March is a good month for art and artists. On March 10 we'll all spring our clocks forward, shake off our sunlight deprivation and psychologically prepare for spring and the busy art calendar that always accompanies it. This month's First Saturday event features out-of-towners, newbies and a big announcement from a Nashville homeboy.
Craig Brabson is a native Nashvillian best known for the photographs of rusting metal he started snapping in the 1990s. These studies of color, texture and line are hanging in offices, institutions and homes all over the city. Brabson exhibits his work at fairs and festivals around the country, all the while creating new imagery back at home. Visitors to the opening celebration of the Craig Brabson Fine Art Photography Gallery in The Arcade should expect pictures of vintage signage, iconic Nashville cityscapes, architectural studies and at least a handful of painterly, colorful photographs of rust on metal. They should also expect a crowd.
This month, Coop will be hosting installation artist Lisa Walcott in their space at The Arcade. Walcott's work makes sophisticated statements about time and the joys and pains of the mundane, but it's also accessible and full of humor. While I'm never exactly sure what to expect from a Coop installation, a visit to the artist's website offers some clues: Walcott's elements often move or operate in some way, as in the piece that includes an endlessly smoking cigarette, or the one with an ever-steaming cup of coffee. Another installation features a red rubber ball that's strung to a spinning mechanical arm mounted in a gallery's rafters. The precision of the setup creates the gravity-defying illusion of a self-bouncing ball while the monotonous sound of the rhythmic bouncing draws viewers into an acute awareness of the present moment. I'm hoping Walcott brings similar delights to Saturday's Art Crawl.
Twist and Twist Etc. will be showing an exhibition of collaborative art by students from Antioch High School and Hillsboro High School. The Loop Project was organized by Cheekwood, and the students were facilitated by local painter Hans Schmitt Matzen and New York-based photographer Gieves Anderson.
Painter Metra Mitchell's Sea Vessels is a collection of sexy beach-going nudes. At 40AU, Mitchell's frolicking femmes seem happy enough, but there is something off about these scenes, as gallery curator Megan Kelley writes in the show's press release: "Though playful, Mitchell's figures seem suspended in a fugue, detached from the viewer and avoiding interaction with an outside gaze."
Rounding off The Arcade highlights, Open Gallery will be hosting a group show from Chicago collective Adds Donna. Between Hearth & Campfire will likely be typical of Adds Donna group shows that include work in several media, loosely organized around a central theme.
At Tinney Contemporary this month, painter Pam Longobardi's colorful, abstract landscapes on copper and paper make metaphors about humanity's impact on the environment, and what it might mean for us and our world in the future. Some pieces seem wholly alien, as if the artist is predicting star travel to emerge from humanity's relentless technological progress — and maybe she is. I hope Longobardi's work in this show will come off more pretty than preachy, and that she doesn't forget British alternative rock band Love and Rockets' sacred dictum, "You cannot go against nature / Because when you do / Go against nature / It's part of nature too."
Longobardi's work will hang alongside similarly nature-inspired works on paper that her husband and studiomate Craig Dongoski created in collaboration with a chimpanzee named Panzee. I haven't seen the man/ape mash-up yet, but I really like Dongoski's pen and pencil drawings, and I'd hate to see the simian turn this display into too much monkey business.
St. Mary's Church at 330 Fifth Ave. N. has joined the Art Crawl, and Saturday they're hosting exhibitions by Nashville painters Megan Behrens and Niki Adams. This is Behrens' first exhibition of her oil portraits. Adams creates abstracts and cityscapes with spray paint and acrylics.
Keep crawling. It's almost springtime.