Perambulating the Bounds

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Nashville Visual Arts Events January 10-26

Warning, but not an apology for the self-promotion contained in this listing. My friend Susan Alcorn is coming to town on January 19 to play a show at Twist Gallery (thank you Beth and Caroline for hosting it). Susan makes stunning music, experimental, but melodic, and comprehensive—she seamless draws in country, soul, jazz, Indian music, tango, contemporary classical music, and on and on, and synthesizes it into something that seems to breathe the essence of music. I’ve been reading Ben Ratliff’s new book about Coltrane, and one of its key ideas is that Coltrane was playing a sound, and this sound could absorb everything in music. I have the same experience with Susan’s music.

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

Jan. 10

Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery, Xiao Xin Liu, 2006 Hamblet Award Winner. Vanderbilt’s Hamblet prize is something like the richest undergraduate art prize in America, which is odd for a school which only recently elevated studio arts to a measure—it’s nice, but odd. The drill is the prize gets awarded during the student’s senior year, they take the next year to travel, and then the following January they come back and show their work back at old alma mater. Xiao Xin Lin traveled to China, which her family left when she was 7, and she did work exploring the relationship of traditional and modern in China today, and her own connection and separation from that culture.

Vanderbilt, Ingram Studio Art Center, Jon Stone and T.J. Edwards. The Department of Art didn’t send much information on this. Stone appears to be a figurative painter, but I don’t anything about him and there wasn’t much on the web. T.J. Edwards is a potter who finished an undergraduate degree at the Appalachian Center for the Crafts in Smithville. He had a piece in the Frist show of mid-State art students. His piece was a very large bowl filled with lots of small vases, called “Blessed Are The Barren.” It poked fun at the repetitiveness, or the perceived repetitiveness, of production potting, but that title wakes you up to a much different approach to the object. It quickly brings in an entire world of veneration.

Jan. 17

Frist Center, Aaron Douglas: African-American Modernist, and Fisk Art Faculty Aaron Douglas chaired the Fisk art department for 30 years from the 1930s, and before that he has one of the leading visual artists of the Harlem Renaissance. He is known in particular for the style he used in graphics and murals—figures in silhouette, the positioning of heads and hands indicating emotional or spiritual state. His use of color and organization of figures in monumental works can be seen reflected in other muralists like John Biggers, and his work is one precursor for Kara Walker’s use of silhouettes. His influence as an educator has got to be nearly as large. As is often its practice, the Frist Center has organized an add-on show to complement the main show—in the case works by some of the many important artists who have taught at Fisk at one time or the other, including Martin Puryear and David Driskell as well as current faculty like Alicia Henry and Victor Simmons.

Jan. 18

Cheekwood Temporary Contemporary, Lauren Kalman, Corpus, Figure, Skate Kalman joined the faculty at Watkins in Fall 2006 (I think that’s right), and it seems like this is her first big show in town (but I might have missed something). I have seen a piece or two in exhibits at Watkins, and what I recall are complicated, but not fussy, multi-part installations that were well-coordinated visually. And I recall not getting a chance to come back and spend time with the pieces, so here’s my chance. I didn’t realize, but the PR from Cheekwood points out, that she trained as a jeweler/goldsmith.

Jan. 19

Twist Gallery, Susan Alcorn and Misha Feigin. OK, first, this is a music event (an afternoon one at that, from 3-6). Second, I was involved in organizing it. Susan is a friend of mine from Baltimore, an amazing experimental steel guitar player. For the past few years she’s been coming through town about once a year, and last year she also came with Misha Feigin, an outstanding guitarist and poet. I have raved about Susan’s playing for years, but I found someone who does it better, Michael Anton Parker writing for the Downtown Music Gallery. “Rather than the typical avant-garde path of rejecting melody and focusing on harsh, difficult new sound vocabularies, Alcorn has dug so deep inside her melodies that she's opened up a new space of details in individual note shapes, creating decays that don't decay or suddenly become attacks instead, and patiently revealing subtle shifts in overtones. Alcorn's music is a hall of mirrors flooded with liquid gold shimmering off her horizontal fretboard.” Brady Sharp and I might play some duets also, but only if there’s time left at the end.

Project A, Sheppard Jones Sheppard Jones is designer and fabricator of metalwork. He works as a designer of ornamental metalwork at Herndon & Merry, but he also does fine art gallery work, which I gather is what will be featured here.

Jan. 26

Zeitgeist, Print Portfolio Zeitgeist has commissioned a print portfolio with contributions from 5 of its artists—Jim Ann Howard, who makes images of nature broken, rendered in pigments drawn from natural materials; Brady Haston, whose paintings show the mark of graphic representations in the landscape, Patrick DeGuira, maker of conceptually demanding sculptures that address very down to earth human experience, Hans Schmitt-Matzen, involved in clever transfers of material between media, and Will Berry, who in the past has built a kind of abstract travel account of distant places he has lived or visited. This seems like a very good idea for the gallery and the artists, giving people another way to bring this art into their lives.


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