Perambulating the Bounds

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Waltz with Bashir

Maria and I saw Waltz with Bashir tonight at the Belcourt. This is the Israeli animated documentary (written and directed by Ari Folman) about the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, perpetrated by Lebanese Christian Phalangist militiamen with Israeli assistance. Everyone should go see this movie. Not only is it a devastating picture of this terrible war, absolutely heart-wrenching, even more compelling coming from an Israeli perspective, but it's also a thoughtful exploration of how memory works. Imagined memories, waking dreams, and hallucinations have as much status as more accurate recollections of events because these "false" memories serve different purposes. The animation results in beautiful images, and also allows the director to create an environment where past and present stand on a visually equivalent stage.

But the main thing this movie does is take an unflinching view of this war, and war in general, in its devastation and absurdity. And the timing of the film's release is spooky, coming upon the heels of the attack on Gaza.

One of the things that made this film compelling for me is seeing men about my age putting together and dealing with their memories of the war and the massacre. If I were Israeli, this might have been "my war," although I guess I would have already done my conscript service--my brother would have been more like the right age.

Put all this together, the terrible events of '82 and middle-aged ruefulness, and you get about the saddest movie I've seen in a long time.

Here's A.O. Scott's review of the film in the Times.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Review in the Scene of show at Rymer

Here's my review in this week's Scene of the current show at Rymer. Bunch of interesting stuff there recently, and I didn't even get a chance to write about Casey Pierce's paintings. Also, Rymer gallery director Herb Williams is in DC, having gotten a piece featuring Obama into the Manifest Hope show in DC, organized by SEIU, and Obey Giant (that's the organization around Shepard Fairey, the guy who designed the Obama Hope poster). It's at 3333 M Street if you're going to be in town--not sure what that is, other than its in Georgetown.

Cruising around looking into the show, I ran across a notice that the Hope painting of Obama has been acquired by the National Portrait Gallery. That's good. It belongs there.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Nashville Visual Arts Events early January 2008

OK everyone, wake up from your New Year’s naps. Art continues its irresistible advance and Gallery Crawl will occur this Saturday, bigger than ever. At least Twist will be bigger than ever.

I’ve only got information on a few things happening later in the month. With the holidays over I’m sure announcements will start will start rolling in, so there will for sure be a mid-month update.

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, send me an email at To get taken off the list, email to that effect at the same address.

January 3

Twist, Rocky and Mandy Horton, Brooke Grace, the Doling brothers, and Todd Greene’s Butcher Paper Collective Project Twist has taken on additional space in the Arcade which they’re using for a few purposes, including space for an office and a second exhibition space. In the main (Original? Room 78? We’ll see) gallery they are continuing with Rocky and Mandy Horton, but they’re bringing in new pieces. New and bigger pieces. The back room will feature photography by Brooke Grace and Shane and Tony Doling. Then down the hall at space 58, Todd Greene is going to show the results of a project he has done with students at Ravenswood High School, where he’s teaching. Todd would start a painting or drawing on a piece of butcher paper and then have students add to it, with Todd making more contributions to it as it progressed. This of course is a variant of the surrealist Exquisite Corpse practice. The show will include some pieces from this project plus something he and a few of the students will do on-site in 3 days (like starting today). Todd always seemed to have a great interest in incorporating structures for tapping intuition into his teaching. This should be more than a little interesting.

Rymer, Jordan Eagles and Amy Hamblin. Eagles has an attention-grabbing m.o. in the work he’s bringing into Twist—samples of blood (his own I think) sandwiched in resin and plexiglass. It takes the form of abstract splashes of red ink. This is something that may be a one-liner—“wow, it’s blood. Cool.” Hamblin is a sculptor, from Portland, Oregon. Rymer’s press material describes her work as mesh and wire exoskeletons and organs. In addition to these, the installation by Catherine Foster will remain up, the natural world transmuted through a sequence of photographic and fabrication steps, as will some of the wide-ranging paintings by Casey Pierce.

The Arts Company, Annual Artists Preview. The Arts Company uses its January show to give everyone a taste of what’s coming up for the year. They’ll also be inaugurating use of some of their second floor space as a gallery for photography

Tinney Contemporary, Winter Wall. Tinney’s doing a selection from their gallery artists, about 15 people.

Sera Davis, In a Nut$hell: Under a Grand. Sera Davis is continuing her December show..

Mir Gallery, Steven Knudson. Going just on the image on the gallery’s MySpace page, Knudson looks like he does semi-gothic cartoon-like drawings and paintings, in the post-Gorey/Tim Burton mode.

January 8

Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery, Photography by Harmony Korine. Korine, a Nashville native, is of course best known for work in film--writer for Larry Clark's Kids and director of several films (most recently Mr. Lonely) . Joseph Whitt organized this show that draws on Korine's photographs. The results look continuous with his work in film, cinematic, distinctly narrative (albeit it looks to be of an amorphous sort), edging into transgressive domains.

Vanderbilt Space 204 Gallery (Art Department), Gary Chapman and Watkins students. Two shows opening, one featuring Gary Chapman and another a bunch of current Watkins students (Kelly Bonadies, Adolfo Davila, Lisa Deal, Cayless Griffis, Erin Plew, Nick Stolle, Mandy Stoller and Stephanie West). I think it’s great that they are using the space to get some cross-communication going between the Watkins and Vandy students, although you can’t help thinking Vandy’s bringing in work from Watkins to give their students an idea of what is possible. But I haven’t talked to anyone at Vandy about this show, so I’m talking completely out of school as it were. One thing will be to see if Watkins does a show of work by Vandy students, making it a cultural exchange program. The reception is from 4-6.

January 23

Frist Center, Paint Made Flesh. A big show of contemporary painting organized by the Frist and curator Mark Scala. It promises to have a lot of very good paintings by the kinds of artists one wishes were in the holdings of local museums, like deKooning, Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud, George Baselitz, John Currin, Wangechi Mutu. This looks like it picks up where Mark left off with the Fragile Species show of local artists, which also was organized around painters’ treatment of the body and human frailty and mortality. Like Vanderbilt’s Guayasamin show, this one is going to travel to other institutions, which is a big deal, and this one is going to the Phillips Collection in DC, which is a particularly prestigious place—usually the Frist is receiving stuff from the Phillips.There will be a symposium on Friday and Saturday featuring John Edlerfield, Emily Braun, Richard Shiff, and Eric Fischl as well as local luminaries.