Really, the end is near. The end of the “Present Tense” exhibition at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, that is. The biggest event to happen in Memphis in several years finishes up its successful run this Sunday. Go see this show one last time. Or, most likely, go see this show for the first time because you always thought there was plenty of time to see it. While, that time is now. See what Memphis artists have been up to over the last ten years before the work comes down and goes back in the storage units from whence they came.
One a side note, as a participating artist, the best part about this exhibition for me is that I had a free place to store my painting for several months. Storage that just happened to be in a public place is an added bonus!
No, I kid. The free storage was only the second best part of the exhibition. The best part was that this exhibition got people talking about almost every single aspect of the visual art scene in Memphis. The only thing that did not come up in all the discussions is the fact that Memphis does not have an actual arts district.
No, really, there is no such thing as a real arts district in Memphis. There are areas that call themselves an arts district, but, the city does not designate or label any street, block, or neighborhood as such. The residents and business owners of certain areas are free to label whatever, whomever and whenever they wish. I can say one thing. Being able to call something an arts district sure can help the property values and the panache of a particular area, areas such as the South Main Arts District.
There has never really been much art in this particular arts district. Sure, MCA’s Hyde Gallery is there now. Sure, there are some boutique shops that also sale art. Sure, there have been many galleries to have a limited presence in the area (and then to close relatively quick afterwards). Sure, once a month during trolley night the retail stores put some artwork up around their real products and people walk around the streets drinking wine. Oh well.
Broad Ave is not an arts district for sure. Okay, every two or three months they have an arts walk where thousands of people walk up and down the sidewalks drinking beer. Sure, all the empty storefronts and vacant buildings are turned into makeshift art spaces for this special night. But, it is just for the one-day event and then they go back to being empty buildings. Oh well. At least you can always see paintings hanging in The Three Angel’s Diner. Yes I know there is an alternative space that recently opened. But I also know that the other alternative space is in a building that is for sale.
Speaking of the paintings hanging in the Three Angel’s Diner. Sunday, April 14 from 2-4pm Bobby and Mel Spillman, husband and wife artists who each have paintings at Three Angel’s, will exhibit new work at the Nathan and Dorothy Shainberg Gallery at the Jewish Community Center, 6560 Poplar Ave. Titled “Noir,” the exhibition runs through May 23, 2013.
The title is a reference to the color black and the illustrative art of storytelling. Bobby is mostly known for his oil paintings of humorously depicted animals and architecture of the fictional town of Spillmanville. Melanie makes work of blank open figures as depicted in a variety of fashion magazines created with a range of thick and thin ink washes. For this exhibition they each focused on what the term Noir means to them. With each artist having an interest in classic illustration and narratives, work that was created, for the most part, with only different values of black, they decided putting together an exhibition highlighting their affinity to this material makes sense. According to the press release, “the works in the show discuss a variety of subjects from editorial, non-fictional, and just downright satirical. The exhibition represents years of dedication to these themes and mediums.”
It will be a fun show with some good work. Go see it. It would be better after checking out the exhibition at the Dixon after having brunch at Three Angel’s Diner conveniently located in the self-designated Broad Ave. Arts District.
The upper level administration of the Art Department at the University of Memphis reads this blog. In particular, this post where I state that the BFA exhibitions for their students have to be on view longer than the opening reception. It is an absolute disservice to the graduating students to be given only one night to exhibit work after four or five years and paying an exorbitant amount of money to the U of M. They responded by having the next BFA exhibition be on view for a week. “Reclaimed” opens tonight 6-9pm at the new Fogelman Contemporary Gallery at 3715 Central Ave and runs through April 12, 2013.
I have many more suggestions on how this administration can improve the Art Department. But, I will save that for another post. Today’s post is all about the future and that future is now.
It is that time of the academic year when the area schools holds their BFA exhibitions. It is a great chance to see what the future holds for the visual arts in Memphis. With this U of M exhibition in particular, I was ecstatic to see that there was not one figurative painting, not one more painting of a landscape, and not one black and white photograph of the Hernando-Desoto Bridge. Instead, this exhibition offers non-traditional subject matter and processes, contemporary ideas, examples of new media, and a post-modern take of Bauhaus design and aesthetics. These students are thinking not only about how their works fits into a contemporary arts dialogue, but how they themselves can dictate that dialogue.
Dictating this dialogue is foremost on the mind of Brit McDaniel. She is excited about the all of the creative energy that is happening now in Memphis. With the “Present Tense,” “Contemporaries,” and the “Super-Epic Memphis Unicorn Magical Exhibition Show” exhibitions she states, “this excitement makes it possible to make a living as an artist in Memphis.” She wants people to stick around Memphis after they graduate. So, she plans on starting a retail space with a modern storefront to exhibit and sale the works of other artists. She has experience with such spaces having her work in similar spaces in New York and Austin. Her pieces are concerned with the idea of functional work as an art object saying that, “craft is the highest form of art because we use it everyday.”
Brittney Boyd also deals with issues and objects that we use everyday. Her work specifically deals with beauty, the perceptions and fixed characterizations people place on each other everyday. She is interested on the assumptions people make about others just by looking at them, by what they wear, by certain features. Boyd creates fashion pieces that are not necessarily functional that are made out of beauty and fashion magazines such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan and created to intentionally look ridiculous on the model. Boyd and Brantley Ellzey should collaborate on fashion show made entirely out of rolled up magazines. That would be incredible.
Speaking of collaborations, Elizabeth Joy Greene exhibits work that is concerned with mutualism in nature. Mutualism is the way two organisms of different species exist in a relationship in which each individual benefits. Examples of this relationship are the bee and the flower, the alligator and leeches, and in the Greene’s case, the oxpecker and the rhinoceros. The oxpecker, a type of bird, lands on the rhino’s back and eats the ticks and other parasites that live in their skin. The oxpecker gets the food and the rhino gets pest control. She is interested in continuing this type of work and hopes to partner with animal biologists and zoologists for future projects. I would love to see her take on a Damien Hirst formaldehyde piece showing the relationship of a great white shark and a remora. Also, that would be incredible.
Lisa Pendleton’s work deals with all the issues the above students deal with individually, fashion, relationships, and function. Her “purse monsters” are women’s purses and bags that are rendered non-functional. She creates these monsters by repurposing materials and objects found around her home. She wants to blur the lines of the monster and beauty stating, “anything can be beautiful to anyone.” She has installed the work on hooks similar to those that are found under the bar at a restaurant. Pendleton has plans to leave these purses on hooks at bars and wait around to see what reaction they elicit from unsuspecting patrons.
Another artist thinking about repurposing traditional materials in contemporary ways is Angela Morgan. She has three large-scale pieces that created from cut out paper, handmade wall paper, and fabric that are woven and pieced together. Morgan does not begin with any sort of source material, other than commenting on processes that traditionally associated with “women's work” like weaving, sewing and the use of fabric. Instead, it is initially a free association of materials and intuitive mark-making until she sees a pattern or combination that inspires her. These are some very laborious pieces, one of which I cannot help but think of as anything other than the Les Misérables poster.
Other artists with work in the exhibition are Lauren Cook Sarah Crase, Angee Montgomery, John Morgan, Joseph Tschume, and Felecia Wheeler.
Go out and see the future tonight. Then go watch Marc Gasol dunk on his older brother.
One of the many unforeseen and fortunate conversations that have occurred as a result of the “Present Tense” exhibition at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens is the value of art. The educational and aesthetic value it has within our community and the actual monetary value and market trends of visual art (mostly traditional and conservative) in Memphis. This is a much-needed conversation. It is important, not only for artists, to understand this value of art, but it is just as important, or more, that patrons and visitors of museums and galleries understand it.
This is not the responsibility of the artist; at least, it should not have to be. There should be more of an educational component to the programming of museums and galleries. I do not mean only educating the public on their current exhibitions with informative didactics, but to educate them on the importance of exhibiting non-traditional, non-commercial work.
And what better way to start with the educating of a public than with a “Super Epic Memphis Unicorn Magical Exhibition Show.” The exhibition will open Monday, April 1, 2013 5:30pm to 8:00pm at Marshall Arts Gallery 639 Marshall Ave. (Yes, this is a real exhibition and not an April’s Fool joke — though that would be absolutely awesome!) According to the press release this exhibition “is a gathering of Memphis’ top artistic talent, doing work inspired by one of the greatest things America and Jesus ever created: Unicorns.” This opening of an epic Unicorn exhibition is really a celebration of the opening for the third season of the Wrong Again Gallery located at 648 Marshall Ave. The door of the gallery will be wed to a Unicorn in honor of The Art Guys, The Menil Collection, and everyone and every institution that may have made a mistake. The private ceremony will take place at 5:30pm and be Skyped to Marshall Arts during the magical Unicorn exhibition. If you ever wanted to see a Unicorn marry a door of an alternative exhibition space, now is your chance.
Not only is the education of the viewing public important, but, as previously mentioned, so is the educating of our future artists. I do not mean the education they are supposedly getting in the classrooms of area colleges and universities, but the education they receive out in the “real world.” The best way to understand the inner workings of this world is to enter contests and face the fear of possible rejection. Rejection happens in the art world. All day everyday. This is the first thing new visual art graduates must understand and they must not be bothered by it. One such exhibition opens tonight at The PLA(I)N(E) Gallery.
The PLA(I)N(E) Gallery at the University of Memphis is a student-run exhibition space in the basement of the Art and Communication Building located at 3715 Central Ave (the old Law School Building). Opening tonight 5:00pm to 7:30pm is selected works from graduate and undergraduate students from The University of Memphis, Memphis College of Art, and Christian Brothers University. The independent juror for this exhibition is David Lusk from the David Lusk Gallery. There are special awards for the artists that will be given out at 6:00pm. The show runs through April 12, 2013.
So, grab a friend, go out see some art and learn something.
Someone says to me, on an almost daily basis, that they hate Memphis and that nothing ever happens here. How wrong they are! Just last week, I wrote about how it is possible to see over fifty years of visual art in Memphis at various locations around the city during the course of one weekend. It is a hell of a thing to be able to see where we came from, where we are, and where we are going as a Visual Arts community. It is encouraging to see all the work that the artists have created and are doing to help promote this community. They are doing this not only by working hard and being aggressive in the studio, not only by exhibiting their work out in the world, but also organizing thought-provoking events throughout the city.
One such event is Memphis’ first performance art festival beginning March 22, 2013 at Beige Organized by Joel Parsons, “’Otherwise,’ opens with an exhibition of performance scripts written by more than twenty artists, choreographers, writers, and film makers from across the country. During the course of the exhibition, Memphis locals will perform the scripts in public and private locations throughout the city. The project will culminate in an e-publication documenting the scripts and their performances.” The first performances begin Friday at 6-9pm at Beige. According to their Facebook event page, things that you may see happen this Friday are artists talking to plants, eating cake, dancing with strangers, saying yes, playing games, throwing things, making faces, being in love, eating a rose...Memphis has long needed an art festival that wasn’t focused on selling cheap art in 10’ x 10’ tents lining the streets of downtown and midtown. Hopefully, this is the first of many. Beige is located at 173 St. Agnes Dr. Memphis, TN 38112.
Another such event is “xxxy” featuring the work of Krislee Kyle and Justin Bowles. The exhibition will be held Nu Gallery with a one-night only opening Friday, March 22, 2013 5:30 — 8:30pm. The exhibition is a visual conversation concerning the binary of gender. Kyle and Bowles are each students at the Memphis College of Art. Bowles was was recently part of the “Contemporaries” exhibition at Marshall Arts and this will be a continuation of her examining normal conventions of gender. This next generation of artists in Memphis are not at all focused or concerned with the traditional and conservative work and ideas that have dominated the art scene and commercial market for decades in Memphis. Instead, they are focused on projects and ideas that concern the community as a whole. This is absolutely a good thing. Nu Gallery is located at 2577 Broad Ave.
Also it is the last week to be able to see the psychedelic work of Michael Velliquette at the Clough-Hanson Gallery at Rhodes College. “Cosmic Bodies” is a survey of work by Velliquette that consists of drawings, paintings, and paper sculptures. He engages in a process of ornamental abstraction as a framework to explore themes of transformation, ritual, and order. He lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin, but these pieces look like were created by and for the legendary Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans celebrating St. Joseph’s Day. According to the exhibition statement, “the works explore and aesthetic concern with visual opulence and ceremony.” That they certainly do. Please do go see this exhibition at the Clough-Hanson before it closes March 27, 2013.
Images courtesy of the artist.
Michael Velliqutte image courtesy of DCKT Contemporary, New York
The “Present Tense” exhibition at the Dixon is in the last couple weeks of its run. It is a successful exhibition, in the sense, that so many artists are talking about it. One of the hopes John Weeden, organizer of the “Present Tense” exhibition, and the Dixon had was that it would spark such a conversation about the visual arts in Memphis, and it has.
One of those conversations was about the artists who were not included in the Dixon exhibition. As soon as I saw the list of participating artists, of which I am included, I could not believe those artists that were left out of the exhibition. I thought to myself, “I should put together an exhibition of the artists not in the Dixon show.” So I did. “Hanging Participles” opens Friday, March 15, 2013 6-9 p.m. at Marshall Arts.
The “Hanging Participles” exhibition should not be considered anything other than a continuation of the conversation started with the Dixon show.
The list of participating artists is always changing, even the day before the exhibition. But there is roughly 35 pieces from more than 40 artists including: Alex Paulus, Lindsay Overbey, Ronald Herd, Kiersten Williams, Tim Crowder, Emily Walls Cifaldi, Beka Laurenzi, Ed Rainey, Kat Gore, Allison Smith, Leadra Urrita, Jill Wissmiller, Chloe York, John Ryan, Mary Jo Karminia, Bryan Blakenship, Patrick Graves, Melanie Spillman, Brantley Ellzey, Cedar Nordbye, John Hood Taylor, Carrol Harding Mctyre and Mary Long. Even with all these great artists and more, there are still many that could not realistically fit in Marshall Arts. There definitely needs to be a part 3, 4, and 5 of this exhibition.
So, this weekend you can celebrate over 50 years of visual arts in Memphis. That is a hell of a thing.
Images — courtesy of David Lusk (installation shots)
Courtesy of Alex Paulus and Lindsay Overbey ("Hanging Participles")
Recently, I posted about the trials and tribulations of dating an artist and the “Artist Speed Dating” event held at the Dixon. I contend that it is not that glamorous of a thing, dating an artist. They are usually in some various level of poor and/or underemployed, unemployed or too good/busy to work so they can hone their skills as visual artists. Or really, after going to art school, they realize they have no real tangible skills and a mountain of student loan debt. So, in the end you have to pay for most things because of this. Oh well. If it is any consolation most of the single artists I know are quite cute.
What about actually being an artist? It is a lot of work, a lot of work. I am not just referring to the work that takes place in the studio, which is important, of course. But I am talking about all the other activities that are, perhaps, even more important than the work itself ... the promotion materials, website, approaching galleries, keeping/maintaining a relationship with the media, trying to find funding sources (hardly any exist) and exhibitions for your work, and maintaining proper storage and shipping. All that's the hardest part about being an artist. And that's not to mention the worries about having affordable health insurance or being able to do your taxes. I cannot tell you how many artists I know that overpay or do not get back enough in taxes at the end of the year because of lack of access to information.
This is a problem that needs to be better addressed in these art schools and art departments of the colleges and universities where the students are accumulating so much debt. Sure, most offer their students ONE professional practices class for the entirety of the college career, a class that spends too much time on how to write an artist statement.
Let me tell you this, the artist statements are not important, at all. How many artist statements have you read at commercial galleries or museums? How many have you even seen? Not very many at all, if any. Sure, you need to be able to contextualize your work within a contemporary arts dialogue, but the statements are really not that important. Students need to take these professional practices classes each year, or better yet, each semester to better be able to have a chance out there in the real world. Or at least, be able to know what to expect. Too often these young artists leave school without the slightest clue on how to do the most basic of things that artists need to know. Is it because the professors themselves do not have any idea themselves? There is the notion that they, the professors, are hiding behind the veil of academia.
Regardless ... living the artist’s life. What is that all about? Well, you can find out Paul Dorrell’s version Monday, March 11th at 6 p.m. at his booksigning event for Living the Artist's Life at Booksellers at Laurelwood. Dorrell founded the Leopold Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri, (a visual arts Mecca) in 1991. And according to the press release, “has been helping emerging artists score major successes ever since.” I am no longer an emeging artist, but I still need to score some major successes. The release continues by stating that Dorrell’s “unsually candid in his discussions of depression, success, corporate greed, corporate kindness, and how to really build an art career. His talks, which are both amusing and informative, are very popular with artists, parents of artists, and art instructors.”
I am very curious to know why parents of artists would find these talks amusing and informative. Is it hope that their child is not wasting their time and money by attending art school in the first place? Sounds like the admissions departments at the Memphis College of Art and U of M Art Departments especially need to be there.
Would you want to date an artist?
I mean, really, would you? Sure, it sounds like fun going to museums, eating cheese cubes and drinking wine at art openings, and having stimulating intellectual conversations that the works themselves initiate. But that really only happens about once a month, usually the first Friday or third Thursday of the month. The rest of the time the artists are all grumpy because they received yet another, rejection letter or a bad review of their recent exhibition, or worse, no review at all. Perhaps they are frustrated that things are not going well in the studio or they ran out of money but still need supplies or that their gallery, if they are fortunate enough to have one, abruptly went out of business and are still owed $10,000 from previous sales and 15 pieces that were still in inventory of the now-defunct gallery.
Or, have you ever wanted to talk to an artist at their exhibition but were too shy, did not know exactly what to say, and did not want to sound silly saying it? Sure, most artists are easily approachable and willing to talk endlessly on and on about how great of an artist they are and how hard it is for them to endure in the studio and overcome the struggles of being a creator of beautiful and thought-provoking objects.
Or, maybe you just want the opportunity just to say hello?
Well, the Dixon is giving you the chance to be able to do such things. In their ever-increasingly impressive events in conjunction with the “Present Tense” exhibition. On Thursday, February 21st, from 6 to 9 p.m., they are offering up five artists for “Artist Speed Dating” as part of their Art After Dark series.
Elizabeth Alley, Alex Warble, Derrick Dent, Eli Gold, and Andrew James Williams will be available for five minutes for any and every person willing to listen to what they have to say and will answer any questions you are willing to ask. How great is that?
Expect to hear about sketching from Elizabeth Alley. She is obsessed with it. It is all she thinks about, for the most part. Derrick Dent may throw in a cheap joke about his B.O. (Don’t worry, he does not ever really stink. He is just riding his bike to the museum from Midtown.)
Plus, you will have another chance to see this exhibition and be able to hear from the artists themselves about their work.
Image Courtesy of Elizabeth Alley
ArtsMemphis will host an opening reception Monday, February 18th, 5:30-7:30p.m. for the "Emmett O’Ryan Award Group Exhibition." This exhibition features the work of 12 past nominees and winners of the Emmett O’Ryan Award for Artistic Inspiration.
O’Ryan, a founding board member of Metropolitan Bank, was an avid art collector and artist. Since 2011, the “Emmett” is given annually to an emerging artist recognized for his or her work and promise for future artistic significance. Nominees for the award were selected from local arts organizations. The only criteria that the arts organizations have to consider when choosing their one nominee is that the artist is emerging in their field and engaged in the community. A committee of Metropolitan Bank staff members and a member of O’Ryan’s family will vote on the artist to receive the Emmett. The selected artist will receive a $2,000 cash prize.
This year's nominees and their nominating arts organization are Thomasin Durgin - UrbanArt Commission; Eli Gold — Crosstown Arts; Andrew Meers — The Metal Museum; Bill Price — Memphis College of Art; Jared Small — Memphis Brooks Museum; and Alan Spearman — Indie Memphis.
Past winners of the award that are included in the exhibition are Mary Catherine Floyd (2011) and Anthony D. Lee (2012). Past nominees that are also in the show are Logan Hirsch, Brian Pera, Eszter Sziksz, and Amy Hutcheson.
I am sorry. I hardly ever apologize for anything even when I know I am wrong, just ask my wife.
Last week I said that the “Present Tense" exhibition at the Dixon, if nothing else, got everyone talking about the visual arts in Memphis, and that this was a good thing. I was wrong. Hardly anyone is talking about the art that was created in Memphis over the last decade. People instead are talking about who or who was not included in the exhibition. They are talking about the selection process, how some artists knew about it, others did not. (My work is included in "Present Tense.")
I have visited this exhibitions three times now and have been a part of, essentially, the same conversation on each visit. To paraphrase some of the comments, they were generally along the lines of, “Where is Tim Crowder? His exhibition [in 2010] was outstanding.” “Why didn’t the Brooks Museum organize this exhibition? Isn’t this the kind of thing they are supposed to do?” “What is so special about Tam Tran’s photographs and why did she get to include so many? They could have made room for at least two more artists by not showing so many of hers.”
On a side note, I believe Tam Tran deserves a whole wing at the Dixon of her work in this exhibition. How often do artists in Memphis get invited to participate in the Whitney Biennial, the preeminent contemporary art exhibition in America? I can list them all using only my two middle fingers. Tram was also the youngest participant in 2010, the year she was included in the exhibition. We should want to see more of her portraits in as many places as possible, not less.
By now, everyone should know about the “Present Tense” exhibition opening this weekend at the Dixon. Everyone is talking about this show. Everyone. I have received no less than 40 emails from selected artists wanting me to interview them about their work in the exhibition, emails from artists complaining that they did not, somehow, make it in the show, emails from friends making fun of the other artists who were or were not selected to take part, and emails from people recalling stories of past visual art events from the previous decade. (My work is included.) The group of artists that I think are severely under-represented are art professors from University of Memphis and Memphis College of Art. Maybe, perhaps, they spend all their time and efforts educating future art stars rather than working in the studio and having a presence in the community. Maybe.
Regardless of what you think about the exhibition, who was or was not included, one thing is for certain: People are talking about the visual arts in Memphis. And that, if for no other reason, makes it all worth it.
There is a new alternative space opening on Broad that people are all excited about, Nu Gallery. They are having their inaugural one-night only exhibition this Friday, February 1st, 5:30-8 p.m. Titled “Co-Lab”, the exhibition is collaborative works from artists such as Hamlett Dobbins and Tad Lauritzen Wright, Ariel Claiborn and Leanna Hicks, and Jay Crum and Kong Wee Pang. Artists in Memphis love doing them some collaborative exhibitions. Marshall Arts is showing the second installment of their collaborative shows, “Memphis Connections” in April. We can thank, Hamlett Dobbins for getting everyone excited about working together and having collaborative exhibitions.
Since I am presently on a writing-about-murals kick, I thought I would mention the one by Cedar Lorca Nordbye. Norbye has created this mural in conjunction with the Winter Invitational exhibition at Gallery 56 that opens tomorrow night. The mural, next door to Gallery 56, will be temporary as it was created on the building scheduled to be demolished in a few months to make way for the new Casablanca Restaurant. Spending only about $100 in materials, Nordbye states the mural “brings to mind the Middle-East, or “The Orient” from 19th-century Orientalism to Disney’s Aladdin. Other artists in the Winter Invitational are Greg Bowden, John Sadowski, Mike Coulson, Evan Lebaroff, Terry Kenney, Katie Dann, Bien Howard, Paula Kovarik, Juan Rojo, Gary Parisi, and Shamek Weddle.
It is another busy weekend for the visual arts in Memphis. Check out our Art listing page to get the lowdown on the rest of what is happening and go see some art. If you see me out and about, we can talk about how Memphis just lost a legend. Hamed Haddadi, you will be missed!
A new semester is beginning for area colleges and universities. This always means that each of these institutions will be having an art opening and/or an artist lecture to take advantage of their students being back in town. It also means that people in the community begin to complain about how three interesting lectures are happening at the same time in three different locations. Bringing up these questions once again: “Why don’t these institutions communicate with each other?” “Why do they always schedule things at the same time?”
With Friday-night art openings this is not really an issue. One can simply spend 15 to 20 minutes at each venue before going on to the next one. If they somehow are unable to visit each show, they can simply go the next day or the next week. This is not the case with artist lectures. One cannot bounce around location to location during these types of events. It is disruptive to the other attendees and speakers. Plus, it is just stupid.
The above questions are valid, however. Just not practical. It would be a scheduling nightmare to coordinate between the institutions and the visiting artists. Each would want the “prime” time and we would need up having to go to a lecture at MCA at three in the morning. Also, how would this information be collected and distributed? Who would do it? I can say with absolute certainty very very few people at these institutions would be willing to take the time and effort to put together a booklet or website that contains such information, regardless of how beneficial it would be to their students and the public.
Oh well, until then, all we can do is hope that people will attend at least one of these lectures. And tonight, January 24th, there are three good ones to choose from.
First is Sarah Marshall in the Orgill Room of Clough Hall at Rhodes College at 7:30 pm. The Orgill Room is where the refreshments are served during the openings at the Clough-Hanson Gallery. Marshall is an associate professor of art at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Her work is focused on the processes of printmaking and drawing resulting in organic forms that become portraits and characters. The lecture will focus on the work for her exhibition at Material Art Space. The show runs for one night only, Friday, January 25th, with an opening reception from 6-8 p.m.
Second is Io Palmer in the Callicott Auditorium at the Memphis College of Art in Overton Park at 7:30 p.m. Palmer’s work is featured in the exhibition, "Singular Masses: An Examination of Racial Identity," which is currently on view at the Hyde Gallery, Nesin Graduate School at 477 S. Main. The opening for this exhibition will be during tomorrow's Trolley Night, 6-9 p.m. Palmer, an assistant professor at Washington State University-Pullman, creates mixed-media installations that explore issues such as class, race, and identity with materials such as photography, ceramics, drawing, and cleaning products.
Third is Haejung Lee in the new Arts and Communication Building, room 250, at the University of Memphis at 7 p.m. Lee is this year’s juror for the 30th Annual Juried Student Exhibition, opening February 1st, 5-7:30 p.m. at the Art Museum of the University of Memphis at 142 Communication and Fine Arts Building. (Do not confuse the Arts and Communication Building, where the lecture is tonight, with the Communication and Fine Arts Building, where the opening is next week, which are next door to each other.) Lee received her MFA from Louisiana State University in ceramics. Originally from Korea, she integrates traditions of her Korean culture with aspects of Western culture, which she considers her second home.
As always, there is more than plenty to do in Memphis when it comes to visual arts. You just have to take the initiative to actually go and participate. Speaking of the visual arts in Memphis, here is a link to a great new blog Commercially Unappealing. I do not know who is responsible for this genius of a thing. But be sure to check it out and submit your own!
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.
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.
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.
For the last 15 years, I have been a vocal and active proponent for the visual arts in Memphis. Since I began writing for the Memphis Flyer, I have advocated the importance of the visual arts in Memphis over just about everything else, including music and food. (But not the Grizzlies, Tony Allen in particular.)
During my time in Memphis, I have seen significant artists, such as Virginia Overton and Leslie Snoke, come and go. The same is true for significant exhibitions that were internationally competitive for their acuity, aptitude, and ambition, such as the MAX and Perspectives exhibitions. I think the greatest asset the visual arts in Memphis has is that while these artists and exhibitions are no longer around, there is plenty of each. Usually, these capable artists and exhibitions that speak to the vast range of abilities and subject matter shown in Memphis cycle over the course of several months or even years. Fortunately for us Memphians at the beginning of 2013, we can see this broad range during the course of one weekend.
First, you can see art that is presently in the collection of Memphis College of Art that will be auctioned off at a private, invitation-only auction Thursday, January 16th. The Premier Selection Exhibition is currently on view at the Hyde Gallery at the Nesin Graduate Center on South Main, through January 12th. Featured artists include international stalwarts; Ellsworth Kelly, Larry Poons, Robert Indiana, and Andy Warhol, along with local art stars Veda Reed, Dolph Smith, and Ted Faiers. The proceeds from the auction will benefit various programs at the Memphis College of Art. The work in this temporary exhibition has not been on view to the public like this ever. There are many important artists in this exhibition, go see it now before it disappears forever from public view and into the private sector.
Second is the Memphis Urban Sketchers exhibition at ANF Architects , 1500 Union. The opening is Friday, January 11th, 5:30-7:30 p.m. The Urban Sketchers is a group of artists of all skill levels that meet on the first Saturday of each month at various locations to practice on-location drawing. Elmwood Cemetery, the Peabody Hotel, and Collierville Town Square are just some of the locations the group meets to draw and sketches from these locations will be on view. Artists included in this exhibition are Mel Spillman, Lindsey Overbey, Derrick Dent, and Mary K. VanGieson. The talent, specialties, and diversity of this group is a great example of the potential of working together in a visual art context. There is no overpowering manifesto, they simply just want to draw together from direct observation and show the work of their surroundings to the world. You can see more of their sketches and activities by checking out their blog, urbansketchers-memphis.blogspot.com
Third is "Flora, Fauna & Dwellings, Mountains, Rivers, and Seas: The Drawings of Michael Bogle" showing for one night only at Material Art Space Friday, January 11th 6-8 p.m. The exhibition is organized by Libby Pace-Humphries, an artist herself, who has been trying to organize an exhibition of Bogle’s work since she first saw the drawing over 20 years ago. According to Pace-Humphries, “Michael is autistic - not asbergers, but autistic. As far as I know, he is self-taught ” She says Bogle is very prolific, creating thousands and thousands of drawings. “He once copied the entire Tennessee drivers manual (illustrations and text) in hopes of memorizing it in order to get his license.” The drawings are mostly taken from photographs and emphasize simple sceneries. We should take example from Michael Bogle. If every artist were as prolific, think of it as the 10,000 hour rule, imagine where we would be as artists and as a visual art city. Goodness.
Lastly, Saturday January 12th from 6-9 p.m. is the opening reception for "Based on a True Story" at Marshall Arts, 639 Marshall, through February 9th. The exhibition is curated by Joel Cerreiro and includes multi-media work from Yeon Jin Kim, Christopher Miner, and Matthew Garrison. Miner, co-director of Crosstown Arts, will show a selection of video works that are an intimate autobiographical view into his life. One such piece, Right Here is the Place to Be, shows the artist sitting with his son and singing him a lullaby. It is a very sweet moment until you realize the lullaby is actually Mystical’s “Shake Your Ass,” then is becomes just that much better.
Garrison has spent an untold amount of time on the Internet searching chat rooms for empty rooms. The result are thousands of photographs assembled together to form one large huge print. I found the images to be quite unsettling, but curious at the same time, peering in to the private places of people that are not there. A very interesting comment on the nature of “social media” today.
So, as you can see from the above list, there is not only a lot to see, but a lot that is a part of a larger dialogue, that Memphis is a visual arts city and always will be. Go participate in the past, present, and future generations of Memphis visual art and find out for yourself.
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.