Fall is my favorite time for gallery-going, and Nashville's been serving up some of the best shows of the year in the past few weeks. November's First Saturday event has a lot to live up to, but it seems up to the task. Hit the crawl if you want to contemplate time, see big bugs and survey a false landscape — or just look at lots of paintings.
I took a tour of the artist studios at the 100 Taylor building before almost anyone had actually moved in. In the most radical of Nashville's creative spaces, KJ Schumacher's large, light-filled studio stood out, and seemed to have a limitless capacity for inspiration. So what's Schumacher been building in there? We'll find out Saturday night when the artist opens Remarks at Gallery One. In the past, Schumacher's art has been grounded in printmaking, often incorporating scraps of mail art, borrowed imagery and ephemera from hardware stores. Remarks breaks down those old paintings while simultaneously deconstructing his creative space as well. I knew that studio would play a big role in this show, but I didn't know it would be the star.
The students who run Lipscomb's Open Gallery in the Arcade may pull off the crawl's coolest show with a display that straddles the line between textile art and street graffiti — who knew they shared a border? Victoria Martinez's textile constructions incorporate a spectrum of found objects, and many of her pieces have been installed in unlikely public spaces. In these contexts their various elements take on the associations of murals, flags and banners. In a gallery, those same little details will shine, illuminating the artist's environmental concerns and her preoccupation with the provenance of trash. Nashville is seeing plenty of social, political and environmental art this season, but Martinez remembers a lesson too many of them have forgotten: Make it beautiful.
On Fifth Avenue, two shows of abstract paintings add their voices to a fall season that's skewed away from realism in favor of expressive gestures and implied forms. Tinney Contemporary will continue Jeanie Gooden's exhibition With Wings, which opened at the October crawl. Gooden's mixed-media works combine various materials into complex, layered surfaces. At Rymer Gallery, Scott Upton's abstractions simultaneously evoke interior landscapes and the great outdoors.
Photographs of Piles and Skies at Coop Gallery presents a body of work by Ryan Boatright that explores what he calls "false terrains" — hoaxed horizons that subvert the aesthetics of landscape photography, including naturalist expectations of the form. Instead of a stately installation of framed images, Boatright is printing his pictures on wallpaper and pasting the walls at Coop floor to ceiling. The same technique has been popping up in other galleries lately, but it's one that works particularly well with Boatright's subjects, and the overall effect should feel like standing inside of a shallow crater.
Shelby Shadwell creates big graphite drawings of black plastic garbage bags and swarming cockroaches. These are good subjects for a guy who deals in black, white and shades of gray — it gives the artist a chance to show off his love of texture. But beyond the technical prowess he brings to these bravura displays, Shadwell's work also speaks to our revulsion to refuse and pestilence, as well as our capacity to be moved by beauty. See for yourself at Threesquared.
Patrick DeGuira is a busy guy. This summer he curated the standout The Medium's Session at Zeitgeist Gallery, and his own work is one of the highlights in the Frist's Abstractometry exhibition. That show seems to close the door on the artist's recent output of text-inspired paintings, because this new exhibition, also at Zeitgeist, looks like something completely different. Shade Models is an examination of time and entropy, and includes everything from objects to writing to photographs. DeGuira is on a roll — if he combines his highly personal content with his perfectionist presentation, while still leaving the door cracked for a dialogue with his viewers, this opening will be a don't-miss event.
Former Tennessean Gieves Anderson is best known for his collaborations with Nashville-based painter Hans Schmitt-Matzen, but his latest series — paired with DeGuira's at Zeitgeist — finds the photographer picking up his own brush and creating a discourse about pictures, paintings and permanence. For Reckonings, Anderson's created brightly colored, painterly abstractions that he photographed while their surfaces were still shiny and wet. He captures the fleeting moments before a finished painting stiffens into permanence, but in the process he freezes its image forever — the results are as contradictory as they are compelling.
The crawl itself is impermanent. See it while it's still shiny.