Perambulating the Bounds

Friday, November 30, 2007

Gaelic psalms

Here's my discovery of the week--Gaelic psalms, a form preserved from the early days of the Scottish Reformation in the Hebrides (seems to have been preserved particularly on the island of Lewis, where there is still no ferry service on the Sabbath). I picked up a disc in a shop in Edinburgh and just got a chance to listen to it. Wonderful. Really intense. Maria says it sounds like American mountain music. Definitely. Or maybe Sacred Harp singing. Or the Polyphonic Spree in their dreams.

Here's a page with some history of the form. The recordings below were done at a center for Scottish music near where we stayed in Glasgow last week.



Nashville Visual Arts Events December 1-8

It’s the beginning of the month, I’m a little late getting this out, so I’ll keep everything short. It looks like we’ve mostly got the first Saturday openings and then a few stragglers. Imagine this will be it for December, except for the inevitable “oops I forgot one” follow-up email.

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.

Dec. 1

Twist, Plate Tone Printshop This is the local printmaking coop specializing in non-toxic printmaking methods. It’s something you might not think about, but all those acids to etch on metal plates can’t be good to handle. It reminds me of my mother talking about the respiratory problems sculptors would get from handling plastics and whatnot, often done with minimal protection in a heroic frame of mind. Also self-destructive. In addition to trying to do themselves (and children, etc.) a favor, Plate Tone consists of very fine artists: Jenny Baggs, Marleen De Bock, Kaaren Hirshowitz Engel, Pam Haile, Lee Ann Hawkins, Lou Horner, Susan Hulme, Linda Illingworth, Patricia Jordan, Reesha Leone, Lesley Patterson-Marx, Jaime Raybin. Twist also has affordable holiday art by Watkins student printmakers to go along with the Plate Tone folks.

Dangenart, Self Series by Laura Young and Extremely Superficial Juried Exhibit. Young will be at the gallery on Saturday for a one night presentation—she uses her body as a canvas for drawings, photographs them, converts the photographs into a digital piece. The gallery is also opening its annual juried show, this year featuring Donna Meeks, Rob Tarbell, Nuala Sawyer, and Michael Kelley.

Ruby Green, Steven Finke, Composite Things. Small sculptural objects that are meant to serve as meditational objects. Jonathan Marx did a good article on the show.

TAG at TAG (Susan Tinney) Greg Decker. I won’t go into this again, but Susan Tinney and Jerry Dale McFadden are splitting up their partnership. This is the TAG space on 5th Avenue, now with Susan Tinney as sole partner and Virginia Cannon as curator. Their first show is work from painter Greg Decker.

Estel, Richard Heinsohn. These look like really appealing abstract paintings, very rhythmic, strong almost in your face geometries and tone contrasts. This is a short note on this, but I’m really looking forward to seeing these paintings in the flesh, not just JPEGS.

TAG at Estel (Jerry Dale McFadden) Paul Roden and Valerie Reuth. Jerry Dale McFadden is doing his exhibits at Estel in December and January, and will borrow the Dangenart space from February-July. The December show is husband and wife printmakers Roden and Reuth, who have collaborated on many of the pieces here, which should be interesting because they’ve got pretty different styles and approaches, although I assume they get along OK with each other.

SQFT, Deck the Walls. A group show of affordable art by several artists who have shown at SQFT: Agnes Barton-Sabo, Eleanor Grosch, Caitlin Keegan, James Keegan, Jessica Rosenkranz, and Shea Steele. This will be SQFT’s second to last show—they are closing their doors after their January show.

The Arts Company, Annual Holiday Arts Market. This year the Arts Company will feature work by April Street, Jim Hubbman, and David Sokosh. Street’s current paintings look like they’ve taken a turn further towards abstraction to good effect, Hubbman has created very finely detailed works in watercolor and graphite, and Sokosh has a season-appropriate series of tintypes of Christmas ornaments.

Rymer This month’s artists are Tom Baril, Richard Jolley, and Drew Galloway. The one I’m most familiar with is Jolley, a glass artist from Tennessee who has had major shows at places like the Hunter in Chattanooga. It seems like he was included in the Frist’s Art of Tennessee show, but I might be confusing that with some other appearance here.

Art Rogue. I’ve vowed not to neglect Matt Mikulla’s gallery in these listings. He puts together a new series about every month, an exercise in variation which constitutes nearly a performance action.

Dec. 2

Nashville Craft Mafia. Not to be confused with the group that convenes each month in East Nashville, but another collective group of crafts artists doing their winter/holiday show in Franklin at the Factory in Franklin. Runs from 10 am to 5 pm.

Dec. 5

Nashville Art Party, City Hall. One night group show in the Gulch with Myles Maillie, Langford Barksdale, Marcie Allen Cardwell, Chris Kuhn, Matt Reasor, Max Shuster, Brooke Sisco, Andrew Smaldone and Vadis Turner. Runs from 6-9.

Dec. 7

Vanderbilt Studio Art Department, Open House for Student Work. A show of work produced by students in Vanderbilt’s studio art classes this term. The department wants to connect more with the community, so maybe we’ll start to get familiar with some of the student artists at Vanderbilt. Not sure what to expect at this point. The open house is in the afternoon, from 3-5.

Centennial Art Center, Holiday Show. A show and sale of work by teachers and students at Centennial Art Center, including Harry Denson, Ron Epps, Hazel King, Lafayette Mitchell, Kathy Tupper, Kathy Carter, Lena Lucas and Wanda McMahan. Reception 5-7 on Friday.

Dec. 8

Buzz & Click, The End. Self-promotion here. The annual show (fifth installment) of electronic music organized by John Brassil, Jeremy Dickens, and others, who graciously bend the rules and allow Brady Sharp and me to do our skronky improv thing (Brady uses electronics, so we’re here really on the basis of his qualifications). It’s a whole bunch of people doing things with loops, programming, and improv, playing tight 20 minute sets. It’s going to be one of the last performances in town by Fognode/Brian Susskind, with Let’s Say Baltimore. They always put in a good set—last year it had very odd echoes of country music. Brian’s one of these guys who seems really smart, thinking seriously in several directions. The show starts at 8:00—promptly. Brady and I are scheduled to go on at 9:30.

And a couple I missed from November

Sip Café Gallery, Camille Jackson, Debbie Kraski, Emily Laird, Erin Plew and John Whitten. This show opened last night with a performance yesterday, but there are drawings up through January 4. The five artists have created drawings in response to a book by German filmmaker Werner Herzog about a walk from Munich to Paris. Debbie Kraski’s drawings (some are in the Frist show of student work) do grow on me. The premise here sounds promising. And it’s a new venue. Sip Café Gallery is at 1407 McGavock Pike.

Watkins Senior Thesis Show, Reesha Leone, Justin Key and Curt Pintenich. The next round of these, it includes photos by Justin Key which are sampled in the current Frist show and were on display earlier at an architect/design firm in/near the Gulch. The show opened Wednesday, runs through Dec. 14.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Visual Arts updates for Nov 12-17 (DJ Spooky alert)

Hey, I don’t know how I missed this – Paul Miller, aka DJ Spooky, is doing a “lecture/demonstration” at Austin Peay this Tuesday. This comes in conjunction with APSU’s exhibit of new media works at the Art department gallery. DJ Spooky is the art world’s favorite hip-hop artist, and I have to say I enjoy my copy of Riddim Warfare. Miller’s a significant theorist of contemporary aesthetics through the lens of remix-based artistic practices, and he’s gotten a lot of attention for his remix of D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, just to mention a couple of projects. From his recordings, the wide range of this guy’s intellect is obvious—he cuts so fast between different and unexpected ideas. His website has an interview where we talks about Deleuze and Guattari, and he seems like them, making connections prodigiously. His talk starts at 7:00 on Tuesday the 13th, in the Clement Auditorium on the APSU campus.

Last email I also missed a couple of things for next weekend—Cumberland Gallery’s Packages Large and Small show, and Plowhaus’ Festivus sale/show. Both start on Nov. 17, and are the same basic idea with different price points—group shows with lots of stuff on offer for holiday shopping.

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.

Nov. 12

MTSU, Dave Hickey lecture. It’s probably a completely spurious comparison, but I can’t shake the idea that Hickey is the Hunter Thompson of art critics. He’s in Las Vegas, so there’s that connection, and he drops frequent drug references. His scheduled topic for the talk is the current insane art market, a floating feast of excess that manifests itself in the international art fairs. The craziness doesn’t worry Hickey, who figures no one gets hurt by overpaying for art, and in the end the emphasis on the marketplace will lead to commerce taking over from institutions the role of defining value, leading to a more democratic aesthetics. The lecture is at 7:00 in State Farm Lecture Hall in the Business Aerospace Building. There’s gotta be a message in the choice of room and building.

Nov. 13

APSU, Paul Miller lecture. Miller’s lecture is advertised as going into his ideas about the significance of digital production techniques and pervasive interconnectedness to art. I think I’ve said my peace about him in the intro paragraph to the listings. 7:00 in the Clement Auditorium.

Nov 15-16

Nashville Ballet, Emergence. This program pairs composers from the Blair School faculty with choreographers in the creation of a new work of ballet and music. They do it every two years, and the result last time around was one of the more engaging performances I’ve seen in Nashville. Among other things it’s good to hear substantial pieces by the Vandy composition faculty – their work is not played out that often in town. The composers are pretty conservative, but it’s good to hear new work, and it’s usually not rehashed Americana like a lot of what occurs in town. This year one of the composers is Stan Link, who does electro-acoustic stuff that has sounded really good from my limited exposure to it. The performances are at 8:00 in the recital hall at the Blair School, Thursday and Friday night.

Nov. 16

Frist, Katy Siegel lecture. The parade of distinguished art lectures goes on with Siegel at the Frist. Actually, this might be the last in a run of good fortune. Seigel writes for ArtForum, teaches at Hunter College, and seems to have her finger into every aspect of contemporary art. Just to pick up one thing, she curated a show on painting in New York from the period 1967-75 which I saw in DC and which has been traveling through ICI. The period is significant because this was a time when everyone was declaring the death of painting (sculpture and installation were ascendant), but plenty was still happening, and it’s up to people like Siegel to remind us about it. Hard to say much about what she’s going to talk about from the title—“Contemporary Art in the Age of Extremes.” The lecture is at 6:00.

Future/Now: Mid-State Art Majors, Frist. This is pretty cool—an exhibit of art by current students at local colleges (Fisk, APSU, MTSU, TSU, Watkins, Vandy, Lipscomb, Belmont, and the Appalachian Center for Crafts—looks like they missed Sewanee). The works were chosen by faculty at the schools, so if nothing else it will show you who has ingratiated themselves with their faculty. Seriously, I think it’s great that the Frist is opening their doors to these artists. People who make it to one-night group shows, campus exhibits, and some of the Arcade galleries will see some of these students, but there’s a lot of people who get to those places. It’s also a good counterpoint to the Société Anonyme—most of these students undoubtedly want to be the Modernists of their day.

Nashville Opera, Elmer Gantry. The Nashville Opera is doing the premier of an opera by Robert Aldridge. This is a big deal. Aldridge is a well-known composer and this is the latest entry in the great American opera sweepstakes, which seems to have heated up lately. Elmer Gantry is the story of an evangelical preacher, so Aldridge uses lots of gospel music in his work—he’s a southerner, and he and librettist went to tent meetings in western North Carolina (his father was a preacher there). They are positioning the work as a crossover possibility—“if you liked ‘O Brother Where Art Thou,’ here’s an opera you’ll like.” That pitch doesn’t really grab me, but I should probably keep an open mind about this. Aldridge sounds like he’s genuinely engaged by roots music. It’s just it almost never works out that these vernaculars profit from getting transferred into classical settings, and I just don’t think classical music needs rescuing from its own vocabulary and sounds. But leaving aside my carping, it’s a big deal for the Nashville Opera to stage this premier, of an ambitious strategy that has the Opera trying something unusual every year, like the double bill of Davies The Lighthouse and Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine a couple of years ago. The people at the Opera (Carol Penterman, John Hoomes, etc.) seem determined to make something happen here. Cool. 8:00 on the 16th in TPAC Polk Theater. The Opera is also presenting this production at 2:00 on Sunday the 18th and 7:00 on Tuesday the 20th.

Nov. 16-17

Watkins, Yart Sale Watkins students offer their work for sale every year about this time, when you’re supposed to be thinking about Christmas. Dave Hickey would be proud. And no one gets hurt by paying very little for a photo by a Watkins student.

Nov. 17

Cumberland Gallery, Packages Large and Small Cumberland’s annual holiday show, formerly the Small Packages show—pieces by many of Cumberland’s gallery artists, a few others, represented by previously limited to 15 inches, now expanded to up to 40 inches in size.

Plowhaus, Festivus Holiday Show. Same idea as above from artists less likely to have a faculty appointment.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Notes on the Ruby Green Ceramics Show

Ruby Green’s current exhibit is a group show of ceramic sculpture selected by Rob McClurg and Dona Berotti. They did a similar show there a couple of years ago with artists working in glass, and there were several things where that stuck with me, especially Becky Wehmer’s application of baking soda to the hot surface of the glass which after it has cooled eats away at the glass, causing it to decay over time. It gives the glass surface a much more organic texture, and the decay process is interesting to contemplate because glass is fundamentally a very stable material. I’m familiar with some researchers at Catholic University in DC who have developed methods to encase nasty chemical waste products in glass because it is so stable and impermeable. Based on stuff like that last time, I was looking forward to what they would come up with in clay, which is Rob McClurg’s primary medium anyway. (BTW, this show closes on Nov. 24.)

First off, all of the piece here were sculptural, none were based on vessels, and that’s disappointing to me. I’m really attracted to ceramics that work with the traditional forms as well as traditional materials and play through and with those forms somehow. Nothing wrong with using the medium for sculpture, I’m just into different bits of business with vessels.

That being said, there were, not surprisingly, several things of interest in this show. Let me start with one of Delia Seigenthaler’s pieces, called “Fuhn.” It is an exploded human body, a Buddha head capping it, dismembered arms and legs placed in position like it was being reconstructed from fragments, and in place of the torso, the forms of organs—lungs, liver, intestine, and kidneys I think, in artificial colors. I liked this as a take on eastern medicine, which dwells on spiritual dimensions of body systems at the same time being very concrete about components of the body. There is something earthy about these particular organs—kidneys and liver which process and clean up digestion of what a creature ingest, and the lungs with its mass of bronchia and alveoli to process air. The organs in the sculpture are bright and colorful, an oblique reference to chakra systems or some other method of classifying and characterizing parts of the body. While the colors were cheerful, there is something startling about being confronted by these specific organs that conveys the sense of a human being endowed with beauty but not detached from the practical realities of organic functions. It is a being that is spiritual and extremely physical, but not without a conflict between these two. They are mutual characteristics in this image.

The show includes two of Seigenthaler’s doll-sculptures, and I’m not crazy about those. The subtly (or maybe it’s not subtle) sexualized features give the pieces their problem statement, but I’m not that engaged by them as images/objects. “Fuhn” registered more for me, maybe because it connected with some ideas that already hold interest for me. The more overt spiritual dimensions of it may give me a better entry for the other pieces.

One thread in the show was gross stuff depicted in clay. This thread jumped out in part because of placement of objects. Right inside the entrance were two but pieces by Roxanne Jackson, “Hyena,” which was a threatening, evil-looking canine crouching close to the ground, and a piece called “Self-Sabotage” which has a mashed up figure that was an image of mutilation of vivisection. Somehow this connected with a piece by Ken Rowe called “Bunny Talewhich shows a kid poking at the decaying corpse of a rabbit. There was also some cartoonish violence in John Donovan’s work, as well as bunnies. One shows this cartoon bunny with a hot pink hole going through its belly, a splat of hot pink on the wall behind; the bunny is awkwardly holding a revolver. But with John’s work you’ve gotten away from gross stuff to the colorful, happy patterns of cartoons, even if it involves a rabbit with its guts blasted clean out.

Bunnies are the theme of all of John’s work, including two Bunny Warriors which are Asian-style sculptures of stocky, spear-carrying warriors wearing armor but also each have a bunny sitting on their head, where you might expect to see a helmet or at least a predator’s head.

Ken Rowe’s bunny piece was placed next to a couple of Jason Briggs’ sculptures, which are composed of forms that are abstract but still disconcertingly biomorphic. Rowe’s pieces are very realistic in the manner of a traditional illustrator, but they bring back to mind a point I’ve made about Briggs before, which is that his work is also very realistic. The surfaces look like real skin and hair, some parts of the skin rough and dry, but other parts are moist and fleshy. He convincingly creates the trompe l’oeil impression of skin and flesh within compositions that have no connection to identifiable biological objects.

To my eye, the closest thing to vessels in this show was Rob McClurg’s assemblage “Did X Know Y Too.” It’s a whole mess of similar spermatozoa-shaped forms attached to a wall and piled up at its bottom. The sperm-forms could also be sea shells, and they all seem to have different variations of glazes and surface treatment. This piece shows the inventiveness of working with a single form and finding all the variations you can within certain parameters of color and pattern. It’s a key way potters indulge their inventiveness around the generation of vases or bowls. So in addition to the humor of this depiction of the sperm’s race to fertilize the egg, with failed entrants falling by the wayside, the piece also makes use of the creative sources inherent in ceramics as a medium and a practice distinct from sculpture.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Nashville Visual Arts Events November 7-17

There’s a lot coming up the next two weeks. I suppose its venues getting up shows that will run through December. This should be my final listing for November. And I’ll probably do a quick first weekend thing in December and then another one (maybe).

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.

Nov. 8

Sarratt Gallery, Vanderbilt, Susan Maakestad and Kevin Kennedy. Susan is one of my favorite painters. She’s in Memphis, teaches at Memphis College of Art. I’ve written about her several times. Here’s an essay I did for the gallery brochure of a show she had in Memphis a while back. She showed last Spring at the Temple Art Fair, and now she’s back, this time at Sarratt. She makes glowing paintings, they make me think about Mark Rothko and Richard Diebenkorn, two other artists I never tire of looking at. Susan (I guess Kevin Kennedy also) is doing a gallery talk at 5, then there’s a reception.

Nov. 9

Tennessee State University, Mary Perrin and Karen Edmunds, Storm Stories. The two artists will appear at TSU’s downtown campus to do a lecture/performance/slide show. The two artists are from Louisiana and dealt with Katrina and Rita (Perrin in Lafayette, Edmunds in New Orleans). They both kept journals during it all, and their performance tells stories from these journals and adds reflections—it sounds like the idea is a two-person Spaulding Gray performance, or something like that. The performance starts at 6:00, in the Avon Williams building at 330 10th Avenue North. Plenty of details at Jodi Hays’ blog.

Watkins, Quinn Dukes, Senior Show. It’s surprising to realize that Quinn is just finishing at Watkins. She’s been active on the scene for several years, notable for performance pieces that build dance/theatre/motion work up with elaborate costume/sets. For her senior show, it looks like they’ve turned over the entire gallery to her—usually they show about 3 students at a time, but occasionally someone is working at a scale where they use the entire space (I’m thinking of Shaun Slifer’s show from a couple of years ago). There will be video, presumably sculpture also, maybe the artifacts from performance, and performance at the opening – that’s 6:00 on the 9th.

Centennial, KISS. Katherine Dettwiller, Irene Ritter, and Sharon Charney. Paintings by Charney, encaustic paintings by Dettwiller (probably will be the most interesting work in this show), and stone sculpture by Irene Ritter (I didn’t realize she served as Deputy Mayor in the 1980s—seems like we should start bugging Curt Garrigan about the sculptures in his attic). Opening reception runs 5-7.

Project A, Hunter Armistead photos. Armistead is the leader of Mel and the Party Hats, a Nashville institution. He name (or the gallery) checks Avedon and Marcel Duchamp in the PR. OK. Doesn’t really match the work on-line.

Lance Dupre designs: Melissa Martin, Donny Smutz, Stephen Watkins. I’m listing the opening exhibit for this store, on Rosa Parks Blvd/8th Avenue. It’s hard to say whether this will be some nasty decorator crap or art worth stopping to look at, but for now let’s assume the best.

Nov. 10

Artrageous. The 20th anniversary for this fundraiser for AIDS education and services. The participating galleries are Arts Company, Bennett, Cumberland, Dangenart, Estel, Finer Things, Local Color, Midtown, Richter, and the TN Art League. Estel is showing work by a new artist, Laura Kaufman, and light sculptures by Kelly Butler. Dangenart has pulled a neat trick in one of their rooms, which has overtly erotic work by Daniel Lai, Smaantha Callahan, and Barry Noland sharing space with the military images of Ben Vitualla and John Schramlin. This adds to their work the erotic fetishization of the soldier’s body, something that’s not obvious in Ben’s work, but on some level is unavoidable. Wolfgang Tillmans had an installation on this in his exhibit at the Hirschhorn earlier this year.

Alfred Williams & Company, Justin Nolan Key. This is a Watkins senior show, on display at this venue at 716 Division Street, near Frugal MacDougal’s and Flyte. Key is a photographer—I don’t know his work, but the description says it is digitally manipulated images printed large scale, “commenting on genetics & the manipulation of the natural world” to cut corners and quote the press release. The opening is at 6:00 on the 10th.

Nov. 11

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, November 11. It sounds like the event is growing, because they’ve added a second location—the Lipstick Lounge parking lot is at 14th and Woodland, and there will also be people at the corner of 11th and Woodland. And as I read on in their press release, I see the CRAFT people will be at the Farmer’s Market on November 24 and December 1, 8, 15, and 22—that works out to every Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Dave Hickey would be proud.

Nov. 12

MTSU, Dave Hickey lecture. It’s probably a completely spurious comparison, but I can’t shake the idea that Hickey is the Hunter Thompson of art critics. He’s in Las Vegas, so there’s that connection, and he drops frequent drug references. His scheduled topic for the talk is the current insane art market, a floating feast of excess that manifests itself in the international art fairs. The craziness doesn’t worry Hickey, who figures no one gets hurt by overpaying for art, and in the end the emphasis on the marketplace will lead to commerce taking over from institutions the role of defining value, leading to a more democratic aesthetics. The lecture is at 7:00 in State Farm Lecture Hall in the Business Aerospace Building. There’s gotta be a message in the choice of room and building.

Nov 15-16

Nashville Ballet, Emergence. This program pairs composers from the Blair School faculty with choreographers in the creation of a new work of ballet and music. They do it every two years, and the result last time around was one of the more engaging performances I’ve seen in Nashville. Among other things it’s good to hear substantial pieces by the Vandy composition faculty – their work is not played out that often in town. The composers are pretty conservative, but it’s good to hear new work, and it’s usually not rehashed Americana like a lot of what occurs in town. This year one of the composers is Stan Link, who does electro-acoustic stuff that has sounded really good from my limited exposure to it. The performances are at 8:00 in the recital hall at the Blair School, Thursday and Friday night.

Nov. 16

Frist, Katy Siegel lecture. The parade of distinguished art lectures goes on with Siegel at the Frist. Actually, this might be the last in a run of good fortune. Seigel writes for ArtForum, teaches at Hunter College, and seems to have her finger into every aspect of contemporary art. Just to pick up one thing, she curated a show on painting in New York from the period 1967-75 which I saw in DC and which has been traveling through ICI. The period is significant because this was a time when everyone was declaring the death of painting (sculpture and installation were ascendant), but plenty was still happening, and it’s up to people like Siegel to remind us about it. Hard to say much about what she’s going to talk about from the title—“Contemporary Art in the Age of Extremes.” The lecture is at 6:00.

Future/Now: Mid-State Art Majors, Frist. This is pretty cool—an exhibit of art by current students at local colleges (Fisk, APSU, MTSU, TSU, Watkins, Vandy, Lipscomb, Belmont, and the Appalachian Center for Crafts—looks like they missed Sewanee). The works were chosen by faculty at the schools, so if nothing else it will show you who has ingratiated themselves with their faculty. Seriously, I think it’s great that the Frist is opening their doors to these artists. People who make it to one-night group shows, campus exhibits, and some of the Arcade galleries will see some of these students, but there’s a lot of people who get to those places. It’s also a good counterpoint to the Société Anonyme—most of these students undoubtedly want to be the Modernists of their day.

Nashville Opera, Elmer Gantry. The Nashville Opera is doing the premier of an opera by Robert Aldridge. This is a big deal. Aldridge is a well-known composer and this is the latest entry in the great American opera sweepstakes, which seems to have heated up lately. Elmer Gantry is the story of an evangelical preacher, so Aldridge uses lots of gospel music in his work—he’s a southerner, and he and librettist went to tent meetings in western North Carolina (his father was a preacher there). They are positioning the work as a crossover possibility—“if you liked ‘O Brother Where Art Thou,’ here’s an opera you’ll like.” That pitch doesn’t really grab me, but I should probably keep an open mind about this. Aldridge sounds like he’s genuinely engaged by roots music. It’s just it almost never works out that these vernaculars profit from getting transferred into classical settings, and I just don’t think classical music needs rescuing from its own vocabulary and sounds. But leaving aside my carping, it’s a big deal for the Nashville Opera to stage this premier, of an ambitious strategy that has the Opera trying something unusual every year, like the double bill of Davies The Lighthouse and Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine a couple of years ago. The people at the Opera (Carol Penterman, John Hoomes, etc.) seem determined to make something happen here. Cool.

Nov. 16-17

Watkins, Yart Sale Watkins students offer their work for sale every year about this time, when you’re supposed to be thinking about Christmas. Dave Hickey would be proud. And no one gets hurt by paying very little for a photo by a Watkins student.