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The first Art Crawl of 2012 offers opportunities for looking backward and forward

Crawl Space

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Have I mentioned how much I love the fall art season? The crisp weather complements cozy art spaces, and the yearlong programming cycle at galleries and museums always seems poised to mark the end of the calendar with an exclamation point. This year, a few Art Crawl venues have opted for an ellipsis, carrying their final shows of fall into the winter. Along with welcome repeats at Twist Gallery, Blend Studio and Tinney Contemporary, January's festivities include new exhibitions of Southern-fried photography, reflections on landscape painting and a mystery artist.

Even though we live in an era when the notion of personal privacy seems antiquated, artist Jonathan Paul Gillette remains elusive. A link to an eponymous website opens an incomplete page featuring a picture of a dark-haired young man who may or may not be showing at COOP Gallery this month. A Web page for a gallery at Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minn., describes Jonathan Paul Gillette as a photographer and sculptor. The press release from COOP Gallery reads like a piece of flash fiction that finds the artist recounting a dream and offering advice: "Whatever you do in life, don't bitch ride a Harley." After viewing many COOP installations, we've learned not to project predictions on their diaphanous doings. We've also learned not to miss them.

The installation I Want, I Need at Twist Gallery is a knockout display by creative co-conspirators Mandy Rogers Horton and Angela Burks that explores the impact of commerce and advertising on our private lives. A hit in December, I Want is the perfect example of an exhibit that beckons — and deserves — multiple viewings. Julia Smith's graphite drawings at Twist Etc. were a surprise addition to the December crawl, and I'm pleased to give her a proper mention this month. Smith's works weave together an eye for detail and a penchant for magical thinking.

For January, 40AU Gallery will open Indigenous, an exhibit by Stephen Zerne and Audrey Deal-McEver that explores overlooked landscapes and endangered creatures in Tennessee. The show shares themes with the 40AU's inaugural exhibit last month, and we're curious to see if the gallery will continue its preoccupations with fragile spaces and species in the months to come.

Highlights at the Arcade also include two group shows. Blend Studio continues its exhibition of small works featuring paintings, prints, ceramics, multimedia pieces, book art and wooden bowls by Ben C. Vitualla, Amanda Dillingham, Alesandra Bellos, Samantha Callahan, Bryce McCloud and more. Picture This on 5th, at 44 Arcade, opens a show of gallery artists including Nancy Fletcher Cassell, Eugene Gravel, Lisa Haddad, Myles Maillie and John Reed.

The Arts Company opens a show of photography featuring work that presents eight diverse perspectives on Southern life. The South Through Eight Lenses & a Code includes work by members of the SouthLight Salon: Chuck Arlund, Jerry Atnip, Nick Dantona, David Robert Farmerie, Robert McCurley, Mark Mosrie, Jerry Park and Pierre Vreyen. The exhibit's titular "code" refers to the inclusion of scannable QR codes that allow viewers to explore expanded information accompanying the various images. In conjunction with the exhibit, The Arts Company will host a series of Salon Saturdays, including a talk by Sylvia Plachy, a contributing photographer to The New Yorker (Jan. 14); a talk by McCurley about street photography, including an excursion through downtown Nashville to take photographs (Jan. 28); a portfolio review and juried exhibit (Feb. 4); a program about photography-inspired poetry, featuring McCurley and Nashville poets Randy Foster and Amy E. Hall (Feb. 11); and a closing reception (Feb. 18). For application information for the Feb. 11 juried exhibit, visit southlightsalon.com; deadline is Jan. 25.

Tinney Contemporary's website offers a fair bit of propaganda about "alternative states of consciousness" and "the power of the mind" as they relate to Jaq Belcher's paper-cut art. These considerations are pertinent, but the first thing you need to know is that these pieces are gorgeous displays of bravura technique. Standing in front of Belcher's large, white patterns is an intense experience, and this show serves as a reminder that visual art isn't so much a semantic medium designed to make us think as it is a sensational one displayed to make us feel. Be sure to get close enough to these pieces to see the tiny, handwritten numbers the artist has used to record every precise cut — and don't miss the artist's installation in Tinney's rear gallery.

The Rymer Gallery opens 2012 with a new exhibit by painter Drew Galloway. Galloway's realistic landscapes often feature watery elements like rivers and ponds, allowing the artist to show off his natural images along with their shimmering reflections.

Also, be sure to check out The Disposables at the Downtown Presbyterian Church. This benefit for The Contributor, Nashville's street newspaper, features photographs by the publication's vendors accompanied by an evening of food and music. The event is free, but all art sales will support the photographers and The Contributor.

Happy 2012, and enjoy crawling!

Email art@nashvillescene.com.

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