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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Friday, August 21, 2015

Here is Your Weekend Art Itinerary, August 21 - 23

Posted By on Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 11:43 AM

  • Lawrence Matthews, "Vote III"


Lawrence Matthews, i.e. Don Lifted, "In a Violent Way" at Crosstown Arts (6PM — 9PM):
You may have seen Matthews perform as his alter-ego, Don Lifted, without knowing that the emerging artist is also a prolific painter. For this exhibition, Matthews reimagines famous images of the civil rights struggle.

Nick Pena's "Crosscut" at Christian Brothers University (5:30PM—7:30PM): 
Pena's paintings are meditations on the fissure of The American Dream. If you haven't seen Pena's work before, this is a great chance to check it out. 

A group show featuring work by Lance Turner, Derrick Dent, Ariel Claiborn and others. There will also be music from C - Stilla, Dick Solomon, Purplecat Jane and Sleepy Barksdale. 


Animated Film: The Secret of Kells at the Brooks (2PM)
This seems promising: "Young Brendan lives in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids. But a new life of adventure beckons when a celebrated master illuminator arrives from foreign lands carrying an ancient but unfinished book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers. To help complete the magical book, Brendan has to overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him into the enchanted forest where mythical creatures hide. "

  • Still from "The Secret of Kells"


Second Terrain Biennial, all day, around the city: 
Artists Terri Jones, Lindsay Julian, Melissa Dunn, Between Worlds Collaborative, Greely Myatt, Johnathan Payne, Terri Phillips, and Lester Julian Merriweather created work to be shown in yards around Memphis. A map is available at the Rhodes College website. Rhodes is hosting the event to kick off This Must Be the Place, a year-long exploration of art’s relationship to place, presented by Clough-Hanson Gallery.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wednesday Coffee Break: Follow These Memphis Artists on Instagram

Posted By on Wed, Aug 12, 2015 at 1:48 PM

Are your social media feeds full of Content™ but low on original artwork? Yes? We are here to help. Follow these Memphis artists on Instagram. 

Sweet Spot #nogimmes

A photo posted by @mae_aur on

Mae Aur's (@Mae__Aur) clothing collaborations with Ben Moss (@Flare_Le_Slurp) take place in a 1960's girlhood bedroom acid dream. 

Weird body combines by Frances Berry. The beach, Marilyn Monroe, red nail polish. 

The Collective (@thecltv) are visual artists and activists who post pics from awesome art shows and networking events. 

Coming soon... Finger necklaces! #porcelain #ceramics #babycreep #finger

A photo posted by babycreep (@neekralah) on

This is Nikkila Carroll, i.e. Babycreep, i.e. @neekralah. Her babycreepy ceramics are sold at Five in One on Broad Ave, and she posts in-progress shots on her 'gram. 

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Friday, August 7, 2015

Here is Your Weekend Art Itinerary

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2015 at 2:03 PM

Tonight (It's Friday!)  

6PM -
Go to the Metal Museum for the opening of A Kind of Confession, work by 11 African American metalsmiths. This show is great. Four of the exhibiting artists will be on hand tonight to speak about their work. If you stick around, you can have a glass of wine and watch the sun set on the Mississippi River. Opening thru 8PM. 

  • David Clemons, "Senescopia" (2007)

7PM - Go the opening of David Lusk Gallery's Price is Right. There will be reasonably priced work by Tyler Hildebrand, Greely Myatt, Jared Small and Veda Reed, among others. For midtown folk, you don't have to go out east anymore— Lusk has new digs on Flicker Street. Opening thru 8PM.  

8PM - Memphis-native and current Florida resident Nathan Yoakum has work at Jay Etkin Gallery on Cooper. Opening thru 9. 

9PM - Go home and read Ben Davis' 9.5. Theses on Art and Class. I'm an evangelist for this book right now. Or you could go to sleep, you philistine. 

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Your Dreams Interpreted: Gene Hackman, Turtles, A Little Old Lady

Posted By on Wed, Aug 5, 2015 at 11:42 AM

  • Gene Hackman in "The French Connection"

Welcome to the first installment of our ongoing attempts at dream interpretation. Today we take on infinite regress, gritty lawyers and road rage: 

Gene Hackman was in a movie in the '70s, and then decades later he was in the same exact movie remade with the same title, almost shot for shot. The opening scene was a bit different. Instead of getting out of his car in an irritated fashion, he parked at the end of a long line of cars. His irritation was more about where he had to park. I remember a long wall, and someone walking away down the top of it, arguing to someone below. The movie had lawyers, and gritty conversations about the law.

Dear Mundane Dreamer,

Sometimes, in moments of existential frustration, I will reference the opening lines of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Hawking opens his book with an anecdote about an eminent scientist who, while giving a lecture about the nature of the universe, is interrupted by a little old lady who maintains that the world is merely a flat plate resting on the back of a giant turtle. “But,” retorts the scientist, “What is the turtle standing on?” and the lady says something to the effect of “You stupid asshole. It is turtles all the way down!”

  • Dr. Seuss, from "Yertle the Turtle"

It is turtles all the way down! I think this is what your dream is about: Hawking's stacked tortoises might as well be your long line of cars, or a movie that is the same shot for shot, or the bottomless gauntlet of boring B flicks from the seventies. You look for something deeper in your subconscious offerings and find only minor permutations of what you have seen before.

But you need not despair, MD, because if the Cosmic Turtles of Infinite Regress have anything to teach us, it is that we contain unseen multitudes. Same-ness doesn’t preclude depth. Maybe your dream is trying to tell you that something you previously saw as unremarkable was actually the point. You simply need to re-envision it, probably with the help of Gene Hackman. (What was this movie called, by the way? Was it Rest Easy, or You Can Sleep When You Are Dead? Jokes, jokes.)

In honor of Hawking’s little old lady, I will also advise you to check out the paintings of American folk artist Grandma Moses. I once heard an interview with Grandma Moses, who started painting at the age of 78, during which she said, “People keep telling me that the snow is blue. But I look and look at it and I can’t see any blue. So I just paint it white.” Was the snow blue? Was it white? Who knows. The point is that she kept looking.

  • Grandma Moses, "Winter"

Yours truly, 


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:

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Let Us Interpret Your Dreams Using Art

Posted By on Mon, Aug 3, 2015 at 11:37 AM

Do you have night terrors? Lucid dreams? Recurrent REM cycle anxieties about your teeth shattering, or waves swallowing your home, or talking catfish? Allow us to help.

According to Google and, the eminent surrealist Salvador Dali once said, "Take me, I am the drug; take me, I am hallucinogenic." It is with this same general ethic in mind that we invite you, reader, to have your dreams interpreted through the timeless lens of art.

  • Egon Schiele, "Sleeping Woman (Wally Neuzil)"

Simply write an email describing the dream you want interpreted and our experts will run it through a time tested (/entirely improvised) algorithm. We will then return to you an accurate interpretation of your subconscious wanderings. Email: or leave your dreams here. 

Thank you, and goodnight. 

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How to Quilt Heartbreak, Numerology & Insomnia

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 at 11:49 AM

Memphis artist Paula Kovarik quilts about everything from nuclear testing to global warming. Her work channels a dreamlike dread, illustrated by otherworldly signs and symbols. 

"Round and Round" - PAULA KOVARIK
  • Paula Kovarik
  • "Round and Round"

Kovarik was recently selected to participate in a show at the Grand Rapids Art Museum during the city's ArtPrize competition

Continue reading »

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Tommy Kha a "Supporting Character" on "Girls"

Posted By on Mon, Jul 27, 2015 at 11:48 AM

Memphis-bred photographer Tommy Kha makes extended pictures, a series of short videos that fall somewhere between film and still images. 

Recently, Kha has masterminded the reaction shot in order to write himself into HBO's Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Brokeback Mountain
[Image Credit: Tommy Kha, from "Supporting Character"] 

We anticipate any potential-future* appearances by Kha in Twin Peaks, the "Bad Blood" music video and Hustle & Flow

(*Exhibit M recommended) 

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