Friday, January 18, 2013

Nothing Ever Happens in the Memphis Art World

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 11:34 AM

Nothing Ever Happens in the Memphis Art World — this is what I hear from people all the time, even from some artists. They wonder why Nashville gets all the credit and has all the money.

Whatever. Nashville has no soul. Nashville wishes it had the visual arts energy that Memphis has, dreams of having the type of thought-provoking artists that Memphis has. They wish they had the cool people Memphis does to make things happen. But, we will save that for another blog post for another time.

Last week I wrote about a diverse range of events that were taking place in Memphis over the course of one weekend. These were just the events that opened last weekend and did not include all of the activities and exhibitions that were already open and on view to the public. There is the same diverse group of exhibitions and events that are happening this weekend.

There are two exhibitions that open at MCA’s Rust Hall Gallery in Overton Park tonight from 6-8 p.m.

Dolph Smiths Fertile Attic
  • Dolph Smith's Exploring the Fertile Attic in Tennarkippi

The first is "Once More With Feeling: A Founders' Day Celebration" by Murray Riss and Dolph Smith. Riss and Smith have been fixtures at MCA and the Memphis art scene for years. According to the press release, Cat Pena, coordinator of exhibitions and lectures, states “Our Founders’ Day Exhibitions carefully weave threads of talented and pivotal individuals in MCA’s past with the current fabric of students and faculty. These opportunities are not only a celebration of the culmination of two successful careers in the visual arts, but a way for students to become more familiar with the work of fellow members of the MCA family” — a statement that has much more meaning with the recent passing of Margaret Metz, trustee and part of a family that has long had a significant role at MCA, acquiring the naming rights of Metz Hall, a dormitory and studio for MCA students.

Siphne Sylves Questlove (detail)
  • Siphne Sylve's Questlove (detail)

Also opening tonight at the Memphis College of Art is "I Am America: Memphis Musicians" by alumna Siphne Sylve. Sylve is a recent graduate and current project manage at the UrbanArt Commission. She asked several artist and musicians in town — Phantom 9, Tame, Eso, and others — their top 10 influences. She then researched this list, created a body of work, and the results are on view in the Alumni Gallery. Sylve states that the list from each artist she asked was unexpected in diversity and range. The paintings became about the study of the relationship of the M.C. vs DJ and the early generations of hip-hop.

Eszter Sziksz Liquid ID 2
  • Eszter Sziksz' Liquid ID 2

Also opening tonight between 6-8 p.m. at the Playhouse on the Square, MCA Gallery is Eszter Sziksz’s "Liquid Identities." The work is a mix of traditional printmaking and digital art that explores the theme of rebelling against death. Sziksz also prints on ice, which is quite unusual and I can not image the difficulty in doing so. The MCA Gallery is on the second floor and the exhibition runs through March 4th.

Image by Paul Mpagi Sepuya
  • Image by Paul Mpagi Sepuya

Rhodes College’s Clough-Hanson Gallery continues its 2012-2013 exhibition schedule with "Paul Mpagi Sepuya: Recent Pictures/A Journal" opening tonight as well from 6-8 p.m. In a slight departure from his previous work, the 14 photographs on view reference “the influence of generations of personal and creative exchanges. The work will feature portraits of close friends as well as images of what the artist describes as the places where creative connections are made and are the powerful spaces where art is born.” The work was made between the summer of 2011 and the fall of 2012 in locations such as Brooklyn, Barcelona, and Paris. It is good to see Hamlett Dobbins, Director of Clough-Hanson Gallery, put together an exhibition of something besides painting, something he is beginning to do more and more as of late.

June Schwarz Vessel #1096
  • June Schwarz' Vessel #1096

Finishing up the weekend on Sunday, January 20th, from 3-5pm is "The Metal Museum Collects" at the National Ornamental Metal Museum. According to Joel Parsons, exhibitions and communications manager, “There are about 50 pieces on view in the new installation, divided into several mini-exhibitions. There's a bunch of animal sculpture for kids of all ages called "Metalsmith's Menagerie" (including some 300-year-old Chinese locks shaped like fish and dogs, an articulated lobster, and a big whale); a section of contemporary work that questions the divisions between form and function; a gallery that looks at changes in American blacksmithing brought on by the industrialization of metalwork in the early 20th century through the work of Samuel Yellin and JG Braun; and a selection of historic and contemporary gates, grills, and fences.” Also on view will be several monumental sterling silver sculptures by John Marshall. These pieces have not been on view in Memphis in the last 20 years. Parsons states that these were made in the 1980s and are pretty wild.

So, Nothing Ever Happens in the Memphis Art World? Please, if you really think this is true, you ain’t looking hard enough, not at all, really, and should move to Nashville.

images courtesy of the artists, galleries, and museums

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