Arts & CultureBlogCulture Briefs

Jackie Dorsey’s ‘Sound Check’ Is an Ode to the Athens Music Scene

Photo Credit: Barbette Houser

Sam Burchfield with his portrait by Jackie Dorsey.

“What it Means,” a watercolor portrait of Patterson Hood by artist Jackie Dorsey, captures the intensity of someone who could pen the lyrics, “We want our truths all fair and balanced/ As long as our notions lie within it/ There’s no sunlight in our asses/ And our heads are stuck up in it.” 

The work is part of “Sound Check,” a series of portraits of local musicians Dorsey created to express her gratitude for the Athens music scene. The show is currently on display at Hendershot’s, and a meet-and-greet was held for the artist on a recent Sunday night. Friends and family, including the staff of Aurum (where Dorsey is also showing paintings this month along with her mentor Kie Johnson), stopped in to celebrate. Two musicians portrayed in the show, Sam Burchfield and Wrenn, played an acoustic set afterwards.

Dorsey created her portrait of the sincere and outspoken Hood, a member of the Drive-By Truckers, using photographs she took of him during soundcheck at the 40 Watt for his recent solo show. The watercolor shows him bathed in yellow stage light against the dark background of the club. His right hand strums his guitar and, blurred, seems to softly merge with the warm red wood of his guitar. He focuses intently on whomever his audience may be.


Photo Credit: Barbette Houser

The window at Hendershot’s.

In contrast, the portrait of another Trucker, Mike Cooley, has him looking directly at the viewer. The sensitivity of his gaze and the natural ease the artist captures is striking. The background, a concrete wall at Hotel Indigo, exhibits a looseness not seen everywhere in the show that capitalizes on the happy spontaneity watercolor can yield.

“Sound Check” is part of a bigger body of work that will be shown at the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation in January. “This is kind of like the appetizer to the other show, which will be larger,” the artist stated. “It’s all en homage to Athens. I love it. I’ve lived in a lot of college towns, but I’ve found a home here.”


Photo Credit: Barbette Houser

Jackie Dorsey and her mentor, Kie Johnson, at the meet and greet.

Dorsey had high praise for all of her subjects. She begins the creative process by carefully crafting compositions with her camera. While some sat for her in her studio, several had to endure 100-degree-plus temperatures outside.


Photo Credit: Barbette Houser

Detail of a portrait of Wrenn by Jackie Dorsey.

The utterly lovely and talented Wrenn is shown against a white background, and the result is a more modern and graphic work. The portrait charmingly conveys the musician’s quirky, playful style. She wears a bold red jacket and glasses adorned with a profusion of butterflies. The sunglasses rendered in watercolor are another highlight of the show. Dorsey includes a live butterfly flying out of the composition, adding a feeling of energy and spontaneity.


Photo Credit: Barbette Houser

Sam Burchfield and Wrenn played an acoustic set for Dorsey’s reception.

Other musicians featured in the collection are Adam Poulin, Michael Lesousky and Kevin Fleming of Grassland String Band; Seth Hendershot; Thayer Sarrano, in white lace, stunningly depicted against a bold wall of graffiti; and Sienna Chandler of Monsoon, shown with the same look in her eye that she wore the other night when she jumped on the 40 Watt’s bar for a raw and mostly horizontal guitar solo.

“Sound Check” will remain on view at Hendershot’s through Oct. 31. For more information about Jackie Dorsey, visit