Month: March 2015

Jon Ronson to Read at Parnassus April 14

shamedThis is the moment I’ve been waiting for all year. Parnassus Books announced today that they will welcome author Jon Ronson for a reading on April 14 at 6:30. Ronson’s book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed will be released tomorrow, March 31, and I can’t wait.

Everyone was re-posting this NYT Magazine piece Ronson published in February that’s an excerpt from the new book. The piece is about Justine Sacco, a woman whose life was literally ruined after she posted the kind of racist tweet that a lot of white people think is too ironic to be racist. Sacco got off a plane to find her life in shambles. Ronson identifies himself as a shamer and gets inside the shame spiral that many observe from the outside. But public shaming wasn’t invented with the Internet, of course, and I’m hoping the new book will examine how it has been enacted in other times and cultures and what it does to shamers psychologically. (FYI, I just shamed a stranger on Twitter for being racist. I shamed another stranger on Facebook five hours ago for supporting the Indiana Religious Bullshit bill. I will probably shame again before bed. What is it about exercising moral superiority that is so goddamn gratifying? And how close is this to Ronson’s research for The Psychopath Test?)

Ronson has a way of diving into a subject and letting it lead him. It might take him to a Bilderberg meeting, on a road trip with a terse Northern Ireland politician, or into the open arms of many (possible) psychopaths. He follows the story and the people he meets in often riotous escapades that leave us simply enamored with the human race, even as it disappoints us. He relays these experiences through sharp journalistic prose that’s infused with his curiosity and wry wit. Ronson is a perfectly delightful writer.

If you’ve never been a fan of audio books, he will change your mind. He reads The Psychopath Test, Them: Adventures with Extremists, Lost at Sea, and Frank. (I’m hoping he does The Men Who Stare at Goats because that narrator is horrible.) Hearing Ronson read his work is such a treat. He’s a hoot to follow on Twitter and his blog sometimes follows up with people we get to know in his books. Get there early and buy his book. Hell, but ALL his books.

Here he is on the Daily Show the other day talking about So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.

Parnassus is located at 3900 Hillsboro Pike in the Hillsboro Plaza Shopping Center.

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Drink ‘n Draw Wednesdays at Channel to Channel

drink n draw

Drink ‘n Draw action last week at Channel to Channel.

Experienced and aspiring artists are invited to Channel to Channel Wednesday for uninstructed life drawing with a nude model. Dustin Hedrick, who opened up his studio space to show contemporary art last year, hosts the weekly “Drink ‘n Draw.” Artists can get their draw on, as well as their drink and munch, in the company of each other for two hours. If you’re thinking bare white walls and stodgy art-speak, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Channel to Channel is on the second floor of the old Hosiery Mill at 427 Chestnut Street, and you can expect it to be casual. It runs 6-8 pm.

cynthia 2

Cynthia Sukowatey will show “All in One” at Channel to Channel April 4-23. 

Also, you’ll be the first to peep the new show going up. Channel to Channel will present silkscreens by Cynthia Sukowatey in a solo show she’s titled “All in One.” Dig her profesh website. Sukowatey is a recent grad of APSU, so it’s a great opportunity for newbie art collectors to take home some beautiful work for less and support a young artist. “All in One” officially opens Saturday during the art crawl, but Hedrick will likely be putting it up sooner.

If you head to the Drink ‘n Draw, bring your own drawing materials; chairs and stands are first come, first served; and the cost is $10, which helps Hedrick pay the rent for this awesome gallery. Stay tuned to the Facebook page for more events. The gallery now has official Saturday hours from 11-2.

Hunting Down a Tiny Gallery

red-bricksI spent the afternoon talking to local artist Ben Griffith about a project he’s started in the Sylvan Park/Nations area of West Nashville. It’s called Nashville Tiny Gallery and includes work by eight artists. Griffith put out a call for tiny pieces of artwork that would fit in a gallery the size of a brick. It’s located near Richland Park, but I’m not going to tell you where it is. Griffith has posted clues around the area that will lead you there. Although the gallery is lit at night, you have to go during business hours to find all the clues. The first clue is posted on the Nashville Tiny Gallery website. When you find it, snap a picture and use the hashtag #NashvilleTinyGallery. Go!

The Future is Here! Watkins Senior Thesis Shows

For the past hours, I’ve been working on a review of WAG’s senior photography show “and Living” that I caught at the art crawl a few weeks back. I have a lot to say about these students’ important work, and now I’m all the more excited to check out more with senior thesis exhibitions that start Thursday!

The departments of Fine Art and Photography present a four part series of 12 graduating seniors. First up is work from Elizabeth Courtney, Cassey Honeycutt, Kayla Saito and Luke Weir, who have titled their group effort Absence. The exhibition opens tonight with a reception from 5:30 to 8:00 and will be on display at the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery through April 6. Saito created one of my favorite Modular Art Pods and I’m dying to see more of her work. As our art scene gains momentum, I recognize more and more how important it is to pay attention to the work of student artists and to support them in their practice.

I’ve found Watkins students to be extremely professional and able to write and talk about their work with clarity. Props to Watkins faculty for making this a priority. I look forward to hearing from these artists and taking in their work.

Elizabeth Courtney will show photography at

Photo by Elizabeth Courtney. “Cannon Fire Runs In Our Veins.” l

Side note: Elizabeth Courtney is showing a full exhibition of photography concurrent with her thesis show. Families Keeping the Past Alive opens Friday at the Masonic Lodge (corner of 7th and Broadway) at 6:00 pm. Here, Courtney presents her life and times as a Civil War Reenactor. If you’ve ever been curious about this fascinating hobby, here is your chance to investigate without getting your musket dirty.

A Few Superlatives on Laurie Anderson at OZ Nashville

LaurieAnderson2Last night, I was fortunate to see Laurie Anderson perform for the first time at Oz in one of the most meaningful, wondrous performances of my lifetime. “The Language of the Future” is a continuous joy, beginning and ending with Anderson and her trademark electric violin, the sound of which tears though the air with surprising melodies and deep, earth rocking tones. Her voice is like that of a sorceress and a horror tale and a mother reading a storybook to her children, at once haunting and reassuring. What I didn’t know going in was that Anderson is hilarious and a dynamite storyteller. She told tale after tale from her life: breaking her back as a child, going on a silent canoeing retreat only to be stuck with a group of nature-loving incest survivors, taking a job at MacDonald’s in Chinatown, hitchhiking to the North Pole, hiking with her dog Lolabelle. One after another the stories come, laced with satire and uncanny observations. But these aren’t the stories typically heard today on The Moth or This American Life; you know the ones, with the big lesson learned tied up in a bow at the end. Anderson’s stories are quick and dark and funny, and the meaning is there, but it comes out in the performance, the voice, the reverberations of her synth, her piercing blue eyes. Alone on a dark stage surrounded by dozens of tea lights, Anderson is like a messenger from the future, here to tell us about our time. She reveals much of herself in the performance but more about America, ourselves, and the stories we all tell.

Anderson is performing a second show tonight at Oz Arts Nashville. Tickets are $57.50, a bargain for the quality of the show and the experience of witnessing this legendary artist. If you’re unfamiliar with Anderson, read about her in this week’s Scene.

LOCATE Arts Raises the Bar in Tennessee

images (1)Last night at Zeitgeist, two Tennessee natives introduced an arts organization that could have great value to the state of Tennessee. Carri and Brian Jobe are launching LOCATE Arts, a state-wide initiative that will connect the arts communities in Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Memphis. It will be headed by a board of arts administrators from around the state, including our own indomitable Lain York.

LOCATE Arts will take two main actions:

First, it will launch an exhibition listing site that will centralize a selection of arts events in the four cities. The website will provide a unified face of Tennessee that will integrate artists, galleries, and museums state-wide. The website will be curated: art must be contemporary and high caliber, but this doesn’t rule out experimental arts events and exhibitions. It does probably rule out portraits of Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash (one would hope.) The site is modeled after Glass Tire, a website that does this in Texas. While Glass Tire also publishes art reviews, LOCATE Arts probably will not, but for good reason: Jobe and Jobe want to keep the site neutral and be primarily informative. If it’s done well, it will probably have a ripple effect, resulting in a robust arts dialogue that is heard in every corner of Tennessee! But seriously, in the longterm, this may encourage the foundation of new arts venues, attract artists and art students, and help art commerce to thrive. Jobe and Jobe hope to roll this out this summer.

Second, LOCATE Arts will put on a Tennessee Biennial that will work toward strengthening the state’s arts identity. This exhibition will feature Tennessee and national artists and work will be selected by an outside curator. Brian Jobe says it will spotlight positive, strong efforts across the state, providing a foundation for artists and the public to mutually support one another. The Biennial will happen in Nashville and travel to the other three cities; it is tentatively planned for Fall 2016.

Someone might have dubbed Nashville the second most vibrant arts city (still cloudy on who did and why), but these opportunities will show this vibrancy. I feel like people often conflate The Arts to include all types of art. So, when Nashville boasts of its “arts vibrancy,” it’s really saying, “We have a lot of music so you should come here.” I think it’s important to maintain that visual art is a separate category that has very different needs in order for it to be sustainable. Meanwhile, there’s also a lot of mediocre visual art in Nashville, and I think this could really raise the bar and challenge artists, curators, and writers to grow.

We’re always talking about “supporting the arts,” but sometimes that just means liking a photo on Facebook. I know that there’s a big push back about people moving to Nashville right now, but our artists cannot work if they cannot make a living, and incorporating the rest of the world into our space could go a long way in helping them do that. Also, I love the idea of being aware of what’s happening in the rest of the state. I hear murmurings, but they’re few. Imagine loading up a car with other art lovers and barreling to Memphis for a weekend of gallery hopping and studio visits? Rad.

LOCATE Arts is in its fundraising phase. They have applied for 501c3 status. Until then, they are fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas. They estimate that their first year will cost $340,000. Go to their website and check them out, and shoot them an email if you want to hear more at info@locatearts.org. Both Carri and Brian Jobe are experienced arts administrators, and they’ve been researching initiatives such as these all over the country for years. If you can spare it, consider donating to this cause, and spread the word among your people. (i.e. This is a really good thing to share on Facebook.)

My Finished Works

Erica Ciccarone

When I am supposed to be writing, I often think about the faceless finished works I will publish. I imagine my mom calling me, asking what Sunday my essay appeared in the Times, so she can track it down in her stacks of unread newspapers. I picture my name in the elegant font of the New Yorker or in block letters on the glossy cover of Oxford American. I am witty and unsentimental, but deeply touching and also fearlessly critical. Early on, I am compared to Anne Lamott. Later, to Joan Didion.

After numerous more publications — Harper’s, The Atlantic, Ms. Magazine — I am featured in Best American Essays, because although I pretend to ride the avant-garde train, in truth, I just want to be loved by as many people as possible. Simultaneously, Amazon releases one of those neat 20,000 word Kindle Singles by yours truly. It is embraced by women and smart men in their late-twenties to early forties. This all happens very quickly, by the way, so that I can keep up with my student loan payments and my semi-indulgent lifestyle. What follows is inevitable: my first book, a collection of my essays; a true book made of paper and glue and thread (paperback first will do).

And then, my memoir, the title of which I have thought about considerably over the past fifteen years. I could go with something popular and unoriginal: The Fishmonger’s Daughter. That story would focus on my formative years, of course, so much to tell there. I could easily hop on the addict-in-recovery train and focus on my many bottoming-outs and eventual sobriety. I might use a single, edgy phrase for that title, something like Flushed or Bottoming Out, or else a longer title-subtitle, Alcoholic-Sex Addict: a Story of Change. (That’s the super-true tell all version.) There’s always the option to steal the title my sister proposed for her own memoir she never wrote, A Nun Beat My Father, although let’s face it, no one will be surprised if I plagiarize her, and how fun is that? Why not try something plain and descriptive: White Feminist, or The Girl Who Ate All the Girl Scout Cookies and then Lied About It? Then there’s the enigmatic title, the one no one understands but everyone is embarrassed to ask after: Scuttleboat or Dagerreotype. I might focus exclusively on my year as a public school teacher, a position I was let go from because of my classroom management issues and inability to handle stress. It will be an indictment of American Educational Policy and the Common Core Curriculum (always hot topics) called Broke Down: One Teacher who Failed. Finally, perhaps the memoir might be about my life as a writer: Death to Adverbs and Other Things I’ve Learned About Writing.

At times, something about sorting through this fantasy temporarily sates my desire to write, and I turn on the television or acquiesce to click-bait or — gasp — open a book by someone else…only to feel terrible and bereft later. A professor once told my class that discipline is the difference between doing what you want now and what you want most. When will I be disciplined? When will I establish the early-to-rise routine that so many writers swear by? When will I have a neat and clean office with a desk? When I will stop making excuses? I am convinced that I would be a baller writer if I would only do the work. The work is all that matters. No writer has ever achieved the accomplishments in my fantasy by not working. Not one. Because the work is difficult, and endless, and takes courage.

Though I’m tempted, I am not going to make a highfalutin resolution to do the work, not today, because the same professor also told us that resolving to accomplish something satisfies the desire, leaving us right back where we started — not doing the work. I think the trick is to stop expecting myself to rise before dawn and write for six hours in yellow legal pads while standing up at a podium (Mr. Hemingway, you set the standard impossibly high), nor to allow bouts of depression to envelop me and keep me away from the work (Kafka, you were brilliant, but also very unhappy.) It is further unrealistic for me to run 10 kilometers and swim 500 meters each afternoon. (I love you, Mr. Murakami, but that will never happen.) But maybe I should get a typewriter and retype my own sentences to get into a rhythm (I’ll try anything once that works for you, Ms. Didion.)

I want to keep my desire on the edge. I am a mercurial creature, and I embrace this totally. My unfinished works are nothing compared to my finished works, few that they may be.

New memoir title. The Mercurial Creature: A Memoir.

Art Crawl Weekend

There will be tons to see Saturday night, and Joe Nolan has all details in the Scene. Here’s what I’m most excited about:

Sherrick and Paul: Katy Grannan, “The Ninety-nine” and “The Nine”

Katy Grannan. Anonymous, Modesto, CA, 2012; pigment print, 40-3/4 x 31-1/4 inches (framed) or 57-3/4 x 43-3/4 inches (framed). Image courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery.

Katy Grannan. Anonymous, Modesto, CA, 2012; pigment print, 40-3/4 x 31-1/4 inches (framed) or 57-3/4 x 43-3/4 inches (framed). Image courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery.

No one else in Nashville but Susan Sherrick would bring Grannan’s photographs of the parched Central Valley, California landscape and its crestfallen but immeasurably gritty inhabitants. You might know Modesto as George Lucas’ hometown or the setting of his 1973 film American Graffiti. Its city slogan is “Water Wealth Contentment Health,” which becomes sadly ironic when you learn that the area gets just 13 inches of rainfall a year, and in 2012, the unemployment rate was 13% while the rest of the U.S. averaged 8.5%. This paradoxical backdrop is Grannan’s landscape. She’s lived in Modesto and got to know her subjects, some of whom she photographed for years. Jerry Saltz said in NY Magazine, “Grannan’s sun-bleached images depict the timeworn American dream of going West and reinventing oneself. Only here the dreams have turned out to be too big, or America too small, or nature too relentless, and they haven’t worked out.” What’s interesting about Grannan’s perspective is that she doesn’t seem to exploit her subjects for their vulnerability the way I feel many photographers do. She creates a subjective gaze that is as telling as it is mythological. Don’t miss this show. And let’s all carry Susan Sherrick around Nashville on our shoulders cause the girl is bringing it.

Channel to Channel: Amanda Brown and KJ Schumacher in “Skins”

If you haven’t been up to Dustin Hedrick’s studio and gallery, this is your chance. Hedrick has a lot going on in the old hosiery mill on Chestnut Street. He hosts a Drink n Draw every Wednesday and will be opening his third show Saturday night. Last month, recent APSU graduate Alexander Wurst sold 6 out of 8 of his paintings in his solo show, and Robert Scobey didn’t fare badly the month before. I feel like between Sherrick and Hedrick, we get exciting contemporary art through completely different means — both are necessary for a vital and progressive art scene. Saturday, Channel to Channel will show work by Amanda Brown and KJ Schumacher. Brown is a Ground Floor Gallery artist whose acrylic crowd paintings are rightfully popular, but this show will feature collage, and I’m looking forward to seeing her work in this medium. She is joined by Schumacher, whose work I liked in “The Artist’s Alphabet,” an exhibition at Ground Floor curated by Jodi Hays just months ago. His tape over photograph work peeks into the city streets of Berlin through photos that are overlapped with brightly colored tape. I love the way his work makes me pay attention to negative space. Channel to Channel is on the second floor of Chestnut Square. Just follow the signs.

Dustin Hedrick installs "Skins," an exhibition of collage work by Amanda Brown and KJ Schumacher.

Dustin Hedrick installs “Skins,” an exhibition of collage work by Amanda Brown and KJ Schumacher, on view Saturday at Channel to Channel. 

Zeitgeist: Bunny Burson “Hidden in Plain Sight” and Patrick DeGuira (with Willie Stewart) “Past Life Memories”

Both Burson and DeGuira use text, Burson more literally in her work inspired by letters found in the attic of her family home written by her Jewish grandparents as they escaped Germany during WWII. “Hidden in Plain Sight” will show her work on mylar, vellum, paper, and aluminum. DeGuira’s work will explore the many selves we all inhabit — the past, the present, and the future. Zeitgeist’s statement on the exhibition includes the following phrases: transferable memories, time jumping, mirroring, re-incarnation. Reason enough to check it out, plus DeGuira is one of Nashville’s best.

WAG: Watkins senior photography students present “in Living,” curated by Christine Rogers

In the arcade, WAG will show senior work from photography students, curated by the very cool Christine Rogers who did List Making Exercises for Nashville earlier this year. “in Living” will include photography by Rebecca Lindley, Upreyl Mitchell, Joe Nunez, Alanna Styer, and Laura Whitfield. I’m continually impressed by Watkins students, and I’m hoping more will stick around after graduation.

Watkins Art Gallery (WAG) shows senior photography students in "in Living."

Watkins Art Gallery (WAG) shows senior photography students in “in Living.”

Those are my faves. There’s plenty more out there, so crawl away!

Just Announced: Daniel Holland & Joe Nolan Talk is Rescheduled

By Dan Holland. Image courtesy of the artist's website.

By Daniel Holland. Image courtesy of the artist’s website.

As we brace ourselves for another ice storm, the forthcoming talk at Red Arrow Gallery between Daniel Holland and Joe Nolan has been postponed to Sunday, March 8 at 4:30 pm. According to Nolan, the pair has already rapped about “the Mayan empire, automotive paint, sweet porter pints, East Nashville, Julian Schnabel, secret journals, poetic messages, Tom Waits, cigarettes, Kansas, Nashville, Detroit, South Carolina, Robert Rauschenberg, the black void of death, the futility of nihilism – literally, house paint primers, rental trucks, the utility of mops, and the love of work.”

Bummer the talk is rescheduled, but there’s plenty to do in the meantime! Stay tuned! (And if we’re trapped inside, there’s House of Cards.)