Mike Womack

And Something Else on 4th Ave Tonight!

The Seed Space Catalogue is one sale tonight!

The Seed Space Catalogue is one sale tonight!

I didn’t realize just how busy I’d be when I posted about 4th Ave events yesterday! In addition to Ground Floor’s “ReFreshed” and Platetone’s Open Studio and indigo workshop. Seed Space hosts a panel discussion and catalog release party at 6 p.m. in its Track One location at 1209 Fourth Ave.

The catalog chronicles everything that’s happened at and through Seed Space since 2010 in critical essays. Knowing director Adrienne Outlaw, I’d bet it will be smart, relevant, and beautiful. The panel discussion, called “The Role of Arts Organizations in Nashville,” features Scene editor Laura Hutson, Arts Commission’s Community Arts Manager, Leigh Patton, the Frist’s Chief Curator Mark Scala, and Vanderbilt American Studies lecturer Samuel Shaw. Here’s why I’m interested in this event, and may even forego indigo dying for it. (I’m determined to do it all though!)

In short, Seed Space gets me thinking about art and city and community. It causes me to make connections that I can’t get to on my own. During Andy Sturdevant’s “U.S. Cities Contemporary Art Rankings,” I poked fun at art critics and list makers with everyone else and ranked all major U.S. cities based on their contemporary art scenes, raising some pretty neat questions about accessibility, commodification, and mythology. The photo essay “By the Steeple Bell Rope” by Mike Womack and Scott Zieher, which may still be up now, actually had me kind of mad, which has led to all kinds of late night brainstorms about the role of art in gentrifying a city.

I need Seed Space because the folks there are willing to take risks that contribute to me being a stronger thinker, writer, and community member. It’s a vital organization in the Nashville art scene, which let’s face it, can use some stirring up from time to time.

So the timeline for tonight is Ground Floor Gallery’s A.I.R. exhibit “ReFreshed” features 33 women artists from New York and around the U.S.; then head to Seed Space for the panel discussion; then high tail it over to Platetone to dye indigo and absorb the groovy vibes.

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.