January's Art Crawl looks back while moving forward 

Crawl Space

Crawl Space

Either we're all living in the parallel universe that was created when Planet X crushed the Mayan calendar, or the 2012 winter solstice passed without incident and the tinfoil hat crowd has a lot of explaining to do. Either way, the Art Crawl pushes on this month with a few encore exhibits, a send-up of country music culture and a last hurrah for a trio of local student artists.

Open Gallery, Lipscomb University's student-run satellite space in The Arcade, will host a show for three graduating BFA students this month. Mariel Bolton, Nick Doty and Jessica Richardson use video, performance and sculpture to explore themes like memory, self-actualization and the connections between modern design and traditional craft. Open has been pulling off some ambitious shows lately, and it's seniors like these three who have helped establish the gallery as an outpost between Lipscomb's ambitious visual arts program and Nashville's larger arts audience.

I'm not sure if it will be the best show on the roster, but the Art Crawl exhibit I'm most curious about is the one with the longest title. Near Bout as Perfect as I'll Ever Be in My Life: Recent Acquisitions from the Country Music Preservation Society of America is the brainchild of artists Tyler Berrier and Rachel Growden. The artists' fictional historical society offers a display of bogus memorabilia, phony recording studio equipment, sculpture and manipulated imagery to poke a finger at the mythologizing that surrounds country music culture. Scoot your boots to 40AU to get in on all the down-home fun, y'all.

Ed Saunders Jr. recently showed his work with Lain York at Todd Greene's The Bank Gallery. Due to the show's somewhat contradictory publicity, it was poorly attended despite being an ambitious outing by two local veteran creators. Saunders' show at Twist Gallery this month will give crawl audiences a chance to get caught up — the artist's black-and-white drawings represent a distillation from Saunders' days as a painter of colorful canvases.

Local filmmaker Jonathan Rattner's website offers a tantalizing amuse-bouche for his video exhibition at Coop Gallery this month. Fragmented footage of chats with senior citizens ("The Conversation Project") and a scene that documents a painter's process ("Theseus") make me want to see more of Rattner's work, which strives to transform the banal into the beautiful, and the regular into the revelatory.

Tinney Contemporary will continue its show Silent Gestures this month. An exhibition of paintings by Korean-born artist Hyunmee Lee, Gestures represents a meeting of East and West as the artist combines the studied effortlessness of Asian calligraphic traditions with the gestures of abstract expressionism. Lee's compositions are consistently pleasant, pairing bold swatches of color with delicate lines and energetic scribblings. The results are a kind of abstract art gateway drug, and might make fans out of viewers who think they prefer more figurative work.

Natural science meets saturated spectra in Herb Williams' Call of the Wild at Rymer Gallery. The show opened in December, and it finds Williams' well-known crayon constructions construing wild animals and wild spaces. However, the show is no strict exploration of the great outdoors — it also finds the artist reviving stenciled motifs of cassette tapes and turntables from recent shows of music-inspired imagery. The propaganda for the exhibition seemed to imply a cohesive conceptual display, but in person it seems more like the artist is riffing on old themes and new ones, and simply enjoying his process for its own sake.

While many galleries use the winter months to display a variety of popular gallery artists in an effort to cash in on holiday sales, The Arts Company does the opposite, creating a group show previewing work by artists who will be featured at the gallery in the coming year. Of Things to Come is a Fifth Avenue tradition, and this year's installment includes photographs by Judy Nebhut, paintings and wall sculptures by Brad Wreyford, a new series by painter Robin Venable Kenny and wall sculptures by Denise Stewart-Sanabria. If you missed Jerry Park's Workspaces: Nashville Artists' Studios at the crawl last month, you'll want to catch it this time around, and Saturday's event at The Arts Company will also feature a one-night-only showing of Rod Daniel's photographs of Union Station in the 1980s, before its transformation into the Union Station Hotel.

Happy New Year, crawlers!

Email arts@nashvillescene.com.

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