Sara Estes

An Advice Column You Need to Follow

fire-burning-question-ts-psHave you been reading Sara Estes’ advice column “Burning Questions” on BURNAWAY? What? You haven’t?

You’re in luck because you can start today. BURNAWAY takes questions from readers and turns to Nashville’s own witty, wise Sara Estes. Her column is not only informational and fun to read, but today it was downright inspiring with advice for any artist or writer who has experienced a rut and blamed everyone else. She writes:

“Nobody has ever done anything good with that kind of thinking. I once knew an old Russian artist who told me that during World War II, when paper became extremely difficult to come by, he’d cut off the margins of newspapers and glue them together to make his drawing paper. Now that, my sweetness, is hard up. You can make art, but you’ve got to get some perspective.”

She’s not without compassion, but she isn’t afraid to dish the hard truths. Past columns have addressed getting gallery representation and hanging art with binder clips (a serious no-no). It’s a great opportunity to ask your own questions about navigating the art worlds or your own practice.

You’ll find Sara Estes at David Lusk Gallery where she’s always willing to provide friendly, thoughtful conversation on current exhibitions. (She’s helped me find my way through quite a few!) She’s also the co-founder and curator of Threesquared, where she’s brought some of my favorite Nashville exhibitions last year. Estes was formerly the gallery director at Fisk University and is apprentice to renowned paintings conservator Cynthia Stow.

January Crawl +thank you from NYCnash

For me, 2014 was many things, not all of them good. But launching NYCnash lit the fire under me again as a writer. The blog has engaged me with the arts community in Nashville and has been responsible for me meeting so many funny, wise, talented people. I started NYCnash to help me get out and explore the city. I thought it also might get me writing again. My partner suggested the theme, a New Yorker’s Guide to Nashville, and though it resembles that less and less, it’s gone a long way in helping me feel at home. I’m really grateful that people actually read it, and I’m going to continue writing about what I discover here.

This Saturday I’ll don my long underwear for the first art crawl of the year. I plan to head downtown early to check out COOP Gallery’s exhibition of work from new members. From the press release:

McLean Fahnestock’s inkjet prints from her Rocketless Launch series evoke the shared experience of NASA mission broadcasts and question the future of space travel. Nick Hay’s ‘zine excerpts illustrate and detail an email exchange between a West African doctor and a proclaimed centaur hunter. Angela D. Lee’s photographic prints construct mysterious family histories. Robert Scobey’s plaster sculpture of a My Buddy doll allegorizes progress and tragedy through a lens of childhood imagination.

Print

COOP Gallery will show work from McLean Fahnestock, Nick Hay, Angela D. Lee, and Robert Scobey at Saturday’s art crawl.

Over at WAG, two Watkins juniors show paintings. Marlos E’van describes his show Funkhaus as having“an element of style, grace, violence, disorder and anything bordered. I intend to capture the grace of existence and present it in its elemental nature.” I’m really looking forward to seeing Aaron Harper Space Between Things, “featuring works derived from the experience of walking and driving around the city of Nashville during the night.” That will probably do it for my downtown crawling, although The Arts Company has Michael Weintrobe’s Instrumenthead, which I saw at OZ. It’s worth checking out in person because of the sheer size of the portraits.

amy pleasant

Gallery view of Amy Pleasant’s “re/form” at White Space (Atlanta). Pleasant will show at the Packing Plant January 3.

The Packing Plant has Amy Pleasant who is showing Around and Between, a new body of work that features paintings and a series of cutouts arranged as an archaeological dig. Pleasant’s work is thoughtful, often ambiguous in a way that makes us consider different possibilities. Her exhibition “re/form” at Whitespace (Atlanta) was named one of the best exhibitions in 2014 in BURNAWAY by artist Jiha Moon (see my picks, too). I can never get comfortable in the raw walls and chilly draft at the Packing Plant, which adds a fun element of precariousness to the installations, and curator Ann Catherine Carter has been bringing relevant, complex artists to this pop-up space. Around and Between will also host a closing reception January 8 from 5-8 pm, in case you miss it. Also in Wedgewood/Houston: It’s your last chance to see Greg Pond’s The Place You Will Wait for the Rest of Your Life at Seedspace, but before you go, read these two articles by Joe Nolan and Sara Estes. Louisville’s Dougas Lucas will present a sound installation at Fort Houston, Zeitgeist will have photography by Jeremiah Ariaz and paintings by Lain York, Julia Martin will present new paintings by Harry Underwood, and David Lusk will have Ted Faiers’ paintings and woodcuts. See you there!

Subversively Spooky at Threesquared

Sara Estes of Threesquared is fast becoming my favorite Nashville curator, due in part to her eye for subversive work by women who have not exhausted topics like sexual representation, domesticity, and power dynamics. Last night, a solo show by Jessica Wohl opened in the Chestnut Square gallery, a lineup of collages that are equal parts seductive and sinister. Wohl calls them her “army,” and they’re presented as just that: a line of infantrymen–or women–or just limbs…you decide.

Jessica Wohl. The Rattler, 2014. Collage, 12 by 14 inches.

Jessica Wohl. The Rattler, 2014. Collage, 12 by 14 inches.

Jessica Wohl. Snip or Stab? Collage, 9 by 11 inches.

Jessica Wohl. Snip or Stab? Collage, 9 by 11 inches.

Wohl’s work is spooky-good. These collages join fingers and legs with products of domesticity, like afghans, teaspoons, chairs, and pearls, and most creations have a weapon: a butcher knife, a pair of pliers, a serving fork. The figures that result are both docile and threatening, an intense amalgamation of sexualized magazine ads (polished fingernails, stiletto heels, sculpted legs) and symbols of housewifery (measuring cups, throw pillows, dish towels).  The name of the series, Matriarchs, endows Wohl’s tribe with power, exploiting the illusory “norm” found in beauty and homemaking magazines. It’s clear that Wohl delights in our discomfort, and that’s just the beginning.

Jessica Wohl's Matriarchs at Threesquared Gallery.

Jessica Wohl’s Matriarchs at Threesquared Gallery.

Jessica Wohl's Matriarchs at Threesquared Gallery.

Jessica Wohl’s Matriarchs at Threesquared Gallery.

Although these weren’t in the Matriarchs lineup, her Sewn Drawings are remarkable. Wohl takes found photographs–portraits, especially Olan Mills-style family ones–and sews right into them, obscuring features, faces, or in some cases, everything but an open mouth or pair of eyes. Estes discovered Wohl’s work because her former roommate, writer Veronica Kavass, owned one of these. If I’m getting the story right, Estes was spooked by it at first, but slowly fell in love with the piece. Can you blame her?

Jessica Wohl. The White Family, 2011. Embroidery on found photograph, 8 by 10 inches.

Jessica Wohl. The White Family, 2011. Embroidery on found photograph, 8 by 10 inches.

Jessica Wohl. Masked, 2011. Embroidery on found photograph, 8 by 11 inches.

Jessica Wohl. Masked, 2011. Embroidery on found photograph, 8 by 11 inches.

The future of Chestnut Square always seems in flux, perhaps more than ever right now. Whatever becomes of the old hosiery mill, I hope Estes will continue to bring richly subversive work to Nashville. Catch the show at this Saturday’s art crawl.