Month: May 2015

More on Memphis: Crosstown Arts

CrosstownArtsAnother stop on my tour of Memphis was Crosstown Arts. This nonprofit arts org is located in the shadow of the old Crosstown building, the 1.5 million square foot Sears Roebuck & Co. distribution center that’s been empty since 1993. It’s now in redevelopment to become a “mixed-use vertical urban village” and slated to open as such in 2017.

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Crosstown Arts is a performance site, a gallery, an after-school youth arts and literacy program, and a flea market. I met staffer Emily Harris Halpern there and she was kind enough to show me around. Crosstown is totally community focused. Halpern says that one of their goals is neighborhood revitalization, and they’re playing a part in the renovation of the Sears building as founding tenants. When Crosstown Concourse opens, they’ll move in with expanded programming, including artist residencies. They now hold an open crit each month and invite artists to bring in their work for participatory critique.DSC02990

They also rent a low-cost performance space to Memphians. Coming up, they’re hosting a book release party, a hip hop listening session, and a poetry reading series. They also make field trips. On May 31, for example, Crosstown is taking a bus full of people to Arkansas Art Center in Little Rock to see 30 Americans, the stunning, important exhibition of African-American artists that came to the Frist in 2013. Crosstown offers a bus ticket and guided tour of the exhibition for $25.

While I was there, I caught Between the Eyes, an exhibition of abstracts curated by Laurel Sucsy. It features Marina Adams, Rob de Oude, Joe Fyfe, Rubens Ghenov, Iva Gueorguieva, and some of Sucsy’s own work. Together, they demonstrate the many ways to communicate through abstract painting. I liked the work as a whole and individually. I hadn’t heard of any of the artists, and I’ve been investigating each since my trip. Sucsy chose an international roster with very different styles: from the supple, sensual bold shapes of Marina Adams (anyone else totally turned on by these?) to the dizzying geometry of Rob de Oude.

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Marina Adams, “Four Worlds,” 2013; oil and acrylic on panel, 74 by 74 inches.

 

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Rubens Ghenov, “Leafe Verse,” 2015; acrylic on linen, 20 by 16 inches.

Seeing two by Iva Gueorguieva was a real treat. “Scarlet Squall” (2012; pictured third below) got my heart pumping with its sharp shapes that crash into each other and splinter, united by a central energy that pulls everything inward. In contrast, Rubens Ghenov‘s “Leafe Verse” is a minimal and solitary beauty with great visual depth. Joe Fyfe has four pieces in the show. Constructed from materials like wood, cloth, rope, and styrofoam, Fyfe’s pieces call into question the nature of painting and prioritize process over image. In using diverse materials, Fyfe is bound by constraints, and you get the feeling that in all of his works, he’s trying to solve a puzzle. Keep scrolling for some more images of this compelling exhibition.

 

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Iva Gueorguieva, “Vanishing )after Perugino),” 2013; acrylic, collage and oil on canvas, 76 by 81 inches.

 

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Rob de Oude, “Fanning a Recurring Past,” 2012; oil and acrylic on panel, 16 by 16 inches.

 

Joe Fyfe, "Vihn Apricot Kite," 2014; object, wood, cloth, 64.5 by 40 inches.

Joe Fyfe, “Vihn Apricot Kite,” 2014; object, wood, cloth, 64.5 by 40 inches.

Laurel Sucsy, Untitled, 2015; oil on linen, 20 by 16 inches.

Laurel Sucsy, Untitled, 2015; oil on linen, 20 by 16 inches.

The Memphis Chronicles: Tops Gallery and Dale McNeil

Next up in my coverage of art in Memphis: Tops Gallery is located in a basement in downtown Memphis, but like I saw in the city’s home galleries, the best art is found in the most unlikely places. Photographer Matt Ducklo cleaned out the basement a few years ago; it was no easy task. He had to remove a lot of debris and get this funky, deep dark space clean. He topped it off with a white epoxy floor that’s just bonkers. Tops is a labor of love, and any art lover’s visit to Memphis is incomplete without a tour of this singular space.

I published a short review and interview with artist Dale McNeil, who is showing Material Will – Force in Form at Tops through May 31. Head over to Country Life to check it out. Here’s my favorite photo from the visit.

Dale McNeil's Material Will - Force in Form is showing at Tops Gallery in Memphis through May 31.

Dale McNeil’s Material Will – Force in Form is showing at Tops Gallery in Memphis through May 31.

I Heart Memphis Home Galleries

This week, I drove 200 miles to Memphis to check out their art scene. I was inspired by LOCATE Arts, an initiative launched by two Knoxville artists to bridge the gaps among Tennessee’s art scenes by organizing a TN biennial and creating a centralized website of exhibition listings. (Read more about it here.) Modeled after Texas’ Glass Tire, LOCATE Arts would unify artists, galleries, and all exhibition spaces in Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, and Chattanooga.

I loved being in Memphis. I looked online and asked around for places to go, but some of my favorites were spaces I was led to once I arrived. In two home galleries, people are eschewing the confinement and exclusivity of commercial galleries to show work that’s relevant, hip, and local.

GLITCH is the home and gallery space of artist Adam Farmer. Although he was between shows when I visited, he was kind enough to let me take a look around and hang for a bit. The two front rooms were empty, but the walls were painted — some like outer space, another with light geometric shapes, another like wallpaper. They change for pretty much every show. Farmer curates solo exhibitions and group shows — sometimes with a huge roster of artists — of everything from paintings and drawings to cigar boxes and book arts.

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In Adam Farmer’s bedroom in GLITCH – Memphis, TN

Making your way to Memphis for a GLITCH opening would be worth the trip in itself. Farmer invites musical guests and performers for an all out party. Most opening receptions are the second-to-last Friday of every month, but you can always check the GLITCH Facebook page to see what’s coming up. The rest of his house — his studio, bedroom, kitchen, and even bathroom — is a funky museum of Farmer’s work, artistic collaborations, and work by his peers. Well, it’s more like the collection of someone’s weird, hoarding great aunt than it is museum, but that’s all the better. In the backyard, I checked out Farmer’s assemblages, which he says are shrines to important turning points in his life. Follow Farmer and GLITCH on Instagram @glitchmemphis.

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Inside GLITCH in Memphis, TN

 

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Inside GLITCH, in Memphis, TN

 

Farmer pointed me in the direction of another home gallery, Southfork, in the residence of Lauren Kennedy, and she was kind enough to invite me over on half-a-day’s notice. Kennedy’s apartment changes with each installation — many branching out to different rooms. I got to check out the current exhibition, hilariously titled Old Man Study Group, a collaborative show from Hamlett Dobbins and Douglas Degges. The two have been passing notebooks back and forth for years. I’m excited to dig into their process.

“Old Man Study Group.” Hamlett Dobbins and Douglas Degges at Southfork – Memphis.

Douglas Degges.

Douglas Degges. “Old Man Study Group,” Southfork – Memphis.

In the dining room, I discovered Carroll Nikkila’s creepy baby wall sculptures. I’d love to fall asleep to some of these beauties watching over me.

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Carroll Nikkila. Southfork – Memphis

But what really rocked my socks were these two collages by an artist named St. Francis Elevator Ride. I’m telling you, the name is just the beginning. His work is a visual feast of bodies, birds, and food. It was love at first sight.

St. Francis Elevator Ride. Southfork - Memphis.

St. Francis Elevator Ride. Southfork – Memphis.

More on my Memphis travels coming soon!