On Thursday evening, a studio in Bushwick was brought to life with a live, improvised performance between celebrated jazz musicians and an artist painting on stage — all in the name of raising $100,000 for pandemic-impacted jazz players.

Starr Street’s Collab Fabrication Lab & Innovation Studio was the site of project 1000W, in which jazz guitarist Bill Frisell and the Antoine Drye Quartet played in conversation with artist Jim Watt, whose creations were shown unfolding in real time on a large screen above.

Watt paints monochromatic washes in Japanese Sumi ink on watercolor paper, while a video camera captures the paper and projects it live onto 20-foot-wide screen.

That screen then becomes the backdrop for musicians on stage.

“They’re composing and improvising to what I’m painting, while I’m composing on paper to what they’re playing, it’s quite magical,” Watt said.

Speaking ahead of the event, Watt said, while artists and musicians have collaborated before, his vision was that one would not lead the other, but rather create together.

“My idea was that there would be no hierarchy, it’s not somebody playing music to somebody painting or vice verse, it’s all at once and it’s really collaborative.”

The live performance Thursday in Bushwick. Photo: Barbara Wagner PR

The whole performance is being made into a film by filmmaker Danny Clinch, who is chronicling the entirety of the project, including studio visits with Watt. Clinch, too, is part of the creative process, Watt said.

“He’s not considering himself a documentarian, he considers himself part of the process.

“So all of us are feeding off each other and it’s really fun, and I think really expressive and pretty powerful.”

The event was held to help raise $100,000 for jazz musicians impacted by the pandemic.

The live performance Thursday in Bushwick. Photo: Barbara Wagner PR

Watt is making 1000 of the ink washes and is selling them for $350 each through the Jim Kempner Fine Art gallery. Watt and the gallery will donate $100 per artwork sold in the hopes of raising 6-figures for the jazz community, which was hard-hit by the pandemic shutdown of venues worldwide.

The first $10,000 has already been raised, and all funds are going to a panel who will decide who the money is distributed to.

Watt said he was a huge jazz fan, and wanted to give back to “a community that has given me so much.”

In summer last year, he said he helped produce live jazz events in Asbury Park, and this project was an extension of that.

“I encourage people to participate and buy the paintings, he said. “It’s a project near and dear to my heart.”

To support Watt and Drye, head to the Jim Kempner Fine Art website.

Jessy Edwards

Jessy Edwards is a writer based in Bushwick. Originally from New Zealand, she has written for the BBC, Rolling Stone, NBC New York, CNBC and her hometown newspaper, The Dominion Post, among others.

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