Perambulating the Bounds

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Nashville Visual Arts Events March 2009

Cheekwood is opening several shows at once, and I’ll get to that in a minute, but I think the biggest news is that Nancy Saturn is closing American Artisan gallery on March 31. (BTW, this edition contains a lot of deep thoughts from me—I wouldn’t blame you for scrolling down to the listing of events.) The card in the mail says she’s been in business for 38 years. And I should say upfront that the American Artisan Festival in Centennial Park will continue. I don’t know the reasons for the closure—she’s been doing it for quite a while, but you’ve got to think this economy can’t be good for business. Its closure will leave a hole. The craft world and market place consists in part of a network of stores around the country like American Artisan that specialize in crafts at a high level. They vary in the degree of emphasis on wearability/usability and collectibility/investment—American Artisan was on the useable end. Other stores and galleries in town carry work by a few to a bunch of jewelers, and the Arts Company carries some fine art potters and wood turners, but a place like American Artisan brings in a wide range of artists and offers pieces that represent much more of the range of craft art, and it edges closer to fine art. As the economy change, and has been changing, the fabric through which a scene like the crafts stays alive starts to fray. Other models to connect artists and buyers emerge like the big fairs—especially the ones sponsored by the American Craft Council, but they won’t penetrate as far. There’s also a shift of energy from the traditional high crafts to the DIY and Etsy world. The idea of say jewelry as fine art may fade significantly, ornaments as art objects giving way to ornaments as fashion, which in a way is a return to origins. As (OK, if) the country gets poorer overall, art as object of collection, investment and speculation may give way to art for use, even if it for decoration or reflection. This may not be unhealthy, but it would be a shift in the nature of art as produced and experienced.

Nancy Saturn deserves thanks and respect for bringing this art to Nashville for so long. Maybe someone will step into the vacuum, but that will certainly have to wait until happy days are here again.

Cheekwood’s shows this month include one that’s important for sure, the William Christenberry exhibit in the main galleries. Christenberry is an important figure, one of the first photographers known for color work, along with William Eggleston. Like Eggleston, Christenberry’s a southerner, from Alabama, and his work dealt with the vernacular landscape of the South. Over the years he has expanded into sculpture, and has always had an interest in social critique, like pieces on the KKK. It’s important for artists and art audiences from or living in the South to know Christenberry’s work. This exhibit was one of the inaugural exhibits for the renovated galleries of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and was displayed next to the installation of that museum’s fine folk and outsider art collection—I think Christenberry chose the works for that exhibit as well. The show at Cheekwood is just Christenberry’s work, but it’s useful to keep in mind his affinity for vernacular and self-taught artists. Cheekwood’s exhibit of William Edmondson’s sculptures in the gallery next door is very appropriate.

At the same time, Cheekwood is opening a show of abstract paintings from Tennessee and Michael Baggarly’s work. Baggarly’s show will include the really fun metal sculptures he had at Zeitgeist and maybe more along the same lines.

APSU’s on-line Terminal project has launched a new piece, From Red Paint Hill by Phillip Andrew Lewis. This is the first piece they’ve commissioned you can find it here.

I should plug the Belcourt more, and am remembering to do so because of the film Silent Light coming up this weekend only. It’s by Mexican director Carlos Reygadas, about a German Mennonite community in Mexico. The descriptions remind me of another great film of spiritual stillness, Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left For The East? Another highlight for me, the dialogue is in Plattdeutsch, which was the dialect they spoke in my Grandfather’s community in Nebraska.

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

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March 6

Watkins, Jeff Daniel Silva. An exhibit of work by experimental filmmaker and video and installation artist from Boston.

Customs House Museum (Clarksville), David Farmerie. A photo series on the theme of the 7 Deadly Sins by a photographer who has worked for National Geographic among others. There will be a poetry reading by R. MonaLeeza during the opening (7:00).

March 7

Twist, Shana Kohnstamm and John Dowell. Shana will be in the main (main? original? most westward?) gallery, John Dowell in Twist 58. Shana’s got a bunch of new work, abstraction that morphs into surrealistic organisms. Dowell is a printmaker from Philly, and his exhibit here will be part of a project where he goes to cities and makes photographs and lithos of what he sees in the streetscape. If this works, the effect of someone coming into the city fresh should yield unexpected perspectives on familiar scenes.

Plowhaus at TAL, Mel Davenport, Ayjey, Dirk Mooth, Mar Augelli. Mel will be showing a pop art style painting and several sculptures.

Tennessee Art League, Brenda Stein. A new exhibit from wood-turner Brenda Stein.

The Arts Company, John Baeder. Nashvillian Baeder has created well-known photorealist paintings and watercolors of places like diners, hamburger stands, and Nashville neighborhood landmarks. Last month the Arts Company exhibited a show of the photographs he took and used as references for his paintings, and this month they have a new set of those photos, these ones focusing on street signs and Nashville in the early 80s.

Downtown Presbyterian Church, DIG Show: Embodiment. The church’s annual group show, part of our Lenten observance. Like usual it’s a mix of people, artists from around the community and people affiliated with the church (these are not mutually exclusive groups). The show went up last weekend and one of my favorite pieces so far is a drawing by David Hellams. I won’t say more and let it be a surprise. BTW, we are also starting our annual Tom Wills-curated Lenten film series at the Church this Thursday with a viewing of John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing. The series runs every Thursday into April. There’s a couple of silent films this year and some unusual older films.

Sera Davis, Group show curated by Ron Lambert. I got over at the last minute to see Ron’s February show at Sera Davis. I especially like a video piece that I hope I’ll get a chance to post about. This month Ron curated a group show of works on paper, several of the people with Watkins affiliations: Iwonka Waskowski, Brady Haston, Kristi Hargrove, John Whitten, Erin Plew, David Hellams, Terry Thacker, Jodi Hays, and Ron. One of Iwonka's pieces is the visual with this post.

Terrazzo, Zeitgeist artists. Zeitgeist is curating their second show at this new building at 12th and Division, with work by Caroline Allison, Will Berry, Alicia Henry, Farrar Hood, Buddy Jackson, James Perrin, Greg Pond, Bjorn Sterri, and Lars Strandh.

March 11

Gallery One, Chamber Music and Lori-Gene In a nice bit of cross-programming and collaboration, Gallery One will present a chamber music recital in the gallery “accompanied” by Lori-Gene making drawings during the performance. The musicians will be Sean Neukom (violin), Alicia Storin (cello) and Evan Cobb (oboe), and they perform a Ravel cello sonata, a solo sonata for violin by Ysaye, and a trio by local composer Alyssa Weinberg. So far Nashville hasn’t gotten big into classical music programming in unconventional venues (it’s happening in New York, like at Le Poisson Rouge), but it’s really worth exploring. As for making art during music performance, we in the Transcendental Crayon Ensemble had painters working away during our shows for years, and I think the practice should be encouraged. This concert marks the opening of Lori-Gene’s exhibit in the gallery.

March 12

Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery, The Printed Page. An exhibit of Old Master and modern prints from the gallery’s Anna C. Hoyt Collection. Reception from 5-7.

Vanderbilt Sarratt Gallery, Edie Maney. Maney's paintings work their way through the process of their to arrive at non-objective figuration. Things that emerge from pure shape take on enough aspects of figures to suggest the human form. A reception at Sarratt from 5-6:30.

March 13

Untitled, Barely Legal, at the Icon. The quarterly show of this group probably promises more trouble with obscenity statutes than it delivers, but really it’s all about the group’s 18th birthday. More significantly, it’s another effort to bring the visual arts world into the Gulch, and like the monthly series by Zeitgeist untitled is borrowing space in one of the new residential developments going up. There is a sense that the visual arts community belongs in the Gulch, given its status as a hot area. I think it’s great if people can find good spaces for what they are doing, but the visual arts usually lead, don’t follow, real estate development of this sort. Anyway, back to the untitled show, this time out they’re hooking up with the Nashville Film Festival, who will be showing shorts at the event.

March 14

Snow Gallery, Eggshibition. This is a group show of work by 8 women exploring, you guessed it, the symbolism of the egg. Like everything Catherine does, it promises to be a thoughtfully constructed exhibit. First of all the artists exhibiting—Lesley Patterson-Marx, Nicole Pietrantoni, Gina Binkley, Claudia Lee, Laura Chenicek, Julia Chenicek Korn (maybe Laura’s daughter?), Joan Curry, and Paula Heaphy. It looks like it will include work that Nicole has done since she headed off for her MFA program at Iowa. The piece on the gallery PR looks like a new direction, possessed of a completely different internal sense of motion. And I always fuss on Lesley’s work, so here I go, but the PR says she’ll have a new art book in this show, called the Egg Book, which sounds like one more step forward with the ideas she’s been going to deeply for several years now. And again, as is Catherine’s practice, she’s matching the contemporary work with vintage prints from her collection, in this case hand-colored 19th century prints of eggs.

Cheekwood, 4 Exhibits. First, the big Christenberry. See the intro for more on that. Then there’s Michael Baggarly’s show in Temporary Contemporary. Again, check out the intro. The Tennessee Abstract painting show was picked well—Brady Haston, Carol Mode, Terry Thacker, Dwayne Butcher, Hans Schmitt-Matzen, John Tallman, Hamlett Dobbins, Richard Feaster, Ron Buffington, Melissa Dunn, Rocky and Mandy Rogers Horton, Jered Sprecher, and Lain York. This really does capture most of the best energy in abstract painting happening in the state right now. And there’s a new installation in the video galleries, Lens with a Conscience.

March 17

Parthenon symposium, Rabun Taylor, “Reassessing the Pantheon in Rome.” A talk by a professor from the University of Texas at Austin. The talk will be at 7:00; call 862-8431 to reserve a free ticket.

March 18

Estel, Deb Garlick and Tim Yankosky. This show opens on the 18th but the reception will be on April 4 in conjunction with First Saturday. So I’ll have more on this in April missive.

March 21

Tinney Contemporary, Rachael McCampbell. Paintings of endangered species with a percentage of sales going to the Land Trust for Tennessee

Cumberland Gallery, Kit Reuther and Allison Stewart. Reuther’s painting have something of Cy Twombley’s nervous scratchiness. They are near abstractions in which parts of scenes have been broken apart and simplified, but rendered almost as if rather than painting objects, she has painted out objects.

March 26

TSU Hiram Van Gordon Gallery, Student Art Show. Art by TSU students selected by their faculty. Given the quality of recent outings by TSU students, a TSU student show deserves as much attention as Watkins student shows. Reception from 3-6


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