The Arts Company and Artists for Oasis team up for a weekend arts festival beginning on Friday, May 14. Arts Company owner Anne Brown kicks off the celebrations by hosting the 13th annual (and final) Artists for Oasis benefit. Over the years, the event has raised more than $1.3 million for the Oasis Center, which has been serving Nashville teens and parents in crisis for almost 35 years. The Artists for Oasis event has been successfully modeled by many institutions in Middle Tennessee. Now, as it approaches a significant anniversary, the Oasis Center is retiring the benefit and is planning to develop a new standout fundraiser for next year. Fittingly billed as "The Last Dance," Artists for Oasis intends to finish with a bang.
"We're going out while we're still at the top of the game," says Oasis Center executive director Hal Cato. It's hard to argue. "The Last Dance" celebrates the work of 42 local artistspretty much an A-Z of Nashville's art scene from Anne Blair Brown to Lain York. Each one has contributed to Artists for Oasis at some point over the last 12 years. (The only artist making a debut this year is disco queen Donna Summer.) There's an embarrassment of riches here, with each artist contributing five pieces to the event. Check out Jack Isenhour's effervescent cocktail-hour-inspired "Conversation," or the seductively kinetic "Dancer." Todd Greene's mixed-media cartographic odyssey, "Suchness," also deserves a long look. Associate Arts Company director Herb Williams' liquor bottle tribute, "Redrum," and Barbara Coon's playful "Blue Paint" (a date palm masquerading as paintbrushor is it the other way around?) provide light and ingenious counterpoint to some of the sterner artistic utterances, like Greene's powerfully primitive "Warrior Priest." Tickets for the benefit, to be held in the gallery's Avant Garage 6-10 p.m. Friday, are priced at $125 per person. Call the Oasis Center at 327-4455 for more information.
The weekend continues on Saturday, May 15, with The Arts Company's latest "Salon Saturday." Reviving the spirit of the French salons, this ongoing program gives exposure to fresh artistic voices, often with a twist. True to form, this weekend the Salon Saturday doors open to sculptor and painter Brother Melotherwise known as a "One-Man Art Phenomenon"who is returning to Nashville as part of what has become an annual pilgrimage. Brother Mel is a St. Louis-based Marianist monk who has worked as a resident artist in his hometown for more than a quarter of a century. Prolific and eclectic, he works in many media, including metal, stone, watercolor, fresco, acrylics and handmade paper. His work graces the interiors of many churches and chapels in the U.S., as well as hotels and corporate headquarters. This is not the first time Brother Mel's work has been shown at The Arts Company, and it's fair to say that the monk-polymath has developed (probably to his slight discomfort) a somewhat cultish following. This year, his offerings include sculptures, works in metal (such as the exquisitely wrought "Leaf Bowl") and a one-day-only indoor-outdoor sculpture exhibition; look out for the life-sized piano, cello and violin spilling out onto Fifth Avenue. Brother Mel will be at the Salon Saturday opening, which takes place 2-6 p.m. and is free to the public. For information, call 254-2040.
The entire weekend is dedicated to the memory of Nashville visionary Peggy Weil Steine (1919-2004). For more than 50 years, Steine worked tirelessly as a civic leader. She was an arts champion and largely responsible for Nashville's development as a major center for the arts. This weekend festival, which brings together many of Nashville's finest artists, should be a fitting tribute to Steine's work, legacy and indomitable spirit.
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