Month: March 2014

Arts: Cheekwood is a Wonderland

With spring arriving, I’ve been itching for the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Nashvillians are in luck with Cheekwood Art and Gardens. Part botanical garden, part art museum-mansion, Cheekwood is totally delightful. My last visit was at night to see Bruce Munro’s Light on the most romantic date ever. I’ll be going back to check out Patrick Doughtery’s “Stickwood,” which opens Sunday. Laura Hutson reviews it here for Country Life. If Hutson is to be believed (and she always is), this visit will make me feel a bit less amorous.

Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art is located at 1200 Forrest Park Drive in Nashville.

Hours: 9:30 am-4:30 pm Tues.-Sat.; 11 am-4:30 pm Sun.; closed Mon. except for federal holidays. Gate fee: $12 adults, $10 sr. citizens, $5 students with college ID and those aged 6-17, 5 and under free.


Book Hunting

Something about Nashville (namely, my boyfriend) has moved me toward the digital and audio read, so I decided to spend the afternoon exploring Nashville’s independent book stores. To me, a big bonus of living in a city is the likelihood of finding a good, independent bookstore, and Nashville is no exception.  One of my favorite places in NYC is The Strand. It claims to house 18 miles of books in narrow aisles, piled upon displays, and stacked on the floor. Inevitably, to reach the title of my desire, I had to mount one of their 20 foot ladders and make my shaky ascent.  Much like the rest of New York, in The Strand, you’re surrounded by people, yet completely alone in your world to feel the crushing weight of 18 miles of books that you simply must read before you die.

So, former New Yorkers, to find similar variety, visit McKay Used Books, CDs, Movies and More. Load up on classics for pennies. This is not hyperbole, my friends. Many titles go for 1 or 2 cents, a dime, a quarter. Really popular titles may get you up to $5.50. They have genres galore, too. And, they buy and trade, so after you move your 700 book library across the country, go ahead and sell those bad boys your first chance, like I did.  Your back (and boyfriend) will thank you when you move again.


The stacks at Rhino Books.

If St. Mark’s Books was more your thing–you’re looking for less traffic and a less daunting selection–go to Parnassus Books in Green Hills. Co-owned by Nashville author Ann Patchett, Parnassus offers new books, hosts events and readings, and runs a popular book club, switching titles each month. The management’s selection veers toward women writers and best sellers.  (Milling around, I was never more aware of how gendered book covers are.) If you’re child-ridden (really? and from New York?) kids will find the children’s section cozy and intimate.

Brooklynites who favored Tea Lounge on Union Street for their java will feel at home in Rhino Booksellers near Lipscomb University. Crammed with used books–even in the restroom!–this store carries all the charms of the past including collectibles and rare books. Although the organization is wonky (I saw The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter in three different places), the staff is friendly and knowledgable. They’ll help you find what you need. Their Southern Literature section is a must-see, and they don’t mind if you make yourself comfortable in one of the armchairs to peruse your top choices and eavesdrop on the conversations of locals who hold court as if it’s a front porch in the summer time. Sweet tea, anyone?


If you’re like me, you spent countless afternoons drifting through Unnamable Books in the Village. Check out BookmanBookwoman in HIllsboro Village. They sell used and new books, their staff picks totally rock, and their collection spans two store fronts and winding back rooms. It’s a quiet place, and no one will be in your way. It’s mercifully free of children, the staff is unobtrusive but friendly, and for cryingoutloud, you get to explore alcoves of books! The last stop on my book hunting excursion, I picked up a new copy of The Girl with Curious Hair and headed home, just as it began to rain.


Bookwoman, Hillsboro Village.


Bookman, Hillsboro Village.

Arts: Hidden Worlds

Lesley Patterson-Marx and Emily Holt’s joint exhibition Hidden Worlds may technically be in the Vanderbilt student center, but for me, it was like ascending into a dimly lit attic complete with floorboards that creaked of the past. Patterson-Marx’s mixed media pieces take on a personal quality to the viewer. Peer inside a jar at a girl and boy on bicycles, the image bent by the glass. Who are they, and why are they smiling? It could be a photo taped into your grandmother’s jewelry box.  Her paper quilts are adorned with silhouettes of family figures who might be my own.  The piece of tulle housing a dead moth could have been killed by my brother in his phase of ripping off the legs of spiders. Along with the softness of her work is an eeriness so familiar that it could only come from the shared wick of memory–the stories known only among siblings or passed down through generations.  There are missing pieces or bent facts, and every perception is skewed–but still frighteningly true.


Lesley Patterson-Marx


Piecing Together the Past (1), Lesley Patterson-Marx.

Emily Holt’s pieces brought me a complementary but different feeling. While the former evokes the delicate nature of the past, Holt’s wood cut sculptures speak to its vivid obstinacy. Free-standing or wall-mounted, these dream-like tableaus are made up of carved wood that is layered, creating structure and dimension. When I looked down into this free standing piece Belly of the Beast (below), I felt like a child peering into a box of malevolent toys.  Found objects are mounted here and there, and the carved edges have the delightful dual qualities of being jagged and smooth. I could easily imagine one of her month-themed pieces in my living room, next to my boyfriend’s print of the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I felt drawn to her work, as if I were edging back into my childhood, but a childhood that is warped and layered with yours as well.


Belly of the Beast, Emily Holt.


Submarine, Emily Holt.

Together, Patterson-Marx and Holt present a fantastic show. Think nostalgia tea with a hint of Flowers in the Attic.  It’s only up until Friday, March 28, so get on over there, new Nashvillians! Parking is a mess so grab something to eat at a nearby sandwich shop with a lot and walk over. Vanderbilt Sarratt Gallery. Sarratt Student Center. 2301 Vanderbilt Place. Open 9am-9pm weekdays and 10-10 weekends.