Nashville art

Modular Art Pods: Open Call for Submissions Closing in Fast

From the pod of Adrienne Newman.

From the pod of Adrienne Newman.

Remember last February’s Modular Art Pods show that took place at Abrasive Media and was created by my then-boyfriend-now-husband Tony Youngblood? The Nashville Scene called it the year’s best pop-up installation, and it’s returning next year and will be bigger and better! The show will be at OZ Arts from June 21-24, 2016, and the call for submissions is closing in fast on November 18, 2015. That’s Wednesday, people!

From the pod of Molly Lahym and Dylan Elhier.

From the pod of Molly Lahym and Dylan Elhier.

The MAPs website has everything you need to know about building a pod. This time around, there will also be pre-built performance pods that will add a new dimension to the deal. Here’s my photo gallery and Stephen Trageser’s video from February to inspire you.  The application is pretty basic and he’ll definitely work with you if your project grows legs and evolves between now and then.

Apply here! Good luck!

Artist Interview: Briena Harmening

Briena Harmening is a text-obsessed textile artist. She uses the daintiest of crafts — embroidery, filet crochet, doilies — to balance out weighty emotional reckonings that she documents in her work. Harmening lives and works in Nashville, and she has a solo show opening at Blend in the Arcade on Friday, July 3 from 6 to 9 pm. The show is titled “I Bet You Think This Show Is About You,” and as you might guess, it’s the work of a scorned lover. Her stenciled letters on canvas and within crochet will sound familiar to anyone who’s had their heart trampled. But Harmening’s message doesn’t stop there. Her material choices recall traditional women’s work and its mind numbing processes, so her emotionally charged text messages speak even louder. The text might be wistful (“Sometimes I miss the old me”) or flat-out angry (“I moved here for you fucker”), but it’s always honest. I chatted with the artist in her West Nashville home and studio.

In the Studio of Briena Harmening

In the Studio of Briena Harmening

Brianna Harmening: I am originally from McMinnville, just an hour and a half east of here. I got married really young, moved to Florida, finished school there for a Bachelor of Arts, then started looking at graduate schools. I couldn’t afford to go to certain ones, so I ended up back at University of Tennessee in Knoxville. I got divorced after that, but while I was there, I took art education classes and got my teaching license. I’ve been teaching for five years.

Erica Ciccarone: All at Hillsboro?

BH: I taught for four years at West High School in Knoxville. Then I moved here for a boy. We were dating for years long distance. That job [at Hillsboro] opened up. They’re an International Baccalaureate school, and I’d been trained in that. I got the job that afternoon. I said, “Sure I’ll go.” I have a lot of friends who live here in Nashville. And my best friend lives in Murfreesboro and we’ve known each other since kindergarten.

EC: So your studio is really great! So much space and light.

BH: This is a dream come true because before this, I was working in a second bedroom. I couldn’t afford a studio space. Then I was thinking about having a full time job, driving to the studio, maybe staying an hour or two versus having it at home where I can constantly access it. If I get up in the middle of the night…This space is great. There’s a lot of potential.

EC: I’m a quilter and embroiderer and all around textile nut. When I saw your piece at Ground Floor in The Artist’s Alphabet show, I immediately wanted to know more.

In the studio of Briena Harmening.

In the studio of Briena Harmening.

BH: I’m going to Penland School of Crafts for screen printing coming up, and I’m taking a bunch of quilts to work on. In graduate school, I started making quilt tops — not finishing them. Then I would paint or do text on them, and I want to do a series. I have seven quilt tops that my aunt Margie made, and she passed away. It will be a continuance of this series. I thought about mixing them up for my July show at Blend, but I don’t think I can add them into my artist statement.

EC: Tell me about your show.

BH: In July I have a solo show at Blend in the Arcade. It will be some of this work. I had thought, “Oh, if I get a lot of work finished, I’ll put some of these quilts in,” but I think they’ll be way too big and overwhelm the space. I’m thinking about how to add onto these pieces here and make them more like sculptures…

Briena Harmening in her studio.

Briena Harmening in her studio.

EC: This is crochet?

BH: This is filet crochet. I started out with a series about dating in Knoxville. All these squares that are filled in show where there’s a letter. I started crocheting things people would tell me about dating, and then it got to where I would take things out of context from conversations. I’ve always been interested in language and how we communicate, how we make friends…I just started taking random sentences and writing the way my students speak, which was very funny. Then, I felt like I had to depart from it. I’ve always worked in text in some ways and it ended up in painting. I’ve always been into Richard Prince and Rauschenberg and Tracy Emin. I love autobiographical work. I’ve been through some dramatic things in my life, so I always write about those things.


In the studio of Briena Harmening.

So this work has kind of evolved from the loss of my relationship. Some of them are angry and some are more somber, just dealing with the loss. I really put 100% into it [the relationship], and it’s been mind boggling.

EC: I definitely sense the loss, but your work is often humourous as well.

BH: Yeah. It’s funny. I guess I use humor to deal with difficult issues.

EC: What’s that process for these pieces that look like they’re dipped in paint? First you crochet the words.

BH: Yeah, then I pour paint over the piece and spread it. Then I go back in with scissors and push through the empty spaces. This one says, “One more fucking love song and I’m gonna vomit in this car.” I felt like every song was coming on, I was wanting to cry when I was driving around. [laughs]

EC: Yeah they can get really grating.

BH: The next one I should probably add something funny. The past few have been kind of sad. I was working on this other one this morning. It says, “I keep leaving pieces of myself with others.”

EC: I like that.

BH: It would be cool to have them coming off the wall, using that stiffness. I just sent a piece off to a show in Memphis for a show. It was really stiff and it would have been neat to have it shaped. I think I’ll need to dip them in starch. It’s something I want to experiment with later. I don’t know how well you’ll be able to read them.

Briena Harmening

Briena Harmening’s Birth Control Embroideries.

EC: Tell me about your small pieces, the birth control and Metallica ones…

BH: I love those. I lost my ovaries when I was in high school. I’ve been on and off different birth controls to try to get hormone levels right. I went through this feminist phase about what that meant to me, not being able to have kids, not feeling like a woman, not being sexually interested really and feeling a little bit asexual at one point. I’m always like, “What’s this pill gonna do?” Everytime they would switch me, it would be a surprise. I got those birth control packages out of a recycling dumpster. My mom cross stitches, so I thought I should add some little image or text in them. At that time I had started quilting, so I stitched quilt patterns from an old pattern book I’d gotten at McKay’s.

EC: I love them because cross stitch is so domestic. You just picture a heart shaped pillow on an armchair. It’s the feminine domesticity and the reproductive control of the Pill. I love that contradiction.

BH: They were really quick. They took two days a piece, and I would turn the dial to the day I finished. They also became documentation. I need to get in touch with Planned Parenthood. Right now, they’re just packed up.

Briena Harmening.

Briena Harmening’s Metallica Embroideries.

BH: The Metallica embroidery was my attempt at something super fun. They were my first concert when I was thirteen, in those developing years…I love metal music and anything depressive. Those pieces became an ode to Metallica. I didn’t want to use images from the title. I listened to songs and figured out an image that came to mind. Then I’d embroider a lyric. I presented them as a game in the gallery. I had them numbered on the wall and I handed out these sheets during show, and for every ten you got right, you got a shot of whiskey. Now my friends are like, “You should make those and put them on Etsy.” That would be awesome to do but you got to have start up ones ready to go and I just don’t have the time. That was one of the best shows I’ve had.

EC: In some of these crochet wall pieces, you leave strings hanging. Is that intentional?

BH: When I do embroidery, I love leaving strings. I crocheted my mom and dad’s portrait of them sharing a drink; they’re not drinkers. They came down for my students’ show in Knoxville and we went out to a bar — we’ve never done that in my whole life — and my dad ordered a fuzzy navel. They shared it. I left some of the strings loose when I gave it to them and they wanted to cut them.

EC: I like this one.

BH: I hate this one! It’s too much blue. An aritist I know said recently that she’d like to see some crochet that’s more painterly, but it’s really hard to build areas up when you’ve got so much space. It’s almost like I’d have to fill it first with silicone and paint on top of it. I just kept trying to layer and put more paint because I can’t go back and push the holes.

EC: I don’t think I’d want your work to be more painterly. I think I like it specifically because it’s not painterly. At the same time, I’d still consider them paintings.

I like this piece and what it says. I think that a lot of people can relate to it. It’s in the context of internet posts and the phrase, “That moment when…”

In the studio of Briena Harmening.

In the studio of Briena Harmening.

BH: That’s what I was going for with these. I didn’t want to make the work so personal that I shut people out. That’s why a lot of them are about realizing something in that moment. People can go back to that place when they felt the same. It’s funny. I’m not a big tech person. In fact, I don’t watch YouTube videos. I don’t hunt things out. I’ll hunt artists out but I don’t read all that stuff online. I hate being on the computer for the most part.

EC: I wouldn’t have guessed that.

BH: One of my friends was like, there are all these memes about “That moment when…You need to look that stuff up.” So I did and I was like, Noooo! I thought I had a good idea!

EC: Well you did have a good idea! I like in it in this context so much more.

BH: It’s nice that it resonates, but you know what it’s like when you think you’re hitting on something… It’s like seeing someone’s work and thinking, “I fucking thought of that before! Why didn’t I make it?”

EC: Do you feel that teaching feeds your artistic process or drains it, or both?

BH: I have to have a schedule, otherwise I can totally see why other art teachers just don’t make art anymore. For me, that’s always been really important. I want to show my kids that I’m trying to make it. Teaching is not what I want to do for my whole life. I feel like that’s important. My work feeds what I teach them because a lot of times if I see something I’ll be like, “We’re gonna look at this artist and this is what we’re gonna do.” Our last project was contemporary taxidermy. We looked at all these taxidermy artists and made paper mache animals. We talked about hybrids and combining animals. I only had two students make hybrids. Next year, that’s going to be the requirement. So many of them go to the easy things. I really want them to explore animals…

EC: So what’s coming up for you?

BH: I’m working in the press release for the Blend show now. It must be fun to travel around visiting artists. I really want to get more involved in visiting people’s studios.

Briena Harmening,

Briena Harmening, “I’d rather be alone,” 2015; crochet, spray paint on wood and plastic, 30 in. X 28 in.

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.

Interview: Marlos E’van

When I decided to start making studio visits and interviewing artists, Marlos E’van was at the top of my list. I met him at his show at WAG in January and was so struck by his work. One of the things that disappoints me about Nashville artists is how little they engage with issues that affect their neighbors. The deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and so many more people whose images didn’t make it to the nightly news should have all of us in a chokehold, but few artists in Nashville have been given space to respond to it, and that’s assuming there are more than a couple artists who want to.

Marlos E’van’s WAG exhibition Funkhaus, which I wrote about here for the Scene, caught my attention because he was so clearly responding to his role as an artist and the responsibilities that come with it. Marlos is the antidote for the self-involved mediocrity. He struck me as being the kind of person who cannot tell a lie to save face or make people feel comfortable. He has powerful messages about racial strife in America, police brutality, and the representation of black men and women in our culture. His work is passionate and deeply personal, yet tightly constructed to speak to viewers about issues we mostly try not to think about. Some of his compositions require a patient viewer to parse out the narrative, while others are wrenchingly plain; either way, the work and its message are impossible to dismiss. Also, he’s hyper aware of how people view his work and what assumptions they bring to that experience. In Funkhaus, he hung several “ritual staffs” like guns above a mantel. Here, he makes fun of people who call his work “raw” and “primitive” by making their critique literal.

Marlos took me through his home and laid out piece after piece on his floors, on his kitchen table, and even in his yard.


By Marlos E’van.

Erica Ciccarone: Why do you like working on fabric?

Marlos E’van: I love fashion and the way fabric feels. It offers and big canvas space, which I like. I sew them together and make them as big as possible. It gets the message across with the images and lets it breathe. There’s always fabric around here.

By Marlos E'van.

By Marlos E’van.

EC: Did you just graduate?

ME: I’m graduating this semester coming up. Then I’m getting out of the school.

EC: You get to that point where you’re ready to be through with it.

ME: Uh huh. I didn’t have time for shit this semester.

EC: How have you seen your work progress and change since you’ve been at Watkins?

ME: Definitely it got more honed in, the microscope became finer. It’s nice because I started locking down what I wanted more. It was a weird situation because what I do, people don’t know how to teach. For the longest, they tried to veer me away from it. It was like, “Oh it’s so raw, it’s so this, it’s so that.” People who were going there, the ones with all the student shows were the ones that were doing refined drawings and stuff like that.

EC: That’s disappointing to hear.

ME: It sucks. It thickened my skin though because when everybody is looking at it in the institution and saying, this doesn’t stand up to this, in actuality if you really look at the two, one is more powerful. That was one of the things I had to deal with.


By Marlos E’van.

EC: What’s back there? Tell me about that one.

ME: That is one of the first big paintings I did when I got to Nashville. It was dealing with family on the left and then that’s me with the pink hat on, offering a rose to my Venus. It’s really dealing with the objectification of women, that’s why the dollar bill is on her head. I was thinking about how Cezanne and all of them constructed women or people in pastoral scenes but then censoring it too as well. It’s like, no, she’s not an object, but what do you see her as? That’s my hair right there, too.


By Marlos E’van.

EC: What’s that over there?

ME: That’s my primitive dog. It pops up in my work.

EC: One of the things that I’ve been thinking about a lot and trying to write about is how I feel like Nashville has this much better art scene now than its ever had, and lots of artists being able to show their stuff, all the new galleries that have opened. But in large, I don’t see a lot of work that’s responding to social issues. Where I do see it is coming from students: Alanna Styer’s photography, that whole “in Living” show. Your work, London Thomas’ work at TSU…so it’s not all that surprising that it’s younger artists who are reflecting the society back to us because I think that’s very traditional, but it still disappoints me that more artists aren’t engaging with social issues and racism and systems of oppression.

ME: It’s definitely disappointing.

EC: Do you have any thoughts on that?

ME: I’m driven to do it because I’m still susceptible to being a victim of this. I can be pulled over at any time and get my brains bashed in. I’ve been in those situations of being pulled out the car by a cop because I had dread locks. Automatically, “Where’s the dope at?” Plenty of times. As far as people not doing it, well, people have gotten fat and comfortable. It’s like, Am I gonna risk giving up my 58 inch flat screen to say something that’s real? A lot of people don’t want to do that once they get comfortable. With student artists, we’re at the point where we don’t have shit right now. We don’t have big fat cribs and all the cars and shit. We don’t have anything to lose anyway because we’re out here living it. So shit, we’re talking about it. At least that’s where I’m coming from. I risk it all to make a damn change. I can’t help it.

By Marlos E'van.

By Marlos E’van.

By Marlos E'van.

By Marlos E’van.

EC: Is this a shopping list?

ME: Yeah. If you notice a lot of things that are happening are when people are doing regularly, ordinary things. Travon Martin was going to the corner store. I still don’t understand how [George Zimmerman’s] walking around.

EC: He was just arrested again for beating the shit out of someone.

ME: I heard he got shot.

EC: It’s crazy. I feel like everything else he does since then is flaunting the fact that he got off. Are you religious?

By Marlos E'van.

By Marlos E’van.

ME: I’m spiritual. Not really religious.

EC: Did you grow up in the church?

ME: Yeah I did. Southern Baptist. All that good stuff.


By Marlos E’van.

Religion and crosses are in my work, but it’s coming from the idea of how even with hangings and slavery, it was always backed by religion according to the oppressors. It’s a pretty interesting notion. I’ve got my black athletes.

By Marlos E'van.

By Marlos E’van.

By Marlos E'van.

By Marlos E’van.

ME: That’s Roy Jones. He’s 48 and still boxes. These pictures are from his prime. Have you heard of Floyd Mayweather? He was 100 times better and actually fought. This dude was unbeatable.

EC: Why do you think you’re drawn to athletes in your work?


By Marlos E’van.

ME: The idea of having it all. And being a price tag. Look at people behind him holding his belts for him, but then as soon as you’re done in people’s eyes, there you go. Isolated. Sad. Colorless. It happens so many times. I use Mike Tyson a lot in my work. It definitely happened to him.

By Marlos E'van.

By Marlos E’van.

ME: This [below] is something I’m probably gonna make into a big painting.

By Marlos E'van.

By Marlos E’van.

EC: Pastels are a good medium for you. When you’re making pieces like these, do you knock it out in one shot, or do you come back to it?

ME: For these, they were knocked out in one shot. Pretty much in one sitting. I try to do a series of drawings at one time because it just flows.


By Marlos E’van.

In case you haven’t noticed I love prices. And Coke pops up in my work a lot.

By Marlos E'van.

By Marlos E’van.

EC: Why do you think that is?

ME: It’s what they’ve been to culture. The things that I address, for instance, civil rights themes. All these major conflicts in our history, Coca Cola has been in the background.

EC: At the end of Mad Men, they show that iconic Coke commercial from 1970. People of all different nationalities and races standing together on a hill and singing about Coke. “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.” It’s so ironic to me that people would fall for that. Here are these people brought together by soda, while civil rights is happening and Vietnam rage on.

ME: Coke never did shit when people were getting beat up at the lunch counters. There were Coca Cola signs everywhere, but they never stepped in. They kept making money. This is a Jeff Koons.

By Marlos E'van.

By Marlos E’van.

EC: What’s your opinion on that man?

ME: [laughs] Very shaky ground.

EC: I think he’s full of shit. I don’t understand why he’s famous. Why people like him. Why people spend millions of dollars on his work.

ME: Especially since he doesn’t touch anything anymore. He doesn’t touch the work. What the hell? Come on now. That’s why I made this. It’s a joke. But let’s find the big one I want to show you. One of most frequent things I hear is “Basquiat Basquiat,” so one day I was like, “Ya’ll motherfuckers have to realize I’m doing my own shit.” So this is my response to that. This is Basquiat passing me the torch.

By Marlos E'van.

By Marlos E’van.

EC: I love it. I love the idea behind it and the motivation. I feel like if you were a white woman painting like this, people wouldn’t compare you to him. They just want to put people in one group because categories make people comfortable.

ME: You just said a lot.

EC: Deny him. Defi him. When did you make this one?

ME: I made this in January of this year, right after my show.

We head downstairs.

ME: So this is what I’m working on at the moment, I’m making a couple flags. A confederate flag is next. A performance goes with it before I can finalize it.

EC: What is that gonna be like?

ME: It’s gonna be intense, something that people don’t want to dive into. It’ll be brutal. I just want to act on current situations in America as far as police matters, and put myself on the line on this flag during the performance, trying to make it pretty soon. I’ll keep you posted.

Marlos E'van.

Marlos E’van.

EC: Have you ever done performance based stuff before?

Yes. This trumpet was from my first performance in Nashville. You know Morgan Higby Flowers. He had this thing called No Media last year. All these performances in this basement and nobody could use a phone…

EC: That was at my house. You were there? I remember you! I’m so blown away right now. In the basement on Hamilton Avenue. I was using a cowbell or something and I had my fox ears on. You were there with a girl, right?

ME: That was Sophia. Damn! That’s crazy.

EC: Right! So you liked it?

ME: I loved it! The idea of no media is almost foreign at this point in time. It was refreshing to go back to that. It doesn’t have to be Instagrammed. It doesn’t have to be Facebooked. It was an exclusive thing for the people that were there who got to be a part of it. That was really cool. My mind is blown.ME22Trumpet

Ok so here’s my primitive dog again.. And this is my version of Mary. This is from my vampire period. Ha. Every figure that I made had these sharp vampire teeth. It was kind of reflecting the monstrosity of how vicious people can be deep down inside. Even Mary.

By Marlos E'van.

By Marlos E’van.

EC: This one I know you didn’t do in one sitting.

ME: No. A little bit longer.

EC: Tell me about this one.

By Marlos E'van.

Marlos E’van, “A la Carte.”

ME: Yep. It’s called “A la Carte.” It’s basically addressing lunch counter sit ins. There’s another piece to this that involves a performance. That’s coming up soon. Basically three figures, one is washed out in the middle. They’re sitting at the lunch counter. They’re turned around looking directly back at us before stuff gets dumped on their heads, they get called this and that. Once again, even that was on camera and that’s what the “Say Cheese” is all about.

EC: What artists do you like? Who do you get obsessed with?

ME: I really love Warhol. Hmm. Frida Khalo. I really love her. I love looking at pictures of her. She survived so much pain. I couldn’t imagine. She let that pain out on the canvas. I stay away from looking at artists too much. I don’t want to be too influenced. The 30 Americans show was awesome.

By Marlos E'van.

By Marlos E’van.

ME: So, this is 32 Batman buildings. I get so tired of seeing the Batman building in art around here–”

EC: Me too!

ME: I just can’t stand it anymore!

EC: That and Willie Nelson.

ME: Batman building! Batman building! Damn.


ME: This is a new thing I’m doing called “Blam.” It’s kind of going off Black Lives Matter but it’s Black Lives Always Matter. I really like when they’d use that in the old Batman shows.

EC: Have you been involved in the Black Lives Matter movement in Nashville?

ME: A little. I was really into the Occupy movement. I recently talked to Martha Rosler. I was asking her about how these movements seem so microwaved. You don’t even hear about Occupy anymore.

EC: I think it kind of combusted on itself with leadership issues.

ME: Black Lives has already gone down, too, as far as always hearing it and seeing it. I start asking myself, What is it? Are these things just to sell T-shirts or are we trying to really go through with it? I asked Rosler about the difference between activism when she was really active in the 60s and 70s, and now. She was like, really it’s about the footwork. A lot of people aren’t doing the footwork.

By Marlos E'van.

By Marlos E’van.

ME: With this I broke down the word “father” and switched it around dealing with my own experiences. It’s interesting because when I was a kid, nobody knows this, he busted in my room by kicking the door in and was like, “Move all the furniture out. Paint this bedroom right now. If you spill a fucking drop I’m gonna kill you. I’m gonna blow your fucking brains out.” I was like twelve. It was crazy. It’s so weird because I hated painting at the moment under those conditions.

That’s always been an issue too in my work: black fathers and their roles.

EC: This is all really recent?

ME: Yes. I did this two weeks ago. Just woke up one morning and got to it.

EC: Do you find that you work well in the morning, or is it different for you depending on the day?

ME: It really depends on the day. I just do whatever, whenever I feel like it as far as this goes. When I feel it, I do it. When you get in the groove, you’re in the groove. People ask me, “Why do you do what you do?” It’s just cause I want to and it feels good and it’s fun.

EC: Did you see that show at David Lusk by Tyler Hildebrand?

ME: Have heard the name but no.

EC: He’s white, and I feel like his depictions of black subjects are very stereotypical and racist: big hair, big lips, looking like they don’t have a clue. To be fair, all of his subjects are down and out, but something about it seems entitled to me. I looked at his work for so long and tried to connect with it, but I just couldn’t. In general, I find it really hard to admire white artists who use black people as their subjects.

By Marlos E'van.

By Marlos E’van.

ME: Yeah. It’s also the delivery of it. Some people want to do it but don’t know how to deliver it. There’s a lot of gimmicks out there, too. That type you were saying, how many people have I seen like that: white guy or white chick, but you see the subjects in the paintings are black and it’s like, Damn, wait a minute, who did this?

EC: Or the photography.

ME: Oh my God. That’s just like looking at a petri dish under a microscope. Like people are zoo animals. You might hear a photographer who does it say, “I was done with the subjects when it was over. I don’t know what happened to them.” They just didn’t fucking matter to you. You just want the picture.

Drink ‘n Draw Wednesdays at Channel to Channel

drink n draw

Drink ‘n Draw action last week at Channel to Channel.

Experienced and aspiring artists are invited to Channel to Channel Wednesday for uninstructed life drawing with a nude model. Dustin Hedrick, who opened up his studio space to show contemporary art last year, hosts the weekly “Drink ‘n Draw.” Artists can get their draw on, as well as their drink and munch, in the company of each other for two hours. If you’re thinking bare white walls and stodgy art-speak, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Channel to Channel is on the second floor of the old Hosiery Mill at 427 Chestnut Street, and you can expect it to be casual. It runs 6-8 pm.

cynthia 2

Cynthia Sukowatey will show “All in One” at Channel to Channel April 4-23. 

Also, you’ll be the first to peep the new show going up. Channel to Channel will present silkscreens by Cynthia Sukowatey in a solo show she’s titled “All in One.” Dig her profesh website. Sukowatey is a recent grad of APSU, so it’s a great opportunity for newbie art collectors to take home some beautiful work for less and support a young artist. “All in One” officially opens Saturday during the art crawl, but Hedrick will likely be putting it up sooner.

If you head to the Drink ‘n Draw, bring your own drawing materials; chairs and stands are first come, first served; and the cost is $10, which helps Hedrick pay the rent for this awesome gallery. Stay tuned to the Facebook page for more events. The gallery now has official Saturday hours from 11-2.

Hunting Down a Tiny Gallery

red-bricksI spent the afternoon talking to local artist Ben Griffith about a project he’s started in the Sylvan Park/Nations area of West Nashville. It’s called Nashville Tiny Gallery and includes work by eight artists. Griffith put out a call for tiny pieces of artwork that would fit in a gallery the size of a brick. It’s located near Richland Park, but I’m not going to tell you where it is. Griffith has posted clues around the area that will lead you there. Although the gallery is lit at night, you have to go during business hours to find all the clues. The first clue is posted on the Nashville Tiny Gallery website. When you find it, snap a picture and use the hashtag #NashvilleTinyGallery. Go!

Damian Stamer Talks at Sherrick & Paul

Friday at 3:00 pm, painter Damian Stamer will give a talk and walk through of his solo exhibition at Sherrick & Paul. Susan Sherrick featured Stamer alongside William Eggleston and Hiroshi Sugimoto in the gallery’s inaugural exhibition; if that’s not a vote of confidence, I don’t know what is.

Stamer paints fields of abstraction in black, white and mostly a rich palate of grays. He uses broad brushstrokes to paint rural landscapes and falling-apart farm houses, worn down appliances begging for a proper burial. In some he adds color, a sunny yellow, a hot magenta, a faint blue. Although he’s only been working several years, he has a distinct point of view and voice. Check out some of his 2014 work I snagged from his website.

Damian Stamer, Patrick Rd. 10, 2014; oil on panel, 48 x 90 inches.

Damian Stamer, Patrick Rd. 10, 2014; oil on panel, 48 x 90 inches.

Damian Stamer, Rose Bar 2 2014; oil on panel, 72 x 95 inches

Damian Stamer, Rose Bar 2, 2014; oil on panel, 72 x 95 inches

Damian Stamer. Toler 3, 2014; oil on panel, 48 x 60 inches

Damian Stamer. Toler 3, 2014; oil on panel, 48 x 60 inches

Sherrick & Paul is located at 438 Houston Street in Houston Station. Enter the first door on the front of the building. The gallery is at the top of the stairs.

Katy Grannan Opens Sherrick and Paul

Sherrick and Paul opens one week from today in Houston Station, the same building abrasiveMedia and Impact Hub call home. Among the ten painters and photographers featured in Susan Sherrick’s first exhibition is Katy Grannan, whose intimate portraits of strangers reveal the scant possibilities they find in life. The artist’s first feature-length film The Nine debuts this spring. From her website:

The Nine, Grannan’s first feature length film (release date Spring 2015) is an intimate portrait of a peripheral and charismatic community in the Central Valley that struggles to find meaning and moments of grace in a hostile environment.  Katy Grannan and Hannah Hughes spent three years on South Ninth Street (locally known as “The Nine”). The filmmakers’ lives intertwine with those of the original subjects of the film, resulting in a tender but conflicted look at the nature of the street and of the artists’ evolving and complex relationship to their subject.

The subject matter is tricky. Often, when artists make poor people the subjects of their work, it’s clear that they’re interested in the people aesthetically only, perhaps trying to “capture” something about the Other. A cover story in the Scene this year invited more than a few critical comments about Elise Tyler’s iPhone photographs of her neighbors in the Nations. There is something revealing in Grannan’s work that is goes beyond Tyler’s. It seems that her subjects relate to each other, not to her. It will be interesting to see Grannan’s work in the same show as Vivian Maier’s, whose dare-I-say-iconic street photos seem to pivot on anonymity rather than intimacy.

<p><a href=”″>The Nine (Trailer)</a> from <a href=””>Fraenkel Gallery</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>