Tony Youngblood

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!

A Sneak Peak at Inaugural Modular Art Pods Event

It’s countdown time for the inaugural Modular Art Pods event, and 32 artists and artist-teams scramble to finish their pods. As I write, a lighted pod sits behind me in the kitchen. If I want to go to the fridge, I have to carefully inch it over. The cats don’t know what to do.

But it will all be worth it Saturday night when the first ever MAPs event will kick off at abrasiveMedia during the art crawl. That’s in Houston Station at 438 Houston Street, in the same building as Sherrick & Paul (which is running a beautiful solo exhibition of paintings by Damian Stamer).

MAPs will present 32 unique 4′ by 4′ pods that will act as mini galleries showing work by artists of all stripes: visual, sound, music, performance, wood, light, textile..they’ll run the gamut. To experience all pods, you can crawl through the tunnel or walk around in the “back lot tour.” Creator Tony Youngblood says that you can’t do both though, drawing attention to accessibility options: some of us can’t or don’t want to crawl through, so those of us who can crawl also get only one option. See the beautiful graphic made by podsters Stacey Irvin and Andee Rudloff for the full roster of artists. Keep scrolling for some snapshots and a video of pods-in-the-making.


First in the crawl: cleanse your palate from the world with Tony Youngblood’s own pod. 

Sarah McDonald and Tyler Blankenship’s tiny landscape pod will be viewed head-level, like the viewing pod in the meerkat exhibition at the zoo.


Sarah McDonald and Tyler Blankenship

Sarah McDonald and Tyler Blankenship.

Sarah McDonald and Tyler Blankenship.

From Becky Fox Matthews and Alison Rinner: “Our pod is an educational jellyfish protecting endangered sea creatures, and is programmed using Scratch software and Makey Makey’s.”


Becky Fox Matthews and Alison Rinner


Becky Fox Matthews and Alison Rinner

Courtney Adair Johnson’s zero waste pod is made from 100% found materials, as is all of the artist’s work. The interactive pod will open for discussion and reflection on other inanimate objects for non-artists to connect and create awareness of a need for redesign.

Courtney Adair Johnson

Courtney Adair Johnson


Courtney Adair Johnson


Courtney Adair Johnson

This tactile fabric pod by Lauren Kussro is so gorgeous and cozy, I won’t want to keep crawling.


Lauren Kussro

Lauren Kussro

Lauren Kussro

We hope to see you Saturday night! You can crawl from 6 pm to 10 pm. We’re hoping all the galleriests who usually can’t make the rounds during the crawl will be able to head over in the last hour. I’ll keep you posted with more sneak peaks as the week goes on!

Modular Art Pods Announces Artists!

It’s happening soon! Modular Art Pods has just released its roster of Nashville artists, who will construct an art tunnel February 7th from 6-10 pm at abrasiveMedia. It includes a performance piece by Seed Space’s Andri Alexandrou, a neat interactive pod by Evelyn Walker, a vacuum-formed pod by Brandon Donahue, music in a cage by Gordon Roque, a My Little Mancave for Bronies by Patrick Stefaniak, and the projection talent of Dig Deep Light Show. Courtney Adair Johnson is creating a pod made exclusively of reused materials.

Several pods will be born of collaboration, like a cabinet of curiosities by Megan Kelley and Stephen Zerne, and an extra special fun pod by Sarah MacDonald and Tyler Blankenship.


“Rocks” that will populate Beth Reitmeyer’s pod, at the inaugural Modular Art Pods event at abrasiveMedia.

There are 32 pods total, so this my friends, is just beginning. There will also be stream-of-consciousness improve art, a greenhouse, a tactile fabric pod, and more!

Remembering my conflict of interest (I’m in love with the MAPs creator), I am so excited about the inaugural Modular Art Pods event. It’s going to be a fantastic way for over 40 artists to meet and collaborate. After all, they’ll be part of the same crawl-through tunnel. It will be interesting to see what’s born from their participation in the future.

Call for Artists, Makers, Performers

mapsWhen Tony Youngblood and I first started dating, he told me dreamily of a idea that he’d been turning over in his mind for a while. It was called Modular Art Pods, or M.A.P.s for short. M.A.P.s would be an open-source art tunnel made by various artists, makers, and performers — anyone, in fact, who could fill up a 4×4 cube in an innovative way. Viewers would experience each pod by crawling through, like in the map to the left. It was a good idea, and even back then, I knew he’d see it through. Many moons later, we’re accepting submissions for the inaugural crawl, which will take place at abrasiveMedia on February 7, during the Arts and Music at Wedgewood Houston event. A crawl at the crawl!

The M.A.P.s website has everything you need to know, including ways to build the structure of a pod and what you can put inside. We’re looking for pods that engage the audience, including those who choose to walk around the pods in the back-lot tour and peer in. We welcome collaborations, too. The application is a cinch to fill out, so DO IT.

Deadline is December 20. Here I am in a pod with a cat!

erica podTony has done tons of cool shit I love to brag about, including founding and directing the biennial Circuit Benders Ball, organizing the Bring Your Own Beamer projector extravaganza in Nashville, and hosting a podcast and blog for experimental music called Theatre Intangible. Follow what he’s up to here.


Mini Maker Faire Saturday!

From 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday at the Adventure Science Center in Nashville, come check out the robots, star ships, printers, and a whole variety of humanoid-made inventions at the Mini Maker Faire. Tony Youngblood wrote about it his monthly column “Art in Formation” in Nashville Arts:

“The Nashville faire is one of over one hundred Mini Maker Faires held all over the world. The event is licensed by Maker Media, publisher of Make Magazine and producer of the official faires in New York City and the Bay Area, and organized by Nashville groups such as the Adventure Science Center, ArtsCubed, Make Nashville, NashMicro, and the Middle Tennessee Robotic Arts Society. ASC’s Jeff Krinks says this year’s faire ‘will be even bigger than last year’s and chock full of exciting exhibits and hands-on demos.’ In addition to panels, performances, workshops, and the return of popular exhibits like Chris Lee’s ever-growing full scale Millennium Falcon, Krinks says the faire will feature ‘robotics, 3D puzzles, creative smart-art, origami, electronic gadgets, props and costumes, sculpting, crafts, and much more.'”

Tony and I will be at a booth with our many inventions. Come by to get a hand-sewn wristlet with a 3D printed Make Nashville key chain. We’ll be sewing and 3D printing all day, and we’ll also have our home carbonating system, so you can get refreshed with a fizzy beverage. In addition, Tony will be hosting a paper craft workshop at noon, and he’ll be teaching participants to make movable figures from just paper and glue. Hope to see you there!

3D printed, hand-sewn souvenirs we'll have at our booth Saturday at the Mini Maker Faire

3D printed, hand-sewn souvenirs we’ll have at our booth Saturday at the Mini Maker Faire

abrasiveMedia Opens in Houston Station

It’s not just the pews and stained glass. abrasiveMedia’s new space has a holiness about it—a grandness. At their opening in early May, trapeze artists and arial dancers hung from the ceiling beams; painters worked in the hallway, unhindered by the prying eyes of passersby; the curious circled the perimeter, checking out the local art. abrasiveMedia was founded in 2004, and a decade later, it finds a rightful new home in Houston Station.


According to abrasiveMedia’s mission statement, the organization “exists to help artists grow, connect, and produce. We facilitate and advocate for artists in Nashville, while building relationships within the artistic community and making excellent art more accessible for our city.” It hosts four dance companies and various visual artists, as well as writers, photographers, musicians, and web designers. Tony Youngblood interviews exec director Audra Almond-Harvey in Nashville Arts here. 


The org offers classes in ballet, ariel fabric, trapeze, and kickboxing, among others. It’s cooking up fantastic programming for kids, including pop-up Super Squad camps. And their prices are reasonable for studios and desk rentals.

Right now, they’re showing a fun series: David Landry’s Kickstarter-funded, giant graphic novel “The Anomaly.” “Imagine walking inside a steampunk comic book;” he writes, “that is how big this is going to be.”




With its prime location, abrasiveMedia will be a sure stop on future We-Ho art crawls.

Houston Station is too gorgeous. It’s refurbished and renovated—an urban loft space with unfinished wooden beams, slick hard wood floors, and exposed brick, and even random vintage furniture sitting in rooms that are otherwise uninhabited. It’s even got a freight train that barrels past the back door. It touts itself as the new center for events, art, and music in Nashville.” I’m curious how much it costs to rent a space; the web site doesn’t list prices. It also calls itself “Nashville’s one-stop shop for event, art, and music needs.” To me, the little pockets of creativity and artistic presence in Nashville are wonderful; I wouldn’t want them all in one place. That said, aside from its swaggering website, the space makes a beautiful new home for abrasiveMedia.