Jackalope Brewing Presents National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
When: 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2
Where: The Belcourt
Merry Christmas! Shitter was full! If the holiday season makes you want to lock yourself in the attic (even if accidentally) while the rest of the family does last-minute shopping, hightail it to The Belcourt for a screening of the modern holiday classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
In addition to enjoying the antics of the Griswold clan, you’ll be the first to try local brewery Jackalope’s newest beer, Snowman Stout. The Jackalope gals, Bailey and Robin, will debut the new concoction, which is brewed with whole coffee beans and organic cocoa nibs. Sounds almost as delicious as cat food-infused Jell-O. Fifteen bucks gets you admission to the film and unlimited pours.
StudioVU: Sanford Biggers
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20
Where: Vanderbilt's Wilson Hall
If there were ever a case to be made that Nashville would benefit from additional contemporary art institutions, you wouldn’t have to look much further than the impact local universities have had on the art scene — largely through the visiting artists who’ve stopped by Vanderbilt or Lipscomb to speak about their work. Add Sanford Biggers, one of only a handful of young artists who can claim a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum and a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem, to the list of artists who’ve come through town to speak at Vanderbilt’s StudioVU series of artist talks.
Biggers’ artist’s statement runs down a list of ideas his work references, including African-American ethnography, hip-hop music, Buddhism, Indo-European Vodoun, Afrofuturism, urban culture and icons from Americana. If you’re unfamiliar with Afrofuturism, consider the Afrocentric sci-fi mythology of Sun Ra, Parliament-Funkadelic — or Janelle Monáe, who speaks about the concept in her interview with Jewly Hight in the music section.
As a side note, Biggers’ appearance tonight coincides with The Shadows Took Shape, an group exhibit at the Studio Museum that centers around this very topic. The exhibit will also feature Saya Woolfalk and Trenton Doyle Hancock, both of whom have recently visited Nashville for artist talks and Frist Center exhibitions.
International Lens: Tony Takitani
Where: Vanderbilt's Sarratt Cinema
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12
Reading a novel or short story by Haruki Murakami is like picking at a thread that eventually threatens to unravel the world. The movie version of “Tony Takitani,” a 2002 Murakami story that appeared in The New Yorker, evokes the same sense of disarming simplicity as a gateway to extraordinary depths.
In 75 unwasted minutes, director Jun Ichikawa etches the life of an emotionally crippled illustrator (Issei Ogawa) who finds new love, and with it a new terror of his former loneliness. As if to underscore the isolation of Tony and his passively troubled bride (Rie Miyazawa), an off-screen narrator does most of the talking; the characters sometimes finish his sentences, as if desperate to make themselves known.
When combined with Ryuichi Sakamoto’s delicate piano score and the tidy, rigidly composed images, which the camera scans from left to right like a photocopier of the memory, the effect reminded me of graphic novelist Chris Ware’s achingly plaintive Jimmy Corrigan series — or the understated desperation of good ol’ Charlie Brown. The movie is an exquisite miniature: If you have ever watched your sleeping lover and felt the helpless vulnerability that adoration brings, its slow fade of an ending is a punch to the heart.
In subtitled Japanese, it screens free as part of Vanderbilt’s International Lens series, introduced by Vanderbilt associate professor of history Yoshikuni Igarashi; Tomorrow night, Wednesday, Nov. 13, brings the transgender documentary Trans at 7:30 p.m.
The Gospel at Colonus
Where: University School of Nashville
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 8 and 9
Does the term “Greek tragedy” stir up memories of college lectures that put you to sleep? Does the name Sophocles make you want to grab the remote and flip on Duck Dynasty? Well, we’ve got just the cure for your classics-phobia — The Gospel at Colonus.
Created in 1985 by Lee Breuer, founding artistic director of renowned New York avant-garde theater company Mabou Mines, and composer Bob Telson, the work recasts Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus as a gospel musical. To get an idea, check YouTube for clips of the 1985 Brooklyn Academy of Music production, featuring Morgan Freeman as a Pentecostal preacher (and more) telling the story of Oedipus.
The production is a collaboration between University School of Nashville and Fisk University, and features cast members from both institutions. USN’s Catherine Coke and Fisk’s Persephone Felder-Fentress co-direct, with assistance from USN music director Ginger Newman.
Additional performances will be at Fisk University's Memorial Chapel on Nov. 14-16.
Salon@615 w/Wally Lamb
When: 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5
Where: Nashville Public Library, downtown
Wally Lamb’s 1996 novel She’s Come Undone was one of the first books to be picked for Oprah’s Book Club, and in many ways Lamb remains the quintessential author for the Oprah set. A cross between Amy Tan and Mary Gaitskill, Lamb writes female characters who are tortured and witty, edging toward schmaltz but never quite crossing over.
His latest book, We Are Water, extols the family secrets of main character Annie Oh, a middle-aged wife and mother who instigates an affair with her female art teacher. Juicy, readable and as engrossing as a crossover episode of Desperate Housewives and Twin Peaks, Lamb’s novels are some of the smartest you’ll find on the bestseller racks. His appearance at Salon@615 marks the halfway point in this year’s excellent series — look for appearances from Ms. Tan, as well as Nikki Giovanni and Doris Kearns Goodwin, in the coming weeks.
Watch a video of Lamb describing We Are Water after the jump.
Nashville’s art lovers shouldn’t let this season’s unprecedented roster of impressive contemporary art surveys — Abstractometry and 30 Americans at the Frist and More Love at Cheekwood, to name a few — overshadow what might have been, during a quieter art season, the highlight of the year. Deviating Utopias, Ana Maria Tavares’ installation in the Frist’s back gallery, is one of the most moving, crowd-pleasing pieces I’ve encountered in that space: Reflective tiles on the floor make you feel like you’re walking across an immense chasm, Temple of Doom-style, only to be met with a kaleidoscope of steel structures as they crumble down on screens that fill all four gallery walls.
A score written by Nashville composer Brian Siskind accompanies Tavares’ immersive video. “Niterói, water that hides,” is a sonic collage that brings together midcentury and postwar orchestral vinyl, but recontextualizes it into a dark, deep sound environment. See it today.
Watch the Tavares speak about her work and the installation in her Artist's Perspective, filmed at the Frist in October, after the jump.
Nash-Up: Remixing Nashville's Arts, Culture and Creative Future
When: 9;30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Nashville Public Library, 615 Church Street
Originally designed to be the culmination of Metro Arts’ Artober campaign, this year’s Nash-Up conference tomorrow will take the elements that made last year’s conference successful and kick them up a notch. The morning starts with a panel on art and technology, moderated by the Scene’s own Steve Haruch. He’ll lead the conversation with some of the city’s brightest innovators — like Mike Butera, who invented the Artiphon, and glitch artist Robbie Hunsinger — about where art and tech intersect, and how local artists can leverage technology to expand their creative practice.
Robin Rather, CEO of the Austin-based market resource company Collective Strength (and daughter of the longtime CBS Evening News anchor) will lead an afternoon panel on art and the urban environment. Expect lively discussion about the roles artists play in shaping their civic environment from panelists like Sideshow Fringe Festival’s Jessika Malone and social change activist Molly Secours.
But it’s what happens between the panels that we’ll likely learn the most from: The panelists will lead a conference-wide discussion about placemaking, and everyone will break into smaller groups to discuss potential challenges and solutions. Isle of Printing’s printmaking cart will be on hand to make printed portraits, and the ideas the small groups come up with will inform the bulk of the afternoon panel.
The event is free; click here for registration info. We’ll meet you there!
Refuge: Stories of the Selfhelp Home
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29
Where: Vanderbilt's Commons Center Multipurpose Room
Almost 70 years have passed since the end of World War II, and soon we’ll no longer be able to hear from Holocaust survivors firsthand. That’s why any opportunity to listen to their stories is noteworthy, including this 60-minute documentary, Refuge: Stories of the Selfhelp Home, screening as part of the Holocaust Lecture Series at Vanderbilt. It tells of a resourceful group of Jewish residents of Chicago who worked to create a welcoming home for Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors. Called the Selfhelp Home, the nonprofit has sheltered more than 1,000 people in the decades since the war. It’s also created an ideal stop for historians seeking first-person accounts of the Holocaust. “Please listen to us,” says Edith Stern, an Auschwitz survivor interviewed in the film. “We are dying out.”
The film tells the remarkable survival tales of Stern and five other members of the Selfhelp community, along with chronicling the home itself, which has had to evolve along with its aging residents. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Stern and director Ethan Benziger.
Artist’s Perspective: Hank Willis Thomas
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24
Where: The Frist
Of the Frist’s 30 Americans exhibit, the pieces by Hank Willis Thomas are perhaps the most broad. “Basketball and Chain,” for example, shows a black man, presumably in a pre-dunk midair flight, with a basketball shackled around his Air Jordaned ankle. Not exactly subtle, but stare into its reflective surface for long enough and I guarantee you’ll see something new.
Willis Thomas draws much of his imagery from advertisements, and his work shouts its messages with an advertiser’s urgency. That’s why his talk tonight, part of the Frist’s Artist’s Perspectives series, is so important. Willis Thomas has no reservations in his art, and as a speaker he addresses the same issues head on: blackness, the intersection of race and identity, and the implicit servitude requested of those who buy into corporate brands. You’ll never think of MasterCard the same way again.
StudioVU: Leighton Pierce
Where: Vanderbilt's Wilson Hall
When: 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23
“In the simplest terms, a film or a video can be considered to be a meaningful experience in time.” That’s Leighton Pierce, the experimental filmmaker who’ll be at Vanderbilt tonight to screen his latest film as part of the university’s excellent StudioVU lecture series, in a Q&A on his website. He’s speaking to an interviewer about his work, which is deceptively complicated but as easy to appreciate as a classical melody or the view of a landscape from an airplane.
In much the same way that Impressionist painters saw the possibility of capturing a mood instead of a carbon copy, Pierce makes films that utilize the potential of video to document events unfolding in time, not to tell a direct narrative but to evoke emotion in his audience. If that sounds complex or overly cerebral, it’s the fault of the critic trying to explain away work that needs to be experienced to be understood. Remedy that at Pierce’s lecture, called “Carving a Ball of Sound with an Image Chisel,” which will be accompanied by a screening of the newly completed film “White Ash.”
Watch the video at the top of this post — Pierce's 2001 film "The Back Steps" — and see Pierce's mastery at work. The film's description is after the jump.
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