What’s the cheapest place to see movies?
The average ticket price in Nashville is $7.75 for night shows. That’s what you’ll pay if you go to Regal’s massive Hollywood 27 at 100 Oaks, a 27-screen neon behemoth that remains one of the largest theaters east of the Mississippi. It’s the megaplex located closest to the city’s center. There’s slight fluctuation: Regal’s Green Hills theater has Nashville’s highest regular ticket price, $8, while at $7 the independent Hillsboro Village arthouse the Belcourt (see below) has the lowest. If you really want to shave bucks, go to matinees, which play every day and cost $6 until 5:30 p.m.
College cinemas are also a good deal. Vanderbilt’s Sarratt Cinema programs current hits and a few recent art movies for student prices. Every year the schedule gets a little smaller, but hey, enjoy it while it lasts. For the ultimate cheapo movie date, though, you can’t beat the Watkins Film School’s free Friday-night film series, which runs throughout the fall and spring semesters. Housed in an old MetroCenter megaplex, the school shows cult movies and classics projected from DVD onto the big screenanything from Fassbinder to Italian horror maestro Dario Argento. And the popcorn in the lobby is only a buck.
Where can I go to get in touch with my inner artistand not get arrested?
Art & Soul is Nashville’s most unusual arts school, offering classes that focus on developing individual creativity rather than training you to be a painter, dancer or singer. The 14-year-old “center for creative expression and growth through the arts” is the brainchild of Arunima Orr, a trained artist and licensed therapist who moved to Nashville from California 25 years ago. Orr’s approach to art combines guided meditation, movement and sound with visual art exercises. In addition to visual art classes, the center also offers classes that focus on movement and voice as creative outlets. Art & Soul is part of the 12 South neighborhood, an area that’s fast become an art, shopping and dining destination. New ventures like Rumours art gallery, Serendipity clothing, Portland Brew coffeehouse and MafiaOza’s pizzeria have recently joined such longtime residents of the street as Corner Music, Fork’s Drum Closet and Becker’s Bakery.
What is the Belcourt?
Nashville’s last historic neighborhood moviehouse, once home to the Grand Ole Opry and the Nashville Children’s Theatre. Thanks to a grass-roots effort, the two-screen theater was saved from closing in 2000; it’s now the only place in the city where you can enjoy a movie and a beer. When it isn’t showing often controversial indie and foreign filmsrecent selections included Irreversible and Cremaster 3it’s one of Nashville’s coolest, most eclectic music venues, having hosted everyone from Norah Jones and McCoy Tyner to Bright Eyes and Yo La Tengo. And the staff is always ready to talk movies or music. Check updates on their Web site, www.belcourt.org, or call 383-9140.
Is there much in the way of live theater?
Oh hell yeah, at most every conceivable level of expense or ambition. The big-ticket productions reside at the downtown Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC), home not only to Broadway touring shows but to the Nashville Opera, the long-running Circle Players, and the Tennessee Repertory Theatre. But much of the most interesting work in town is being done by indie upstarts like Razors Edge, Actors Bridge, People’s Branch and the Mockingbird Theatre, who lean more toward original plays and/or edgier fare. At Tennessee State University, Barry Scott’s acclaimed American Negro Playwright Theater has introduced the city to works by August Wilson and Suzan-Lori Parks, and it just settled into a beautiful new performance space. And don’t let the name fool you: The venerable Nashville Children’s Theater may be the most consistently outstanding company in town. To find out about plays, either to watch or audition, check our weekly theater listings or the bulletin boards at area coffee shops like Bongo Java or Fido.
Is there a sculpture garden in Nashville?
Actually there are twoone at Cheekwood Museum of Art in Belle Meade and one at Finer Things Gallery near the fairgrounds. The Carell Woodland Sculpture Trail at Cheekwood meanders through the cedar groves and oak and hickory forest behind the art museum. You’ll find about a dozen pieces by American and European sculptors placed along the path, ranging from George Rickley’s “One Line Horizontal,” a 20-foot javelin aiming to the sky, to “Crawling Lady Hare,” one big bunny. The Finer Things sculpture garden has a much more urban feel, which is understandable since the gallery itself is bordered by train tracks, busy Nolensville Road and a trailer park. The array of works changes annually with a new crop debuting each September and remaining on view outdoors for a year. Past displays have included Nashville artist Sydney Reichman’s elongated bronze figures dancing against a backdrop of trees along the small creek that tumbles past the gallery, Michigan artist Mark Chatterley’s life-sized ceramic “Dog” and Kentucky artist Bill Raney’s “Campus Mothra #2,” a 23-foot tall stainless steel monster snapping its mouth at the sky.
Does anybody around here carry zines or comics?
While there’s no one single comics store in Nashville to rival, say, Quimby’s in Chicago or Austin Books and Comics in Austin, don’t despair. The Great Escape (327-0646), located a few blocks from the Vanderbilt campus on Broadway, devotes an entire room of its used-records complex to major titles. Rivergate’s Outer Limits (855-1500) carries select Fantagraphics titles as well as 50,000 back issues in stock; they’re also behind the upcoming Nashville HorrorCon in October. As for zines, good luck finding anything more obscure than Chunklet or Giant Robot, which appear on the racks at Tower Records on West End. Your best place to look may be www.undergroundpress.org, a nationwide resource staffed by Murfreesboro resident Jerianne Thompson. When she isn’t publishing her own excellent perzine Rejected Band Names, she edits A Reader’s Guide to the Underground Press, a compilation of articles and reviews. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does anybody in Nashville do performance art?
The collaborative art form known as performance art was born in the 1970sa successor to the art “happenings” of the 1960s. It combines sculpture, painting, film, video, music, drama and dance and usually addresses provocative political or social issues. In Nashville, about the only place you’ll find professional performance art is at ruby green, a nonprofit gallery that regularly presents it in conjunction with art openings. At the height of the war in Iraq last spring, for example, Atlanta artist Cecilia Kane presented “Red and Blue,” a performance piece about class, race, war and sexual conflict using puppets, dolls, masks and percussion music. The Sarratt Gallery at Vanderbilt also occasionally brings in performance artists so keep an eye on their schedule, as well.
Where can I find Donnie Darko, Office Space, Event Horizon, The Mack and Stan Brakhage on DVD, rental or sale?
Brace yourself for a letdown: one thing Nashville desperately needs is a cool, informed, diverse non-chain DVD rental store. For breadth of selection, sad to say, your best bet is still probably a corporate disc pimp. Tower Video (327-4437), across from Vanderbilt on West End, has a DVD library that expands in proportion to its ever-shrinking VHS catalog; it also has all the aforementioned films for rent and sale, whether your tastes run to alien splatter, experimental cinema or the finer points of ho management. But we’re holding out hope for Spun Music & Movie Rentals (386-4994), which recently moved from a side street near Vanderbilt to an old house across from Belmont. It has a small but growing selectionand unlike the chains, it has the feel of a place where you’d actually want to hang out.
Where can I look at art that won’t put me to sleep?
Nashville art gallery openings are, hands down, the best free weekend events in the city. For the edgiest art and the youngest crowd, head for the Fugitive Art Center, in a converted warehouse near downtown, the TAG Gallery in Hillsboro Village and Rule of Thirds, run by art and film students out of an old house near Belmont University. At the Fugitive you’ll find everything from video and installation art to photography and painting, all by young artists who are way off the traditional gallery radar screen. At TAG, the focus is on self-trained folk and outsider art from all over the country, while at Rule of Thirds, you might see graffiti art one month and paintings by death row inmates the next.
Where can I see something after midnight?
On weekdays, not much. On weekends, Vanderbilt’s Sarratt Cinema sometimes shows midnight screenings of cult movies for night-owl cinephiles, and Regal’s megaplexes add midnight shows on Fridays and Saturdays. For music, the late shows at most clubs will be ending before 1 a.m. However, the new Shirley Street Station (506-8884), located in an iffy neighborhood behind an 8th Avenue South strip club, has experimented with midnight-to-dawn bills of indie rockers, with a keg-tapping as extra incentive. And the crowded weekend jazz shows at Café 123 (255-2253) frequently run into the wee wee hours. Or you could simply go to the Rock Block’s all-nite hangout Café Coco (321-2626) and watch the insomniac parade.
Where do I take a date so I can show off my cultured side?
Frist Center for the Visual Arts makes it easy to look good in the art department. And no matter when you go, there’s sure to be a major show from a big name museum like the Tate in London or the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. The center’s cafe is a great place to have a cappuccino, the gift shop is on par with any New York City museum and free gallery talks and musical events are often offered with the shows. This past summer the center introduced Frist Fridays, a free party on the center’s back patio with live music, hors d’oeuvres and admission to the art galleries. Plans are to continue the event this fall, though there will probably be a modest admission fee charged to offset the cost of handling the crowds. (Nearly 5,000 people showed up at the last one.)
Where do I go for a crash course in country music?
For almost 35 years, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum was crammed into a small brick building on Music Row. Then, in 2001, the museum packed up its 1 million artifacts and moved into a $37 million facility that covers an entire city block downtown. The museum now has the room to tell the story of country music in its entirety from the pre-commercial era of the 1800s right on up to the present day in high-tech, interactive displays. There are soundproof booths, for example, where you can listen to and learn about landmark country artists and songs, plus live musical performances and talks by fabled artists and musicians throughout the year. The museum shop is stocked with country CDs at reasonable prices and there’s even a restaurant serving up Southern “comfort” food like barbecue, fried chicken and biscuits with gravy.
Where can I get free videos, use the Internet and read the latest magazines?
The Nashville Public Library’s main branch downtown and the Green Hills branch were both built a few years ago, so each offers computers with Internet access, racks of the latest magazines, comfy chairs for reading and work stations for serious research. You can also check out videos that range from classic early Hollywood films to major studio and indie releases that are often only a few months old. The downtown branch has a particularly good foreign film section, as well. Not only are the videos free, you get them for a full five days and can return them at any library branch. Just because they’re are free, though, please be kind and rewinda simple act of courtesy that a lot of Nashville library patrons seem to be forgetting these days.
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