Program note by Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti
Scott Wollschleger grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania where he says, “The gas station is a more common object than the Mona Lisa. Where I came from, it would be fake for me to claim the beautiful art history of Europe as my own.” Although he has since moved away, Wollschleger often drives across the state when he goes back to visit family. On one particularly long drive, Wollschleger says:
I stopped in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and the gas station was on this hill. It was dusk, and it was gorgeous. I went into the bathroom and I had a moment where I thought, “is this beautiful?” There was graffiti on the wall, and there were blue tiles, and the light was coming in from dusk, and there was a feeling of dew. In that moment I thought, “Can something so abject also be an object of beauty?” It was almost an exercise in affirmation. The light itself was beautiful, but it was also beautiful because it was existing in that moment. The fact that I stumbled upon it and felt serenity in that space was beautiful. But then it became a mantra about being inspired by one’s immediate surroundings, which is important for artists wherever they are.
Gas Station Canon Song is about reclaiming everyday spaces—such as parking lots and convenience stores—as places of beauty and art. Instead of reserving the designation of “Art” to places that are elsewhere, Wollschleger wrote this work as an anthem for people making art where they are, with objects in their daily lives.
Gas Station Canon Song is dedicated to Ivan Ilić who also premiered the work May 13, 2017 at Bandon Town Hall, Ireland. Gas Station Canon Song is the opening track to album, American Dream, featuring Karl Larson on piano.