Cliff Glassmick / Colorado Daily file photo
Vijay Mittal, an assistant professor in psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado-Boulder, will be one of the panelists at Your Brain on Art.

If you go

What: Your Brain on Art

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, 1750 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-2122

Cost: $12-$15

More info:


For the third year in a row, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art will show you what your brain looks like on art.

The panel discussion series brings artists of all mediums in to talk about topics like neuroaesthetics, improvisation and the ever-unsettling gaze of eyes in portraits. Today at 7 p.m., local blues legend Otis Taylor, Colorado Symphony conductor Scott O’Neil, and assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado-Boulder Vijay Mittal will be on hand to talk about creativity.

“This year, we’re going to delve into what really drives creativity, and so for tomorrow’s talk with Otis and Scott and Vijay, we’re going to hone in a little bit more on music, what drives creativity in music and the unexpected,” said BMoCA Director of Education Shannon Crothers.

They’ll aim to answer, as all of these panels do, questions about how and why artists create, whether their brains are wired differently and how the brain interprets and experiences art.

O’Neil will get things started by talking about how music and composers can play with expectations. He’ll be followed by Mittal, who will discuss Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” which celebrates the 100th anniversary of its shocking first performance this year.

“They call it the ‘Riot of Spring,'” Crothers said. “The people in the audience started having this reaction to the piece because there were so many dissonant chords in this piece that their brains weren’t ready for. It’s undeniable that this piece of music had such an affect on everyone.”

Part of this, scientists now believe, has to do with the way music affects dopamine gates in the brain.

“He’ll play a section of that so we can all hear it,” Crothers said. “Hopefully we won’t go crazy.”

Taylor will be up last to talk about the state of mind his trance blues can put people in, accompanied by a short video of him playing.

There will also be a performance from the Colorado Symphony Ensemble and Colorado Public Radio will be there to record the whole evening.

Tickets are $12 for members and $15 for general admission.

Contact Ashley Dean at 303-473-1109 or On twitter:


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