In his poem "October," Robert Frost asks the 10th month to be mercifully slow in its autumnal ravaging: "Retard the sun with gentle mist; / Enchant the land with amethyst." October kicks autumn into high gear, and in Nashville, October also means art. Metro Arts' Artober Nashville celebration is our local observance of National Arts and Humanities Month, and it's no coincidence that October's First Saturday exhibitions are on the strong side. This month's crawl includes surreal narratives, painterly photos, creative couples and a pop-up gallery by a Nashville institution.
Cheekwood is mixing things up with a new way to exhibit their rarely shown works on paper. Perspectrum is a two-part show: A collection of black-and-white work will be on display at the museum's Courtyard Gallery in Belle Meade all month, but there will also be a pop-up space at 219 Fifth Ave. filled with vivid, colorful works. "This exhibition will allow visitors to literally view Cheekwood's collection in a new light," said Chris Doubler, Cheekwood's exhibition designer and curator of Perspectrum. Try to spot glam-rocker Marc Bolan at the Fifth Avenue spot, and hit the Cheekwood outpost to see the remarkably loose, organic Robert Motherwell prints that steal that half of the show.
Local artist John Baeder's photorealistic paintings of roadside America are well-known in Nashville, but the artist's show at The Arts Company this month finds him not in front of a canvas, but behind a camera. Baeder has always painted from photographs, and it's the artist's photography that will be exposed on Saturday night with his exhibit The Magic of Illusion: Painting and Photography. Baeder brings a painterly eye to his still-life images of collected objects, and after local painter Hans Schmitt-Matzen created such a compelling painting/photography dialog with his Aerial Maneuvers at Zeitgeist this summer, it's nice to have Baeder's voice added to the discussion.
Painter Luke Hillestad's canvases range from erotic to ironic — his self-portraits as Rembrandt are my favorites. In Unaltered and Enduring, Hillestad's work shares the walls at Rymer Gallery with gallery director Natalie Dunham's sculptures. Dunham makes use of electrical wire, wooden shims and plastic grapes to create repetitive forms that impose rhythm on space.
It's shaping up to be an interesting month at Twist Gallery and Twist Etc. In the main space, Golden Beams of a Laughing Sun sounds like the title of a long-lost Tyrannosaurus Rex album, but it's actually a two-person show of work by Philadelphia-based artist Rob Matthews and Brooklyn-based painter Matthew Fisher. Matthews draws his ass off, and his "Knoxville Girl" series may point back to his BFA days at UT. Fisher's hypercolored portraits and still-lifes weave surreal narratives that speak to secret histories. At Twist Etc., Bryce McCloud kicks off an ongoing citywide portrait project with work from his students at Room in the Inn, where the printmaker taught classes all summer as the artist-in-residence.
Detroit artist Lauren Rice uses collage, painting and sculpture to explore gaps in history and dynamic systems in motion. At Coop this month, Doubleness finds the artist pulling materials from multiple sources, mixing and matching magazine photos, digital prints and other found images. The separate elements all compete to be heard in dialogues that critique and question contemporary economic, ecological, political and social well-being. I spent the first decade of my life in Detroit, and I can assure you that all such questions are current and crucial to the city that brought the world the 20th century.
I first met Arlyn Ende years ago when she was the gallery director at The University of the South in Sewanee — I was reviewing a show, and Ende was a model of hospitality. Now, Ende and sculptor Jack Hastings run Deepwoods Studio. The pair have been creative partners for more than five decades, and their work will be featured at Tinney Contemporary this month. The Essence of Our Ticking posits Hastings' metal and concrete sculptures alongside Ende's work, which can include textiles, collages, drawings, prints and book art.
This month, artist Todd Greene curates his next alter-ego show at The Bank Gallery at 226 Third Ave. N. Featuring anonymous work by established Nashville artists, these exhibitions have been as ambitious as they are mysterious.