I'm writing this in the evening on a patio downtown. According to my cell phone's thermostat it's 86 degrees, but I'm in the shade and couldn't be more comfortable. I mention this because the same thermostat is predicting that temperatures will rise to over 100 degrees every day for the next week. By the time you read this, summer will be in full, sweltering swing. The first official Art Crawl of the season gets under way this Saturday as downtown galleries try to beat the heat with lovely abstractions, a dose of realism and ... uh ... quilts?
The Arts Company has been a longtime supporter of Southern folk and vernacular art, and their newest exhibit highlights both the gallery's past as well as the Nashville art scene's present. If you've been to the new shows at the Frist Center, you'll likely do a double-take when you lay eyes on Contemporary American Artists: Thornton Dial and Gee's Bend Quilters at The Arts Company. The Frist's big summer show features the same pairing of Alabama-based artists. It might seem unusual for The Arts Company to offer such perfectly parallel programming, but gallery owner Anne Brown and these artists go way back. Brown showed Thornton Dial's work for the first time more than a decade ago, and she hosted the Gee's Bend Quilters and their work in 2003. The best part about the exhibition is the way it complements the Frist show: Frist Center curator Mark Scala focuses on Dial's assemblages, while Brown highlights the artist's drawings and paintings. Brown is also showing recent etchings by the Gee's Bend Quilters in addition to their signature works. The gallery's relationship with the artists creates a convenient opportunity to connect with the Frist show, and gives Nashville gallery-goers an opportunity to dig deeper into the work of the artists who currently own summer in this city.
The Rymer Gallery is showing abstract paintings by Michael Brown this month. The work in Know Place features amorphous shapes in dark compositions that are shot through with a golden light. Brooding but not brutal, the paintings are meant to evoke a sense of longing for home — lovely, sad and pulsing with a kind of melancholic hope.
Curated by Tinney Contemporary gallery director Sarah Wilson, The New Real is an exhibition of contemporary realism by six artists from across the country. I've spent the past few years insisting that "surreal is the new real," but this show begs to differ. New attempts to demonstrate the essential importance of realism in art and, of course, the fantastic and the abstract are always most powerful when they maintain their relationship to what's real. The problem I often have with shows like this isn't their celebration of realism — it's the bad paintings they display in the name of rebelling against contemporary tastes. Luckily, this doesn't seem to be the case with New. Nashville painter Ron Porter is a Cumberland Gallery artist with a penchant for painting reflected imagery. St. Louis-based Ali Cavanaugh's neo-frescos look pretty interesting, as do the graphite drawings of Cambridge, Mass., artist Kay Ruane. However, I predict that Tennessee's own Brian Tull will steal the show with his sexy, cinematic oil-on-panel narratives.
For July, Coop will host a group show by the Philadelphia collective Grizzly Grizzly. Unessential Night uses the color black as a jumping-off point to explore artistic doubt and the anxious moment of creation. The show features Jacque Liu, Matthew Price, Ruth Scott, Mary Smull, Cindy Stockton Moore and Josh Weiss, and includes painting, book arts, mixed media and sculpture.
Also in The Arcade, Twist Gallery will hang a show by Australian artist Keg de Souza. Her prints are often accompanied by texts that tell cockeyed tales through puns and wordplay. Emily Sue Laird will be back at Twist Etc. with a new-and-improved installment of Totem, which opened last month. Expect some interactive elements this time around.
Last but not least, this month's Brick Factory after-crawl event is a two-man exhibit by painter Dooby Tompkins and photographer Shane Doling. Tompkins' large-scale paintings incorporate pop cultural iconography and explore French philosopher Guy DeBord's concept of "the spectacle," while Shane Doling's latest images reflect an obsession with Andrzej Zulawski's 1981 cult horror film Possession.
See y'all downtown. I'll be the really sweaty Yankee double-fisting the Gatorade.
There were plenty of jumps and screams at the severed-head reveal at the Sunday night…
I just...this recap...why did I not know these were here until now?! 4 times on…
So long Don. Your creative energy and encouragement were inspirational to me.
It was so great being one of those kids in Dayton.
I miss Iodine.
^ It's nice to see an official acknowledgement by management. Kristen Mcarther Miles (the girl…