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Group shows a sure sign of summer at August's Art Crawl events

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Group shows dominate the summer art calendar as gallerists attempt to offer something for everyone. It should come as no surprise that August's First Saturday events are packed with group shows featuring cartoons, nuclear meltdowns, a coop full of chicks and a gallery full of figurative females.

Gallery director Sarah Wilson's curatorial debut at Tinney Contemporary was The New Real, an exhibition of contemporary realism staged back in 2012. Tonight, Wilson's showing The New Real 2: Figure-Focused, a sequel that emphasizes that ubiquitous artistic subject, the female figure. Watch for Nashville-based painter Brian Tull's neo-noir femmes fatales to steal the show just as they did back in 2012.

It's risky to judge an artist's work favorably or unfavorably based on images you see online — you're required to actually lay eyes on a work of art before deciding whether you love it or hate it. What's more, I love collage as both a practice and a conceptual approach. That said, I can't tell whether the pieces Jeff Green is showing at Rymer Gallery this month include deep, textured layers of materials and meaning, or if each piece is just a pleasant arrangement of elements on a rather plain plate. Regardless, if you get downtown Saturday night, add this one to your list.

The Arts Company is holding its 18th annual Avant-Garage Sale this Saturday night. The sale makes use of the gallery's expansive garage space to offer everything from furniture and accessories to original paintings, photos and objects at affordable prices. Expect collectors looking for bargains and artists looking for collectors.

Jeff Bertrand is a fixture in Nashville's underground art scene, but this month you'll find him at 40AU showing an exhibition of new portrait drawings that reflect on the ennui that characterizes life in the 21st century. Bertrand will also be painting a mural live during the Art Crawl, so be sure to stop in to watch him work.

Many underground artists have been inspired by the work of Swiss painter, sculptor and set designer H.R. Giger. We lost the artist this past May, but for August, Corvidae Collective is hosting Alien Landscapes: A Tribute to H.R. Giger, a show featuring a roster of artists from around the globe remembering Giger and his biomechanical-sex-monster aesthetic. This is the kind of show you'd expect to see around Halloween, but kudos to Corvidae for bringing some darkness to the dog days.

Jason Hargrove opens his new multimedia exhibition, Contaminate, at Blend this Saturday night. Contaminate pulls from Hargrove's experiences as a cascade operator at a nuclear enrichment plant in West Paducah, Ky., highlighting the instability and inevitable catastrophe represented by nuclear power as well as the crazy courage of the workers who put themselves at risk in such environments. Oh, yeah — free stickers!

This month, the Watkins Arcade Gallery welcomes back two far-flung alumni for a video-based exhibition exploring nature, the unknown and the search for wild spaces in an increasingly developed world. Unfortunately, Nashville loses many of its most ambitious young artists because there are no visual-art MFA programs in the city. When Jenna Maurice graduated Watkins she ended up in Colorado. John Whitten lives in Oregon. Homesickness and a sense of rootlessness are natural results of such migrations, but their work in A Field Guide to Getting Lost is at its best when it evokes the loss of that place inside of us that once enjoyed a primal connection to the natural world.

Gentle Thrills finds Coop showing off the newest members of its collective with a group exhibition of work that might range from sculpture to new media installations and everything in between. The gallery's press release is typically vague, but when you have a chance to see work by the newest members of the city's most important curatorial collective, in what's arguably the best gallery in Nashville, you go. Participating artists include Shannon Clark, Morgan Higby-Flowers, Virginia Griswold and Thomas Sturgill.

As we drift into the headiest, hottest summer days, Fort Houston and Co. H. are teaming up to bring a basketful of tempting treats to the Arts & Music at Wedgewood-Houston events this Saturday night. Co. H is a collective of Watkins students who already knocked it out of the park once this summer with Mystic Truths, a multimedia group show at Watkins that managed to be thematically focused, visually diverse and more thoroughly realized than any other local student show in recent memory. Tonight's show, Picnic, is comprised of 12-by-12-inch works that create a visual buffet of small plates to be devoured by hungry eyes. Participating artists include Mika Agari, David Anderson, Michael Hampton, Aaron Harper, Blake Holland, Zack Rafuls, Alexine Rioux and Kayla Saito.

Julia Martin opened the second round of her summer series Bevy at 444 Humphreys last month, and the final round of the three exhibitions will be on display at Saturday's opening reception. Ongoing, rotating warm-weather shows are not uncommon, but Martin's programming has been among Nashville's best. While she's shown familiar locals during Bevy's run, she's also shown exceptional pieces by out-of-town artists — including Florida-based Jono Vaughan, whose work dealing with gender identity was a highlight of the series. Martin has more surprises up her sleeve for Saturday night, among them Gary Wimmer's Bevy debut (fresh from his scenery work on the Nashville TV series) along with Bevy newbie Wendy Walker's atmospheric paintings.

Gallerygoers who've enjoyed the Frist's Watch Me Move animation exhibition would do well to head to The Packing Plant on Saturday night to check out Bruised Anvil — a cartoon-inspired group show including work by David Anderson, Michael Hampton, Aaron Harper, Casey Payne and Zack Rafuls. This is only Plant curator Ann Catherine Carter's second exhibit, but she's already showing a preference for work by student artists. Whether she can consistently find less experienced creators who can bring serious game to the gallery walls remains to be seen, but she couldn't have done much better with this month's lineup of some of the busiest, most exciting young artists in Nashville. Keep your eyes peeled for waskally wabbit Michael Hampton's wholesale borrowing from the Looney Tunes universe.

Zeitgeist opened Cannonball Run III at last month's Art Crawl — the cinematic title is a reference to the fact that the show's artists are drawn from studio practices that stretch coast to coast, spanning the cross-country distances of the titular road race and the film franchise it inspired. Tonight's crawl is all about gleaning broad surveys of diverse contemporary artists, and your evening won't be complete if you don't see Cannonball. The show is required viewing — if only for a glimpse of Nashville artist Hans Schmitt-Matzen's mylar drawings, laser-cut steel sculptures and neon works inspired by the doodles of his toddler son.

And while you're in the area, David Lusk will be holding an end-of-summer sale of sorts featuring a group exhibit of gallery artists. Stop by Price Is Right and browse paintings, mixed-media and sculptures, all priced below $1,000.



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