About an hour before Zeitgeist opened the first exhibit in their new summer program, A Bigger Picture, I called the gallery to ask if it would be OK for me to stop by early so that I could snap some pics of the work before the shotgun space filled up with what was sure to be a big crowd — the gorgeous weather and the usual drawing power of the Hillsboro Village Art Walk practically secured a big turn out. I spoke to gallery owner Janice Zeitlin, who assured me that the doors would be open when I arrived.
Gallery director Lain York is also the exhibiting artist in this month's show. His work is a great example of the larger installation projects Zeitgeist will be displaying in the coming months. “The thought with this new series is that we wanted to highlight gallery artists,” explained York. “Usually we reach out to the studio community during the summer and highlight new artists to the scene. With the move coming up, we want to give gallery artists something to rally around.”
Along with their immediate neighbors, Zeitgeist is planning a move in the cloud of massive building renovation that has a number of Hillsboro Village stalwarts scrambling for new digs. Zeitgeist Gallery opened in 1994 in Cummins Station. To this day I think their original space was the best commercial gallery environment Nashville has seen. The relocation to Hillsboro Village in 1999 offered a better location, but a challenging space to share with the architectural arm of the Zeitlins' art and design one-two-punch.
This question of space is an interesting one to consider when viewing York's installation. “Untitled (Permian Chapters)” was the centerpiece of the artist's exhibition at Belmont University's Leu Art Gallery in January. This show offers viewers who missed it the chance to take in this sprawling, 12-panel painting of pencil marks and Wite-Out correction tape on unfinished board.
For fans who will be sneaking their second look, it's an interesting opportunity to see the work in a totally different context. In the comparatively massive Belmont space, the piece was hung higher and viewers could take it in from nearly any angle or distance. In the cozy confines of the Zeitgeist gallery, the piece seems massive, and the installation takes on a resonant insistence that owes something to its intimate proximity to the viewer. In its own way, this installation is the stronger one, and the comparison is a fantastic example of how much an art venue has to say about the work on its own walls.
York's panels are installed with a joyful disregard for one another; hanging at odd angles, divided by uneven spaces. The white arabesques that swirl across the collected surfaces are by turns elegant and crude, ephemeral and intense. Standing close, pencil marks come into view, revealing the installation to be a palimpsest haunted by the ghosts of previous expressions. The Wite-Out and the half-hidden pencil marks speak to covered-over mysteries and excavated discoveries. York has created a dialog about the archaeological sites and tribal artifacts that he takes as his inspiration while also making a comment about the deconstructive process that results in his finished work.
The show is accompanied by other gallery offerings, including a pair of John Donovan's ceramic warrior helmets and two landscape-evoking sculptures from Greg Pond. Be sure to take a look at the pieces by Hans Schmitt-Matzen in the back of the gallery. His painted aerial photographs will take center stage in July for A Bigger Picture's second installment.