Perambulating the Bounds

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mobile Museum

Here's something cool I ran across--it's a project by Ally Reeves, formerly of Nashville, Austin Peay, and Rule of Thirds, now in Pittsburgh and grad school at Carnegie Mellon. She's rigged up a bike to be a movable gallery that carries a compact body of art around to different places. It's the kind of thing that could and seems like it should be replicated everywhere. And I just realized the current project in the Mobile Museum was covered on NPR this week, it's an artist who collects lost gloves and posts them in hopes of reuniting them with their mates, which ends up being as much about ways of marking space.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

David Lefkowitz show at Cheekwood

It took me a while to get over to see this show in Temporary Contemporary at Cheekwood—it’s only up until Sunday. Worth a stop if you are around town this week. What else you got to do?

David Lefkowitz does paintings of the built landscape, particularly what you associate with cars—highways, tourism—and modern architecture in its various guises. One painting, “Outlying Area,” was particularly perceptive. It’s an aerial view of an indistinct exurban landscape dominated by a complex set of highway interchanges. Some of the islands between the roadways are occupied by isolated structures of uncertain purpose. The ground is painted in vaguely winter tones of greens, grays, and browns, but no vegetation or topography is distinguishable. The key detail is that the bits of roadway are labeled with the names of fabled roads of all sorts—Champs-Elysees, Broadway, Division Street, Route 66, the Natchez Trace, the Oregon Trail, the Spice Road, the Nile, Elm Street. Whether it’s the almost mythic qualities of the Spice Road, the frontier history of the Trace, an archetypal small town “tree” street, or the multi-ethnic working class urban life of Terkel and Algren’s Division Street, each of these roads had life-giving character, qualities that differentiated and distinguished it, that added to store of human experience. The brutally efficient bands of concrete of the Eisenhower interstate system offer nothing like that. They are just empty space that get you from here to there. The time spent on them is lost. You learn nothing from these roads. No books or songs will be written about them. In this painting Lefkowitz succinctly puts his finger on what is lost in these contemporary landscapes and in our way of life.

The rest of the show has different bits and pieces—he packs a lot into the one room gallery. There are pennants of non-existent, ridiculous tourist destinations, maybe a little broad by themselves, but effective in context. Various depictions of unknown modern buildings made out of cardboard boxes (and in one case painted on cardboard). Blurry diptychs of sections of highway at different times of day. And several paintings of imaginary cities floating over aerial views of landscape, projections of future developments on the green fields if Italo Calvino was the developer. In one of those paintings, several clusters of buildings with red-tile roofs are bunched on the pods of a suburban cul-de-sac street system. Each cluster has an exotic name, like Zorgi or Brusto. The appearance of these exotic, evocative little settlements on the cul-de-sacs points out something similar to the famous labels on the highways, the profoundly uninteresting quality of structures we build today. These structures consume a lot of resources, but somehow they contain nothing of us, no trace of humanity.

So you’ve got this imagination of landscapes in the Temporary Contemporary gallery, and the main show at Cheekwood offers photos of notable American house gardens from the early 1900s, places like Cheekwood, Winterthur in Delaware, or Dumbarton Oaks in DC. These are artificial landscapes, spectacular yes, but definitely the realization of imagination. With enough money, one could commission this sort of transformation of the natural world into perfectly lovely sequences and vistas. Dumbarton Oaks is one of my favorite places on earth. For me, it is what heaven should be like. It was nice to see some photos of it. Beyond feeding my nostalgia, the show didn’t seem to have much to offer.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Me and Brady at Buzz and Click

Brady and I played our annual or so duo set at Buzz and Click earlier this month. Here's video of it on the Google site. I was pleased with it. I also played a set with Ben and Amy Marcantel and a big group at the end with Brian Siskind/Fognode. The last set has some nice heckling at the beginning. These files I guess are too big to embed, but click over and I think everything comes right up.

Merry Christmas?



Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Nashville Visual Arts Events Dec 14 plus

We’re finally winding down for the year. Just one event/opening to report, making this email more or less a dedicated advertisement for Untitled. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable New Year’s, Christmas, Feast of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, whatever.

For 2008, among the things coming up:
  • SQFT Gallery’s last show in January. They’ve done a nice job, I’ll be sad to see them go. One thing about this gallery is that right out of the gate they had a distinct tone in their shows. A mix of technique, whimsy, stylishness, archness. You expect a new gallery to wobble about trying to find a voice. Not so here.
  • Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery, Oswaldo Guayasamin. Guayasamin was an Ecuadoran painter who died in 1999, and Vandy is putting together a major retrospective of his work. There’s a back story to how this show came about, I’ll get into that another time. Hearing about this put me in mind of the Inverted Utopias show of Latin American art I saw in Houston a few years ago—it made you realize there’s this alternative history of modern art that was playing out in Latin America, in parallel to Europe and the U.S., similar in some regards, but significantly on its own terms. Guatasamin wasn’t in the show—he’s more of what you think of with Latin American art, figurative work with social bite, where a lot of the work in Inverted Utopias was more formalist. But the connection for me is this parallel/alternate art history.
  • Zeitgeist dialogue series. Starting in January and running all the way to September, Zeitgeist is running a sequence of shows that will be accompanied by panel discussions and forums. It’s an outgrowth of Lain and Janice’s interest in building and experiencing community. The shows are organized by medium—prints, then painting, photos, sculpture, works on paper.


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.

Happy New Year’s one and all.



Dec. 14

Untitled, Chill Untitled’s winter show is being held at Layl’a Rul near Vandy. No doubt this is going to feel like a big ole Christmas get-together. As always with Untitled, expect lots of artists, tons of their friends milling around, some inspired work, some not so much—or maybe it’s more accurate to say there’s something for the eye of every beholder.


Announcements

I got an email from Joseph Whitt, who is now Assistant Curator at Vandy Fine Arts, about the gallery’s receipt of a gift of photos and prints from the Andy Warhol Foundation. First of all, I hadn’t realized Joseph was working at the Fine Arts Gallery. He’s got a really lively spirit, and has an intense radar for things that are happening. I don’t know when we started at Vandy (where he graduated from college, won the Hamblet Award). Oh yeah, the Warhol gift. If I’m reading the announcement correctly, Vandy was one of 183 (!) college museums to receive a gift out of a massive cache of material. Sounds like the Foundation was cleaning its attic. Now it comes down to what the gallery do with it. But the two Josephs running the show there, Vandy will have no trouble making good use of the material. http://www.vanderbilt.edu/gallery/specialevents