2010 Winter Arts Preview: Winter Wonderland 

Bundle up, get out and enjoy the visual treasures awaiting you

Bundle up, get out and enjoy the visual treasures awaiting you

You would think that with this "if I had wanted to live in Alaska I would live in Alaska" winter we are having, everyone would just take a break from the galleries, crawl into their dens for the next few months and growl when someone gets near the door. Hell, it takes a lot more than those tiny art-reception glasses of wine to ward off the bitter cold we've been experiencing. But these unseasonably cold temperatures will pass, cabin fever will set in and art will go on, so here are a few titillating possibilities to lure you out of your hibernation.

Cumberland Gallery starts off the year with Young Turks, featuring the work of Dane Carder, Max Shuster and Jeff Green. The original Young Turks were reformers in the last days of the Ottoman Empire who opposed the monarchy and laid groundwork for the modern state of Turkey. When Cumberland Gallery opens its walls to a new generation of artists, it is not so much sponsoring the replacement of the old order as showing the continuity between younger and older (or shall we say "established") artists. Carder is intensely interested in the past — he bases his paintings on Civil War photos, which he morphs and distorts as if they are the product of computer manipulation. That movement from one medium to another gets mirrored by Shuster, but in almost the opposite direction — he creates sculptural oddities, which then become the subject of photographs. In this company, mixed media might be the most traditional path, represented here by Green, an architect who constructs mixed-media works on recycled paper that suggest an archaeological project. The show, which opened last weekend, runs through Jan. 30.

Scott Turri's Cocoons and Mobile Homes, coming to Estel Gallery Feb. 2-March 13, is a series of iconic, schematic paintings that tell stories about aging through the deployment of very specific images. Decorative patterns set off strong associations — for instance, camouflage designs, which are about the quickest way to evoke a rural setting familiar to Southerners but also relevant to Western Pennsylvania, where Turri was raised. He also uses stylized architectural forms — simple houses, the mobile homes of his title, and church buildings whose outlines scream out exurbia or rural areas. Cocoon forms hover over it all, suggesting rebirth, but also desiccation and mummification. The stories in these paintings have a strong sense of place, evoking the sensation of those settings where we grow up, leave and then revisit years later. Estel hosts an artist reception 6-9 p.m. Feb. 6.

The works of Kamal Al Mansour will be featured in a show at Tennessee State University's Hiram van Gordon Gallery Jan. 19-March 5. Bay Area artist Al Mansour uses painting and digital imagery to address African-American politics, culture and history. He uncovers points of contact or contrast between strong currents of black identity and experience like hip-hop, Black Power and the great cultural achievements of African peoples through history. TSU's Space for New Media also features a Bay Area connection in the form of a video project by the Cause Collective. Their large format video mosaic of people in Oakland includes mostly wordless views of hundreds of subjects, melded into an overall image of a human face that then moves in to focus on a few people. Reflecting the great diversity of that city, the residents laugh, dance, stare and in some cases go about their daily business for the camera. The piece was done for the Oakland airport authority, and as such has an overall positive vibe, reflected in the video's subjects, pacing, editing and music. The video is on display Jan. 19-May 7. A reception for both shows takes place 3-6 p.m. Feb. 4.

In addition to these specific shows, the local art scene has witnessed a steady growth in coordinated opening nights. The First Saturday Art Crawl, which takes place mostly downtown on Fifth Avenue and in The Arcade, seems to have spawned a movement: On the first Thursday of every month, Art After Hours features extended hours and special events at galleries all over town, and now venues in Five Points and elsewhere in East Nashville have gotten into the act with The Eastside Art Stroll, taking place on the last Saturday evening of the month.

Other highlights:

• Matt Christy at Twist 58 Gallery, through January 30

Christy is more engaged with ideas than media — you never know what his stuff will look like. This show includes drawings, collages and objects such as a Kleenex box, but it's all tied together and spilling onto and off the walls.

• Jamey Grimes at Rymer Gallery, through Feb. 27

Grimes' most notable works are large wall sculptures, especially his intricate weblike sculptures that hang close to the ceiling of exhibit spaces and change and shape the room. Grimes' work is part of a group show that also includes artists Charles Clary, Dooby Tomkins, Kristina Colucci and Brandi Milosavich. Reception 6-9 p.m. Feb. 6 during the First Saturday Art Crawl.

• Noah Walcutt's Tao of Cellocycling at Vanderbilt's Space 204, Jan. 14-Feb. 12

The gallery in Vandy's Ingram Studio Arts Center hosts a show of work by the 2008 Hamblett Award winner. Walcutt's exhibit features an invented musical instrument: He rigged up a couple of bows to a pedal contraption that pulls them across the strings of two cellos when the pedals are turned. Reception 4-6 p.m. Jan. 14.

• Chris Dean at Sarratt Gallery, Jan. 18-Feb. 14

Lenticular prints interleave two or more images and then use multiple lenses to make different images appear depending on the angle from which the object is viewed. They are used frequently in advertising and novelty items, like the winking eye rings in Cracker Jacks. Think of it as a precursor to Avatar. Chris Dean has adopted the technique for comic pop images. Gallery talk 5 p.m. Jan 21, followed by a reception.

• Steven Walker and Lucius Outlaw at The Arts Company, Feb. 6-26

Walker's urban landscapes share a similar mood with Edward Hopper's art, though their content has more in common with a contemporary landscape painter like Rackstraw Downes. The paintings in this show give Nashville streetscapes such a treatment. Outlaw, a Vanderbilt professor, took his camera to the Obama inauguration last year and documented the people and the celebration. It's amazing how long ago that seems, and it will be good to remind ourselves how exciting and moving it was, and why. Reception 6-9 p.m. Feb. 6 during the First Saturday Art Crawl.

• Masterpieces of European Painting at Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Feb. 19-May 6

Selections from a collection in Puerto Rico with an unusual focus — works from the Baroque (mostly 17th century) and Victorian (19th century) eras. The big names in the show include Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Coley Burne-Jones.

• Tina Ahyoka at Blend Studio, March 6-27

Combining a recycling ethic, a scavenger's spirit and the sheer aesthetic pleasure of translucent colors, Ahyoka will build sculptures and a glass wall from reclaimed bottles inspired in part by a temple she encountered in her travels in Thailand. She will also lead a public art project in Long Hunter State Park in conjunction with the show. Reception 6-9 p.m. March 6 during the First Saturday Art Crawl.

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