Chestnut Square

Subversively Spooky at Threesquared

Sara Estes of Threesquared is fast becoming my favorite Nashville curator, due in part to her eye for subversive work by women who have not exhausted topics like sexual representation, domesticity, and power dynamics. Last night, a solo show by Jessica Wohl opened in the Chestnut Square gallery, a lineup of collages that are equal parts seductive and sinister. Wohl calls them her “army,” and they’re presented as just that: a line of infantrymen–or women–or just limbs…you decide.

Jessica Wohl. The Rattler, 2014. Collage, 12 by 14 inches.

Jessica Wohl. The Rattler, 2014. Collage, 12 by 14 inches.

Jessica Wohl. Snip or Stab? Collage, 9 by 11 inches.

Jessica Wohl. Snip or Stab? Collage, 9 by 11 inches.

Wohl’s work is spooky-good. These collages join fingers and legs with products of domesticity, like afghans, teaspoons, chairs, and pearls, and most creations have a weapon: a butcher knife, a pair of pliers, a serving fork. The figures that result are both docile and threatening, an intense amalgamation of sexualized magazine ads (polished fingernails, stiletto heels, sculpted legs) and symbols of housewifery (measuring cups, throw pillows, dish towels).  The name of the series, Matriarchs, endows Wohl’s tribe with power, exploiting the illusory “norm” found in beauty and homemaking magazines. It’s clear that Wohl delights in our discomfort, and that’s just the beginning.

Jessica Wohl's Matriarchs at Threesquared Gallery.

Jessica Wohl’s Matriarchs at Threesquared Gallery.

Jessica Wohl's Matriarchs at Threesquared Gallery.

Jessica Wohl’s Matriarchs at Threesquared Gallery.

Although these weren’t in the Matriarchs lineup, her Sewn Drawings are remarkable. Wohl takes found photographs–portraits, especially Olan Mills-style family ones–and sews right into them, obscuring features, faces, or in some cases, everything but an open mouth or pair of eyes. Estes discovered Wohl’s work because her former roommate, writer Veronica Kavass, owned one of these. If I’m getting the story right, Estes was spooked by it at first, but slowly fell in love with the piece. Can you blame her?

Jessica Wohl. The White Family, 2011. Embroidery on found photograph, 8 by 10 inches.

Jessica Wohl. The White Family, 2011. Embroidery on found photograph, 8 by 10 inches.

Jessica Wohl. Masked, 2011. Embroidery on found photograph, 8 by 11 inches.

Jessica Wohl. Masked, 2011. Embroidery on found photograph, 8 by 11 inches.

The future of Chestnut Square always seems in flux, perhaps more than ever right now. Whatever becomes of the old hosiery mill, I hope Estes will continue to bring richly subversive work to Nashville. Catch the show at this Saturday’s art crawl.

Artist Reconstructs Art History at Threesquared: Melissa Wilkinson

Threesquared hosts an opening reception for “Le Petite Mort,” a show that the artist Melissa Wilkinson promises will “irritate and seduce.” The Arkansas-based artist says in her statement, “I choose to dismantle epic narratives from the past to create a schizophrenic perspective.” Painting in watercolor, she deconstructs traditional subjects to “dismantle the elitism with which they are often associated,” and produces a meditation on gender, the body, and the male gaze.

Liquid Venus by

Liquid Venus by Melissa Wilkinson

From the gallery:

Threesquared is excited to present recent works from Melissa Wilkinson, Assistant Professor of Art at Arkansas State University. In this new series of watercolor paintings, Wilkinson confronts the image of the body, and exposes its inherent contradiction as a passive object of desire in both traditional representation and contemporary painting. These works incorporate appropriated imagery from art history, subjects suggestive of consumption and wealth, and are deconstructed to recontextualize and agitate. Here, Wilkinson seeks to create a new narrative using an old.


Coiffure by Melissa Wilkinson

Threesquared is located in the Chestnut Square building at 427 Chestnut Street. Opening reception Thursday, September 25, 6-9 p.m. The show will stay up for Arts and Music at Wedgewood-Houston on October 4.

Ground Floor Gallery’s New Digs

Next month, Ground Floor Gallery + Studios will reopen at 942 4th Ave. South. From the press release:

Announcing Ground Floor Gallery’s Grand Reopening featuring “Utopia: Can it Stay Dream” in the gallery’s new home located at 942 4th Avenue South in Nashville. The show opening and artist talk with the Culture Laboratory Collective and members of the international group–Brian JobeRyder Richards and Ian F. Thomas will coincide with the monthly Arts & Music @Wedgewood/Houston Saturday July 5th from 7- 10pm.  

For the past two years Ground Floor Gallery + Studios has been located in the old Mays’ hosiery mill on Chestnut Avenue. The charm of the gallery’s former space with its original windows and hardwood floors, that feature yellow stripes from the mill’s operating days ran across the floor of the gallery, will be greatly missed by the artists of the Ground Floor. Having said that, the new, larger space with heating and air conditioning will be welcomed as summer comes to Nashville. 

As she was packing up her studio to move, Janet Decker Yanez, artist and director of GfG+S stated, “I am so excited about our new space on 4th Ave S. which will allow for year round studio production, more gallery programming and special events. We’ll miss the other artists in the building but the spirit of the Chestnut will forever give us a certain strength knowing that it is our old stompin’ ground!”

Ground Floor features the open studios of Janet Decker Yanez, Mandy Brown, Heidi Martin Kuster, and Anne Daigh. I love visiting Ground Floor because their work is as different as their personalities. Martin Kuster‘s geological impressions are as elemental as her down to earth personality. Mandy Brown‘s crowd paintings show the same openness and dynamism you’ll find in a conversation with the artist. Janet Decker Yanez‘s work is intense and personal—sometimes playful, sometimes dark—and always distinctive.

The artists present a not-to-be-missed opening show,  Utopia: Can it Stay Dream? by Culture Laboratory Collective. The Collective offers reflections on Utopia, where “there remains a dream of the perfect place or person, a possible nostalgic future designed outside of cynicism with intellectual optimism.” 


Robert H. Goddard, The Ultimate Migration, 1918. Showing at Ground Floor Gallery + Studio, July 5th, 2014.

Decker Yanez bills the new studio as a perfect stop between the art crawls downtown and in We-Ho. Regardless of where you’ll be Saturday, July 5th, do not miss this!


Art Crawl Weekend

Hooray! It’s art crawl weekend in Nashville!

If you’re checking out Nashville as a potential home, this is a feather in its cap. The first Saturday of every month, Nashville has two art crawls–one is downtown (6:00 – 9:00), one is in Wedgewood-Houston (5:30-9:00), a neighborhood south of downtown (and my home hood!) My pretty limited experience has been that the downtown art crawl is more commercial and WeHo (lack of better name? missing NYC a lot this week? simply crazy?) tends to be more underground, more experimental, and for me, more interesting and fun. Don’t take my word for it though. Check out both and then head to Track One for live music at 9:00 @ 1209 4th Ave South.

Downtown has a shuttle that will take you around hopping galleries, and the central location is the Arcade (pronounced AR-cade. I first thought people were saying ART CAVE). Once you’re in WeHo, start at Zeitgeist and pick up a map there of the galleries in the neighborhood. They’re all in walking distance.

Here are my highlights.

Which: Wedgewood-Houston
Where: threesquared
427 Chestnut St. (inside Chestnut Square)
Reception at threesquared 6-9pm
On display: Hair Pieces by Rebecca Drolen

I’ve always marveled at how much we love hair—when its attached to a head. We pet it, stroke it, some of us spend thousands of dollars a year maintaining it, others take medication to keep it. Hair is not just an industry; it’s how we identify people and ourselves. But, the moment it is off the head, it is unsightly, disgusting even. And if its found in our food? Forget it. It might have fallen off the heads of Eva Mendez AND Ryan Gosling–two famous, beautiful hairs, in love!–but we want nothing to do with it. I’m excited to see Hair Pieces, the latest series of photographs by Drolen, because I think there’s a lot to say about hair aesthetically, socially, and culturally.

Learn more at:

Which: Wedgewood-Houston
Where: Seedspace
209 4th Ave South (Inside Track One)
On display: “Conversion/Convergence” by Travis Janssen

Janssen will delight you with his work. I saw it last month and could have stood there all night trying to figure out how he did it. I kept thinking, “It must be simple…but it’s too beautiful to be simple!” I don’t want to give it away, but I will say that there is a projector and a fan, and a lot of colors.

Learn more at:

Which: Wedgewood-Houston
Where: David Lusk Gallery
516 Hagan Street
On display: Greely Myatt, “Having Said That”

David Lusk’s new gallery will host its first solo show.  Sculptor Greely Myatt’s “Quilts Built”, fashioned from recycled street signs and painted wood, showed as a public art exhibit in downtown Memphis and is now right here in Nashville.  Myatt says in this interview that his collaborator was his deceased grandmother, and his work merges tradition and reinvigorating old material to create something else.  This Saturday’s show, “Having Said That”, is based on comic books and messages we get from them. (Not psychologically. Think BANG! POW! WOMPH! Thought bubble.)

Learn more at

If you have trouble finding out information about what’s showing at the galleries downtown, that’s because there isn’t a place where its centrally located on the web.  (Never in New York.)  WeHo uses this Facebook page, but the galleries don’t all update it. If you know about more going on out there this weekend, please post it in the comments for all to see!