Art of Guitar in Santa Cruz Includes Dali-like Playfulness

Posted on March 3, 2014 | by Mark Segal Kemp

Santa Cruz guitar festival

A guitar-art exhibit that opened this past weekend in Santa Cruz, California, features some strange-looking creations—none stranger than luthier Fred Carlson's "humanitar."

New York Times environmental reporter Andy Revkin, who’s also a guitarist and songwriter, snapped this picture of Carlson's piece—a playful amalgamation of harp, guitar, and dancer—Friday while in Santa Cruz to speak at a national climate-science conference. Fortuitously—at least for a science journalist who moonlights as a folk singer—the Santa Cruz County Art of Guitar Exhibit and Festival was going on at the R. Blitzer Gallery.

“It's amazing how Santa Cruz, in part because of the pioneering luthiery leadership of Richard Hoover at the Santa Cruz Guitar Co., has spawned such a galaxy of great builders,” Revkin said. “No one among them quite matches the Dali-style sculptural approach of harp guitar specialist Fred Carlson, though!”

Carlson is known for inventing what he calls the “sympitar,” a six-string with a dozen tunable sympathetic strings running beneath the fingerboard. You can see more of them on Carlson’s website. Also coming soon to Revkin's Youtube channel: a mini-doc on the festival that focuses on Carlson's work. And look for upcoming video of Revkin playing from his new album A Very Fine Line in AG's Acoustic Cafe.

RELATED: Metropolitan Museum of Art to Display 35 Rare Martin Guitars in New Exhibit

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