NEW YORK -- When Tom Petty and Peter Gabriel get together these
days, they generally don't discuss guitars, tax shelters or other
subjects that might befit their shared status as rock stars.
Instead, they tend to indulge in what the 49-year-old Gabriel called
"proud father talk."
That's what they were doing Saturday in Queens, where the occasion for
their pride was the debut of "Low Flame," a multimedia art installation
by Adria Petty and Anna Gabriel at the experimental art museum P.S. 1.
"It's a joy, really, and it's nice to be here in the audience," said
Petty, who has been playing gigs in support of his latest album,
The two musicians' daughters, both 24, have been close friends for the
past six years, ever since they lived in the same dorm at Sarah
Lawrence College, Anna Gabriel said.
"Low Flame," which will be shown through June 6, features an almost
dialogue-free film and a series of three-dimensional exhibits, which
are set up in portable-toilet stalls. It tells the story of a lonely
sanitation worker who confuses fantasy with reality.
On Saturday the film was accompanied by live music from singer/guitarist
Howie Statland of the New York power-pop band Thin Lizard Dawn, and a
turntablist, DJ Stress, who is better known as New York Times
music critic Neil Strauss.
Tom Petty, who wore a black suit, white shirt and tortoise-shell
sunglasses, said he appreciated the piece's experimental nature. Petty,
46, said his daughter, whose hair was dyed bright purple, "keeps me in touch"
with the avant-garde.
With his longtime band the Heartbreakers, Petty continues his tradition
of straightforward, roots-oriented rock on his new album, which features
the single "Free Girl Now" (RealAudio excerpt).
Over the years, musicians Petty and Gabriel, the former Genesis
frontman and successful solo artist, have run into each other at
graduation and other school events for their daughters. In turn, they
have formed something of a bond, Gabriel said.
"It's a great way to come together," said Gabriel, who wore a black
suit and a green, open-collar shirt, his head shaved bare. Among his
biggest solo hits is the '80s pop tune "Big Time" (RealAudio excerpt).
Anna Gabriel said she and Adria, who raised funds for "Low Flame" on
their own, debated whether to have their fathers attend its debut. For
all of the benefits of having a rock star for a parent, that heritage
can be burdensome for a budding artist, Anna said.
"But we figured it's going to happen -- everyone's going to mention it
anyway," she said.
Several spectators at the exhibit, which was packed for most of the
afternoon, said they came not so much because of the art but because
of the artists' fathers.