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.

Pre-Gaming Your Art Weekend

The art crawl and Porter Flea will have you busy enough Saturday, but what if you want to whet your appetite sooner? These events are bound to satisfy tonight and tomorrow.

Chad Burton Johnson. "Disdain," 2014. Mixed media on wood, 12 by 12 inches.

Chad Burton Johnson. “Disdain,” 2014. Mixed media on wood, 12 by 12 inches.

Fort Houston will have Turntable Tour #2, the second in a series of pop-ups, tonight Thursday June 4. The show will feature work by Sean Starwars, Chad Burton Johnson, and Brandon Geurts. Starwars is a pop culture-y printmaker whose work reminds me of characters from Pee Wee’s Playhouse (that’s a compliment.) I predict Johnson will be my favorite, as his work weighs heavily on social issues and includes rhinestones. Geurts’s fiery amorphous landscapes meditate on the artist’s fetishes. Starts at 5:00. Free with Cezanne’s beer.

Myles Bennett, "in the Manner of Hanon." Mixed media and textile, 93 by 53.

Myles Bennett, “in the Manner of Hanon.” Mixed media and textile, 93 by 53.

Tomorrow, Friday June 5, Courtney Adair Johnson curates a show at Track One called The Silo Room. Working from the metaphor of the silo as the working artist — isolated by nature — Johnson invites six artists to show work in order to laterally engage them in their silos. In the exhibition statement, Johnson writes,

The idea is that each department in an organization — sales, design, manufacturing, customer service, order fulfillment, technical support, etc. (artist) — is an independent vertical structure that is self-contained and independent from the others. You work in your own silo, communicate with people inside the silo (there are no windows, so you don’t even see anyone else), and have as little contact as possible with people in other silos.

The show will feature work by Myles Bennett, Nance Cooley, Justin Gill, Lauren Gregory, Andy Harding, Courtney Adair Johnson, and Kit Kite. I browsed Myles Bennett‘s work this afternoon. He’s a Brooklynite who sometimes unweaves canvases and drapes them in ways that make them seem both heavy and light, serious and lighthearted. His piece in the show will include an antler(!) Opening is at 6:00. Show will stay up for Saturday’s crawl. Free.

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. 

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.


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.


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.”


Becky Fox Matthews and Alison Rinner


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


Courtney Adair Johnson


Courtney Adair Johnson

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


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!

Modular Art Pods Announces Artists!

It’s happening soon! Modular Art Pods has just released its roster of Nashville artists, who will construct an art tunnel February 7th from 6-10 pm at abrasiveMedia. It includes a performance piece by Seed Space’s Andri Alexandrou, a neat interactive pod by Evelyn Walker, a vacuum-formed pod by Brandon Donahue, music in a cage by Gordon Roque, a My Little Mancave for Bronies by Patrick Stefaniak, and the projection talent of Dig Deep Light Show. Courtney Adair Johnson is creating a pod made exclusively of reused materials.

Several pods will be born of collaboration, like a cabinet of curiosities by Megan Kelley and Stephen Zerne, and an extra special fun pod by Sarah MacDonald and Tyler Blankenship.


“Rocks” that will populate Beth Reitmeyer’s pod, at the inaugural Modular Art Pods event at abrasiveMedia.

There are 32 pods total, so this my friends, is just beginning. There will also be stream-of-consciousness improve art, a greenhouse, a tactile fabric pod, and more!

Remembering my conflict of interest (I’m in love with the MAPs creator), I am so excited about the inaugural Modular Art Pods event. It’s going to be a fantastic way for over 40 artists to meet and collaborate. After all, they’ll be part of the same crawl-through tunnel. It will be interesting to see what’s born from their participation in the future.

Hyperallergic Editor to Visit Nashville

hragSeed Space is unrelenting in its coolness. As part of its Insight? Outta Sight! series, Hrag Vartanian, co-founder and editor-in-chief of everyone’s favorite art blog Hyperallergic will give a talk Monday at the Downtown Public Library at 12:00. From the press release:

[Vartanian] has been invited as a guest commentator on Al Jazeera, WNYC, and has been quoted in the New York Times, New York Observer, Daily News, and elsewhere. His work has appeared in countless publications and he regularly lectures on the art world online. Hyperallergic is a forum for playful, serious, and radical perspectives on art and culture in the world today.

Hyperallergic brings us arts news that’s often quippy and playful, as well as thoughtful essays and reviews about art worldwide. I especially appreciate the blog’s coverage of arts activism and (unrelated), its sardonic wit. (See 20 Most Powerless People in the Art World, including art critics and artworks.)

And while you’re there, please check out Our Town, Bryce McCloud’s magnum opus-in-the-making spotlighted as the Scene’s cover story this week. (More to come on that!) Also, don’t miss Paper, Thread and Trash, an exhibition curated by NYCnash favorite Courtney Adair Johnson. It includes 14 Tennessee artists who made art books, actual and conceptual, with reused materials. There you’ll find Kit Kite’s “X Housewife Portraits” (including a stand-alone house!), paper automata by Nance Cooley, tiny harmonica books by Lesley Patterson Marx, and so much more.

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

Call for Artists and Crafty People

A couple Tuesday morning (err…afternoon) announcements:

Ground Floor Gallery has issued a call for artists for a juried show! If you haven’t been by, Ground Floor moved out of Chestnut Square and opened a new, huge space on 4th Ave. that houses eight artists. The deadline is November 5 so get crackin’. gfg call

Local artist Courtney Adair Johnson has been busy! She’s showing in Laura Huston and Jodi Hays’ exhibition of textile art, Selvage, she’s curating a book art show called Paper, Thread, Trash at the Downtown Public Library in December, and she’s teaching a class on making paper flowers from recycled materials on October 25. All of Johnson’s artwork is made from reuse objects. Contact her to sign up for the class at flower techniques