Saturday, Nov. 6
At various Nashville galleries and Gaylord Entertainment Center
Gallery Tour: 6-9 p.m.; Club Escapade Party: 9 p.m.-1 a.m.
Tickets: $65 per person (gallery tour and party); $45 per person (party only)
For more information, call 259-4866, ext. 300.
This year at the annual Nashville Cares benefit known as Artrageous, you can bid on a 2000 Volkswagen Passat, dance to Martha Wash singing “It’s Raining Men” on the floor of the Gaylord Entertainment Center, and gorge yourself on wine and cheese from one end of the town to the other. You can also look at art.
While an army of volunteers oversees the refreshment, entertainment, and silent auction logistics of the huge event, which has raised $1.4 million for AIDS education and services since 1988, the task of keeping the art in Artrageous falls to the city’s gallery owners. Some, like Cumberland Gallery and American Artisan, have been hosting Artrageous since the beginning; others, like Ruby Green, are new to the game.
Some galleries feature works by national-level artists, others spotlight works by new local or regional artists. Styles range from photorealism and surrealism to abstractionism and works for which an “ism” has yet to be coined. Ceramic sculpture, mixed media, oil and acrylic paintings, photography, and fine crafts are on view at the various stops. No matter where you look, though, you’re bound to find art that’s worth a second look.
At Cumberland Gallery, the Artrageous show features works by four different artists. The abstract constructions of Carrie McGee combine canvas, Plexiglas blocks, and rust stains for layered works that address the topics of time, light, and memory. The organic ceramic forms of Ann Wells pull the viewer into a natural world of cornucopias with elaborately patterned interiors, shell-inspired wall hangings, and seedpod-like sculptures. Photographer John Folsom enlarges, cuts, paints, and waxes his black-and-white photos of lonely roads and lakes to produce haunting, mosaic-like visuals. Robert Durham’s quirky, meticulously detailed, and beautifully rendered oil paintings place everyday objects in the context of the surreal. In one work a nude female mannequin sits next to an accordion player, seemingly carrying on an intimate conversation. In another, a young girl is poised against the darkness on the edge of a diving board, the eerie green light of the water below illuminating her form.
For its 12th turn as an Artrageous gallery, American Artisan spotlights the wooden cabinets of Florida artist Bruce Reynolds. The functional medicine cabinets of colorful painted wood feature figures of art, science, and music that have become pop icons. One cabinet called “Uncle Albert” features an Andy Warhol-like series of photographs of Albert Einstein, while another cabinet uses images of Elvis and yet another employs a familiar anatomical drawing by Leonardo da Vinci as a design element.
Local Color Gallery has also hosted Artrageous almost from the beginning. This year the gallery features Georgia artist Noel Harris Shinn’s photorealistic, large-scale still-life works that almost jump off the wall with their vivid colors, crystal clear detail, and use of reflections. Hydrangeas, peppers, artichokes, and autumn leaves are all conveyed in eye-popping colors that are often reflected in glass bowls or tables bearing the floral or vegetable arrangements.
Next door to Local Color, Midtown Gallery spotlights the latest works by Nashville artist Martha Hinson in its Artrageous show. An artist best known for her detailed etchings, Hinson’s new works mark a distinct departure in medium and subject matter. A family member’s battle with terminal cancer has spurred Hinson into an exploration of the spiritual realm and many of her latest oil paintings deal with healing and life after death. Even her still-life paintings of solitary apples, oranges, and lemons, each spotlighted in a warm pool of light, seem to reflect the artist’s reflections on mortality.
Outside the Lines, newly relocated from Belle Meade to Hillsboro Village, is a gallery that showcases works by self-trained, folk, and outsider artists. Its Artrageous show features new works by J. Ronald M. York, owner of Local Color Gallery and a self-trained painter. York’s 10 paintings for Artrageous revolve around musical and dance images. Working in acrylic on board, York presents revelers at a New Year’s Eve party, a jazz trio, a couple doing a ballroom dance “dip,” and other scenes in colorful, cubist-inspired style.
At Finer Things Gallery, which specializes in fine art furniture as well as art, Artrageous patrons can view Howard Steinberg’s photographs that convert curled leaves, branches, and seedpods into near-abstract images. While the 25 silver gelatin prints by Steinberg form the bulk of the Finer Things show, they also share the space with Keith Breitfeller’s geometric abstract paintings and Bill Hickman’s brightly colored welded steel wall masks.
The newest gallery on the Artrageous tour is Ruby Green, where Sewanee artist Cheryl Pfeiffer’s 17 oil paintings of dogs are on view. In a surreal and often abstract style, the artist gives us a mutt in superhero garb, a Boston bull terrier balancing on a ball, a Jack Russell terrier (Pfeiffer’s own pet) chasing a favorite red ball, a Doberman delicately sniffing a daisy, and so on. The works have densely layered, rubbed, and glazed surfaces that serve as a mysterious playing field for the dogsand also help elevate the works above the realm of cute canine portraits.
A few blocks north of Ruby Green at The Arts Company, photographer Herb Williams trains his camera on 25 Nashville artists, all of whom are represented by the gallery. Each work consists of four photographs matted together in an old wooden window frame. There is a full-length portrait of each artist and three close-up views of eyes, hands, and other parts of the artist’s body. In addition to the photo studies by Williams, new works by each of his subjects are also on view in the Artrageous show.
In the Gallery is another longtime Artrageous participant. This time around the gallery features Nashville artist Paul McClain in his first commercial gallery show. For his debut, McClain has assembled the same creative team of artists, graphic designers, musicians, and filmmakers with whom he collaborated for his recent installation at Cheekwood.
Besides McClain’s paintings, the conceptual show features Megan Walborn’s ceramic wall pieces, Chip Cox’s mixed-media works, a piece by Eric Johnston, a short film by Brent Stewart, Don Adam’s elaborate steel framing of a large McClain painting, audio by Bob Solomon, and graphics by Ellen Rudick. An original musical and spoken word composition by Sharon Gilchrist plays continuously in the background of the exhibition. All components tie in with the theme of the fragility of love and of the process of passing from one level of existence into the next. The theme is a fitting one for an evening that celebrates life through art while raising funds to combat a devastating disease.
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