Month: September 2014

Weird and Wonderful at The Arts Company

Aggie Zed, puppetman-rabbits; ceramic.

Aggie Zed, “puppetman-rabbits”; ceramic.

Fictions: that’s one word Aggie Zed uses to describe her artworks, many of which will show at The Arts Company in “Rollick and Roll,” which opens Saturday. Her materials are varied: pastels, copper wires, soldered metal scraps, clay, gears, and wheels. Her paintings often have a mis-en-scene quality about them; with titles like “they are not using my boat” and “we are advancing you as our candidate,” they indeed tell a story, a fiction that is both humorous and charged with truth. Her scrap float sculptures are stunning and intricate with a steam punk flair, but retain that same quality of an age-old story that has yet to fully unfold.

Aggie Zed, walk to water,

Aggie Zed, “walk to water”; ceramic, mixed metals. 

we are advancing you

Aggie Zed, “we are advancing you as our candidate“; pastel, ink, acrylic on paper.

Manifested in these sometimes crude, other times intricate figures is a desire to be something more, to achieve something fantastic. The characters in her world commit blunders, she says, much like we do. Zed treats these with a tenderness that borders on the sacral. She’s also a true hippie, noting emotionally that her work is also about the misuse of technology, the planet, and natural resources and our history of using these things to destroy, rather than to create.

Aggie Zed’s exhibition will be up for Saturday’s art crawl and through October 24. The Arts Company is located at 215 5th Ave. N. in downtown Nashville. Check out the video below to meet the artist. 

SONA Fest this Saturday

Logo by John Munn.

Logo by John Perry.

This Saturday, NYCnash will be at Atlanta Maker Faire in the Make Nashville booth while a party happens in its own back yard! Neighboring hoods Chestnut Hill and Wedgewood-Houston unite to put on a festival that highlights community and sustainability. It kicks off at 2:30 and runs through Arts and Music at Wedgewood-Houston, so crawl your way over Dudley Park, located on Chestnut and 3rd, right by Track One. I talked to Adrianna Silver, the executive director of WeHo’s community board SNAP.  There will be live music, local art vendors, a petting zoo for the kiddies (NYnash is terrified of llamas), food trucks, a beer garden, and more! What makes this fest different from the rest is its focus on gardens and sustainability. Chestnut Hill is dotted with urban gardens, which you can tour. Riding your bike to the fest? They’ll have valet bike parking, too!

Art Review: Melissa Wilkinson at Threesquared

Check out a review I wrote about Melissa Wilkinson’s La Petite Mort, which is showing at Threesquared through October 4. Then, go get dazzled by her smart, gorgeous glitch watercolors. Here’s a teaser about her process:

“Wilkinson’s process is something to geek out over. A true appropriation artist, she pulls images from search engines and builds a narrative from them. La Petite Mort used everything from St. Teresa to Michelangelo to pornography. She reverses the image and data-bends its file by altering the raw code. Combining it with the code from other files, she produces images that overlap and grow into each other. Then, she uses bright watercolors to add strokes of realism. She includes sensual, tactile objects like feathers, satin and tentacles and renders pieces of them precisely, thus combining her classical training with her predilection for new media.”Melissa Wilkinson_Saint Sebastian

Radnor Lake is a Walker’s Paradise

Radnor Lake in September.

Radnor Lake in September.

Although I seem to be catching feelings for Nashville, there are things that make me downright homesick for New York. One of these is walking. New Yorkers are a fit breed. We stroll through parks, power walk to work, and climb subway steps two at a time. Some of us even voluntarily stand on the subway.

I’ve always found that activity breeds more activity, so I would forgo the subway for a bike ride across the Brooklyn Bridge to work, run the Prospect Park loop a few times a week, and actually pay to go to the gym in the winter. This extra curricular walking is just that, extra; but nothing beats the simple necessity of getting to where you’re going as quickly as possible.

After living in Nashville for a year, I realized I had been in a fitness slump. If you’re thinking of moving here, let it be known: it’s not really a pedestrian city, or a biking one at that. Some would argue that point, and there are people who use bikes as their primary mode of transportation, but I feel like every time I turn around there’s a “Share the Road” article running about some law-abiding biker getting hit by an impatient motorist. After complaining on Facebook for a while, a friend inspired me to seek out places to walk, and what do you know. I found nature.

Radnor Lake and its 1,332 acre-park is just 15 minutes south of WeHo. It has six trails of varying difficulty and a pedestrian road that circles half the lake where you can run, bike, and walk your dog. A full loop around is about 2.5 miles. I’ve done the Lake Trail, which was good power walking because it’s mostly flat and offers a pretty view. I really liked the Ganier Ridge Trail though. It’s hilly and often narrow, which kept my heart rate up and my New York legs pumping.

This time of year, the view can’t be beat. Living in any city makes you appreciate getting out of it, and that’s just what I needed. Afterwards, my head is clearer, my anxiety level is lower, my fears are at bay (and the science agrees!). What I like the most about walking there is something very unlike New York: I appreciate the quiet interactions with other walkers, the little nods and smiles that amount to an acknowledgement, as if to say, Yes, it’s a beautiful day, and we are walking.

Trail Map from

Trail Map from

John Darnielle Reads to a Packed House at Parnassus

John Darnielle reads at Parnassus Books.

John Darnielle reads at Parnassus Books.

By my count, over 150 people packed into Parnassus books Thursday evening for a reading of Wolf in White Van, a new novel by Mountain Goats leading man John Darnielle. I’ve only read the first chapter, having just bought it, but I’m already hooked on the narrative voice that is both inviting and lonesome–a characterization that I suspect will apply to the protagonist, Sean Phillips, as well.

Here’s what I gather from the reading: the narrator, Sean, who was disfigured in his youth, creates a correspondence role playing game that blurs the edges of fiction into the landscape of his isolated reality. The game is successful on different levels–in popularity and in the solace it provides Sean. But the confluence of fantasy and reality doesn’t stop in the imagination of its creator. It becomes real to two of its players, with dire consequences.

I’ll issue a brief disclaimer: I’m not familiar with Darnielle as a musician. Perhaps because of it, I didn’t have high expectations. I find a lot of contemporary prose to be self-congratulatory, repeating its best phrases and metaphors until they lose their significance and sacrificing complexity for style. Darnielle read from two sections of the book. While it’s usually quite difficult to follow a reading that begins in the middle of a novel and is not preceded by an introduction, I found myself quite drawn into the prose. Sometimes tangential, it occupies the whole of Sean Phillips’ mind, but not at the expense of the plot. Darnielle knows how to withhold information and how to dole out the lines that make you pause.

In the Q&A that followed his reading, he showed an ease interacting with the audience that reminded me that he’s used to being in front of a crowd. Admitting that “being a writer was my first real dream,” Darneille shared that he was “freaked out” when he received the news that Wolf in White Van is on the long list for the National Book Award. Based on the questions asked, fans seemed to want to draw a connection between Darnielle the songwriter and Darnielle the novel writer, but the artist said that he puts up walls between the two: “I want the two things to be discreet,” he said. It’s interesting that he wrote the last chapter first and then worked backwards to figure out how it got to that place. “The book is a tracing back to a moment,” he said, “which is something I do a lot.” When writing songs, the artist said he always works from beginning to end. Where a finishing a song packs an “immediate punch,” writing a novel is more like sculpting, he said.

Wolf in White Van is already receiving rave reviews. All 17 copies have been checked out at the Nashville Public Library, and 16 more have been ordered. Read an excerpt published in Vice. Listen to his intense interview with Mark Maron on WTF.

Artist Reconstructs Art History at Threesquared: Melissa Wilkinson

Threesquared hosts an opening reception for “Le Petite Mort,” a show that the artist Melissa Wilkinson promises will “irritate and seduce.” The Arkansas-based artist says in her statement, “I choose to dismantle epic narratives from the past to create a schizophrenic perspective.” Painting in watercolor, she deconstructs traditional subjects to “dismantle the elitism with which they are often associated,” and produces a meditation on gender, the body, and the male gaze.

Liquid Venus by

Liquid Venus by Melissa Wilkinson

From the gallery:

Threesquared is excited to present recent works from Melissa Wilkinson, Assistant Professor of Art at Arkansas State University. In this new series of watercolor paintings, Wilkinson confronts the image of the body, and exposes its inherent contradiction as a passive object of desire in both traditional representation and contemporary painting. These works incorporate appropriated imagery from art history, subjects suggestive of consumption and wealth, and are deconstructed to recontextualize and agitate. Here, Wilkinson seeks to create a new narrative using an old.


Coiffure by Melissa Wilkinson

Threesquared is located in the Chestnut Square building at 427 Chestnut Street. Opening reception Thursday, September 25, 6-9 p.m. The show will stay up for Arts and Music at Wedgewood-Houston on October 4.

From the Modern Quilt Show, Nashville

On Saturday, September 5, Wedgewood/Houston was bustling with the first Saturday art crawl, and Nancy Conger of the Fabric Studio had something new to add to the mix. Conger solicited modern quilts on her blog and at her awesome fabric store and strung them up on impromptu clotheslines. She received some truly gorgeous quilts and included some of her own beauties. Take a look!

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So I was a bad reporter and didn’t get the names of all of the artists, but you can find some of them here! Devin Lott, Nancy Conger, Lindsay Connor, and Jennifer Haston. If you were featured in the quilt show and have a website I can check out, please leave it in the comments below! (P.S. I made the fox quilt!)

And Something Else on 4th Ave Tonight!

The Seed Space Catalogue is one sale tonight!

The Seed Space Catalogue is one sale tonight!

I didn’t realize just how busy I’d be when I posted about 4th Ave events yesterday! In addition to Ground Floor’s “ReFreshed” and Platetone’s Open Studio and indigo workshop. Seed Space hosts a panel discussion and catalog release party at 6 p.m. in its Track One location at 1209 Fourth Ave.

The catalog chronicles everything that’s happened at and through Seed Space since 2010 in critical essays. Knowing director Adrienne Outlaw, I’d bet it will be smart, relevant, and beautiful. The panel discussion, called “The Role of Arts Organizations in Nashville,” features Scene editor Laura Hutson, Arts Commission’s Community Arts Manager, Leigh Patton, the Frist’s Chief Curator Mark Scala, and Vanderbilt American Studies lecturer Samuel Shaw. Here’s why I’m interested in this event, and may even forego indigo dying for it. (I’m determined to do it all though!)

In short, Seed Space gets me thinking about art and city and community. It causes me to make connections that I can’t get to on my own. During Andy Sturdevant’s “U.S. Cities Contemporary Art Rankings,” I poked fun at art critics and list makers with everyone else and ranked all major U.S. cities based on their contemporary art scenes, raising some pretty neat questions about accessibility, commodification, and mythology. The photo essay “By the Steeple Bell Rope” by Mike Womack and Scott Zieher, which may still be up now, actually had me kind of mad, which has led to all kinds of late night brainstorms about the role of art in gentrifying a city.

I need Seed Space because the folks there are willing to take risks that contribute to me being a stronger thinker, writer, and community member. It’s a vital organization in the Nashville art scene, which let’s face it, can use some stirring up from time to time.

So the timeline for tonight is Ground Floor Gallery’s A.I.R. exhibit “ReFreshed” features 33 women artists from New York and around the U.S.; then head to Seed Space for the panel discussion; then high tail it over to Platetone to dye indigo and absorb the groovy vibes.

4th Avenue Thursday!

Two top tier events are happening Thursday on 4th Ave! First, Ground Floor Gallery and Studios hosts an opening for “ReFreshed,” an exhibition of A.I.R. artists from New York City and beyond. A.I.R. Gallery (standing for Artists in Residence) was the first nonprofit, artist-directed and maintained, all women art gallery in the U.S. It opened in 1972, when New York City’s art scene was becoming more market driven, and galleries were still predominantly showing male artists. Women artists required a space and voice, and A.I.R. was born. Today, its membership includes artists around the country, and 33 of them will be showing work at 942 Fourth Ave. Ground Floor always makes for a fun visit because its six artists keep open studios. They consistently have the best snacks, and Thursday will be no different: beer and grub from Czanne’s. 5 – 8 p.m.

"Jewel Cave from Another Planet." Sally Resnik Rockriver. The artist will be showing work at "ReFreshed."

“Jewel Cave from Another Planet” by Sally Resnik Rockriver. The artist will be showing work at “ReFreshed.”

"DIY Juche: Abacus for Political Prison Camp (200,000 Prisoners)" by Julia Kim Smith. The artist will be showing at "ReFreshed."

“DIY Juche: Abacus for Political Prison Camp (200,000 Prisoners)” by Julia Kim Smith. The artist will be showing at “ReFreshed.”

"The Book of Neglects" by Patty Smith. The artist will be showing in "ReFreshed."

“The Book of Neglects” by Patty Smith. The artist will be showing in “ReFreshed.”

Then, head over to Platetone Printmaking, Paper and Book Arts. Founded by Lesley Patterson-Marx and her students in 2004, Platetone is a community art space in — you guessed it! — printmaking, paper, and book arts. On the first Thursday of each month, they host an open studio with hands-on creativity. Thursday, Platetone members Loreal Barker-Brown and Carrie Cox will be teaching visitors about indigo and dying paper and fabric. If you choose to join them, you’ll take home a tiny booklet and a pouch to put it in that you dye yourself.

Platetone hosts an indigo dying workshop Thursday at 6 p.m.

Platetone hosts an indigo dying workshop Thursday at 6 p.m. Photo from Platetone.

Nashville is enjoying the high tide of a legit printmaking movement, and Platetone is part of the reason why. I always try to attend their first Thursdays and, although first a bit shyly, take part in their free workshops. What I like most about Platetone is that the members are welcoming and make their creative work so accessible. They have a spirit of community and curiosity that makes the center buzz. And as a studio, it’s pretty cool. They’ve got etching presses, large workspaces, printing presses old and new, and even some wood shop tools. They’re always open to new members, so if you’re in need to studio space, equipment, and a really swell artistic community, remember to thank me later.

Platetone is located at 535 4th Ave. There is parking in back. Event is 6-9 p.m.

Did I mention there’s snacks?