After Kwanzaa, it’s time to really celebrate the New Year by viewing some of the great art on display in and around downtown Nashville. Local galleries are hosting receptions and displaying works by some tremendous local and nationally recognized artists on exhibition. The galleries on the Fifth Avenue of the Arts are ground zero for experiencing many of these fresh new works by new and emerging artists in sculpture, painting, and photography; plus special events.
The first monthly First Saturday Art Crawl of 2014 is on January 4, and all of those galleries on the Avenue of the Arts will be open then from 6 pm until 9 pm, including the four on the West side of the Avenue and about a dozen inside the ArtCade on the East side of the street, especially Carol Saffell’s abstract expressionist works at L Gallery upstairs. Be sure to see Jorge Mendoza’s phenomenal one-man show Metamorphism at the Tennessee Art League. And check out the works by Printess Berry at O Gallery in the Artcade.
In December on the weekend of the Art Crawl the city was battling bad weather and ice-glazed streets, and it forced the cancellation/postponement of the Collectors Art Night program scheduled for December 6 to Friday night, January 3. The bi-monthly Collectors Night program will be held then featuring gallery talks at The Arts Company, The Rymer, and the Tinney Contemporary galleries between 5:30 and 8 pm. This marvelous event allows the artists to talk about their works and field questions from interested patrons in a relaxed informal environment for about a half hour in each gallery. Complimentary refreshments and valet parking are provided, but you must RSVP to participate: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meticulous Excavations: Works by Jamey Grimes and Charles Clary will be featured at The Rymer Gallery through January 25. Clary and Grimes create works that are at once organic and synthetic. While Clary’s vibrant paper sculptures evoke biological forms playfully infecting the spaces they inhabit, Grimes’ whimsical webs of corrugated plastic provide a platform for the contemplation of natural structures. Together their creations invite new forms of viewer interaction. Meticulous Excavations is a celebration of the artists’ ability to transform ordinary spaces into powerfully lifelike environments.
Tinney Contemporary is pleased to present Scenes – an exhibition featuring work by photographer and installation artist, Dorothy O’Connor in the front gallery. O’Connor’s Scenes is an ongoing series that centers around transforming spaces, often a room, into fantastical landscapes which frequently utilize elements of nature and the natural world to tell a story. Each concept, shaped predominantly by events in O’Connor’s life, create a sort of conceptual autobiography-an interpretation of her own dreams. Building these life-sized installations also allows the artist to literally live inside her own imagination, if only for a short time, and satisfies her need to create a more aesthetically pleasing reality. Each project takes months to complete, allowing O’Connor to fully immerse herself in its meticulous details. She enjoys creating many of the components in each set by hand: crocheting the ocean, crafting hundreds of paper birds, hand-stenciling wallpaper, weaving roots from jute, etc. Learning a new skill each time she builds a new scene helps to keep the process fresh.
This work began as a photography project. The scenes are captured on film and a photograph remains the lasting imprint. Opening them as tableau vivants (installations which feature a live model), however, allows an audience to experience the scenes as O’Connor does, but also allows for viewers to add their own interpretations and ideas, thus making the story a shared experience.
In the rear gallery, see Super Scraps- New Paintings by Jodi Hays, Guest Curated by Sara Estes. Jodi Hays’s latest series of paintings, Super Scraps, encourages the continuous evaluation and re-evaluation of our visual environment. Her work suggests that ultimately things do fit together. Whether it’s a dilapidated building we pass or a bag we carry or a product we buy, all of these things, despite the inevitable chaos we encounter, are not only related, but also consequential.
Diverging from the highly structured compositions that made up an earlier solo exhibition in 2011, Hays has introduced an element of disorder in her new work. This chaotic component is found amongst the controlled forms in various manifestations. Sometimes it is seen in a single, liberated gesture or a bold interruption of color. Other times it is embodied in an organic shape weaving its way through rigid lines. It’s in the wealth of such thoughtful idiosyncrasies that we discover the principle of flexibility overcoming rigidity. Or in broader terms, softness overcoming hardness.
Hays’s paintings are the culmination of her experiences, both personal and communal. Though pulled directly from her own life, the resulting imagery transcends any attempt at a biographical narrative. The referenced objects and scenes are often stripped of most identifying detail, granting them passage into the realm of ambiguity and allowing them to become nuanced representations of a shared reality. As she continues to reconfigure the world around her, Hays has built a visual language all her own.
The Arts Company features Work Spaces: Nashville Artist Studios II with photographs of selected area artist studios by Jerry Park. Co-curators Anne Brown (The Arts Company) and Lain York (Zeitgeist) have collaborated to organize this second in a series of exhibitions featuring photographs detailing the intimate yet sometimes sprawling spaces used as working studios, including those of locally acclaimed gallery and independent artists Jane Braddock, Trey Gossett, Brady Haston, Marilyn Murphy, Roger Clayton, Brian Tull, and Vesna Pavlovic, among many more.
In this year’s exhibition, experience an insider’s perspective of Nashville’s vibrant visual arts community through the photographer’s behind-the-scenes lens exploring the variety of studio settings, including home studios in kitchens, garages, and basements; outdoor studios set up in trucks and tents; as well as university studios; and more. In addition, the exhibit will highlight history in the making and history of the past by honoring an In Memoriam featuring Jerry Park’s studio photos for artists Jack Hastings, Sylvia Hyman, and Brother Mel.
Also downtown, the Frist Art Center will be hosting a few programs throughout the month prior to the closing of current exhibitions 30 Americans on January 12 and American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell on February 9. In partnership with Vanderbilt University’s Office of Community, Neighborhood, and Government Relations, “Food for Thought: Visualizing America through art by African American artists and Norman Rockwell,” is a three-part lecture series presented by Vanderbilt professors that explores issues surrounding what it means to be an American today, providing an opportunity to build challenging intellectual connections to the exhibitions. The final one is Tuesday, January 14, and begins with lunch at 11:30 am, with lecture to follow at noon in the Frist Center Auditorium. Note that the program is after 30 Americans closes. The program is free with advance registration; lunch and gallery admission included. To register, call 615.322.8585. Norman Rockwell’s painting, The Problem We All Live With (1964), inspired by the experiences of Ruby Bridges is part of American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell.
First Saturday Art Crawl, presented by 5th Avenue of the Arts, is a monthly visual arts event occurring in the historic entertainment district of downtown Nashville. On the first Saturday of every month, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., an alliance of art galleries and museums collectively invite the public to explore the vibrant Nashville downtown art scene. More than 20 art venues participate. Presenting local and world-renowned artists and artwork, gallery participants offer rare opportunities to meet and have conversations with the artists and to view diverse exhibitions featuring every genre of art. Admission free, First Saturday Art Crawl is a festive atmosphere with participating venues from 5th Avenue of the Arts to the historic Arcade to 8th Avenue to Broadway – all welcoming the community to experience Downtown Nashville as a hub for art. First Saturday Art Crawl welcomes approximately 1,000+ attendees each month.