The Visualist Brings You More Ways to Find Art


It’s easy to lose one’s way in the sea of information, ads, emails, and invites on the Wild Wild Web. Since I’ve missed events for this reason, I tend to pare down to a precious few email notifications. One worth keeping is The Visualist, a website and subscription service that brings me a weekly list of arts events in and around Nashville. Hosted by sometime-NYCnash contributor Andri Alexandrou and Amelie Brown, the Visualist aims to “speak for the hidden happenings– the events without a magazine hookup, the unexposed arts with no blog shoutout, the art folks in need of a megaphone.”

The Visualist won’t advertise for music (thank god), comedy, traditional theater, dance, or well-known and publicized arts events. In short, it won’t list the events you are reading about in the Tennessean and maybe even the Scene. Although they both contribute tons, there’s a whole lot happening in Nashville that two publications can’t possibly cover. I think that given enough support, the Visualist can really amp up public participation in the arts here (beyond, I don’t know, looking at murals and posting in a Facebook group.) To continue some thoughts I posted last week about the art scenes in Nashville, I am thinking more and more that if we can improve local support of the art scenes, we can harness that energy to sustain a space for artists who have made Nashville great, even as their studios are being bought up.

So sign up and keep the good vibes going.

Also, if you are putting on an arts event and would like to be included in the newsletter, you can email the Visualist at with a short blurb about your project. For some of us, it can be tough to self-advertise. Let the Visualist help you out, and tell your friends.

City and the Artist: Seed Space on Saturday

I am perpetually fascinated by the shifting shapes of cities and the relationships artists have with their original and adopted homes. It also makes me consider my privilege. I’ve lived in three cities (New York, New Orleans, Nashville) that have vibrant art communities right alongside abject poverty. Typically, as the cities get richer artistically, the most “authentic” neighborhoods are gentrified, leaving local residents — those who provide the “local color” sometimes coveted by arts communities– in the lurch. For a local discussion along these lines, read the comments after this Nashville Scene cover story about photographer Elise Tyler. For me, it’s impossible to separate class and race from such a conversation, and I expect the gray areas to be messy and emotional.

It’s something that’s on my mind a lot: As we promote artists and build communities that are investing in the arts, who gets shut out? How can we maintain our own authenticity and the truth of our work without subjugating or ignoring citizens in our communities? How can we avoid more Gulch-like clusterfucks and maintain a city’s sense of integrity, while growing and welcoming artists and artisans? How can we remain mindful of history and sensitive to needs and wants of all citizens?

Even as cities, like Nashville, with entrenched and thriving artist communities enrich my spirit and provide me with a complex intellectual landscape, I would be indulging in quite a bit of arrogance to assume the elephant in the room will simply let itself out.

This Saturday, I’m hoping to deepen my understanding of these issues by engaging in dialogue at Seed Space. There are two events. From their website:

“By the Steeple Bell Rope,” Scott Zieher and Mike Womack

“By the Steeple Bell Rope,” Scott Zieher and Mike Womack

As part of their month-long social practice project “By the Steeple Bell Rope,” Scott Zieher and Mike Womack will present a projection piece related to their research and work in the Wedgewood Houston community. Their project highlights the plight of the creative class in the local neighborhood and other regional situations of gentrification and civic shift.

“U. S. Cities Contemporary Art Rankings: A New Hierarchical Approach (Nashville edition)” by Andy Sturdevant, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.


Sturdevant will perform an interactive seminar on placing U.S. cities in a tiered ranking system by their relation to the contemporary art world. Visitors will be asked to give their input, providing results that are heavily influenced by their own experiences and personal prejudices. Located in that gray area between satire and earnest inquiry, the project draws on its audience’s collective knowledge and investment in their own individual regional identities, as well as demonstrating the inherent limitations in reducing complex cultural and sociological factors into easily digestible charts, maps, and lists.

Seed Space director Adrienne Outlaw has asked me and Tony Youngblood to participate in a Q and A about the work that will be published in the exhibit brochure. I hope we can make it through without too many Star Trek references.

Your Saturday Afternoon at the Public Library

If you wistfully remember Patience and Fortitude, regally guarding the Beaux-Arts building on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, you should give the main branch of the Nashville Public Library a chance.  Located downtown at 615 Church Street, the library, like the Beaux-Arts branch in New York, is like a museum.  Everything is pristine. The grand central lobby shows NYPL’s current celebration, best viewed from above as you lean over one of the balconies. The Civil Rights Room is a beautiful tribute to Nashville’s role in the Movement, complete with a lunch counter that displays the rules for nonviolent protesters. The teen book room alone made me want to morph back to my 17-year old self for the first time ever. The library also boasts a sunny courtyard and fountain, a large special collection, kids’ crafts and story time, and a photography exhibit.  

I only poked around for a couple hours, but it was by far the most relaxing afternoon I’ve had in a long, long time. I haven’t known the warm smile of a librarian in ages, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the libraries in New York are frequently smelly and kind of gross. I’m excited to check out some NPL events, too. 




This Weekend: Circuit Benders’ Ball

What do you get when you cross a floor lamp, a snow machine motor, and a piano? Read on to find out! 

This weekend, Nashvillians will have a special treat with the Circuit Benders’ Ball that kicks off Friday, April 11th at 5:00pm at Fort Houston. The very best places to find information about the Ball are here and here, where curator and maker Tony Youngblood has the details. 

The best way to describe circuit bending to someone who’s never heard of it is this: people recycle electronics and found objects–the older and weirder, the better–to produce a bonafide sound machine with crazy-wavy high pitches, strumming alto pitches, beeps, boops, and bangs. To me, girlfriend and housemate of Tony Youngblood, it mostly translates to a lot of noise when I’m trying to watch Star Trek ToS, but when I get downstairs to his workshop and see some of the things he’s made and others have bequeathed to him, I’m pretty amazed.  


Above, behold Tim Kaiser’s creation. This vintage rotary telephone was “bent” with a sound effect keychain, like the ones you had as a kid that made grenade noises. Kaiser wired and soldered these together. It’s controlled by switches and the rotary dialer itself.

Toys range in complexity to pretty simple (ah, I can see how he did it!) to extremely complex (WTF?!). See more of his bent instruments here.  Kaiser is not only a gifted transformer, he’s also a musician and performer, and he uses these in his ambient compositions. 

Curious? Check out the Ball this weekend, and try one of the workshops!  They’re beginner-friendly and kept to about 15 people and have names like “Playdoh vs. Lego” and “Hacking the Gameboy.” There will also be panelists, visual artists, performers, live visuals, and special presentations. And best of all, what I’m coming to love about Nashville, there will be people knocking about, exploring ideas and sharing in the creative spirit that moves them. 

Art in the Airport

Nashville is pretty badass because there’s even art in the airport. Not shitty, corporate art.  BNA features a video installation called “For My Neighbor” by Adrienne Outlaw of Seedspace and one of my favorite people in the city. Joe Nolan writes about it here.  

So, coming into town?  Know anyone needing a lift? I declined volunteering to pick up people from my organization at the airport, but here’s a way to both get out there to see Outlaw’s installation and be helpful (i.e. do my job).  AND have a positive experience at an airport.  Life is good!

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!


Book Hunting

Something about Nashville (namely, my boyfriend) has moved me toward the digital and audio read, so I decided to spend the afternoon exploring Nashville’s independent book stores. To me, a big bonus of living in a city is the likelihood of finding a good, independent bookstore, and Nashville is no exception.  One of my favorite places in NYC is The Strand. It claims to house 18 miles of books in narrow aisles, piled upon displays, and stacked on the floor. Inevitably, to reach the title of my desire, I had to mount one of their 20 foot ladders and make my shaky ascent.  Much like the rest of New York, in The Strand, you’re surrounded by people, yet completely alone in your world to feel the crushing weight of 18 miles of books that you simply must read before you die.

So, former New Yorkers, to find similar variety, visit McKay Used Books, CDs, Movies and More. Load up on classics for pennies. This is not hyperbole, my friends. Many titles go for 1 or 2 cents, a dime, a quarter. Really popular titles may get you up to $5.50. They have genres galore, too. And, they buy and trade, so after you move your 700 book library across the country, go ahead and sell those bad boys your first chance, like I did.  Your back (and boyfriend) will thank you when you move again.


The stacks at Rhino Books.

If St. Mark’s Books was more your thing–you’re looking for less traffic and a less daunting selection–go to Parnassus Books in Green Hills. Co-owned by Nashville author Ann Patchett, Parnassus offers new books, hosts events and readings, and runs a popular book club, switching titles each month. The management’s selection veers toward women writers and best sellers.  (Milling around, I was never more aware of how gendered book covers are.) If you’re child-ridden (really? and from New York?) kids will find the children’s section cozy and intimate.

Brooklynites who favored Tea Lounge on Union Street for their java will feel at home in Rhino Booksellers near Lipscomb University. Crammed with used books–even in the restroom!–this store carries all the charms of the past including collectibles and rare books. Although the organization is wonky (I saw The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter in three different places), the staff is friendly and knowledgable. They’ll help you find what you need. Their Southern Literature section is a must-see, and they don’t mind if you make yourself comfortable in one of the armchairs to peruse your top choices and eavesdrop on the conversations of locals who hold court as if it’s a front porch in the summer time. Sweet tea, anyone?


If you’re like me, you spent countless afternoons drifting through Unnamable Books in the Village. Check out BookmanBookwoman in HIllsboro Village. They sell used and new books, their staff picks totally rock, and their collection spans two store fronts and winding back rooms. It’s a quiet place, and no one will be in your way. It’s mercifully free of children, the staff is unobtrusive but friendly, and for cryingoutloud, you get to explore alcoves of books! The last stop on my book hunting excursion, I picked up a new copy of The Girl with Curious Hair and headed home, just as it began to rain.


Bookwoman, Hillsboro Village.


Bookman, Hillsboro Village.