Though I'm writing this during a cold nighttime drizzle, winter is packing its bags and heading out of town. That means the first big art season of the year is just around the corner. Think of March's First Saturday Art Crawl as spring training. This month's offerings include an amorous forest, animals fit for a book and a meditation on the art of seeing.
Five shows open at the Tennessee Art League, featuring everything from wild reflection to pattern connection. Suzanne Gaudette Way's animal portraits would look right at home as illustrations in a kids' book, while Clayton Reynolds' geometric abstracts bring bright colors to whimsical designs.
Because it takes time for an object's reflected light to travel to our eyes, we are constantly looking into the past. I love exhibits that examine such nuances of perception, such as Daniele Genadry's new show at Coop. Genadry explores connections between sight and memory with a display of paintings, books, prints and illuminated transparencies. Sightlines (CEL) springs from Genadry's work documenting an abandoned Lebanese rail line, and resonates with themes of geographic and temporal distance as well as notions of home and ancestry.
Speaking of the past, painter Randy L. Purcell brings Vaguely Remembered to Picture This on 5th. In this exhibit of encaustic paintings, Purcell transfers magazine ink into beeswax, resulting in works that feature dynamic designs made up of tiny elements pulled from the pages of various periodicals. Trying to recognize the small pictures that make up the bigger ones is the real fun here.
Twist presents two installations this month. Meredith Setser will show Germinal Rhizome II at Twist Gallery, while Cary Gibson will display Nobody's Nothing at Twist Etc. Germinal explores how human systems take their cues from nature, even as they attempt to control it. Setser's piece looks like the kind of cover-the-gallery installation that Twist is known for. Gibson's plans are more vague, but my informants assure me the show will address the topic of human rights. The artist's statement references "indefinite detention," and the show takes its title from a Morrissey lyric: "Please don't worry / There'll be no fuss / She was nobody's nothing."
Rymer Gallery favorite Emily Leonard opens Love Grows for March's First Saturday fest. While her paintings aren't exactly dark, I would call them brooding. Leonard's canvases are often infused with a light that seems neither dawn nor dusk, and the angular black branches of her favorite subjects are often snarled in a kind of mute anguish. But Leonard's new work is awash in bright blushes of soft pinks and delicate greens that have me hoping that spring is indeed here to stay.
40AU has quickly established itself as a must-see gallery, and this month's show may be the space's best yet. Artist Tiberiu Chelcea takes his inspiration from tiny circuit board designs that he prints on a letterpress in larger versions. The prints are then painted and labeled to resemble topological maps and city plans. The technique plays with notions of scale while simultaneously blurring the line between the natural and the man-made, reminding me of a quote from philosopher/scientist Alfred Korzybski: "The map is not the territory." This show is curated by Megan Kelley of HAUS Rotations, who has taken on the gallery's curatorial duties full time.
Tinney Contemporary will continue The Architect Within — a show of abstract paintings by Peri Schwartz that document her creative process and feature her studio space as their subject.
If you missed the after-crawl event at Brick Factory last month, you missed the most hopping scene of the night. This month's happening combines sound and vision, veering from the abstract to the romantic. Multichannel offers a cross-section of video artists who tell stories and explore random image tumbling for its own sake. Contributors include local and national artists: Lani Asuncion, Amelia Winger-Bearskin, Robert Beckham, Josh Duensing and Jordan Martins. The event begins at 7 p.m in Suite 126 at Cummins Station. Foul-mouthed folk duo Birdcloud (see profile on p. 31) will perform at 11 p.m.