Perambulating the Bounds

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Konk Pack

Brady Sharp made a return to organizing improvised music shows, maybe on a “just this time only” basis, with a show by Konk Pack at Twist Gallery. Konk Pack is like a free improv supergroup, a trio of percussionist Roger Turner, Tim Hodgkinson who mostly does things with a table top slide guitar, and Thomas Lehn on synthesizer.

A few thoughts. First, it’s good to hear a group like this a second time, and I’d guess at least half the people there saw the group on their last trip to Nashville. It was a few years ago, can’t remember exactly when.

Tonight, it really seemed to me that this group is rhythm-centered. The trio makes lots of tones, as you would expect with the synthesizer playing a big role, the table-top techniques Hodgkinson has at his disposal, and the bag of tricks you see with a drummer like Turner. But it’s so apparent that rhythm holds this together, and that they were relating most frequently on the basis of rhythm. For large parts you probably could have defined a consistent bpm, largely kept by Turner, but everyone was contributing to it. And the bpm was fast, maybe Jungle speed. Really abstract IDM.

Keeping with the focus on rhythm, this time around I found myself concentrating on Roger Turner’s playing. Some of it was because I was sitting close to him. He is such an expressive player, getting an incredible variety and subtlety of sound out of everything he handles and hits. To look at one aspect alone, for a lot of passages he used two thin metal rods as his sticks. He used them to drive the sound to its most intense phases, lots of noise through relentless cymbal strikes, but then he’d turn around and coax several distinct sounds out of just rubbing the two metal rods against each other, or striking them against the edge of a piece of plastic material. You wouldn’t think those metal rods could yield so much subtlety. Some of the things he does require incredible control, like that bit about striking the edge of this piece of plastic. He has to hit it hard enough to get some sound, and give it a little edge so it will project, but if he hits it too hard he'll just knock it around.

At times I was aware of Tim Hodgkinson’s roots in rock music. He used enough alternate techniques to deflect any strong sense of melodic riffs, which I think would have turned trite. However, there was a structure to his rhythmic formations that felt pretty rock-like, and combined with the rhythmic focus of the entire group gave the trio’s material a directness that I think could make their music more immediately successful that something more pointillist, minimalist, or textural. Hell, at one point Turner was doing this pronounced back beat and Hodgkinson was pushing on his guitar in a pattern that sounded like the underlying beats of a honky-tonk country song.

Finally, Beth Gilmore made a great observation about the music: “it seemed like the sounds the art work in the gallery would make if it could make noise.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What to do Thursday: Donovan and Charalambides

If you’re in Murfreesboro, John Donovan is giving a talk at MTSU, 7 PM in the Todd Building. Donovan should be familiar to Nashville audiences—clay sculptures often using toy soldiers and tanks, covered in thick glazes that seem like dense metal, usually going for humorous menace.

If in Nashville, go to Springwater. Just go. Charalambides is playing. They (Tom and Christina Carter) make deceptively simple music, voices and guitars that seem to find magic harmonies. Every year, the reactions to Charalambides seem to get more rapturous. And rapture captures what their music is about. I’m missing this show, so everyone else in Nashville should go.

On Sunday, Chris Davis is bringing Plastic People of the University to Springwater. This is a classic psych band from Czechoslovakia. They formed after the Soviet crackdown in the Prague Spring of 1968 and played underground during a period of intense repression. It’s amazing that they are still around, and hard to believe they are playing Nashville. It’s as if Os Mutantes or the Velvet Underground were playing here.

BTW, Cortney Tidwell and the Cherry Blossoms are playing on the Charalambides show, Cherry Blossoms and Sapat from Louisville are playing Sunday.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Nashville Visual Arts Events September 14-22

So, what do think—if it’s about art, it couldn’t possibly be spam, right? I’ll be testing that contention at the rate I’m going with these supposed-to-be-twice-a-month missives that seem to come out every week. Additions this time around are Jeff Hand, the latest at Gallery One in Belle Meade, Off the Wall, Untitled, and photography at Belmont.

As always, if you have an email list of your own, feel free to forward this.

If someone wants to get added directly to my list for the email version of this listing, send me an email at dcmaddox@comcast.net. To get taken off the list, email to that effect at the same address.


September 13

Transfer of Light, Belmont Leu Gallery OK, I missed the opening for this (earlier tonight), but the show is going to be up through October 25. Photographs by Gina Binkley, Bob Delevante, and David McClister. Each claims a different aesthetic spot: still life for Binkley, some sort of narrative for Delevante, mid-America realism for McClister. If somehow cyberspace sends this email back in time a few hours to get to you, the reception is from 4 to 6 today.

September 14

Sri Ganesha Temple, T. N. Seshagopalan No, this is not visual arts. It is a first rate Carnatic vocalist from India performing at Sri Ganesha Temple in Bellevue. I’m not sure I’ve experience any other music with the level of technical rigor, sonic qualities, and the spirit ual intensity and engagement of the better Carnatic vocalist I’ve heard, thanks to the program at Sri Ganesha. I have not heard Mr. Seshagopalan, but based on the description it sounds like this will be one of the very good ones. He is an experienced, fully established musician. Jonathan Marx gave nice coverage to this concert and the arts program in the Tennessean: The concert starts at 7:00 on Friday the 14th.

Untitled, “Sweet Tea,” Bar Twenty3 This quarter’s show is in one of the Gulch’s nightspots. I assume you know all about Untitled—open to any artist who wants to get involved, quarterly shows with work by lots of artists, and they have lots of friends, so it’s always a nice, big crowd. The show is 6-10 Friday night.

September 15

Jeff Hand, “Plush Panacea,” Tennessee Arts Commission Jeff’s material of choice is fake fur, garish and fuzzy, which he assembles into framed images or uses in sculptures and figures. He’s used the blatantly artificial quality of the stuff to memorialize pop culture icons, or to disarm potentially incendiary images. This time it looks like he’s got a series of oversized reproductions of pills like Zoloft and Paxil, all the stuff meant to take the edge off the world, contentment by chemistry. The induced state of mind is one more example of the kinds of broad, culture-scale manipulations of experience Jeff works with. It seems like the perfect subject mater for him. This show at the Tennessee Arts Commission has its opening from 5-7 on Saturday.

Gallery One, Brian Tull Tull is a painter whose work moves between pop art and photorealist styles. He has a nostalgia for post-war 20th Century scenes, often featuring female figures and classic 50s/60s cars. From the PR material it looks like he favors odd angles and abrupt cropping of the images, like a glimpse of something caught quickly in passing. The most interesting thing to me is that it seems like some of the images could be pretty sexy, a hint of the erotic in them along with the furtive quality of the angles. Not really buttoned down realism. The opening is this Saturday from 6 to 8.

Plowhaus, SNAP, “Pushpin” The Society of Nashville’s Artistic Photographers is a diverse group of local photographers who have banded together to exhibit work together, and they also meet regularly for critiques of each other’s work and discussions of photography. Generally supporting each other in developing their work. Their show at Plowhaus gives each of 20 photographers a dedicated piece of wall space to display unmounted photographs. The opening reception is from 7-10 on Saturday the 15th.

September 22

Off the Wall, “Underwater Chemistry,” The Art House This group of women, Jenny Baggs, Quinn Dukes, Janet Heilbronn, Mahlea Jones, Jaime Raybin, and Iwonka Waskowski, have been exhibiting work together for a while. Every one of them does stuff that’ll catch your eye. Iwonka’s made some great paintings and drawings over the last year, Janet Heilbronn also had strong drawings in a show at Kristi Hargrove’s studio last year, Quinn does fascinating performance pieces, and Jaime’s paintings about the Milk Shelf space out at the Renaissance Center are really nice – cool, very composed geometries, but also filled with an earnest idealism. And so on. The group exhibits in borrowed space, although I think this might be a return visit to the Art House. The opening is from 6-9 on Saturday, the 22nd. By the way, Off the Wall has done a lot of one-night shows, but this is going to be up at the Art House for a month or so.

Neuhoff Center, Jorge Arrieta, “Standing on a Whale” This looks like an ambitious project, a film with animation and songs performed by local musicians like the Gypsy Hombres and KS Rhoads, and a series of paintings. I haven’t had much time to dig deeper on what to expect with this, but like I said, it looks like something that should be worth paying attention to so I’d figured I’d give the list a heads up. There are two scheduled screenings of the film: 8:00 on Saturday the 22nd, and 8:00 on Saturday the 29th.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Nashville Visual Arts Events, September 7-22

This is getting to be a pattern. There’s always something that comes up on the second weekend of the month that I didn’t know about in time for the email at the beginning of the month. This time it’s the new exhibit at Cumberland, with work by Carrie McGee and Whitney Nye, and the Watkins Faculty show.

As always, if you have an email list of your own, feel free to forward this.

If someone wants to get added directly to my list for the email version of this listing, send me an email at dcmaddox@comcast.net. To get taken off the list, email to that effect at the same address.


September 7

Watkins College, Faculty Show One of the way artists get spread around the country is through faculty jobs. Some of the best artists in a community like Nashville, which is not home to a major art market, will inevitably be the faculty members in the local college art departments. The revitalization of Watkins as an arts college has had a big impact simply by giving some good artists jobs here. The annual faculty show is a way to see what they are about and up to. The faculty listed for this show are Dan Brawner, Cheryl Gulley, Kristi Hargrove, Brady Haston, Lauren Kalman, Amanda McCadams, Rob McClurg, Siri Nadler, Robin Paris, Tori Purcell, Madeline Reed, Elizabeth Sanford and John Sullivan. The opening reception is Friday from 6-8.

Sewanee (University of the South, James Edward Carlos Gallery, Nabit Art Building), Bill Daniel, “Life Raft” A filmmaker and installation artist who documents and celebrates fringe, off-the-grid subcultures. This piece features a houseboat he made out of discarded materials, which has sails that he projects a video work onto. The video weaves together basically an argument about the collapse of civilization and posits an anarchistic self-reliance in response. The show also includes photo series of the “hippie house boat culture” in Sausalito and post-Katrina New Orleans. Water as hell, water as Eden. Sounds very much worth the drive to Sewanee. The opening reception is Friday from 5-7, artist’s talk at 4.

Renaissance Center, Dickson, Jaime Raybin, “Milk Shelf” The opening for this show by Nashvillian Jaime Raybin runs from 6-7:30 on Friday the 7th at the Renaissance Center, a straight shot out I40 in Dickson. Jaime has shown in a number of group shows, including with the Off the Wall group. Last week I said the paintings looks like they might be from Jaime’s senior show at Watkins, but it turns out I was completely wrong about that. It’s all new work. She says “the show is about a dilapidated hangout spot,” which will contrast with the nice tidy Ren Center space. This is the first in a series at the Renaissance Center that will feature recent graduates of area art programs. The Ren Center is also opening their annual regional art show, which usually includes several interesting artists you wouldn’t otherwise encounter.

September 8

Cumberland Gallery, Carrie McGee and Whitney Nye Carrie McGee’s work is a real treat, and her gallery is showing her new work this month. Her signature technically is to work with rust and pigment, often on translucent acrylic forms. Her work delivers pleasure in many ways, but if I can mention just one thing, it would be the colors she produces. They are both earthy and vivid, and you can enjoy the work simply for the quality of the colors. A quick look at the 2007 pieces on the Cumberland website leaves the impression that the new work might be slightly darker in tone, but wait until you see the exhibit to judge that. Cumberland is also showing work by a newer gallery artist having her first solo show there. She paints multi-layered abstractions with a compact kind of geometry to them. The reception is from 6-8 on Saturday.

Estel, Sean O’Meallie, “Object Circus” O’Meallie makes toy-like objects out of wood but finished with highly refined surfaces. There’s a lot of wit in the forms and titles. The show opens this week, but the gallery is having a reception for O’Meallie on the 8th.

Zeitgeist, John Folsom. Large scale photographs of landscapes like Reelfoot Lake in West Tennessee and Banff, Alberta. He starts with a group of small images, pulls them into a single image digitally, and then treats it with oil paint and wax to give the texture of painting.

September 9

CRAFT: A Creative Community A group of local artists/artisans holds a monthly sale/fair in the parking lot of Lipstick Lounge, the next one is 11-5 on Sunday, September 9.

September 14

Sri Ganesha Temple, T. N. Seshagopalan No, this is not visual arts. It is a first rate Carnatic vocalist from India performing at Sri Ganesha Temple in Bellevue. I’m not sure I’ve experience any other music with the level of technical rigor, sonic qualities, and the spiritual intensity and engagement of the better Carnatic vocalist I’ve heard, thanks to the program at Sri Ganesha. I have not heard Mr. Seshagopalan, but based on the description it sounds like this will be one of the very good ones. He is an experienced, fully established musician. The concert starts at 7:00 on Friday the 14th.

September 15

Plowhaus, SNAP, “Pushpin” The Society of Nashville’s Artistic Photographers is a diverse group of local photographers who have banded together to exhibit work together, and they also meet regularly for critiques of each other’s work and discussions of photography. Generally supporting each other in developing their work. Their show at Plowhaus gives each of 20 photographers a dedicated piece of wall space to display unmounted photographs. The opening reception is from 7-10 on Saturday the 15th.

September 22

Neuhoff Center, Jorge Arrieta, “Standing on a Whale” This looks like an ambitious project, a film with animation and songs performed by local musicians like the Gypsy Hombres and KS Rhoads, and a series of paintings. I may be able to put together more information on this by the time the event gets closer, but like I said, it looks like something that should be worth paying attention to so I’d figured I’d give the list a heads up. There are two scheduled screenings of the film: 8:00 on Saturday the 22nd, and 8:00 on Saturday the 29th.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Piaf clip

Maybe this will meet with more universal approval. I ran across this clip last summer around the time I saw the Piaf, bio-flic. More than anything on record, I thought this clip captured how great Piaf’s voice was. Listen to the way her voice rises up out of the male chorus and soars above it, and the intense vibrato she uses.

Also, you know Marion Cotillard saw this clip – she picked up that stiff-kneed arthritic walk, and her sly pleasure about being surrounded by all those young men.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Balkan Idol

This from Brady Sharp. He and I think it's great. My wife says it is excruciating.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Breaking News from the Cold War

Sheesh. It turns out we are still trying to get over the fact that Pete Seeger was once a bona fide Communist but when he left the Party he never felt the need to renounce everything he believed. Yahoo News now informs us that Pete has written a song critical of Joe Stalin. Is this the internet trying to relive 1971? Leaving aside the significance of an 88-year old writing a song critical of a ruler who’s been dead 54 years, it says something that this can still make news. American society has never forgiven Seeger for sticking to the principle that the world would be a better place if we organized ourselves to share resources and work together for the common good—not compete ruthlessly with each other to see who could gain the most at the expense of others. This is what Communism was supposed to be about. At the end of the day it wasn’t, and Stalin used the name to cover a brutal dictatorship. As I see it, people like Pete Seeger turned away from the Party, and for all practical purposes away from anything called Communism, but that doesn’t mean they went to the other side. It was and is a false dichotomy. Pete stuck to his guns, the real guns, not some name.

It might be obvious that Pete Seeger is a hero of mine. He’s my answer to the question “if you could have dinner with one person.” I’ve never heard him live, and now he really doesn’t sing concerts. One time, several years ago, he sang AT MY CHURCH. But I was out of town on business.