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.


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.


Inside GLITCH in Memphis, TN



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.


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!

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.)

Your Wednesday: Courtney Adair Johnson at MBA and “That Time of the Month” Storytelling

courtneyI don’t know about you, but I am suffering from the winter lazies. I’m back to a 3 a.m. to 12 p.m. sleep schedule (hello darkness, my old friend), and my capacity for concentration is limited to 21 minute episodes of Parks and Rec. That week held captive in my house while my car was marooned on a patch of ice in the front yard deflated both my curiosity and ambition — but not irreparably. I posted this morning about the Dan Holland/Joe Nolan talk at Red Arrow going down Thursday, and there is a lot more happening in Nashville this week. Come friends, let us walk boldly out of our houses in this last month of winter. March, in my mouth you sound like spring, but I know you, you old bastard. You will not defeat me in any of your 31 long days.

Wednesday has Courtney Adair Johnson opening a solo show at Montgomery Bell Academy from 5 to 7. For this exhibition, my favorite reuse artist has sourced all material from the campus trash. Johnson’s work nods to our ecological footprint with work that is alternately laced with grave depth and flights of whimsy. She uses “trash” as her starting point and builds up from there, adding layers and colors and using a variety of techniques: mono-printing, patterns, drips, book arts…she leaves plenty of room for experimentation, often working instinctually. I am a huge fan of Johnson, and I’m looking forward to the site-specific nature of this exhibition. It will be open for viewing during school hours through April 2. The gallery is in the Davis Building.

After that, I’m going to race downtown for That Time of the Month, a monthly reading of short essays. Curated by comedy writer Melanie Vare, TTOTM hosts five women and one man who read their sometimes funny, sometimes sad, oftentimes funny/sad true stories to a room full of strangers. This month, the theme is “Behind Closed Doors,” leaving a lot to the imagination. If you’re a fan of Vodka Yonic, the Scene’s syndicated women’s column created and edited by Abby White, you should definitely check out TTOTM. It will go down at Tin Cup on Rosa Parks Blvd. Wednesday at 7:00.  Check out some videos of past shows, buy your $7 ticket ($10 at door), and I’ll see you there!

Here’s a very funny TTOTM story by Lindsay Victoria from way back in 2012. 

Ann Hamilton Talks at APSU THURSDAY

(A previous posting claimed Hamilton’s talk was tonight. It is in fact Thursday, February 5 at 7 p.m.)

Austin Peay is bringing it this semester. Last week, we heard from Brooklyn artist Laura Splan, and tomorrow, we’ll get an hour with Ann Hamilton. For over two decades, Hamilton has established herself as peerless. Her site-specific, large-scale installations are both sensual and cerebral, and she allows viewers to access her work with many senses. Hamilton’s work frequently depends on the audience for completion, but never quite so much as in “the event of a thread.” Her most recent installation, “the event of a thread” took up in the drill hall of the Park Avenue Armory. Hamilton, who is a MacArthur genius, created an enormous white curtain, attached through an intricate system of pulleys to swings. As visitors would swing on the swings, the curtain would sway and ripple. At each end of the hall, attendants read Darwin, Aristotle, and the poet Ann Lauterbach to pigeons, and each night, someone would close the show with song. See Hamilton discuss the work in this video from ART21.

I didn’t see “the event of a thread,” although I was living in New York at the time. Like many events in my time there, it happened without my knowledge, while I was distracted by work and other obsessions. What I admire in Hamilton’s work is her ability to comfort people by reminding them that they’re part of something larger, while still respecting their solitude. She puts a lot of trust in her viewers, which I always find curious, and her materials often include text and textiles– my favorite things.

The talk filled up quickly, and I’m grateful I get to attend. I hope to ask her a few questions, and I’ll be sure to report back.

Artist Lecture: Laura Splan at APSU

Wednesday at 7:00 pm, APSU Department of Art will host Brooklyn artist Laura Splan for a lecture that is free and open to the public.


Laura Splan. “Wallpaper,” 2008; site-specific installation, Museum of Contemporary Craft (Portland, OR), hand block-printed wallpaper with blood; 86H x 96W inches

Splan’s work is killer. Check out lingerie made from cosmetic facial peels, embroidery on catheter bags, and blood wallpaper. By using materials of the body, Splan elevates it. In Blood Scarf (below), Splan knit a scarf with clear vinyl tubing that connects to an intravenous device emerging out of the user’s hand, filling the scarf with blood. The material that keeps the user warm paradoxically drains her lifeblood.

Laura Splan. Blood Scarf. From the artist's website.

Laura Splan. “Blood Scarf,” 2002. From the artist’s website.

I’ll be fascinated to hear about her process and conceptual framework. Even her collage work evokes the fraught relationship between our bodies and nature, but without the usual, exhausting commentary about body image, media, and semiotics. What Splan is getting at is much deeper as she investigates our cultural ambivalence about the body.

Laura Splan. "Transfigurations (An Amazing New Lift from Nature)", 2012. From the artist's website.

Laura Splan. “Transfigurations (An Amazing New Lift from Nature)”, 2012. From the artist’s website.

The talk will occur in Trahern 401. Here’s a campus map.

Mike Calway-Fagen’s Story Breakers at Lipscomb

What I love about Nashville is this: the more you look, the more there is to see.

I reviewed Saturday’s art crawl in Country Life yesterday, standouts being Watkins senior Marlos E’van, COOP Gallery member Robert Scobey, and James S. Weinburg’s installation “Just Add Water” at Crystalwood Studio. Check out Country Life for the full report.

Wednesday night, Mike Calway-Fagen presents “Story Breakers” at Lipscomb in the John C. Hutcheson Gallery at 6 pm. He’ll give a talk followed by the opening reception for an exhibition that asks us to “Suspend disbelief. Postpone belief. Delay the gratification of each.” Calway-Fagen is versatile: I remember when he borrowed 52 mirrors from people in the Southeast and positioned them beneath the Manhattan Bridge in Dumbo, lighting up the bridge’s underside.

“Story Breakers” is an installation of objects, sound, collage, and photographs. Check out some images of his past work.

The Progression of Regression, 2010. Taxidermied German shepherd, old wolf pelt.

The Progression of Regression, 2010. Taxidermied German shepherd, old wolf pelt.


Mike Calway-Fagen. Clap Quick the Immortal Child, 2014. Chair, paint, wheels, xylophone, bondo, etc.

Mike Calway-Fagen. Before, we were desperados, 2009.

Mike Calway-Fagen. Before, we were desperados, 2009.

The gallery is in the James C. Hughes Center, best accessible from the entrance on Belmont Blvd. Looks like you can enter across from Glen Echo Rd.

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.

Poetry Sucks! Saturday Night

In typical Nashville fashion, there are too many great things to do in one night this coming Saturday. I’ve heard great reviews of Poetry Sucks!, a sporadic reading series curated by Chet Weise (an avid Star Trek fan) that includes poetry, prose, music, and art. It’s Saturday at 6:30 over in East Nashville at Fond Object. And it’s free. poetry sucks