Preview: Berry van Boekel: Top 100 2011 at Swing Space Gallery

By Columbus Alive
From the March 22, 2012 edition

Berry van Boekel’s particular form of music worship borders on obsessive, but it results in something beautiful and lasting.

Since 1983, the Dutch-born artist and former OSU professor has culled together an annual list of his 100 favorite songs from Top 10 lists he compiles every week, then created an original artwork for each. Often based on imagery from album covers, YouTube videos or Google search results, the works feel reverent yet light and vibrant.

Now working from Fort Myers, Florida, van Boekel will return to Columbus next week to share the latest edition of his Top 100. It opens Monday, March 26 at OSU’s Swing Space Gallery with a reception and listening party. This year’s 100-song playlist clocks in at just more than six hours.

The amazingly diverse list ranges from Bob Dylan and Amy Winehouse to opera legend Maria Callas and indigenous field recordings. Van Boekel documents his selection process on his blog, but offered us some thoughts on a few particular tracks.

91. The Notorious B.I.G., “One More Chance”

According to van Boekel, after purchasing a Roots CD at a yard sale and finding that the disc inside was actually by Biggie, he just went with it and found a track that appealed to him.

“I had it in my car for a little while. All the cars in my neighborhood play that kind of music, so I figured I’d play it, too.”

41. “Greenham women keening at Parliament Square”

As van Boekel explained, “There’s an old Irish tradition of lamenting. They say on Wikipedia that the song form is extinct, but obviously people practice it. It’s a kind of cry singing. This was recorded in the 1980s, and they were protesting the nuclear arms race. I got it from YouTube. It sounds really strange.”

“One of my sub-collections is various modes of cry singing throughout the world, and there are three examples in this Top 100,” he added.

9. Alwood Sisters, “Summer Wind”

For this local selection, the artist came up with a new approach: Instead of creating his own painting, he invited musician and artist Meagan Alwood-Karcic to contribute pieces inspired by her band.

As he recalled, “I saw them live just before I left Columbus. They gave me a CD, and it’s awesome.”