If you’re a Charleston resident and you’re not sure what pioneering minimalist composer and prolific film scorer Philip Glass looks like, don’t worry — you’re about to become extremely familiar with his face.

It was already going to be the year of Philip Glass at Spoleto Festival USA 2007 before this. Last year’s festival began with a weird new work from the composer — performed by rolling automobiles, no less — at the opening ceremony. This year was also to have composer’s hands all over it, with the American premiere of his new concert work Book of Longing at the Sottile Theatre on June 6.

But with the announcement last week of Spoleto 2007’s official poster image — a portrait of Glass from 1979 entitled “Large Phil Fingerprint/Random,” from acclaimed painter, photographer and printmaker Chuck Close — the entire city will be under the composer’s spell from now through the middle of June. That’s partly because Glass is such a recognizable guy, with that iconic hair and those hooded eyes. But it’s also because the Spoleto Window Display Contest began this morning, and you’re not going to be able to drive anywhere downtown for the next two months without being assaulted by Glass’ fingerprinted face.

The work is made up entirely of black inked fingerprints, from Close’s thumb and forefinger. Chuck Close has been a quadraplegic for 18 years, and many of his favorite subjects for portraits with the technique have been prominent figures in the art world. In fact, he and Glass have been friends for 40 years, and two years ago Glass created his own portrait of Close in the form of a 15-minute work composed for the solo piano.

This blogger and Spoleto critic can already say he prefers this years poster to last year’s, the saccharine, merch-friendly image of a giant heart done in pastels. In fact, I’m gonna go ahead and give it an unconditional thumbs up… —PS

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