Saturday, Sept. 28
Tour of 10 Nashville art galleries, 6-9 p.m.; late party at Gaylord Entertainment Center, 9 p.m.-2 a.m.
For tickets and information, call 259-4866, ext. 300, or visit www.artrageous.org
$75, gallery tour and party; $55, party only
Artrageous seems to bring out the best in Nashville: the best crowd, the best party and the best art. Founded in 1987, the annual event is the longest running AIDS fundraiser in the state and has collected more than $2.2 million for the Middle Tennessee AIDS service organization Nashville CARES. Once again combining a tour of local art galleries with a renowned after-party, Artrageous returns for its 15th year Saturday evening and promises to continue in a superlative veinespecially in terms of the art on view at participating galleries around town.
On a fine-art level, the “Inside/Outside” show at Cumberland Gallery in Green Hills is the best of a very good bunch. It’s an exhibition that covers the ins and outs of art in terms of subject matter, as gallery owner Carol Stein has invited 13 artists of regional and national note to present their individual takes on interiors and landscapes. The roster includes gallery favorites like Kit Reuther and John Baeder, as well as James Lavadour in his Nashville debut. Lavadour grew up on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in northeastern Oregon, and his abstract visions of the mountains that surrounded him in childhood are among the most dramatic works in the show. According to Stein, Lavadour’s paintings evoke the emotional essence of the mountains rather than attempting to literally depict the geological forms. “By layering, stippling, scraping, wiping and allowing the paint to drip and erode, he creates the same geological forms that he observed as a boy,” she says. “His goal isn’t to mimic the landscape, but instead embody the same energy conveyed in the mountains’ erosion patterns and dimensional mass.” The results are works like “Bloodshot,” in which sweeping strokes of orange, red and black combine with smoky blue and white to suggest mountains engulfed in either sunset or fire.
Other works at Cumberland Gallery include Baeder’s photo-realistic paintings of small-town Southern diners, Charles Carraway’s dreamy interiors of a Mississippi farmhouse and Charles Basham’s super-saturated landscapes inspired by the woods surrounding his Ohio home. Norman Lundin’s paintings and drawings of empty interiors and Arless Day’s color-saturated collages are also featured. If you miss the Artrageous evening, the Cumberland Gallery show is on display through Oct. 12 and is a must-see on its own merits.
While Cumberland Gallery offers a chance for Nashvillians to see the newest works of several national artists, The Arts Company’s exhibition of paintings by the late Doug Williams (1933-2001) honors one of this city’s own most creative figures. For much of his life, Williams wasn’t a visual artistthough he moved in artistic circles here and abroad. Educated in literature and classical music, Williams taught in Hawaii, Texas and Florida before becoming a concert marimba player with symphony orchestras from Mexico City to Europe. Returning to Nashville in the 1970s, he worked as an interior designer, an impresario and a gallery owner. It wasn’t until the early 1990s, when he was diagnosed with an AIDS-related illness, that Williams taught himself to paint and decided to create his own visual legacy. The exhibit at The Arts Company on Fifth Avenue showcases that legacy in 150 paintings, and also includes a full-color hardbound catalog of over 500 images that is available for purchase.
According to the catalog, Williams’ evolution as a painter began in 1992 when his sister, BMI president and CEO Frances Williams Preston, encouraged him to pursue art even as he waged a battle against a devastating illness. He created an elegant salon and studio in the former pool house on the grounds of his sister’s Nashville home and began to paint night and day. The exhibition at The Arts Company (whose owner, Anne Brown, is thankfully on the mend after recently being hospitalized for chest pains) chronicles Williams’ development, from early works consisting of simple lines to his final phase of painting exuberantly colored flowers and landscapes. In between, he explored figures and faces in dreamlike compositions and also delved into questions of human mortality in a series of canvases using biblical imagery. The result is a body of work that is as varied as the artist’s own life experiences. “Painting is one of the facets of human expression,” Williams once said. “I paint as a musician would; I paint as a poet. I paint wide open.”
The eight other galleries on the Artrageous tour this year also offer superb art, andas with Cumberland Gallery and The Arts Companycomplimentary refreshments provided by the Park Café, Calypso Cafe, Cibo, Sunset Grill, Wild Iris and other top Nashville restaurants and caterers. At Finer Things Gallery on Nolensville Road, there’s the 4th Annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition outside the building, and Chris Cosnowski’s witty oil paintings and Kathleen Stephenson’s playful ceramic figures inside. American Artisan on Harding Road features Tomas Savrda’s handcrafted metal works, and In the Gallery on Jefferson Street has Impressionistic portraits by Gordon James. Midtown Gallery on Broadway showcases Jann Harrison’s whimsical paintings detailing the adventures of Francois, a well-heeled Southern frog, while next door, Local Color Gallery displays Paula Frizbe’s Impressionistic still lifes. Zeitgeist in Hillsboro Village features art by Lain York, Ruby Green on Fifth Avenue shows works by W.J. Nixon and Prism Glass on White Bridge Road offers glass creations by a number of national artists.
After all that art, patrons can head to the Gaylord Entertainment Center for the grand finalea late-night party that takes its cue from the Baz Luhrmann film Moulin Rouge, with the whole arena transformed into the fabled Paris nightclub. All that will be missing are Moulin Rouge stars Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregoralthough with Artrageous you never know who may turn up.
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