Artist inspiration

Jane Hawes

Milisa Valliere leaned over and peered at the unresponsive iPad on the dining room table. "I think your finger works better than mine," she said. Her husband, Roland, swiped the gadget a few times and successfully triggered the digital slide show of explosively colorful paintings and a head-spinning music mix.

A visit with the Vallieres of German Village is a melange of color and sound, tinged with a touch of technology. Milisa supplies the color with her vivid impressionist paintings, while Roland, whose day job is president and chief creative officer of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, supplies a steady stream of music. And together they have created a sense experience called "Inspired by Music."

It's a 60-painting collection created earlier this year. Milisa would wake up each morning, take an iPod from Roland, head to the studio behind their home, and paint to whatever playlist he assembled for that day.

"I never knew what it was going to be," Milisa said. And that's an understatement, considering Roland describes himself as a "genre agnostic." The playlists ranged from Billie Holliday to Beethoven, from Radiohead to Christina Aguilera, from Bach to Jimi Hendrix.

The resulting works, priced from $500 to $5,000, go on sale this fall at Hammond Harkins Galleries.

Q&A: A chat with Milisa & Roland Valliere

Was this the first time you've collaborated like this?

Milisa: It was, but it just worked well at that moment in my life. When we were apart for a year, after Roland started his job here (in August 2009), I stayed behind in Kansas City so our daughter Kalyn could finish high school. It was hard, but I found that listening to a lot of his music helped. Now he's actively choosing the music.

Roland: I get to plant a seed and see a flower blossom.

Milisa: I liked the randomness of it. The music makes me not think so much.

Roland has quite the collection to choose from. How big is it?

Roland: I've probably been collecting music (in digital form) for about 15 years. Right now it's at about 113,000 separate files.

Milisa: He has enough to play music 24 hours a day for 369 days.

Was it the arts that brought you together?

Roland: We met at a fundraiser at Stewart Air Force Base (in New York) for the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, which I was involved with at the time.

Milisa: I had a tile business and I also worked with autistic children, so I was looking for a place to hang their artwork. I was interested in that space.

Roland: I knew right away when I met her. Just that feeling when you look someone in the eyes and know. We were married one year later to the day-June 2, 1991.

Milisa: He proposed on the "blue moon" on New Year's Eve, 1990.

Roland: Blue moons are when you have two full moons in one month, and a blue moon on New Year's Eve only happens once every 19 years.

Milisa: He just proposed again in New York on the last one.

Roland: And we got married again on Block Island (R.I.).

Milisa: I think it's good to check in and ask yourselves if it's still working.

The show

"Inspired by Music" runs from Sept. 23 to Oct. 23 at Hammond Harkins Galleries in Bexley. The Vallieres will share their experiences about creating the collection on Sept. 25, at 2 p.m. For more, visit