Friday, February 24, 2017

Art Stuff To Do this Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 12:54 PM

Richard Knowles Legacy Project
  • Richard Knowles Legacy Project

When I was a freshman art student at the University of Memphis, I was fortunate to be able to take a drawing class from Richard (Dick) Knowles. He would come into class and walk straight into the storage closet and shut the door. Knowles would start to talk to us about our projects as if he were in the classroom. After five or ten minutes he would test our visual memories by having us draw what he was wearing that particular day, to see if we were paying attention to him during the three seconds it took to walk into class and in the closet. I always thought this was an odd exercise.

HE WORE THE SAME THING EVERYDAY. A blue long-sleeved button down tucked into blue jeans. The particular shades of blue were the only thing to ever change, and that was only because they would fade over time in the wash.

Knowles, who passed away in 2010, is being recognized with the inaugural Richard Knowles Legacy Project currently on view at Circuitous Succession. On Sunday, February 26, 2-6pm, there is the closing reception, and his partner Carol Knowles, former Memphis Flyer art writer, and Larry Jasud, retired Professor at the U of M, will be giving a gallery talk about the life and times of Dick Knowles. There are so many stories about this man, it should be a fun event sharing these with those that knew him best.

Katie Murray
  • Katie Murray

• The Memphis art scene is notorious for not showing up and supporting art exhibitions on a regular basis. This is even more so if the exhibiting artist happens to be from out of town and especially if the work in the exhibition is not about Memphis in any way. Well, this is the case at Tops Gallery for its opening tonight. "Katie Murray: That Shadow, My Likeness" is an exhibition of a small group of photographs centered around her community in Queens, New York. There is also a video inspired by the footage Murray shot of her husband’s audition tape for the metal band Slayer. What is not to like about that? The opening reception is tonight 6-8pm, 400 South Front Street.

Last week I mentioned the current exhibition at Orange Mound Gallery, "The Black Experience. Tomorrow 2-4pm there will be a Q&A with the participating artists in the exhibition. There will also be two guest speakers. Dr. Ernestine Jenkins will talk about Black History in America, and Dr. Simone Thomas will talk about her book, 365 Days of Black Men in History.

Cat Pena
  • Cat Pena

• Have you been to the Edge district recently to see all the improvements to the neighborhood? They have repaved and painted in new bike lanes and parking spaces. There are also, what seems like hundreds, of large planters everywhere. I do not even know where to drive on the street anymore. Go find out yourself this weekend as Cat Peña’s installation There’s More to be Proud Of at the corner of Marshall and Monroe will be on view to the public. The piece is an homage to the neighborhood as Automobile Row from 1911-1950’s.

Image Credits:

Dick Knowles installation courtesy of Circuitous Succession.
Katie Murray installation courtesy of Tops Gallery.
Cat Peña digital rendering courtesy of the artist.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Resources for Artists

Posted By on Mon, Feb 20, 2017 at 2:40 PM

  • Dwayne Butcher

Being an artist is hard work. Minimal opportunities for funding, exhibitions, resources, and employment exist for us creatives. Those that do exist are being threatened as we speak. That is why today’s ArtsMemphis event at Memphis Made is so important. I thought it would be useful to the Memphis visual art community to compile a quick list of resources. Being in the studio, as difficult as that is, is just a small component of being an actual working artist.

Visit the ArtsMemphis website for information on grants and RFQ’s for public art projects. Attend one of their many workshops for help on how to best write a proposal seeking these opportunities. Other local visual art resources include the UrbanArt Commission, Crosstown Arts, the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, and the Downtown Memphis Commission.

There are countless websites and organizations that cater to visual artists on the national level. While the effectiveness of the College Art Association’s annual conference can be debated, the resources they offer cannot. There are job postings and exhibition opportunities listed. They also offer help with building a resume, which you may find useful.

NYFA is a must. Any and all visual artists need to know about this resource. If you do not know about it, click the link, now. They offer resources for professional development, the business of art, curatorial services, and loans and funds. Again, a must go-to resource.

Full disclosure, we moved to Baltimore as my wife accepted a position in Career Services for Visual Arts at MICA, She put a lot of work into most of the resources available on their website. There is information available for Building Your Professional Package, Internship and Job Search, Grants, Residencies, and Graduate School listing.

The Foundation for Contemporary Arts offers emergency grants for artists living, working, and paying taxes in the U.S. Applicants seeking funds must have committed performance or exhibition opportunities, providing specific dates at the time of application.

Bay Area Art Grind has been a great resource for me for eight years, when they first started and were known as the SJSU Art Blog. It is not as active now with ongoing opportunities, but they still have an incredible selection of links in the Artist Resources tab.

Now, their website makes me want to throw-up, but the Artist Help Network is an amazing resource for Art World Mailing Lists. They also have many other resources that are useful.

Getting Your Shit Together is probably the best name for a website of all time. GYST offers subscription based services, but they do have plenty of free information on artist’s statements, grant proposals, and website services.

I have several websites and blogs that I try to visit every day for art news, reviews, and commentary, Hyperallergic, Two Coats of Paint, and Art F City. Follow their contributors on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, as they continuously post images and info about exhibitions and artists you would never know about otherwise.

Again, this is just a quick rundown of the sites that I visit most for opportunities and visual art news. This list is nowhere near comprehensive. There are countless others. Post yours in the comments below!! Though there are few resources available to visual artists and we desperately need more artists working not less.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Make Art Great Again

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2017 at 2:19 PM

I hate Trump. We are less than a month into his presidency and I think I am going to have a heart attack at how enraged I get just listening to his voice. The press conference this week just about sent me to Regional One. My social media timelines can be summed up with three words, “What the fuck?” The art world is responding. The scene in Memphis is no exception.

Toni Roberts
  • Toni Roberts

Melissa Farris
  • Melissa Farris

At the beginning of February, Marshall Arts was host to an exhibition that I organized of protest signs that were used in Women’s Marches around the country. Through the weekend, the exhibition "Nasty Women," is on view. Nasty Women is an exhibition curated locally by Chelle Ellis and Danielle Sumler as a response to the Trump presidency, “because sitting around and bitching was never an option for us,” according to Ellis. Some of the proceeds from sales of this politically charged exhibition are going to Planned Parenthood, over $1,700 thus far, another $600 coming just from a donation/tip jar collected at the opening reception. The work can be seen at the gallery Friday and Saturday, 6-9 pm and Sunday, 9 am-1 pm, and by visiting There will be a Q&A with the curators and artists during opening hours Saturday.

On view at the Orange Mound Gallery is "The Black Experience, a Rebirth of Black History Month." The exhibition examines the notion that “although we’ve had a black president for 8 years…we still don’t celebrate Black History Month beyond the use of predictable image and icons.” The exhibition is to celebrate African American history old and new. The show includes the work of well-known Memphis artists Jamond Bullock, Lurlynn Franklin, Lawrence Matthews, Lester Merriweather, Carl Moore, et al. Started by Linda Steele, OMG is located in the Lamar Airways shopping strip, and has been the host of several important community events recently. They are currently only open by appointment, so be sure to follow their schedule of events.

Black Experience
  • Black Experience

Black Experience
  • Black Experience
Since I returned from Baltimore seven months ago, there has been no exhibition potentially more important than the Fidencio Fifield-Perez installation at the Memphis College of Art. An undocumented immigrant, his work is strong and impactful. He is an alum of MCA and returns for a lecture March 2nd at the very exact time of 12:15pm. The opening is scheduled for March 3rd, 6-8pm. He was profiled recently in the NY Times as part of the American Dreamers series, stories from young immigrants who were spared from deportations and permitted to work during the Obama administration. Do not miss this exhibition. It is currently on view now until April 18th.

One of the many disastrous things Trumps plans to do as our illegitimate president is to defund the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH). On Monday, February 20, 4-6 p.m., ArtsMemphis is combatting these threats with hosting a postcard writing event at Memphis Made Brewery, that includes beer!! The Art Center has donated supplies to create the postcards and ArtsMemphis will provide all necessary information needed to write the cards.

Image Credits:

Black Experience courtesy of Carl Moore.

Toni Roberts and Melissa Farris courtesy of Dwayne Butcher

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Art Apprenticeship Offers Outlet for North Memphis Teens

Posted By on Tue, Nov 22, 2016 at 3:34 PM

Apprentice Ca’Terrya Hilson works on screen printing during an exhibition hosted by the Klondike/Smokey City Community Development Center. - ELLE PERRY
  • Elle Perry
  • Apprentice Ca’Terrya Hilson works on screen printing during an exhibition hosted by the Klondike/Smokey City Community Development Center.

Blocks away from Northside High School, girls aged 15 to 19 spent several months learning art and other skills from mentors at the Klondike/Smokey City Community Development Center in North Memphis.

The program began in March 2016. The next month, the number of girls went from eight to seven when a 15-year-old apprentice in the program died violently.

Mentor and visual artist Drea Powell said that the death was sobering to the girls. For some, it fueled them, while others wanted to retreat.

Creating art and journaling served as outlets for the girls. The work made them confront their feelings about their friend's death and other issues they were facing.

Visual artist Brittney Bullock, who served as project lead, said she first developed a professional relationship with CDC Executive Director Quincey Morris while working at Crosstown Arts. Bullock then volunteered for the CDC and continued to attend the monthly neighborhood partnership meetings.

When the community engagement grant was offered Bullock asked Morris if the CDC would apply. Bullock said Morris initially said “no” because she had no one to manage the project. The two landed on the apprenticeship model after talking about their interests (Bullock’s in community engagement work and youth development and Morris’ in community development and providing resources).

Khara Woods, a local designer and photographer, served as a mentor to the participating girls.

“Watching them grow has been amazing,” Powell said.

Through the apprenticeship, the girls were paid a stipend and worked four hours on two Saturdays a month. The grant money ran out in September.

When they decided what to work on, the girls landed on screenprinting. They learned how to set up the entire process and work with different colors for prints.

Apprentice Ca’Terrya Hilson hangs a screen printed piece to dry during an exhibition hosted by the Klondike/Smokey City Community Development Center. - ELLE PERRY
  • Elle Perry
  • Apprentice Ca’Terrya Hilson hangs a screen printed piece to dry during an exhibition hosted by the Klondike/Smokey City Community Development Center.

A show and sale of the prints was held on October 29th at the CDC.

One piece reads “Reach for the stars” — a note of hope and possibility — and shows a chorus of hands reaching towards a group of stars. Another reads “Our Lives Matter,” a way for the girls to personalize the Black Lives Matter movement. A third reads “Fear - Violence = Peace.” Peace is represented by the peace sign, while violence is symbolized by a gun.

Throughout the CDC’s office are large sheets of white paper listing the skills the girls worked on during the camp, such as branding and product development. The lists were flanked by large prints of the girls and their mentors.

Part of the apprenticeship included the girls visiting the studios of professional, working artists to show that entrepreneurship and working as an artist could be a viable path.

The mentors even brought in their work and showed client receipts as part of that process, Powell said.

“Evidence was important,” she said. “To build trust and show it could happen.”

Sixteen-year-old Ca’Terrya Hilson applied for and was accepted to the program after hearing Bullock speak about the opportunity at the Boys & Girls Club.

Hilson said she had not previously worked with art, but found painting to be her favorite part of the experience.

She said that working the apprenticeship was a good experience because it allowed her to try something new and because, “I’m a quiet person and I learned how to communicate and talk to people.”

Morris said that she continues to follow up with the girls, to encourage them ib things such as taking their ACTs and applying to college.

Morris said with additional funding she would like to continue the program and expand it to more girls, and eventually boys.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Night Women by Delita Martin

Posted By on Wed, Nov 2, 2016 at 3:15 PM

Night Mother by Delita Martin - ELLE PERRY
  • Elle Perry
  • Night Mother by Delita Martin

For the upcoming print edition of the Flyer I wrote about Eso Tolson's "Spectacular Vernacular" exhibition now showing at the Memphis Slim House.

Another local art exhibition that incorporates text to tell a story about African-American life is "Night Women" by Huffman, Texas-based mixed-media artist Delita Martin.

From the exhibition’s statement: [Martin’s work] “deals with reconstructing the identity of Black women by piecing together the signs, symbols, and language found in what can be called everyday life…”

Effie: She Sees The Truth by Delita Martin - ELLE PERRY
  • Elle Perry
  • Effie: She Sees The Truth by Delita Martin

Many of the portraits, inspired by vintage family photographs, feature the women superimposed over colorful, large graphical patterns, a nod to Martin's printmaking background. Others include cursive text or safety pins and other household objects.

These objects are nondescript, but the subjects, these women, are not. From each set of frames, the women make eye contact with the viewer drawing them in to learn more about their stories, their histories.

At Annesdale Park Gallery through November 9th.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

SWEET by Brantley Ellzey

Posted By on Tue, Nov 1, 2016 at 1:56 PM

The frontage of 422 N. Cleveland St. at Crosstown Arts for Brantley Ellzey's SWEET. - ELLE PERRY
  • Elle Perry
  • The frontage of 422 N. Cleveland St. at Crosstown Arts for Brantley Ellzey's SWEET.
With the orange and pink graphics (designed by Loaded for Bear) on the exterior of Crosstown Arts, one gets the feeling immediately that he or she is being transported back in time to a vintage candy shop.

The purity of the 22 pieces in SWEET, which artist/architect Brantley Ellzey spent a year working on, are a reaction to the contentious climate that the country finds itself in.

Over the past 15 years, Ellzey typically has done commission work consisting of rolled magazine, book, and other printed pages, something he refers to as “time capsules.” SWEET has the artist drilling down to the most simple form of his practice in terms of color and composition. Instead of patterned papers, he uses blank sheets of individually hand-rolled construction paper.

Ellzey sought out the inspirations derived from growing up in late 1960s Osceola, Arkansas — things like the Sears “Wish Book” catalog (also in a nod to the neighborhood’s affiliation with Sears, now Crosstown Concourse), childhood books, and the interior design and home decorating magazines that his mother received.

Other inspirations: Mary Blair, who worked for Disney studios, whose folk art and imagery Ellzey realized had inspired the way he perceived the world growing up. (Blair also designed “It’s a Small World.”) Also, modernist architects George and Ray Eames and Alexander Girard. In particular, Girard’s textiles are an obvious source of inspiration for several pieces, with bright, one or two color columned or checked patterns.

All of the pieces in SWEET are horizontal and face up except the Pixies (a reference to Pixy Stix), which on its base nearly reaches the room’s ceiling; Homer, which is a donut; and Honey, Honey, which is modeled after a honeycomb with rolled paper tubes facing outwards toward the audience.

There are grapes (with groups of rolled paper tubes in different hues of purple in the shapes of bunches), licorice, pink glittery spun cotton candy (surrounded by a contrasting cotton candy machine base designed by Perry Sponseller), and Laffy Taffy.

Homer by Brantley Ellzey - ELLE PERRY
  • Elle Perry
  • Homer by Brantley Ellzey

The aforementioned Homer is an oversized homage to The Simpsons' family patriarch and his love for the pastry. In real life, the piece is an inflatable pool raft with rolled paper paper-mached to it, topped with with three kinds of glitter replicating a donut, purple icing, and delectable sprinkles.

Homer includes a placard humorously forbidding both touching and eating the object.

All in all, SWEET accomplishes a tricky feat — invoking whimsical escapism while at the same time maintaining a high level of sophistication.

Through November 5.

Carnival by Brantley Ellzey - ELLE PERRY
  • Elle Perry
  • Carnival by Brantley Ellzey

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Cory Dugan's “Hapax Legomena”

Posted By on Thu, Aug 11, 2016 at 1:14 PM

Cory Dugan is a Unicorn, at least to me. He was the founding editor of Number: Inc. in 1987 and was the very first art critic for the Memphis Flyer. He has also contributed articles to The Commercial Appeal, Memphis magazine, Art Papers, ArtNews, and New Art Examiner. He has exhibited his work in what is now every defunct art space in the city, including the Memphis Center for Contemporary Art. Remember that place??!! He even lived in NYC in the mid-'80s after receiving his BFA from the University of Memphis, working as a graphic designer. So, to me Cory Dugan is a mythical creature. When I was in undergrad in the late '90s, I thought no one was more important in the Memphis art world than Cory. For a little worthless artist like myself, these were/are legendary attributes. I wanted to be an artist and an art writer, Dugan was both. Just take another look at the title of his current exhibition, “Hapax Legomena.” He knows all the big words.


So, how did he know what a hapax legomenon, pl. hapax legomena, is to begin with? One night, a little over a year ago, he was drinking in his studio, which is really his entire apartment, and the dictionary screen saver on his iMac came on, as he was sitting there thinking about the world, he noticed the words hapax legomenon scroll across the screen. He thought to himself, “what the hell was that?” So he sat there staring at the screen saver until it appeared again. After a quick google search he found it meant “a word that occurs only once within a context, either in the written record of an entire language, in the works of an author, or in a single text.”

Dugan, as an artist and a writer, has always been interested in language. A previous series of work, “The Last Words,” consisted of a filing system that included the last word in every section of Ezra Pound’s Cantos. Gathering all the hapaxes of Waiting for Godot, Holy Sonnets, and the dramatic works of William Shakespeare, which partly comprise the 17 works in this exhibition, has to be much harder to attain than simply using typewriter and index cards. “No.” Dugan states, “there is an app for that.” Well, that makes it easier. Especially since some of the pieces in the exhibition use hapaxes from the Hebrew New Testament and the Greek Bible. The words, as Dugan says, “are completely visual to me.” With the Shakespeare text, he created his first video art work, incorporating elements from Orson Welles' Othello. "The dramas seemed to suggest it; Shakespeare needed it," Dugan added.



He understands that researching and using hapax legomena is “completely nonsensical.” There are several academics that have thrown themselves into the study of the term. There is even a bitter debate among scholars whether or not Shakespeare is using hapax legomena or a nonce, meaning a made up word? Cory believes these are hapax legomena because these words have now entered our lexicon, words such as honorificabilitudinitatibus, big words. But he knows no one really cares. “Why would you?” he says and continues by saying this is exactly why he does it. 

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Vid-O-belisk, I Never Knew You

Posted By on Fri, Feb 19, 2016 at 12:28 PM

When news broke this week that Nam Jun Paik's massive "Vid-O-belisk" is in the process of coming down, no longer to hold its traditional place in the center of the Brooks Museum of Art's rotunda, I felt a mix of emotions. The first of these was relief, because I have long held a grudge against the "Vid-O-belisk" for being, IMHO, not a very good work of art from an otherwise great artist. The second emotion I felt was nostalgia for my stint working as a caterer at the Museum, because "Vid-O-belisk," with its squiggly neon and antique video art, was a functional compass for us servers. "Go to the table nearest the red owl thinger," we would instruct each other. 

With that in mind, I Facebook chatted local painter and my old catering co-worker, Dimitri Stevens, and we remembered the "Vid-O-belisk" in all its clunky glory. Here is what we recalled:

Nam Jun Paik's "Vid-O-belisk" (2002) - BROOKS MUSEUM OF ART
  • Brooks Museum of Art
  • Nam Jun Paik's "Vid-O-belisk" (2002)

Eileen: Hi, Dimitri! How are you on this day? A day when the "Vid-O-belisk" is no longer the first thing you see in Memphis' biggest art Museum?

I'm doing fine Eileen. It's a little hollow inside the Brooks now-a-days.

Eileen: Well, we'll always have our memories of working catering events at the Brooks, trying to dodge the massive tower of antique TVs in the middle of the rotunda.

Dimitri: The neon will be remembered as well.

Eileen: You're right. The best thing about the ol' "Vid-O-belisk" were those little neon squigglies attached to the side of the TVS like a case of viral worms, which the catering staff affectionately named things like "Pineapple Parrot." Can you remember any of the names?

No, I'm not too savvy on the names, but the squiggles seemed to range from stick figures to simplified architecture.

Eileen: There were definitely some music notes on there. And a weird eye. I'm partial to the Pi symbol and the lil neon buddha. What message do you think Nam Jun Paik was trying to send with this tower of junk TVs and random symbols?

Dimitri: I was thinking it's about accumulated cultures through technology.

Eileen: That's probably it. We used to cater a lot of weddings that happened around this monument to accumulated cultures through technology. In your honest opinion, would you invite the "Vid-O-belisk" to your wedding?

Dimitri: Definitely. I don't have any big wedding plans yet, but it was an overall beautiful piece.

It wasn't my cup of tea, but I know it brought joy to many. Thank you for taking this moment to remember the "Vid-O-belisk" with me. And cheers to whatever comes next.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Loch Ness Monster and the Ominous Hole: Your Dreams Interpreted

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 12:51 PM

This is the second installment of our ongoing attempts at dream interpretation. Today we take on monsters, boulders, and seemingly benign deep sea picnics: 

“I had a dream where me and some of my friends were having some kind of underwater picnic (breathing didn’t seem to be an issue) and we were really deep underwater hanging out on this rocky bed on all of these big ol’ boulders. And I don’t know what caused it, but a rock up above loosened and came bouncing down and I watched it really closely. Well, it fell down and fell right on top of this ominous looking hole at the bottom of the bed and I knew something was wrong and sure enough there’s this big ol rumbling that starts… and this huge, terrifying prehistoric loch ness fucking monster things comes flying out of that hole, dislodging the rock that fell on top of it.”

Dear Endangered Dreamer,

Can I offer you some herbal tea? Maybe a back massage? Some epsom salts? Because it sounds to me like you are encountering some undue (or maybe overdue) stress, in the form of a “prehistoric loch ness fucking monster.”

Let’s examine. At the start of your dream, you are having a picnic (good), underwater (maybe good; certainly impressive), without needing to breathe (great!) Water dreams are, in my experience, usually about powerful forces carrying or overwhelming the dreamer, but yours seems to be more about your own power. You’re deep in the water with your friends, hanging out on boulders, having the time of your life. So far so good.

  • Kay Neilsen

But then the trouble starts. You notice an ominous looking hole in the ocean floor (bad, very bad) and, above you, a rock dislodges from the watery depths. What initially seemed like a benign deep sea picnic now seems threatening. Good for you, though, ED, because you’re watching the bouncing boulders closely. Perhaps you don’t have a choice, or perhaps you somehow knew that this rockslide was imminent. The rock lodges in the hole — a temporary respite — and then the rumbling begins.

(Side note: I’m interested in this rumbling, mainly because it is a cinematic detail, and it is curious to me when dreams are cinematic. What use is foreshadowing in a dream? And yet, stress dreams are about nothing but foreshadowing — we notice a paperclip is out of place at the office and are suddenly aware of our own nakedness. Or an open door cues us that this is not just a regular house, but a NIGHTMARE HOUSE. Were they always like this? Cinema developed in close enough proximity to Freudian psychoanalysis that maybe we will never really know which came first: the cinematic chicken or the egg of the subconscious.)

What comes next in your dream is a terrifying prehistoric monster. Very, very, extremely bad, right? This is one shitshow of a picnic, ED. Rocks, monsters, the bottom of the sea....

...Except I am not so convinced. Here’s my read: I think that in the first movement of the dream, the picnic scene, things weren’t so great. You thought you were in repose, but you were actually drowning. The underwater boulders were crumbling around you. You watched closely. And then, wham!, LOCH NESS FUCKING MONSTER THING.

Don’t worry. You might be scared now, but a prehistoric monster is actually a great dream omen. It means you have some kind of unchecked power within that is ready to get out. It means that something primal is ready to free itself from the bottom of your ocean. It means that you shouldn’t try to cover up your holes with crumbling boulders.

  • Wallace Smith
Don’t try to tame that baby. Just ride it where it wants to take you. If I know my Nessy, she is probably headed for the surface. If you want guidance, you should look to fairytale-inspired early 20th century illustration; artists like Kay Neilsen and Wallace Smith. These guys were groovy with the subconscious dragons.

Happy hunting, xo, 


We here at Exhibit M are taking a stab at dream interpretation, with the help of art and anecdote. Do you wonder what your dreams are about? Send them to:

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The New Planetarium is Dope and Space is Terrifying

Posted By on Sat, Jan 30, 2016 at 12:19 PM


Edit 1/30: The Pink Palace has confirmed that they are going to host live music in the Planetarium. "Space has no limits!" said Ronda Cloud, who handles publicity for the Museum. 

The day has come! The new Sharpe Planetarium, now known as the Autozone Dome, at the Pink Palace Museum is back in action. The old slide projectors are gone, replaced by digital "Full Dome" technology. In the place of the analog lighting effects is a more movie-like experience. 

This morning, a crowd of press, Mayor Jim Strickland, corporate representatives from Autozone and other private sponsors gathered for the grand opening of the new dome. The renovated planetarium is roomier, with a space near the the front of the theater that one of the presenters mentioned may be eventually used for live music. Hopefully this means more local multi-media performances — what could be cooler than opera or electronica or underground rap paired with star graphics? The planetarium manager also joked (I think it was a joke) that they could perform wedding ceremonies inside. 


After a tour through some of the neater educational features of the new planetarium, all controlled by an iPad, we watched a program called "Firefall." Firefall is a narrative about the life and death of space debris such as meteors, meteoroids, meteorites and asteroids. The graphics were excellent and, while the storytelling was true-to-form campy, "Firefall" proved both visually and narratively gripping. I learned: space is horrifying, mass extinctions by way of space rocks are imminently possible, and, as Carl Sagan put it, there are billions and billions of stars out there. 


For those who miss the older technology, here is a useful timeline of planetariums. For those who want to book their band inside the new planetarium, I have reached out for comment from the Museum and will keep you updated. In the mean time, the new planetarium should be on the top of your list for the best date spots in town. 

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

See the Pictures: David Bowie Visits Memphis College of Art

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 12:43 PM

David Bowie played a couple concerts in Memphis back in the early 1970s, during his Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane days. In February of 1973, Bowie played (as Ziggy) alongside his band, the Spiders From Mars. The eyebrowless rocker then hung around town for another day and paid an impromptu visit to Memphis College of Art, where he met longtime teacher and painter Dolph Smith. 

Smith engineered the meeting by contacting Cherry Vanilla, Bowie's PR person. The artist presented Bowie with a painting inspired by the song "Major Tom." It shows a vividly-colored landscape and two paper airplanes — a longtime motif in Smith's work. 

Smith, now in his eighties, remembers Bowie as unpretentious: "You know performers have a stage presence," Smith remembered. "I found he had a modest person to person presence. No pretense... just so easy to be with that night." 

The entire incident is remembered by local film auteur and lay historian Mike Mccarthy in two essays about the meeting, and about Dolph Smith. The photos below are all by Cherry Vanilla. 




  • Dolph Smith

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Peculiar Forms: Taiwanese Metalwork in Memphis

Posted By on Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 11:41 AM

  • Visual Cues, Ms. Chen, Ting-Chun

This Sunday, December 13, from 2-5PM, the Metal Museum will host an opening ceremony for a new traveling exhibition, the 2015 Taiwan International Metal Crafts Competition. The exhibition, which will remain on view through March 13, 2016, features the best of Taiwanese metalwork as judged by the The Gold Museum of Taipei City. 

  • Soliloquy, Ms. Ou, Li-Ting

The artworks featured in the exhibition draw from both modern and more traditional tropes of metalwork, combining eastern and western craft sensibilities to create a selection both broad and masterful. Work by Li-Ting Ou and Ting-Chun Chen (both featured above) stands out. 

  • Flavour, Ms. Chen, Siou-Yi

The Metal Museum is one of few museums in the world devoted exclusively to fine metalwork. This will be the first exhibition from Taiwan that the Metal Museum has hosted. 

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Friday, December 4, 2015

Tonight: See Lance Turner's Infinities

Posted By on Fri, Dec 4, 2015 at 1:39 PM

You might know the artist Lance Turner from seeing his work at GLITCH, or from his pixelated mural of the late rocker Jay Reatard, located on the side of a furniture store in South Main. Turner is currently Crosstown Arts' first studio resident. Tonight, he will open an installation created during the four month residency. 

When I visited Turner's studio earlier this week — a small back room at Crosstown, the walls of which the artist has covered with zigzagging line work and systemically gradated colors — Turner said, "I work a lot with the concept of infinity."  

Turner's symmetrical paintings are extended by mirrors that he places at points throughout the space, and refracted by 3-D models, crafted to mimic the studio itself. The models descend in scale and wrap around each other, like nesting eggs. Forms recur throughout the visual excess: disembodied eyes, a circle of sharks with open mouths. 

Tonight's opening is from 7PM - 10PM at Crosstown. It is not to be missed. 

Lance Turner in his studio at Crosstown Arts
  • Lance Turner in his studio at Crosstown Arts




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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Become a Design Genius at the Memphis Public Library for Free

Posted By on Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 4:57 PM

When I was fresh out of college and in search of gainful employment, I applied to a bunch of jobs that required me to know Adobe Photoshop without my actually having any idea how to use Photoshop. I figured that it couldn't really be that hard, since various tween-age members of my family seemed adept at it. I figured I'd fake it until I made it.

But when I got my first assignment that required me to know how to lasso pixels (what is this, really?) I panicked. I had about 24 hours to figure out what I was doing or else look dumb. So I got a subscription to Lynda, a website that has tons of very useful tutorials that teach you how to use everything from architectural design software to Adobe products. It is an extremely useful tool for both beginning and veteran designers who want to keep up with fast-changing software (note: this is not being paid for by Lynda. It is a great website.) It isn't design focused, either; there are tutorials on business and coding as well. The downside is that at $25 per month, the site is relatively expensive for people on a limited budget. 

Which is why it rules that the Memphis Public Library announced recently that it will provide Lynda to library cardholders for free, thanks to support from the Memphis Library Foundation. 

From the Library's blog post about the new development: 

"Customers can customize their own curricula with more than 122,000 individual tutorial videos, covering a range of topics from desktop and office software to photography, web development, graphic arts, recording and audio engineering, marketing, technical skills, business strategies, creative techniques, career development and more. Customers interested in computer programming, coding, computer-aided drafting, IT management, web design, music, 3-D animation, and other related areas of study will find courses to match their interests as well. Certificates of completion are available for customers who want to measure progress or build their resumes.

... 'The Library’s mission has always been about providing customers access to the information they need and want, in whatever format works best – books, audio, video, or online,' noted Collection Development Manager Alan Stewart. 'We’re delighted to be able to extend and enhance our mission by offering these high-quality e-learning resources from'" 

Time to learn all the Adobe products on the cheap. Thanks, MPL! 

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Monday, September 14, 2015

A Die-In at the Brooks Museum

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2015 at 1:19 PM

Memphis Arts Brigade protestors at the Brooks Museum - ANDREA MORALES
  • Andrea Morales
  • Memphis Arts Brigade protestors at the Brooks Museum

This past Wednesday, a collective known as The Memphis Arts Brigade staged a die-in at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art during a mayoral candidate meet and greet, hosted by the museum and ArtsMemphis. An hour into the candidate event, a member of the Brigade who was costumed as a police officer grabbed the mic and shouted, "Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!" Twenty-four protestors then fell to the ground, covering their bodies with signs bearing the names of each of the 24 people killed by Memphis police in the past five years. 

The protest comes on the heel of local actions surrounding the death of Darrius Stewart, an unarmed 19-year-old Memphis man who was shot and killed by police officer Connor Schilling in July. 

Paul Garner, one of the protest's organizers, said, "We were at the mixer to use performance and art as a way to direct the conversation to include police accountability and police violence." Garner also said that reactions to the protest were mixed: "The performance was met with applause, but that faded quickly and people went back to schmoozing. There were people stepping over people to get cheese and crackers. There were some who appreciated the message and others who didn’t understand." 

A die-in calls for protesters to lie prostrate on the ground as if dead. The form of protest gained popularity during the Iraq war and has recently become one of the most visible symbols of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Brooks Director Emily Neff commented, "Art museums like the Brooks are a great and safe place for conversations to be happening about contemporary social, cultural, and political issues.”

The Memphis Arts Brigade said that, though they don't usually announce their actions beforehand, they have more protests planned for the near future. 

  • Memphis Arts Brigade

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