While on our annual wedding anniversary trip to Grayton Beach, Florida, I decided, after four shots of tequila, three coconut mojitos, and two dozen oysters, that I was never going to eat beef, pork, or lamb again. It is easy to make such a decision when you are surrounded by a never-ending supply of succulent blue crab, mouth-watering shrimp, buttery-flakey mackerel, and plump oysters. That was in October and I still have not tasted the flesh of those land-locked animals. I have also gained five pounds since then. Oh well.
I believe that I would have viewed Melissa Farris’ exhibition "Happy Cannibals," at Material through December 29th, differently had I seen it before I gave up on the delicious flesh of cows, pigs, and sheep. According to her exhibition statement, Farris grew up in a family “infixed with mid-century ideals.” And seeing the reminders of her families past, she is “struck by the pervasive influence of mid-century corporate America.” This influence had a disjointed relationship with reality and this exhibition is a “warm-hearted celebration of that failure.”
Material consists of three similarly-sized white walls. Farris has dedicated a different animal on each wall, lamb, pork, and beef, respectively. The pieces are either a butcher’s how-to guide on the proper slaughtering method of each animal or a humorously depicted suggested serving size and preparation. The pieces remind me of the animations of popcorn and soda played during the intermission at the drive-in on Summer Ave.
What makes these pieces work is the color palette of the frames the artist has chose to use. The avocado, mint, and strawberry colors are taken from the 1950s decor of her grandparents' home. (Similar to Kehinde Wiley’s nod to Neo-Classicism with his use of opulent gold gilded frames.)
Examining corporate America’s disjointed relationship with reality is an interesting sentiment and reason to make a body of work. These mid-century ideals never really made it to rural Arkansas where I was born and raised. I remember being surrounded by the motifs of the depression. The happy pieces that Farris exhibits here would be a welcome change, especially in the context of the meat and potato eaters of DeWitt, Arkansas, of which, I am no longer a part.
Images by Dwayne Butcher
Today is the worst day ever to be on Facebook and Twitter. Everyone is talking about the apocalypse. No mentions anywhere about Tony Allen being the greatest American ever. Sad. No one is talking about how we will run out of bacon next year. Travesty. No one is talking about the fiscal cliff and the fact the GOP is imploding from within. Oh well.
This is usually the time of year when we take the time to reflect on all the great things we saw and did the previous twelve months. My article next week will focus on some of the more memorable events in the visual arts over the last year. But there was no way to mention everyone and everything. I didn’t even have the chance to mention myself and all the important things that I do for this city. Maybe next year.
Speaking of next year, it has come to my attention, because of my December 13th article, that someone is actually going to curate an exhibition of current MFA candidates from the U of M and MCA at Marshall Arts. While still in the development stages, the exhibition will also consist of a panel discussion and open critiques between the students of the institutions. The show should not be viewed as a competition between them, but rather an opportunity for the artists to get to know each other and have a positive impact on the visual arts in this community. This is a good thing. Memphis is fortunate enough to have to highly regarded MFA programs while Nashville doesn’t have one at all. Suck it, Nashville.
Speaking of Nashville, I wonder when they are going to form their own state and then secede from the union?
Speaking of Union, the Memphis Arts Collective Holiday Artist Market at 1501 Union is in its final days, through December 24th. They are open daily Monday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. and Sunday noon-5 p.m.
You can find work from Lizi Beard Ward, Robert Carroll, Bryan Blankenship and others.
Speaking of Bryan Blankenship, he is also a part of the exclusive Winter Arts Holiday Show & Sale at 2055 West Street in Germantown. They are open Monday-Thursday & Saturday 10a.m.-6 p.m., Friday’s 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m. Through December 24th. You should all go and check these sales out and finish up your holiday shopping and buy me a pressed plate from Blankenship. I would appreciate it. I should have bought one before the devastation of the end of the world.
Speaking of devastation, tomorrow is the last day to see Maysey Craddock’s exhibition “Forest for the Trees” at David Lusk Gallery. An exhibition inspired by the devastation that Hurricane Katrina caused on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005. These gouache on sewn-together paper sacks are a reminder of that tragic storm and its continuing effect on the gulf region but also the recent destruction on the East Coast caused by Hurricane Sandy. Go see the show while on your way to the holiday markets, while you still have a chance.
First off, I would like to take this opportunity to say that I hate Nashville.
Thirdly, I am nowhere near finished with my holiday shopping. But our Festivus pole does look great in the living room. To be honest, I have not even started, and the only present I have to buy is for Georgia. I am thinking about getting her a gift certificate to Stewart Brothers Hardware, Boscos, The Edge Coffeehouse, or an Anne Siems painting. She loves those things. Really, I love those things. I love telling people this. Hint, hint. And when I get invited to speak at a Pecha Kucha again, I will be sure to talk about these things.
Speaking of Pecha Kucha, Crosstown Arts is hosting their fifth installment of this event. An unpronounceable word that is Japanese for “chit-chat”. Originally scheduled to take place in their new exhibition space at 430 Cleveland St, which is still under construction, they are instead having the event in their current space at 427 N. Watkins, which is directly behind the new space. These are generally pretty interesting events, especially the first one, where I talked about how great of an artist I am. You can watch the video where I talk all fast and brilliant by clicking here.
Memphis is a music city. There is no disputing this. Rock-n-roll was invented here. It is the home of the blues. Shit goes down in Memphis.
I was always aware of music’s dominance over the creative culture here. So much so, that while in college I even started a band with some friends. We were going to call ourselves The Articles. (It turns out that several of the band members eventually became writers.) None of us had musical backgrounds and none could play an instrument. We assigned ourselves an instrument to play. I got the guitar. The next day I bought an acoustic guitar from someone in the paper. The previous owner got mad at his inability to write the next great song and shot the guitar with a .22 out of frustration. Also that same day, my friend who was assigned the drums slept with my then-girlfriend and the band broke up before we ever had a practice. Oh well.
Though I did not become a great musician in a historically great music town, there is still plenty of it going around. So much so, people are even creating artwork based on music.
One such event takes place tonight, “The Paik Sessions,” 6 — 8 p.m. at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. The museum's assistant preparator, Luis Seixas issued a call to artists to create music pieces in response to Nam June Paik’s sculpture Vide-O-belisk. The first 10 will be heard tonight and includes work by Jonathan Kirkscey, Pieter Nooten, Shelby Bryant, et al.
Vide-O-belisk is an assemblage piece made from 24 vintage television receivers, standing 19 feet tall. The TVs display three distinct video loops. One features the most significant art objects from the Brooks' permanent collection. Another is devoted to the advent of television and includes key moments such as man's landing on the moon and an Elvis Presley performance. The third displays musical instruments and performances, the inspiration for this project. John Cage, Laurie Anderson, and Charlotte Moorman, as well as other significant composers and performing artists who worked together with Paik, appear in this footage.
This should be an interesting event, as this piece is one of the best pieces at the museum (Christian Marclay’s piece Telephones being the best.)