Writing this in a haze of post-Thanksgiving tryptophan and Beaujolais Nouveau, I'm feeling those first bittersweet stirrings that have me wanting to listen to Vince Guaraldi or watch Jimmy Stewart sing "Auld Lang Syne." I'm also hallucinating an elf in a green hat trying to steal my mashed potatoes, but that's a different story.
December's Gallery Crawl boasts snug quilts, cutesy critters, transcendent displays and enough rock 'n' roll to keep your jingles jangled. A well-informed gallerygoer will find inspired shopping and maybe even some of that graceful, grateful vibe we call the holiday spirit.
One of the season's great joys is eating — just ask the turkey carcass collapsing on my stove top. Over at Tinney Contemporary, photographer Sharon Lee Hart may be trying to diminish my taste for flesh, though I doubt she'll succeed. Hart's Sanctuary is series of portraits taken at animal sanctuaries, an effort to raise awareness about the mistreatment of farm animals. I'd never ask an omnivore to go vegan, but eating a steak doesn't have to mean ignoring the cruelties of factory farming. Stop by Tinney and look your menu in the eye. On the other end of the block, the Arts Company opens its 14th Annual Holiday Arts Market along with an exhibit of Nashville cityscapes by painter Charlie Buckley.
Twist Gallery gets crafty this holiday season by calling in a ringer. Alexia Abegg is the type of woman people stop on the street to ask if she's a fashion designer. Abegg's work displays both taste and style, and this new exhibit features a number of her contemporary quilts. Viewers can even join a quilting bee to add a few stitches of their own. Across the Arcade in Mir Gallery, Chad Spann's spooky new photography exhibit provides Nashville with its own nightmare before Christmas.
The Tennessee Art League is opening five new shows for December's Crawl, including oil paintings by Ev Niewoehner, watercolors by Vinci Kolodziejski, a couple of group shows, and painter Jan Batts hosting "Salon d'Art," a salon featuring art demos and conversation. Last month I mentioned that the venue, at 808 Broadway, is sometimes overlooked by Nashville art-abouts. Take it from us: A short jaunt quickens the blood, sharpens the vision, and clears the head of that last plastic glass of cabernet. Crawling can be seen as an athletic event, and as such, it must be played to win.
On Eighth Avenue, just around the corner from TAL, Estel Gallery is sticking with a champ from November, hosting another reception for Art Defining Music, an exhibit of album art and rock posters. Even if you find yourself crawling in the literal sense, drag yourself in the direction of Estel and check out the psychedelic creations of poster pioneer Bob Masse. Combining art nouveau influences with a unique lettering style, Masse helped lay the foundations for the original 1960s California rock poster explosion. If you have a music maniac in your life, you just found their Christmas present.
Rymer Gallery opens White as Snow on Saturday night. A show of new paintings by Seth Conley, Snow features moody, cartoonish oil-on-panel scenes that are more A Christmas Carol than A Christmas Story. Rymer is also hosting Jamey Grimes' ceiling installation, one of this month's highlights. Grimes' sculptural creations explore materials, textures and space, and this latest piece includes translucent panels descending into the gallery, casting shadows and colored light. Kudos to Rymer for displaying a thoughtful, ethereal installation during the holiday consumer frenzy.
A meditative piece like Grimes', though not specifically related to the holidays, is fitting for that elusive mood that sometimes lights upon us in December: the feeling that peace on Earth just might be possible, and that goodwill is the very least we could ask of one another. If humanity were hopeless, why would anyone attempt to create something beautiful, something true?
Wait a second. This elf is real. Man, oh man, he loves potatoes! Happy Crawlidays!
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