TAG Art Gallery Reemerges 

Dormant for several months, popular art gallery reopens downtown as part of The Arts Company

Dormant for several months, popular art gallery reopens downtown as part of The Arts Company

Two Nashville galleries will be joining forces this month as TAG Art Gallery co-owners Jerry Dale and Julie McFadden reestablish their business in the second-floor loft of The Arts Company. The McFaddens opened TAG four years ago and helped to create a local market for emerging artists and budding collectors, especially ones on a limited budget. The McFaddens focus on outsider and folk art, and often sell original pieces for as little as $20, making their gallery one of the least expensive places to buy art in Nashville. "It's almost like community outreach," Jerry Dale McFadden says. "We're trying to debunk the myth that art is for the rich." Starting in the attic of a converted house on 12th Avenue South and then moving to Hillsboro Village, TAG has earned a reputation for showing a wide range of work, much of it unpretentious, raw and accessible.

The affordable prices and unassuming atmosphere have helped TAG build a dedicated following, but it's difficult for any gallery owner to sell enough art to meet expenses. The McFaddens both hold down other jobs; Jerry Dale works as a musician, and Julie owns her own public relations firm. They were just "barely paying the bills" on their space in Hillsboro Village, Jerry Dale explains, forcing TAG to close down in September, with no immediate plans to reopen elsewhere. After exploring a couple other options, the owners met with owner Anne Brown, owner of The Arts Company. She offered them a place in her gallery.

An established gallery downtown, The Arts Company keeps regular business hours and has a large enough staff to ensure the gallery's upkeep—both welcome changes for the McFaddens, who struggled just to maintain limited hours with a primarily volunteer staff. If The Arts Company appeals to more mainstream tastes, Brown works to ensure that the contemporary art and photography she shows will attract a wide range of viewers. With no focus on any artist or style, the gallery appears comfortably cluttered as one show fades seamlessly into the next, with pieces from previous shows still hanging in back rooms and on the second floor.

Adding TAG's artists to the gallery's repertoire should be a smooth transition. In the past, The Arts Company has taken an interest in outsider and folk art, so now it will have a reliable source. TAG's new space will be on the second floor, adjoining artist-in-residence Herb Williams' studio. "We're just adding some salt and pepper to the mix," Jerry Dale McFadden says. The owners believe the new arrangement will attract bigger crowds for both galleries.

The union should be ideal, but only if each gallery retains its distinct personality—The Arts Company with its comfortable refinement, and TAG with its rough-edged beauty. McFadden (whose new title is special projects associate) and Brown will each curate four of The Arts Company's monthly shows, leaving the rest up to guest curators. While Brown has the final say on any piece of art, she appears flexible, giving McFadden a fair amount of freedom and insisting that TAG create its own niche in the gallery.

The galleries will pair up for the first time for Artrageous this Saturday, giving Nashvillians a preview of how these two fairly distinct palettes will mix. Although TAG's space will still be under construction, the McFaddens have already placed some of James Pearson's work on the main floor, and they'll be having an opening event later in the month. In the meantime, Herb Williams' installation "The Blues" and other works will be the featured art.

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