Memphis

Last Day to Donate to Locate Arts

tennessee logoQuick post. Locate Arts, which I told you about back in March, is on its final day of a Kickstarter that would support its first year of operations costs. This is your last chance, and yes, they have to meet their goal to get even one red cent that’s been pledged.

If you’ve ever said the following, you owe it to yourself to donate.

  1. “Nashville doesn’t support the arts.”
  2. “There isn’t enough critical writing about art in Nashville.”
  3. “I wish I knew what was happening in Knoxville, or Memphis, or Chattanooga, or any little arts enclave in Tennessee.”
  4. “Not enough people buy art in Nashville. How can I make a living?”
  5. “Screw this. I’m going to New York/L.A. where I can see “cutting edge” contemporary art.”

As far as I can tell, you don’t get to complain about Nashville’s art scene if you don’t give to this campaign. Here’s how Locate Arts will help you personally.

  1. If you’re an artist: Locate Arts will have a statewide artist registry with links to your website or gallery. It will be user-friendly, beautiful, and connect you to people within and outside of Tennessee. It will also list all contemporary art exhibitions in the whole damn state. Your practice will be more sustainable because see number 2.
  2. If you are an arts patron: Whether you have the money to purchase art or not, making us art outward facing will bring more artists to Tennessee. It will promote contemporary art in Tennessee to the rest of the country (and beyond!) so that art buyers will put us on their map. More artists will make their home in our cities. Our creative economies will pick up. That means more art events for those of us (ME!) who can’t afford to buy art much.
  3. Umm…if they get off to a good start financially, Locate Arts can start thinking about a Tennessee biennial, which let’s admit would be fucking great.
  4. If you are a gallery owner or curator: See 1-3.

Finally, we will harness the energy of our art scenes across the state, creating more collaborations, more support, more cross-pollination in writing, event-planning, and contact. Here are some things I wrote after I visited Memphis for 24 hours. There’s so much to see and do. Locate Arts will open doors, and behind these doors, we’ll find enrichment and happiness.

If you don’t want to listen to me, listen to Lain York, lifelong Nashvillian, artist, and curator of Zeitgeist: “More communication between the studio communities is crucial and directly affects regional museums, academic programs, state and city arts commissions, commercial galleries, and independent artist-run initiatives. Conduits like these industry hubs will have a more articulate sense of what artists are doing to pass along to supporting constituencies. The initial conversations of LOCATE Arts are already giving contemporary art a higher profile in Tennessee.”

So donate to the Kickstarter today! Even $10 bucks helps. And if have more to spend, you can get artwork from local geniuses like Jodi Hays, Karen Seapker, Shana Kohnstamm, and more from around Tennessee.

More on Memphis: Crosstown Arts

CrosstownArtsAnother stop on my tour of Memphis was Crosstown Arts. This nonprofit arts org is located in the shadow of the old Crosstown building, the 1.5 million square foot Sears Roebuck & Co. distribution center that’s been empty since 1993. It’s now in redevelopment to become a “mixed-use vertical urban village” and slated to open as such in 2017.

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Crosstown Arts is a performance site, a gallery, an after-school youth arts and literacy program, and a flea market. I met staffer Emily Harris Halpern there and she was kind enough to show me around. Crosstown is totally community focused. Halpern says that one of their goals is neighborhood revitalization, and they’re playing a part in the renovation of the Sears building as founding tenants. When Crosstown Concourse opens, they’ll move in with expanded programming, including artist residencies. They now hold an open crit each month and invite artists to bring in their work for participatory critique.DSC02990

They also rent a low-cost performance space to Memphians. Coming up, they’re hosting a book release party, a hip hop listening session, and a poetry reading series. They also make field trips. On May 31, for example, Crosstown is taking a bus full of people to Arkansas Art Center in Little Rock to see 30 Americans, the stunning, important exhibition of African-American artists that came to the Frist in 2013. Crosstown offers a bus ticket and guided tour of the exhibition for $25.

While I was there, I caught Between the Eyes, an exhibition of abstracts curated by Laurel Sucsy. It features Marina Adams, Rob de Oude, Joe Fyfe, Rubens Ghenov, Iva Gueorguieva, and some of Sucsy’s own work. Together, they demonstrate the many ways to communicate through abstract painting. I liked the work as a whole and individually. I hadn’t heard of any of the artists, and I’ve been investigating each since my trip. Sucsy chose an international roster with very different styles: from the supple, sensual bold shapes of Marina Adams (anyone else totally turned on by these?) to the dizzying geometry of Rob de Oude.

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Marina Adams, “Four Worlds,” 2013; oil and acrylic on panel, 74 by 74 inches.

 

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Rubens Ghenov, “Leafe Verse,” 2015; acrylic on linen, 20 by 16 inches.

Seeing two by Iva Gueorguieva was a real treat. “Scarlet Squall” (2012; pictured third below) got my heart pumping with its sharp shapes that crash into each other and splinter, united by a central energy that pulls everything inward. In contrast, Rubens Ghenov‘s “Leafe Verse” is a minimal and solitary beauty with great visual depth. Joe Fyfe has four pieces in the show. Constructed from materials like wood, cloth, rope, and styrofoam, Fyfe’s pieces call into question the nature of painting and prioritize process over image. In using diverse materials, Fyfe is bound by constraints, and you get the feeling that in all of his works, he’s trying to solve a puzzle. Keep scrolling for some more images of this compelling exhibition.

 

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Iva Gueorguieva, “Vanishing )after Perugino),” 2013; acrylic, collage and oil on canvas, 76 by 81 inches.

 

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Rob de Oude, “Fanning a Recurring Past,” 2012; oil and acrylic on panel, 16 by 16 inches.

 

Joe Fyfe, "Vihn Apricot Kite," 2014; object, wood, cloth, 64.5 by 40 inches.

Joe Fyfe, “Vihn Apricot Kite,” 2014; object, wood, cloth, 64.5 by 40 inches.

Laurel Sucsy, Untitled, 2015; oil on linen, 20 by 16 inches.

Laurel Sucsy, Untitled, 2015; oil on linen, 20 by 16 inches.

The Memphis Chronicles: Tops Gallery and Dale McNeil

Next up in my coverage of art in Memphis: Tops Gallery is located in a basement in downtown Memphis, but like I saw in the city’s home galleries, the best art is found in the most unlikely places. Photographer Matt Ducklo cleaned out the basement a few years ago; it was no easy task. He had to remove a lot of debris and get this funky, deep dark space clean. He topped it off with a white epoxy floor that’s just bonkers. Tops is a labor of love, and any art lover’s visit to Memphis is incomplete without a tour of this singular space.

I published a short review and interview with artist Dale McNeil, who is showing Material Will – Force in Form at Tops through May 31. Head over to Country Life to check it out. Here’s my favorite photo from the visit.

Dale McNeil's Material Will - Force in Form is showing at Tops Gallery in Memphis through May 31.

Dale McNeil’s Material Will – Force in Form is showing at Tops Gallery in Memphis through May 31.

LOCATE Arts Raises the Bar in Tennessee

images (1)Last night at Zeitgeist, two Tennessee natives introduced an arts organization that could have great value to the state of Tennessee. Carri and Brian Jobe are launching LOCATE Arts, a state-wide initiative that will connect the arts communities in Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Memphis. It will be headed by a board of arts administrators from around the state, including our own indomitable Lain York.

LOCATE Arts will take two main actions:

First, it will launch an exhibition listing site that will centralize a selection of arts events in the four cities. The website will provide a unified face of Tennessee that will integrate artists, galleries, and museums state-wide. The website will be curated: art must be contemporary and high caliber, but this doesn’t rule out experimental arts events and exhibitions. It does probably rule out portraits of Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash (one would hope.) The site is modeled after Glass Tire, a website that does this in Texas. While Glass Tire also publishes art reviews, LOCATE Arts probably will not, but for good reason: Jobe and Jobe want to keep the site neutral and be primarily informative. If it’s done well, it will probably have a ripple effect, resulting in a robust arts dialogue that is heard in every corner of Tennessee! But seriously, in the longterm, this may encourage the foundation of new arts venues, attract artists and art students, and help art commerce to thrive. Jobe and Jobe hope to roll this out this summer.

Second, LOCATE Arts will put on a Tennessee Biennial that will work toward strengthening the state’s arts identity. This exhibition will feature Tennessee and national artists and work will be selected by an outside curator. Brian Jobe says it will spotlight positive, strong efforts across the state, providing a foundation for artists and the public to mutually support one another. The Biennial will happen in Nashville and travel to the other three cities; it is tentatively planned for Fall 2016.

Someone might have dubbed Nashville the second most vibrant arts city (still cloudy on who did and why), but these opportunities will show this vibrancy. I feel like people often conflate The Arts to include all types of art. So, when Nashville boasts of its “arts vibrancy,” it’s really saying, “We have a lot of music so you should come here.” I think it’s important to maintain that visual art is a separate category that has very different needs in order for it to be sustainable. Meanwhile, there’s also a lot of mediocre visual art in Nashville, and I think this could really raise the bar and challenge artists, curators, and writers to grow.

We’re always talking about “supporting the arts,” but sometimes that just means liking a photo on Facebook. I know that there’s a big push back about people moving to Nashville right now, but our artists cannot work if they cannot make a living, and incorporating the rest of the world into our space could go a long way in helping them do that. Also, I love the idea of being aware of what’s happening in the rest of the state. I hear murmurings, but they’re few. Imagine loading up a car with other art lovers and barreling to Memphis for a weekend of gallery hopping and studio visits? Rad.

LOCATE Arts is in its fundraising phase. They have applied for 501c3 status. Until then, they are fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas. They estimate that their first year will cost $340,000. Go to their website and check them out, and shoot them an email if you want to hear more at info@locatearts.org. Both Carri and Brian Jobe are experienced arts administrators, and they’ve been researching initiatives such as these all over the country for years. If you can spare it, consider donating to this cause, and spread the word among your people. (i.e. This is a really good thing to share on Facebook.)