Month: December 2014

January Crawl +thank you from NYCnash

For me, 2014 was many things, not all of them good. But launching NYCnash lit the fire under me again as a writer. The blog has engaged me with the arts community in Nashville and has been responsible for me meeting so many funny, wise, talented people. I started NYCnash to help me get out and explore the city. I thought it also might get me writing again. My partner suggested the theme, a New Yorker’s Guide to Nashville, and though it resembles that less and less, it’s gone a long way in helping me feel at home. I’m really grateful that people actually read it, and I’m going to continue writing about what I discover here.

This Saturday I’ll don my long underwear for the first art crawl of the year. I plan to head downtown early to check out COOP Gallery’s exhibition of work from new members. From the press release:

McLean Fahnestock’s inkjet prints from her Rocketless Launch series evoke the shared experience of NASA mission broadcasts and question the future of space travel. Nick Hay’s ‘zine excerpts illustrate and detail an email exchange between a West African doctor and a proclaimed centaur hunter. Angela D. Lee’s photographic prints construct mysterious family histories. Robert Scobey’s plaster sculpture of a My Buddy doll allegorizes progress and tragedy through a lens of childhood imagination.

Print

COOP Gallery will show work from McLean Fahnestock, Nick Hay, Angela D. Lee, and Robert Scobey at Saturday’s art crawl.

Over at WAG, two Watkins juniors show paintings. Marlos E’van describes his show Funkhaus as having“an element of style, grace, violence, disorder and anything bordered. I intend to capture the grace of existence and present it in its elemental nature.” I’m really looking forward to seeing Aaron Harper Space Between Things, “featuring works derived from the experience of walking and driving around the city of Nashville during the night.” That will probably do it for my downtown crawling, although The Arts Company has Michael Weintrobe’s Instrumenthead, which I saw at OZ. It’s worth checking out in person because of the sheer size of the portraits.

amy pleasant

Gallery view of Amy Pleasant’s “re/form” at White Space (Atlanta). Pleasant will show at the Packing Plant January 3.

The Packing Plant has Amy Pleasant who is showing Around and Between, a new body of work that features paintings and a series of cutouts arranged as an archaeological dig. Pleasant’s work is thoughtful, often ambiguous in a way that makes us consider different possibilities. Her exhibition “re/form” at Whitespace (Atlanta) was named one of the best exhibitions in 2014 in BURNAWAY by artist Jiha Moon (see my picks, too). I can never get comfortable in the raw walls and chilly draft at the Packing Plant, which adds a fun element of precariousness to the installations, and curator Ann Catherine Carter has been bringing relevant, complex artists to this pop-up space. Around and Between will also host a closing reception January 8 from 5-8 pm, in case you miss it. Also in Wedgewood/Houston: It’s your last chance to see Greg Pond’s The Place You Will Wait for the Rest of Your Life at Seedspace, but before you go, read these two articles by Joe Nolan and Sara Estes. Louisville’s Dougas Lucas will present a sound installation at Fort Houston, Zeitgeist will have photography by Jeremiah Ariaz and paintings by Lain York, Julia Martin will present new paintings by Harry Underwood, and David Lusk will have Ted Faiers’ paintings and woodcuts. See you there!

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New Photoblog about Nashville Artists

There’s a new place to learn about artists working in Nashville (and see their shining faces). Recent transplant Tina Gionis has launched a photoblog called Nashville Visual Artists. Gionis visits artists in their studios to photograph them and chat about their work. She publishes her findings interview-style on her blog. Gionis asks them all the same questions: what’s the theme of your work, what inspires you, what are your goals for your work, and what are your thoughts on Nashville’s art scene. With these simple questions, she elicits thoughtful responses from her subjects that form a sort of dialogue with each other as you read through the posts. She shoots them in their studios doing their work, which brings out the captivating process of art-making.

Photo by Tina Gionis from her Nashville Visual Artists blog. Amanda Joy Brown works in her studio at Ground Floor Gallery.

Photo by Tina Gionis from her Nashville Visual Artists blog. Amanda Joy Brown works in her studio at Ground Floor Gallery.

Just this week, she featured Amanda Joy Brown, whose work I’ve long admired, although I never knew about her process. Gionis reports that Brown makes her crowd paintings with the tip of her brush handle, drizzling paint to form faces and never actually touching the bristles to canvas. Ariel Lavery, sculptor and Watkins professor, was featured in mid-November, and her description of how the anxiety of everyday objects drives her work left me poking around the Internet for more about her. Gionis’ blog is an invitation to discover, and I’ll be keeping my eye on it.

Call for Artists, Makers, Performers

mapsWhen Tony Youngblood and I first started dating, he told me dreamily of a idea that he’d been turning over in his mind for a while. It was called Modular Art Pods, or M.A.P.s for short. M.A.P.s would be an open-source art tunnel made by various artists, makers, and performers — anyone, in fact, who could fill up a 4×4 cube in an innovative way. Viewers would experience each pod by crawling through, like in the map to the left. It was a good idea, and even back then, I knew he’d see it through. Many moons later, we’re accepting submissions for the inaugural crawl, which will take place at abrasiveMedia on February 7, during the Arts and Music at Wedgewood Houston event. A crawl at the crawl!

The M.A.P.s website has everything you need to know, including ways to build the structure of a pod and what you can put inside. We’re looking for pods that engage the audience, including those who choose to walk around the pods in the back-lot tour and peer in. We welcome collaborations, too. The application is a cinch to fill out, so DO IT.

Deadline is December 20. Here I am in a pod with a cat!

erica podTony has done tons of cool shit I love to brag about, including founding and directing the biennial Circuit Benders Ball, organizing the Bring Your Own Beamer projector extravaganza in Nashville, and hosting a podcast and blog for experimental music called Theatre Intangible. Follow what he’s up to here.

 

“World Guy” walks from Louisville to Nashville with Giant Globe

I was driving on Wedgewood this afternoon when I spotted them: a man, a dog, and the world.

His name is Eric Bendl, and he’s walking to raise awareness about diabetes, urging others to walk to fend off the disease or manage it. He told me his mother died very young, in her 50s, due to complications with diabetes, and he launched his walk seven years ago and hasn’t slowed down much since. Eric and his lovable dog Nice have walked over 6,000 miles in 48 states. Some walks go for as long as 7 months; others might be a few weeks.

They’ve arrived in Nashville via Louisville. The world is made of canvas and a water bed mattress. They sleep in his van and rely on the kindness of strangers for everything else. Read more about their travels at Eric’s website and look for them as they explore Nashville. And better yet, bundle up and go for a walk. You might run into them. world guy

 

Impulse and the Anonymous Artist + Open Studios

I am not sure when or how I came to this understanding, but for a long time I have considered artists to populate the upper echelon of society, to be its most influential members, and to leave behind a testament of it that can inform generations to come. Much of what we know about the past and about other cultures is found through the work of artists. How much have we learned from artifacts discovered from ancient Mesopotamia? How many people know the extent of suppression of free speech in China because of Ai Wei Wei? What would the Great Depression look like without The Grapes of Wrath? You get the point.

We are fascinated by artists, and we delight in discovering their kinks and eccentricities. To learn about the life and habits of an artist I admire is to gain a bit more understanding of her greatness; my own is both dwarfed and magnetized by the knowledge. Marina Abramović will fast for days, weeks, or months as part of a performance. Hemingway stood up at a podium and wrote in pencil on yellow legal pads, every day at 6:00 am. Nabokov planned his novels out on index cards before writing a word of manuscript.

"Impulse: Playing House as a Blank Artist" will be performed at Ground Floor Gallery and Studios Saturday, Dec. 6.

“Impulse: Playing House as a Blank Artist” will be performed at Ground Floor Gallery and Studios Saturday, Dec. 6.

And this is why I’ve been thinking all month about Impulse: Playing House as a Blank Artist, showing at Ground Floor Gallery. Created by Austin Hoke, Ziona Riley and Evelyn Walker, the installation opened in November and gallery owner Janet Decker Yanez has kept it up for another run this Saturday from 3 to 6. The piece decontextualizes the objects of the artist, blasting them apart so they can be re-examined. I read it as a study of the artist that mocks my own inclinations to put him or her on a pedestal above the rest of humanity. The objects could not be more mundane, the life that emerges more ordinary. The only thing that threw me was an overly vague installation statement, which seemed to obscure for the sake of obscuring. Where it should reveal more about the piece, it pulls it into art-speak pretense, which seems to be exactly the thing that installation is attempting to trump. Impulse collage

This one criticism aside, Impulse is innovative and provocative. The trio has set up six stations in the space to mark the anonymous artist’s belongings, or more accurately, the physical pieces that make up the artist, with an audio tour that sounds like 70s-style documentary footage. (“When you hear these tones…prepare to transition to the next station.”) Each station takes the viewer to a set of objects owned by “the artist”, things like thrown-away trash, objects that are precious only to their owner, photos of “strangers found amongst the artist’s family.” Playful but instructive, I felt a sort of tug of war with the audio recording; when I thought I was headed toward a meaty conclusion about the work, it pulled me in another direction charged with the possibility to make meaning. In station one, I found dozens of framed family photos, yet I was told they are not the photos of the artist’s family, and the narrator comments wryly, “If you have ever wound up with someone’s stray sock amongst your clean laundry, you will know what it is like to end up in someone else’s shoebox.” Section six is wall of trash items mounted on rectangles of carpet. “The objects were used up, diminished, and cast away, mingled with dirt, orphaned, run over by indifference and better places to be. Have they really outlived their usefulness?”  Both clean and soiled clothes form a pile in the corner; the garments “filabuster our shifting skins, sediments posing as sentiment.” Spend some time with these elements, and you begin to imagine their owner, the Blank Artist. impulse collage 2

The work is enjoyable for these moments of poetry and for the overall harmony of its elements. The many items to examine, the cello performed by Austin Hoke, it’s an experience that gave me a deep feeling of contentment and pleasure. There are also, of course, any number of meta-analyses about the work (artists using their own objects to perform an artwork about the artist’s objects.) It’s a fresh exhibition by some cool, young artists in Nashville that we’d all do well to keep on the radar.

On Saturday, Ground Floor will also have open studios, so you can check out the work of Yanez, Heidi Martin Kuster, Mandy Brown, Desire Hough, and Shana Kohnstamm. It’s a big day with Porter Flea and the two art crawls, but GFG is smart to host the reception early in the day. The gallery is located at 924 4th Ave. South.