The Artober Art Crawl sets the pace as Nashville's autumn art season shifts into high gear 

Crawl Space

Crawl Space

Nashville's annual Artober celebration gets up to speed this weekend with a First Saturday roster that strings together openings and some ongoing exhibitions from last month for one cool crawl. Expect lupine drawings, designer doings, psychedelic subjects and the ghost of Michelangelo Antonioni.

The Arts Company opens three shows on Saturday night. Exhibits by painters Brett Weaver and Joan Griswold feature landscapes and interiors that will land right in the comfort zone of most of The Arts Company's core audience, but Chip Cooper's display of black-and-white photography may well steal the show all the way down Fifth Avenue this month. Architecture has always played a role in Cooper's art — earlier snaps have captured images of long shadows of a stair railing in the sun, a hand-painted Coca-Cola sign on the walls of a corner store, and an abandoned barn covered in moss. Despite its ponderous title, Architectural Soliloquy: A Photographic Series in Black and White is a stately collection of images capturing the bright, white architecture of the model resort town of Alys Beach, Fla. Cooper ignores the noisy tourism and coconut-scented decadence of beach life, concentrating on white walls and rooftops blasted by the sun. The austere formality of the images is compelling in itself, and any narrative elements in these photographs read like scenes from an Antonioni film, capturing the stillness between actions and casting the mise-en-scène as an actor in its own right.

At Coop in the Arcade, Montreal artist Elisabeth Belliveau will show her stop-motion animation "Go so we may see (lady of gold arms doom)," which features sequences of the artist's hand-drawn images, based on scenes from well-known films of women walking. Belliveau's exhibition will also include a 20-drawing series of sunset studies titled "Entre Chien et Loup." The phrase speaks to that time at dusk when there is no longer enough light to tell the difference between a dog and a wolf. Belliveau's work displays a romantic vision and a strong sense of physicality. This is her first exhibition in Nashville — and I'm already looking forward to the next.

Not Modern is a poetic multimedia exploration of space and time by artists Jonathan Rattner and Jonathan Johnson. Including video, Polaroids, cyanotype prints and large-scale color photographs, the show captures moments from the artists' everyday lives in the diverse settings of New Mexico and Iceland. I'm looking forward to seeing a wild variety of images at this show, but it's worth pointing out that the photographic processes Rattner and Johnson use all involve directly interacting with light. Because of photography's memory-capturing capacities, there is something bittersweet and nostalgic about Not Modern. But like a Polaroid picture, there is something vaguely magical about the show as well, and it reminds me of a lesson from Antonioni's Blow Up: Photographs may reveal secrets. Get a clue at 40 AU Saturday night.

Recent openings at the Cleft Studios space in Wedgewood-Houston have felt like house parties while also drawing attention for the quality of the work they're showing. On Saturday, Cleft will host a show by the Fond Object art collective Department of Goods and Services, featuring local designers/illustrators Rachel Briggs, Shelby Rodeffer and Rex Runyeon. The vintage feel of Briggs' work has been the perfect match for her projects with musicians like Jason Isbell, Caitlin Rose and Old Crow Medicine Show, while Runyeon's minimalist sensibilities inform the iconic poster imagery he created for the Lost Boys organization. Rodeffer is a lettering specialist whose handiwork will be familiar to Belcourt Theatre patrons who saw the Janus Films poster the artist created with Sam's Myth for the Antonioni classic L'Avventura.

Even if you made it to the September reception for ex-Nashville homeboy Jack Ryan's Sounds for a Third Ear, it's worth another visit. I'm always curious to see how artists will manage the crazy-small gallery at Seed Space, and when Ryan hosted a nonstop parade of old friends and well-wishers last month, connecting with the work was all but impossible. Third Ear poses questions about how viewers actually perceive the show's objects and video. When art makes the workings of the mind visible, we call it "psychedelic." You could say Ryan's show is "worth a return trip" — pun intended.

While in Wedgewood-Houston, stop by Zeitgeist for a reception for painter Will Berry. Zeitgeist will also be continuing Brent Stewart's video and sound installation At an Immense Distance Was the Sun, Black but Shining. And don't miss Cheekwood's Artober pop-up gallery next door, featuring an addendum to the museum's much-ballyhooed survey of contemporary fine art, More Love: Art, Politics and Sharing Since the 1990s.

Love the crawl, y'all. Enjoy your Artober.




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