Arts and Music at Wedgewood-Houston

War and Rumors of War at Seed Space

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One of my favorite exhibitions this year is currently on view at Seed Space, and the artist, Eric Dickson, will be present on Saturday night. I wrote some words about the exhibition for BURNAWAY, and I hope you’ll check out Dickson’s work! From my review:

War and Rumors of War is required viewing for anyone concerned about the policies that govern us, the wars fought in our names, and the ways we make sense of our present circumstances. Most of all, it helps to clarify what we should pay attention to and what we should ignore, for it challenges our political agency with advanced technological art-making that manages to somehow remain subtle and restrained.

Seed Space is located in the Track One building. Dickson will be there from 6-9 p.m. Saturday.

Notes on May’s Art Crawl

Let me get out of the way that I am the writer-in-residence at Seed Space and close to its staff. Two out of three of this month’s exhibitions are my favorite SS programming ever, nonetheless.

1. First, my favorite things. Seed Space was lit up by Rocky Horton‘s “All the Lights in My House.” Horton de-installed literally all the lights in his family’s home and brought them to Seed Space. He installed a false ceiling and hung most of them from it, including a wonderful, chinzy chandelier that is the exhibition’s centerpiece. Other lights appeared on the ground and wall. My favorite part is that Horton left the lights in the condition they were in; some are dusty or filled with the dead bugs we all collect in our respective homes. I like this honesty. It tells me something about his life and family, and much more about him as an artist. It’s a sacrifice, for sure, and the piece is only a piece in this context with all of the related parts. I got to talk to Horton, who verified that indeed, he and his family will be without lights for the six weeks of the installation. I love knowing that part of it, imagining this family of five living by the light of the sun alone. I’ll have more to say on this soon.

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2. Also at Seed Space, Nathan Sharratt performed “Blood Brothers.” He was set up in Track One down the hall (adjacent to the entrance, which made for a beautiful framing.) Dressed in blood-stained white, Sharratt sat at a small table across from an empty chair. When I approached, he said, “Would you like to be my blood brother?” Of course, I obliged, and Sharratt began the ritual. He drew blood (OK, it’s not really blood) from a little glass vial marked “MOTHER” and mixed it methodically on the table with a palette knife. Then, he drew the knife across his palm; I did the same, and our hands met in the center. And that moment lasted for at least a solid 30 seconds. First I felt embarrassed — when was the last time anyone looked at me so intently? But gradually, I relaxed into it and Sharratt continued to stare purposefully into my eyes. I thanked him (like an idiot). Now blood brothers, Sharratt and I made bloody thumb prints on a “receipt.” He said, “Thanks for being my blood brother.” He pinned my receipt to the wall behind him with the rest of his blood family, which was quickly filling with thumb prints.

In all honesty, it was more intimate than any moment I’ve shared with a member of my biological family in many years. I hung around watching the performance for a while. People who originally declined participation also hung around, their curiosity increasing as they witnessed strangers interacting with Sharratt. Some of them eventually sat down across from him. It was as if their desire for communion outlasted their skepticism. It was beautiful.

3. Wendy White’s show up at Sherrick & Paul right now is gorgeous. I got to write about it in this month’s Nashville Arts. It was a huge honor. Go see it.

4. I didn’t make it downtown and am sad I missed James Connolly at COOP Gallery. Connolly is a new media artist who bends old audio/visual equipment into instruments. From what I hear, his two performances were awesome. Does anyone have a clip?

5. Fort Houston showed “New Nashville Photography,” a group exhibition of photos by Beth Gorham, Bradley Marshall, Casey Carter, Chris Donahue, Evan Hickman, Holden Head, Jamie Donahue, and Shawne Brown. Very little struck me here. I liked Casey Carter’s photos of people in Murfreesboro well enough; her racially mixed subjects seem to be having genuine interactions. But overall, the show was not compelling. I’ll admit that I have a very difficult time describing why I do or don’t like certain photography. I’m working on that. I know that I like it when I want to see through the photographer’s eyes all the time. It’s a rare and exceptional experience.

6. Cody Tumblin showed “Bits and Pieces” at the Packing Plant. He arranged his dyed and sewn textile paintings on cords that stretched across the narrow space like clotheslines. I loved how his pieces were all two-sided, and it was fun to see people duck under the lines to get a peek from the back of the room. Tumblin’s dyed fabrics tell a richly pigmented color story, many of them relying on vertical lines and grids (a theme in the venue’s recent programming, it seems.) The clothesline install gave it a weirdly residential feel in the raw space of the Packing Plant, a nice contrast.

Cody Tumblin. The Packing Plant. Nashville, TN.

Cody Tumblin. “Bits and Pieces.” The Packing Plant. Nashville, TN.

7. “Projected Nostalgia” also showed in Track One. Organized by Seed Space as part of their NFA program, it featured work by student artists from Vanderbilt, APSU, and Lipscomb. It’s a tough space to show art: it’s dark and stony in there, but knowing this didn’t make it any less underwhelming. So much of the work was the same: the fact that there were two piles of dirt by two different artists and another pile of bricks and stones baffled me (didn’t they talk before installation?). There were softer materials, too: wall sculptures of yarn and stuffed animals did not transcend the materials, and try as I might, I couldn’t coax meaning out of the armchair erupting with latex tumors. Add a belly button projected on a bedsheet to the mix, and you get pretty much what you expect from an undergraduate show of a dozen artists. The exhibition might have benefited from some context: artist statements or at least some short blurbs may have provided access to meaning; the physical list of works was a map that I couldn’t figure out. Maybe they needed more supervision. Maybe the space was just wrong for what they were doing. In any case, I’m sure better exhibitions are in each of their futures.

8. Jessica Wohl’s work at Zeitgeist though. It needs its own post, coming soon.

Wendy White’s Upcoming Show at Sherrick & Paul

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Wendy White, “Vanity,” 2015; acrylic on canvas, gold mirrored PVC frame

Wendy White will show new work in “Double Vanity” at Sherrick & Paul. White lives in Chinatown, New York City, and the world through her eyes is full of complexities and contradictions. She draws from her surroundings, and we can envision her neighborhood in her abstract, often huge, always flat acrylic paintings. She’s inspired by signage in Chinatown, where words in English, Cantonese, and graffiti slang are layered on top of one another. Fragments of text and graffiti tags often appear in her paintings.

“Double Vanity” follows a recent show at David Castillo Gallery in Miami, where White fused large inkjet prints with acrylic paintings that observe athletes on the field and the emotions they enact. Circling around gender and performance, White plays with this idea in a way that is both serious and fun. She extends this investigation by going into the home and reflecting on the domestic spheres of woman and man. “Double Vanity” is site specific to Sherrick & Paul. White will be carpeting the gallery in white, using the center, free-standing wall to separate the gendered realms of domestic bliss. I had the opportunity to interview White on the phone for an upcoming article in Nashville Arts. She described the show to me as “funny and pop culture inspired” with a decorative palette that tells a color story. The white carpet will give it a time capsule feel, she said, and she’s taking advantage of the warm Sherrick and Paul atmosphere in the old May Hosiery mill. White originally worked in textiles, and this is the first time they’ve come back into her work — a fun coincidence given the setting.

“Double Vanity” will open Thursday, April 30 from 6 – 8 pm. White will lead a walk-through at 5 pm. Sherrick & Paul is also open for first Saturday art crawls (and there’s a great one coming up.)

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!

A Sneak Peak at Inaugural Modular Art Pods Event

It’s countdown time for the inaugural Modular Art Pods event, and 32 artists and artist-teams scramble to finish their pods. As I write, a lighted pod sits behind me in the kitchen. If I want to go to the fridge, I have to carefully inch it over. The cats don’t know what to do.

But it will all be worth it Saturday night when the first ever MAPs event will kick off at abrasiveMedia during the art crawl. That’s in Houston Station at 438 Houston Street, in the same building as Sherrick & Paul (which is running a beautiful solo exhibition of paintings by Damian Stamer).

MAPs will present 32 unique 4′ by 4′ pods that will act as mini galleries showing work by artists of all stripes: visual, sound, music, performance, wood, light, textile..they’ll run the gamut. To experience all pods, you can crawl through the tunnel or walk around in the “back lot tour.” Creator Tony Youngblood says that you can’t do both though, drawing attention to accessibility options: some of us can’t or don’t want to crawl through, so those of us who can crawl also get only one option. See the beautiful graphic made by podsters Stacey Irvin and Andee Rudloff for the full roster of artists. Keep scrolling for some snapshots and a video of pods-in-the-making.

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First in the crawl: cleanse your palate from the world with Tony Youngblood’s own pod. 

Sarah McDonald and Tyler Blankenship’s tiny landscape pod will be viewed head-level, like the viewing pod in the meerkat exhibition at the zoo.

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Sarah McDonald and Tyler Blankenship

Sarah McDonald and Tyler Blankenship.

Sarah McDonald and Tyler Blankenship.

From Becky Fox Matthews and Alison Rinner: “Our pod is an educational jellyfish protecting endangered sea creatures, and is programmed using Scratch software and Makey Makey’s.”

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Becky Fox Matthews and Alison Rinner

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Becky Fox Matthews and Alison Rinner

Courtney Adair Johnson’s zero waste pod is made from 100% found materials, as is all of the artist’s work. The interactive pod will open for discussion and reflection on other inanimate objects for non-artists to connect and create awareness of a need for redesign.

Courtney Adair Johnson

Courtney Adair Johnson

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Courtney Adair Johnson

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Courtney Adair Johnson

This tactile fabric pod by Lauren Kussro is so gorgeous and cozy, I won’t want to keep crawling.

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Lauren Kussro

Lauren Kussro

Lauren Kussro

We hope to see you Saturday night! You can crawl from 6 pm to 10 pm. We’re hoping all the galleriests who usually can’t make the rounds during the crawl will be able to head over in the last hour. I’ll keep you posted with more sneak peaks as the week goes on!

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.

 

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.

John Perry at SNAP Gallery Saturday

johnperryAdding to the list of reasons-stay-in-town-this-weekend (AKA why-am-I-leaving-town-this-weekend?), SNAP Gallery is bringing an artist to WeHo in conjunction with SONA Fest. SNAP (South Nashville Action People) is located at the 1224 Martin St. (corner of Humphreys). SNAP opened up for the first Arts & Music at Wedgewood/Houston art crawl for On/Off Electronic Art Exhibition, and I’m delighted to see they’re involved again.

John Perry will be showing his abstract works in a solo show. His work has everything I look for in abstract paintings: careful groupings of color, varied textures, an almost musical narrative. From the artist:

“My process is action-oriented, although not necessarily a register of my physical movement.  I use lots of solvent (water, turp, etc), and will often begin paintings on their backs.  I’m searching all the while, and as elements begin to move (or I direct them to move), I start to find the moments I want to protect.  My mark making varies from using the palette knife to scrape or wipe paint onto the surface, to using a leaf blower or water hose to blast large movements from one end of the work to the other.”

John Perry, untitled, 2013; ink on paper, 16 by 22 inches.

John Perry, untitled, 2013; ink on paper.

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John Perry, untitled, 2013; oil on canvas.

John Perry, untitled, 2014; acrylic on board.

John Perry, untitled, 2014; acrylic on board.

The gallery will be open from 5:30 to 11:00, so if you find yourself short on time during the crawls (of course you will!), head over after the Gong Orchestra that’s happening at Track One at 9:00.

The Resounding Gong

Photo credit: Regina Wilkins in New Orleans, 2013.

Photo credit: Regina Wilkins in New Orleans, 2013.

Add this to your list of stuff to do this weekend: Tatsuya Nakatani will perform at Track One at 9:00, just as the galleries close up. The Japanese-born percussionist will perform solo and then with the Nakatani Gong Orchestra. The concept of the show is really cool. Nakatani trains local musicians and artists on the gong and in his conducting methods for each show, so you may see some Nashvillians performing alongside him.

If you’re imagining nine people banging on flat sheets of metal, let’s back up. They play the gongs with bows, so it’s a sort of mix between the sound a string instrument makes and the sound a percussion instrument makes. (You can see why I never write about music.) I’ve attended some experimental music performances at the request of one Tony Youngblood, and if I’ve made it through half of them, it’s been with equal parts martyrdom and resentment. I’ve learned not to torture us both if it’s going to be something that screeches until my anxiety reaches record highs. This, however, looks to be trance-inducing and ethereal. Wander into a dark corner of the big Track One warehouse and feel spooky. If you’re unsure, take a listen! You have to skip the first several minutes of tuning, but then it gets really nice.

Track One is located at 1209 4th Ave. S, on the corner of 4th Ave. S and Chestnut Street.

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!