In the fall, Nashville's sidewalks fill with students, backyard fires blaze, and we make that transition from red tomatoes to sweet potatoes. It's my favorite season, and my favorite time of year for art crawling. The Arcade cools down and you can wear a jacket and tie without self-basting. Gallery-going is great preparation for gift-giving season, and red wine and chilly nights go together like, well, like red wine and chilly nights. Officially, we have weeks to go before autumn, but I'm jumping the gun for September's First Saturday event, which features art star curators, glowing Virgin Marys, fuzzy balls and an artist who's got the blues.
During the early 1950s, Susan Weil and then-husband Robert Rauschenberg experimented with scattering objects and naked models on blueprint paper before exposing them to a sunlamp. The resulting photograms share their blue hues with the cyanotypes Weil continues to make with her current collaborator José Betancourt. The most interesting aspect of the pair's work at Tinney Contemporary this month is how they group multiple unframed prints in arrangements that feel almost sculptural. On Weil's website, "Berserkle" combines several different images of a bicycle, the competing perspectives hanging together like a pedal-powered Picasso. "Woosh" offers a number of images of a skeletal umbrella — their topsy-turvy installation creates the illusion of a sudden gust of wind.
I ran into artist Herb Williams when I stopped to see Sam Dunson's excellent show at Rymer Gallery a few weeks ago. While Williams alluded to a number of new offers he was juggling, he forgot to mention his curatorial turn at the gallery this month. Joyce Melander-Dayton and Janis Pozzi-Johnson: Evolution displays two artists who find common ground in their meditations on nature and the elements. Melander-Dayton weaves textile spheres that she attaches to walls in patterns that evoke everything from germinating plants to musical notes. Pozzi-Johnson's paintings look like simple geometric abstracts when viewed online, but word has it that her surfaces, created by adding hundreds of layers of paint to her canvases, are compelling up close. Texture is tough to scrutinize on a screen – all the more reason to see the works in person.
Marin Abell and Heidi Bender's installation Tarp Lake is a fake lake created with discarded blue tarps. The monumental installation's recent run in Huntsville, Ala., was big enough for viewers to walk into it and and even explore "under water." COOP hosts the duo this Saturday night for a special presentation of footage, photos, books and original maps documenting the project. Clearly this is something that should be seen firsthand, but the COOP display provides a great opportunity to focus on Tarp's examination of consumerist desires and artificial landscapes in art.
Speaking of monumental installations, Rocky Horton's Sacer-Totems at Twist features sculptures made out of illuminated Nativity lawn ornaments stacked into absurd towers. The work asks questions about the mundane, the sacred, spiritual transcendence and the images and stories that too often fail to induce it.
Horton chairs the art department at Lipscomb University. The school will open their new student-run downtown gallery, OPEN, at this month's crawl. Such off-campus spaces are common in other cities, and it's great to see Lipscomb stepping up to fill this gap — I hope the art departments at Vanderbilt, Fisk, Belmont, Watkins and TSU are paying attention. OPEN, in Suite 57 at the Arcade, debuts with a show by sculptor Joel Parsons.
I missed last month's crawl attending a private art and music event at The Bank Gallery. Todd Greene's band Bulb played an animated set amid a sprawling series of inventive art installations by Greene and Andy Harding. All of that to say I was a little jealous of fellow Scenester Laura Hutson, who couldn't stop talking about Heat Wave at Brick Factory. The two-artist show features Emily Clayton's sculptural textiles, which put theatrical curtains and scenery at center stage while Nina Mayer utilizes appropriated Bruce Weber imagery to examine gender identity. The show continues through September along with the exciting addition of a sound installation by Greg Pond and sculptural works by Angela Burks and Mandy Rogers Horton. If you only make it to one exhibit this Saturday, make it this one.
It's (almost) fall! Let's crawl!