This may be the best Art Crawl of 2011 

Crawl Space

Crawl Space

The June Art Crawl is full of surprises, including some venues that will be participating for the first time. With fresh debuts alongside compelling offerings from Crawl veterans, expect local art stars, the return of out-of-town favorites and an officially unofficial after-party.

The Tennessee State Museum joins the June Crawl with Small Expressions 2011, an annual juried exhibition organized by the Handweavers Guild of America. Including nearly 40 pieces by international crafters, the small-scale works range from traditional to contemporary and demonstrate a variety of textile techniques. Adding Tennessee State Museum to the Crawl is a no-brainer, and we hope this month's event will inspire their ongoing involvement in the First Saturday festivities.

One of the new Crawl stops is Picture This gallery at 44 Arcade. The new art spot will feature selections hand-picked by gallery director John Reed. Picture This takes over the space vacated by Mir Gallery last month, furthering our wish that the Arcade remain a place that inspires creative types to stake a claim on Fifth Avenue. Picture This' premiere show will feature charcoal artist Derrick Clifton creating new drawings live in the gallery.

Joe Elias Tsambiras will bring his new exhibit Wired for Light to both the Twist Gallery and Twist Etc. The show is expansive, and Tsambiras' themes are similarly wide-reaching. Wired finds Tsambiras placing his lovingly drawn graphite figures within fields of colorful imagery and pure design. Tsambiras also makes repetitive use of images of A/V wires, nodding to the connectivity between us, the infosphere, and ultimately, one another.

At the Downtown Presbyterian Church, Twist Gallery owner-curator Beth Gilmore will be showing Ghosts We Live With, an exhibit of new photos and prints that find an exciting abstraction overtaking her familiar narrative portraits. In the church chapel, Ecclesiaudio: Sounds for Sacred Spaces brings musicians and sound artists together to create the "new joyful sounds" that emerge at the meeting of Christian metaphysics and improvised tones.

At 75 Arcade, COOP Gallery plays host to multimedia artist Justin Farris Braun. The artist's practice includes design, drawing, photography, sculpture and installation. We're not sure what to expect from his Exit Strategy: Migration, but Braun's one-sentence artist statement is one of our all-time favorites: "I'm all about happiness and everything but I don't feel like having sunshine blown up my ass."

Iwonka Waskowski is best-known for her work with the Off the Wall Art Group, but June finds her going solo at Blend Studio at 79 Arcade. Waskowski is a multimedia artist whose exploration of materials is informed by memory and emotion. Her finished works act as visual stand-ins for interior experiences. In Before/After, coffee is used to create narrative abstracts, mapping the artist's relationship with her sister. Waskowski's sibling suffered from Turner syndrome, a genetic disorder that claimed her life in 2009.

On Fifth Avenue, Tinney Contemporary opens SPARKED, a show of decorative abstract paintings by Jeanie Gooden. Gooden's canvases are by turns placid and energized, featuring a rich palette of colors inspired by her part-time studio in Mexico. Down the block, Rymer Gallery opens a new show by Illinois artist Catherine Forster. Combining video, prints and painting, Still Waters focuses on Forster's pet subjects — water and light. Forster's last Rymer show was a similar but smaller installation. We're still haunted by her video from the earlier show, but the paintings seemed like an afterthought. Perhaps Saturday's larger exhibit will grant Forster a more fully realized vision.

Once again, it's time for The Arts Company to welcome back Brother Mel for his annual birthday celebration and exhibit. At 83, the Marianist monk is still making work, and his latest metal sculptures are abstract affairs that are finished in bright, fetching colors or simply left alone, allowing the beauty of the raw metal to hold the eye. Stop by The Arts Company and wish Mel a happy 83rd.

The biggest surprise of this month's Art Crawl is the opening of The Bank gallery. Located at 226 Third Ave. N., The Bank is providing an after-party of sorts, inviting still-restless art-abouts to enjoy more art, music and interactive events after the Crawl calls it quits. The brainchild of J.Todd Greene, The Bank's inaugural festivities include a mural by Blood Switches, an art duo made up of Greene and Dillon Frazier. Greene's band Bulb will also perform. The party goes from 7 to 11 p.m.

Usually we see galleries chill in summer, but this almost-summer Crawl is the best one so far this year — not to mention, there are a helluva lot less cicadas in downtown's cement environment! That's practically reason enough to go.

Keep on crawling!

Email arts@nashvillescene.com.

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