I first saw Casey Pierce's paintings at Fido in Hillsboro Village. In fact, I couldn't miss them: They were massive, figurative images that copped an old-school style while simultaneously nodding to contemporary self-reflexiveness. Now, several years later, Pierce has developed as both a painter and a thinker, and if the artist's exhibition at Threesquared tomorrow night isn't the first knockout exhibition of the year, it will certainly be the art happening of the weekend.
New West: An Introduction offers viewers a sneak peek at Pierce's in-progress series of typically large canvases. But, where Pierce has often looked to European artists for inspiration, New West is All-American — sort of. The exhibition's title recalls playwright Sam Shepard's True West and, just like that play, Pierce's New West is a place where contemporary values clash with old myths.
Pierce puns with a title like “Plato's Cave” — a painting of an expansive, desert landscape seen through a cave opening shaped like the silhouette of a human brain. The show's signature image, “Plato's” embodies our romanticizing and mythologizing of the Old West while commenting on the conceptual blind spots that such nostalgia ultimately reveals.
Pierce's piece comments on perception. So does the work of photographer Vesna Pavlovic, whose Real Images, is opening at the same time next door to Threesquared at Seed Space. In this exhibition, Pavlovic projects her photos onto a semi-transparent white acrylic hemisphere, mimicking the manner in which light reflects off of her subjects, passes through her camera lens, and ultimately creates her images in the first place. The Scene's own Laura Hutson named Pavlovic the city's Best Artist in last year's Best of Nashville issue, and it's hard to imagine any similar short list without Pavlovic's name on it.
That said, the small confines of Seed Space will really put this installation to the test. Pavlovic's 2011 installation in The Frist's Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery was similar to the Seed Space display. It came off so well in the large, open gallery that it gave Pavlovic's show enough gravitas to hold its own alongside the multimedia Andy Warhol extravaganza it was programmed alongside. Art-making often boils down to problem-solving, and it's going to say a lot about Pavlovic and her process to see how she negotiates a perfect fit out of what threatens to be a mismatch.
Both galleries are located in the Chestnut Square building at 427 Chestnut Street.
Both opening receptions 6—9 p.m.