Courtney Adair Johnson

Update from the Front: Seed Space Happenings

Hello reader! As I write this, I sit in a bakery eating an autumnal roasted squash salad and wearing an oversized sweatshirt. That’s right. Fall is here!

And with it comes lots of arty happenings from Seed Space. If deep inside you were a little worried about the fate of this artist-supporting, experimentation-friendly little nonprofit with the departure of founder Adrienne Outlaw for St. Louis, this news will put your fears to rest. Here’s the scoop:

Courtney Adair Johnson Joins Staff 

Courtney Adair Johnson. Photo by Tina Gionis via

Courtney Adair Johnson. Photo by Tina Gionis

Johnson has been blowing up as a visual artist and curator, and she joins Program Director Andri Alexandrou and Curator Rachel Bubis as Seed Space’s Program Coordinator. Johnson will assist in bringing nationally renowned artists, writers, curators and arts organizers to Nashville for workshops, talks, and exhibitions. Johnson just finished up a residency in Fergus Falls, MN with Hinge Arts, and she’s not wasting any time in continuing her social practice work in Nashville.

War and Rumors of War, opens October 3, 6:00 pm

Installation artist and political scientist Eric Dickson presents an interactive sound installation of documented footage about American foreign policy over the past 30 years. Viewers will trip motion detectors that activate audio, like presidential addresses, congressional hearings, and military and intelligence briefings. From the press release:

A variety of different computer algorithms driving the installation offer visitors distinct experiences of history that are determined in large part by visitors’ own movements through the gallery.  At times, visitors may simultaneously hear speeches on Iraq from a diverse array of US presidencies; at other times, they may need physically to pursue a single voice around the gallery to prevent that voice from falling silent.

War and Rumors of War will be in Seed Space’s gallery through November 16.

NORF Wall Fest: Saturday, October 24, 2:00 pm. 

Seed Space partners with Jay Jenkins, Art History Class, and Televise the Movement to put on a street art festival. Thaxton Waters is selecting artists to paint sections of the North Nashville neighborhood, specifically 18th Ave North and Herman Street and Buchanan Street. Artists will work for three weeks, and the event will culminate in a day of festival programming including poetry, music, food, and live arts activities on October 24. NORF Wall Fest is funded by a Metro Arts Thrive grant given to Jenkins, who is spearheading the project.

Edgehill Muses, The Curb Center, opens October 29

Rachel Bubis curates “Edgehill Muses” at The Curb Center, an exhibition which “aims to look inward at the neighborhood where the Curb Center resides, a neighborhood on the border of both Vanderbilt and Music Row, providing a brief glimpse into its rich history and cultural influence while considering its future in a time of flux.”
Bubis states in her curator’s essay, “Selected works include imagery inspired by the neighborhood, work by past and present Edgehill artists, and work from artists outside of Nashville that address timely concepts pertaining to gentrification, boundaries and utopia.” Selected artists are William Edmondson, Alan Lequire, Scott Wise, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, John Baeder, James Threalkill, Courtney Adair Johnson, Macon St. Hilaire, Skye Gilkerson, Andy O’Brien, and Jodi Hays.

Deep Play Fun House, Track One, October 31.

 Brent Stewart puts on his curator hat for this All Hallow’s Eve videoart show. Stewart will choose 10-15 works to display from an open submission call. From the press release:
As an immersive video and sound environment, the viewer defines the narrative sequence by negotiating labyrinthine pathways in a large, formerly industrial environment alongside live sound performances for a one night event on Halloween.

The night will convene in Track One’s vast warehouse, tapping into the artist proclivity for going into abandoned spaces and appropriating them for artmaking. Alexandrou tells me that deep play is the phenomenon of when a group of people engage in an activity where the risk of loss is much greater than the risk of gain. When artists agree to terms of unknowability, they create. On November 3, Seed Space will host a traditional screening of the films.

They are still accepting submissions through September 30.

The Cloud Story Project 

Jana Harper‘s “The Cloud Story Project” remains on view in Track One until October 3, and you can duck in to see it any time or catch the closing reception at the October art crawl. During her residency with Seed Space, Harper interviewed people about clouds, and a variety of folks shared their experience. Drawn to the project by the memory of her mother’s obsessive relationship with photographing clouds, Harper’s innocuous question becomes an exploration of dreams and entrapments, desire and confinement. Blown up photographs of the interviewees are hung alongside their clipped responses. “The Cloud Story” may have a basic premise, but the human investigation that grew from it is anything but simplistic. The Seed Space Residency Blog has images and snippets of interviews.

Selvage at TSU with Photo Gallery

DSC01575Cold days are upon us, but there’s still time to head over to TSU to warm up with a textile art show that will put your needle-felted kittens to shame. Curated by artist and TSU curator Jodi Hays and Scene arts editor Laura Hutson, Selvage explores the possibilities of textiles. The works range from paintings riffing on the geometry of quilting patterns to reuse collage to art made within the canvas itself.

My favorites: Alex Blau’s super shiny wrapped canvases delighted me as a quilter (shout out to the sawtooth star!). While the designs are more traditional, she uses the color palette of a candy aisle. Jovencio de la Paz’s monster indigo tapestry came just shy of stealing the show. The wall-sized piece is printed with intriguing images: transparent cubes, hands, bones, and drawings suggesting the occult name just a few, giving it a spooky yet playful feel.

Gabriel Pionkowski’s work captured my heart the most. He un-weaves canvases and dyes or paints the fabric, sometimes one string at a time. Then, he reweaves it entirely or partially, sometimes flipping it around or leaving some threads unraveled. I loved this play with materials, and I felt it best represented the kind of play inherent in textile art: it’s not craft hour, after all. There’s something that’s got to be meditative about the process that lends itself to an enlightened state.

Brandon Donahue’s “Basketball Blooms” wall sculptures are wonderful: part hip hop, part folk art, they’re floral arrangements made from cut up basketballs. Aimee Miller’s two pieces are beauties: she dyes material, tears it up, and clusters it in forms. It kind of looks like the monsters from Labyrinth exploded on the wall, in a really good way.

Finally, Nashville’s Courtney Adair Johnson assembled ten years of work in an installation. She works completely in reuse materials. She pointed out parts of the assemblage that are attached to memories, while others are much more random. I loved so many bits of the installation, especially the pink Eraserhead-fetus picture that she lovingly described as a portrait of her dog. Her setup spoke to me as well. She marked off her installation with tape, but it pushed out of the edges and on to the floor, much like our collective deposits of trash that are steadily growing. Johnson has a lot coming up, so stay tuned.

The gallery itself is not the best space, but the duo played with it, choosing to hang Louis Schmidt’s black and white geometrical drawings on the same wall as an unsightly grid. They opted to skip tags identifying the work, which sort of bugs me because I always want to know what I’m looking at, and a bit of context helps me to connect with a work. With that said, Hutson and Hays made a great team, and I hope they’ll work together again. More so, I’m excited to to see Huston evolve as a curator. Her interest in Outsider Art and tolerance for the perverse always delights me.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Note: TSU’s campus is enormous. Follow theses directions.

From I – 40 West Exit.
1. Exit I-40 West to 28th Avenue, North.
2. Proceed to and continue through Traffic Light at corner of 28th Avenue North and Jefferson St./John A. Merritt Blvd.
3. Continue on 28th Avenue which becomes Ed Temple Blvd*. Go to Second Traffic Light after crossing Jefferson St./John A. Merritt Blvd. (third traffic light from Interstate exit).
4. Turn Left onto Walter S. Davis Blvd; continue for approximately 1 mile to Traffic Light.
5. Turn Left at Traffic Light onto 39th Avenue, North; and, proceed to Stop sign (John L. Driver Blvd.).
6. Turn Left onto John L. Driver Blvd. and proceed to Visitor Parking Lot (on Left, next to Heating Facility – tall Smoke Stack).
7. Proceed to Elliot Hall (just beyond Heating Facility), either taking walkway perpendicular to 37th Avenue, continuing the path of John L. Driver Blvd., you’ll find it to your Left. If you walk to the amphitheatre you have gone a bit too far.

From I – 40, East.
1. Exit I-40, East at Exit 207.
2. Turn Left onto Jefferson Street at the bottom of the Exit ramp.
3. Proceed to first Traffic Light (intersection of Jefferson St./John Merritt and 28th Avenue, North/Ed Temple Blvd*.
4. Turn Right onto Ed Temple Blvd.
5.Proceed to second Traffic Light and Turn Left onto Walter S. Davis Blvd.
6.Take L at light onto John L. Driver Blvd. and proceed as described in nos. 6 and 7 above.

From Clarksville Highway (US 41-A, N/8th Avenue/RoseParks, North/Metro Center Blvd.)
1. Turn onto Ed Temple Blvd. (or proceed straight across to Ed Temple Blvd* from 8th Avenue, North/Metro Center Blvd.). Go past Golf course to Second Traffic Light.
2.Turn Right onto Walter S. Davis, then a Left onto TigerBelle, Art Department at the top of the hill in Elliott Hall on 37th Street.

*Note that Ed Temple Blvd. is renamed Metro Center Blvd, just down from Watkins College of Art and Design