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The first picture show: NaFF preview highlights First Saturday crawl

Crawl Space



April is National Poetry Month, a fitting occasion to consider the ongoing conversation between visual art and verse. In his Poetics, Aristotle connected poetry with painting, and Michelangelo was a prolific practitioner of both. William Blake decorated his verses with his own stunning prints; Frank O'Hara wrote poetry on lunch breaks from his day job at the Museum of Modern Art. The best poetry transcends the limits of language, pulling readers into transcendent experiences of their own. April's First Saturday Art Crawl offers consciousness expansion in a different visual-arts medium, at the rate of 24 frames per second.

Film often gets overlooked in discussions of visual arts, but The Arts Company has made the connection red-carpet-explicit for the past five years. Their sixth annual Nashville Film Festival Official Preview makes the gallery the place to be Saturday night. It's a great opportunity for crawlers and festers to connect, and the big-screen previews of this year's NaFF offerings are always a great place to start your screening schedule.

The NaFF rev-up won't be the only item at the gallery with a lot of horsepower. Christine Patterson is a Knoxville-based photographer whose pictures of horses combine a number of techniques to create images that look more like paintings than snapshots. The artist's Equus: The Art of the Horse is a display of large-scale pieces that place Tennessee horses in an iconic light. I'm typically not someone whose pulse races at the prospect of a show of horse photos, but from the images I've seen, Patterson's work manages more intensity than I would have expected. I'm guessing this is a show that will catch others by surprise as well.

Speaking of horses, Gabriel Mark Lipper's narrative paintings aren't so much about racing horses as they are about the bourgeois Southern horse culture that surrounds them. With Thoroughbred , it's almost as if the artist's new exhibition at Rymer Gallery is asking, "Who are the real animals here?" But that's only what I want him to ask. Lipper's paintings are ultimately more silly than scathing, more arch than anarchist. The subjects here are slightly exaggerated, and the artist's neoclassical inclinations are well-suited for these ironic mini-melodramas draped in seersucker and topped with very big hats.

Local sculptor Jason Lascu's work will be familiar to gallery-goers who caught his show at Tinney Contemporary last year. Saturday's crawlers will get a chance for a second look in a new exhibit Lascu curated for the gallery. The first show the artist has organized, To Be Human asks existential questions through a display of sculpture and other media that focus on the human form. Along with Lascu's own work, the show includes pieces by James Croak, Lyle Carbajal, Eef Barzelay, and Christina West, who I hope is displaying the monochromatic nude sculptures she often casts in absurd narratives.

John Toomey's mixed-media work makes for an aptly springtime-inspired show at Picture This on 5th. The artist uses a variety of materials to create landscape scenes that find leaves, flowers, birds and branches reduced to their essential forms and presented in graphics-inspired compositions of colorful silhouettes.

At Twist Gallery this month, J. Todd Greene returns to the Arcade with a headscratcher of an exhibit called Wu We. Greene's First Class Animal opened at Twist Etc. in August and featured mask-like sculptures that made the textural implications of the artist's familiar multimedia paintings more explicit. Wu We finds Greene returning to his brand of sort-of-2D work with the installation of a wall mural painted directly on carpet. This month, the Twist Etc. space will be hosting What Not: A Mini Craft Fair featuring work by Elizabeth Streight, Goose and Gander Designs, Sarah Shearer, Sarah Dark and Amy Sterling.

Brothers Joe and Matt Christy are both painters, but for their April show at 40AU, the two are presenting an exhibit of sculpture that finds the artists heading underground. Let's Live in Tunnels is a series of architectural structures that abandon the utilitarian and aesthetic constraints of contemporary urban design. The pair use reclaimed materials to embrace an attitude of free play, prioritizing kids' stuff like the love of materials and curious inquiry for its own sake.

Dorothy Parker once said, "The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity." Except one. To walk is human. To crawl is divine. You heard it here first.


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