruments as they made their appearance at a particular scene to a point where I could almost hear the music to the symphony he hopes to present at the UTB Arts Center. I perceived similar movements on his painting titled Come and Get Me where each stroke of color is not only visible, but almost audible.

Michelangelo’s symbolism inspires Lieck as well as Van Gogh, Cézanne and Picasso to a certain extent. He is crazy about Russian composers such as Beethoven and Tchaikovsky for their versatility and because they created masterpieces in every musical form – something Lieck respects enormously.

Lieck claims to be a late bloomer on a mission to introduce his talent to the world, but he believes nothing is new or different from what artists have shown us in the past, for he said that there have always been composers who paint, and painters who compose beautiful music. “It’s a double headed dragon I’m trying to slay,” he reflected. “I take the challenge because I have so much to give and I’m not satisfied with just one form of art. If I find merit in my work in both fields I’m going to create in both fields and I hope to find a receptive audience.”

This story was published in the October 2013 issue of Beyond Arts Magazine

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About the Author

Nydia O
A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.-Maya Angelou. La Vida Valle is where I write about "la vida" my life in the Rio Grande Valley. From this bi-cultural corner on the tip of Texas, I share my poems and spiritual and travel experiences. I also blog about the arts, nature and my passion for historic preservation and architecture. But most importantly, let's talk about "la vida" - living our lives - in a vacation state of mind. Contributions and comments are always welcome .




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