The word "may" is very interesting. There is the month of May, of course, but there is also "may," the modal verb that like "can," "might" and "must" suggests possible activities or events that could take place in the future. "May I offer you a glass of red wine?" "May I show you a painting I just know you'll fall in love with?" As the last full month of spring, May sits right on the edge of what's here and now and what's yet to come. I captured the first firefly of 2013 just the other night, and I've been reading its blinking signals, trying to get a bead on this month's Art Crawl. Near as I can tell, May's First Saturday event will feature new faces, gummi worms, a few holdovers and one busy runway.
The Arts Company is getting fashionable in May, displaying a show of photographer Norman Lerner's stylish snaps along with a selection of jewelry and accessories inspired by his photographs. Lerner was a fashion and commercial photographer in New York in the '50s, '60s and '70s, and his work has been shown at both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. LollyDee creates couture clothing and jewelry that nods to midcentury fashions while remaining entirely contemporary. They've created an array of clothes and accessories using Lerner's photographs as a jumping-off point, and tonight's festivities will begin with a live fashion show spotlighting this special collection.
Tinney Contemporary will continue its show of Anna Jaap's new paintings. Jaap's large canvases make use of poured acrylic paints and charcoal dust. A recurring element throughout the exhibit is that familiar symbol of beauty, the rose. But Jaap's representations feel more botanical than symbolic, and dovetail nicely with the natural elements photographer Carla Ciuffo has captured in her ongoing display in Tinney's rear gallery.
Last month Rymer hosted a show of work by renowned Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin, who has been painting for decades. This month, the gallery is offering something completely different. Prismatic is a two-person show featuring work by emerging artists Carly Witmer and Will Penny. The pairing is a nice one as both artists are interested in similar themes — this exhibition finds Witmer and Penny attempting to explode and rethink the traditional picture plane. Witmer's geometric-shaped canvases are covered in layers of stenciled paint, creating prismatic effects, while Penny's designs are subtle, deft studies of line and color. If you see one show on Fifth Avenue tonight, make it this one.
During a recent visit to artist Caroline Wells Chandler's website, I kept getting distracted by her titles and the media she lists for her various pieces. For example "p(ie/ee)r into my buttsoul" is made up of stretched blankets, foam, paint, pom-poms, stickers, teddy bear eyes, faux fur, upholstery fabric, velvet, letterman applique, wood letters, plastic toys, IBC Diet Root Beer bottle caps, resin-casted Swedish Fish, gummi bears, gummi worms and Happy Cola, not to mention gold, bronze and silver leaf. As you might imagine, Chandler's work is a playful mess, and Synchronicities finds the artist exploring the semiotic potential of craft-store flotsam in an effort to illuminate the themes found in William Blake's poem "The Auguries of Innocence." In those verses, Blake reminds us that "The poison of the honey bee / Is the artist's jealousy," but no worries. Chandler's show at Open Gallery is her first in Nashville, and it seems more sweet than bitter.
William Stewart has been a busy guy lately. His work recently appeared in the Baroque Times, a show he co-curated with Willard Tucker at GroundFloor Gallery. "Wild Sands," the short film Stewart co-directed with Warren Lewis Allen, recently screened at the Nashville Film Festival and walked away with the Ground Zero Tennessee Spirit Award in the Short Narrative category. Now we hear Stewart will soon be leaving Nashville to attend Cooper Union in New York, but not before his May show at 40AU. Laborhood is an exhibition of sculptures Stewart has fashioned from construction site scraps. The installation celebrates biker culture and the working class, creating an iconography of masculine velocity. The artist's website, williamscottstewart.com, is a great primer on Stewart's photography, sculpture and video art, and is required viewing for this Saturday's exhibit.