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:

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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. 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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 »

Tags: , , , , , ,

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) 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Best Art Instagrams of the Week: Flyer Round-up

Posted By on Sat, Jul 25, 2015 at 7:01 PM

Wondering which Memphis-based (or Memphis-originated) artists to follow on Instagram? Allow us to help.

Filmmaker and sculptor Brian Pera (@brian__pera) is currently in production on a film project dubbed "Sorry Not Sorry", featuring fellow artists Terri Phillips and Joel Parsons. 

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Chinese Artists Part of Exchange Program with MCA

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 at 6:27 PM


"I’m going to make this again but much bigger,” sculptor Bangmin Nong told me yesterday, gesturing towards a half-finished clay maquette. “Not huge,” he continued, “...just bigger. And hollow it out. Chinese clay works differently than American clay.” He shrugged.

Nong’s maquette, a small figure of a woman falling backwards off a rock, felt mythological. Was it drawn from a story? “From my feelings,” Nong smiled. “I often feel like this. Like I am falling.”

Nong and I spoke in the Memphis College of Art ceramics studio, where Nong and four other Chinese sculptors are temporary summer residents. Known collectively as Studio Nong, the Chinese artists are in Memphis for a week, during which time they will give a public lecture (Friday night, 6:30 p.m. at MCA), hold open studio hours (most of the day Sunday), and visit several local museums. From there, they will travel to Kansas City Art Institute and to Jun Kaneko’s studio in Omaha, NE.


The idea for the Studio Nong residency was born in 2011 in collaboration with Memphis College of Art professor Leandra Urrutia. Nong and Urrutia met at a residency in Maine. There, a casual conversation turned into a plan. In 2013, four American artists visited the Guangxi Art College in Nanning, China, where Nong is an associate professor. Nong involved four of his colleagues at the Art College and an exchange was born.

“We all work between different media,” Urrutia told me. “Several of us come from painting or brushwork backgrounds. If we have one thing in common it is that we are all interested in figurative work. But the Chinese and American approaches to the figure can be very different."


Urrutia said she is excited for 2016, when the four American artists will return to China. She hopes to one day get students involved in the residency, as well. "Art provides a space for understanding for us," she said, "despite language and cultural barriers.”

The Memphis College ceramic studios at Memphis College of Art will be open to the public Sunday, July 26 from 9–10:45 a.m., 2:30–5:30 p.m. and 7–9 p.m. An artist talk that is also open to the public will take place on Friday, July 24th in Myers Auditorium, at 6:30 p.m.

Tags: , , , ,

Friday, May 15, 2015

Don Lifted at Crosstown Arts

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2015 at 9:18 AM


Don’t miss Don Lifted at Crosstown Arts tonight at 9:30 p.m. The emerging artist will perform songs from his recent December LP.

A few months ago, I accidentally walked into a Don Lifted (i.e. Lawrence Matthews) performance at Crosstown Arts. The room was full of machine-generated fog. Twenty old televisions, stacked on top of one another, looped VHS footage from the 1990s. Matthews was at the mic, surrounded by a band, rapping about family, anxiety, faith and everything in between.

I was hooked. Matthews music, is, as he says, “made for night driving.” The sound is intensely layered; made from hundreds of samples that Matthews carefully arranges beneath rapidly delivered lyrics. Big-name influences include Nirvana, Drake, Coldplay and Kanye.

“I’m a sampler,” says Matthews.

Matthews is also an emerging painter who recently graduated from U of M. Tonight promises to be both visually and sonically cool. 

Tags: , , , ,

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Johnathan Robert Payne's "Meet Me Where I'm At"

Posted By on Sun, May 10, 2015 at 7:05 PM


I was really hyped to see Johnathan Robert Payne’s performance, ”Meet Me Where I’m At," Friday night at Crosstown Arts. I'm glad I did. 

I’ve loved Payne’s art since I first ran across it at Beige, where the artist had a solo show last fall. That show was made up of obsessive, abstract ballpoint pen drawings — all modular lines, meditatively blended. I’m a sucker for his pensive and lonely works on paper, which seem more about the repetitive process than the final product. They recall Alighiero Boetti’s intricate ballpoint pen pieces, as well as the strangely sloping linear drawings of folk artist Marin Ramirez. They feel to me like a removed headspace, rhythmically applied.

Which is partially why I was so curious about this show. How would Payne’s pensive, quiet style of making translate into performance?

We were given 20 minutes between the show’s opening and the start of the performance to roam the gallery. Near the door, there were several curtains made of cut paper that Payne threaded together, fishnet style. A black, industrial tub full of water sat in the middle of the room. Several small drawings hung on the walls and, in one corner, a braided yarn rope dangled from the ceiling. Towards the back of the space, lit tea lights demarcated an 8ft x 5ft (est) rectangle on the ground. A projector lit up the far wall of the gallery, paused on a still frame from the opening sequence of Billy Blank’s Tae Bo Workout. The objects could have been the set-up for a joke: “A duck walks into a bar…”

Payne entered the space, kneeled facing the audience, and immediately shaved his beard and head. As he shaved his head, I became aware of what he was wearing: a grey hoodie, which suddenly took on a monastic glow. I also became aware of text on the paused screen behind him, a disclaimer that reminded us that Tae Bo is not a substitute for “counseling from your healthcare professional.” Payne then put on a pair of glasses and moved into the middle of the tealight-defined stage. The video started. For the next 50 minutes, he faced the back wall of Crosstown arts and did Tae Bo.

Payne was dwarfed by the screen, by Billy Blank’s huge projected visage. The scale of the projection reminded me of what it was like to watch Tae Bo commercials as a kid during endless, bored summers. Billy Blank instructs a crowd of fitness models on a red mat, backed up by graphic art of Billy Blank himself and a block lettered sign that reads “BE STRONG.”

Tae Bo, it turns out, is really difficult. Payne became visibly more exhausted as the video picked up speed. After 45 minutes had passed, the audience members who’d hung around that long started to cheer Payne on: “You got this!” or “Almost there!” Some of the Tae Bo moves were funny. Others were exposing. It was hypnotic. The bathtub loomed.

When the video finally ended, Payne sat down and turned towards the audience. He looked beat. He was a human again. I felt a wave of embarrassment, or guilt, or something. Payne then stripped down to his boxers and got in the bathtub. He submerged himself, then washed his whole body, carefully, with a bar of ivory soap. He didn’t acknowledge us.

He got out of the bathtub, still wet, and began to pick up small fortune cookie fortunes that, I realized, had been floating in the water. For the first time, Payne looked at us, and read: “Now is the time to investigate new possibilities with friends.” He then picked up another object — a pink funnel attached to a pink tube, beer bong style — and filled it with the fortune and soapy bathwater. For a moment, I thought he was going to offer it to us to drink.

Instead, he turned the action on himself. He attempted to swallow the water, choked and spit up. He repeated this action with three more fortunes (“a distant friendship could begin to look more promising," “you will take a pleasant journey to a place far away," “you will soon have the opportunity to improve your finances”), circling the tub each time. Then he exited the room. Someone said: “Are we going to clap? That was pretty good, wasn’t it?” and everyone clapped.

Payne’s work is punishing, but not exactly cruel. Tae Bo is a lonely mortification to be followed by ablutions in a rubbermaid tub, to be followed by a spiel of Chinese fortunes (the food of lonely American cliche.) These are familiar, unthinking moments. Who hasn’t worked out alone, showered, and eaten take out?

The weirdness of performance art vs. theater is that, rather than removing you from your body with a fear of lighting and narrative, performance art more often than not makes you super conscious of it. Which might be Payne’s point: rinse, repeat, repeat, rinse, pay attention. Stay aware. We’re all lonely. Meet us where we’re at. 

Tags: , , ,

Friday, October 17, 2014

Art This Weekend: Tad Lauritzen Wright and more

Posted By on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 11:32 AM


Tonight, from 6-8, there will be an opening for Tad Lauritzen Wright's "The Bacchus Sessions" at David Lusk Gallery. Lauritzen Wright's paintings— murky portraits of Anna Nicole Smith, scrawled classical scenes and messages such as "civilization begins with distillation"—have the feel of Art Brut paintings with the attitude of R. Crumb cartoons and the morals of a Richard Linklater movie.
On view through November 15th


The second annual Five-in-One steamroller printmaking event will happen on Broad Avenue Saturday, October 18th, noon-10 p.m. Artists and friends of Five-in-One carved larger-than-life woodcuts, soon to be inked up and printed onto large sheets with the help of a rented steamroller. Last year's event drew a big crowd and was a lot of fun to watch, and, weather permitting, this one should be the same. The event info online tells us that "printmaking is a social artform!" and, in light of that, there will be an afternoon party in front of the Five-in-One store.

Also on Saturday, Emily Ozier will lead an art class from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Church Health Center Wellness, (1115 Union Ave.) Ozier, who has exhibited work at the Church Health Center in the past, is a painter and educator who will coach participants to create self-portraits and write accompanying haiku. To sign up for the class, contact Kimberly Baker at or call 901-701-2238.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Erin Harmon's Latest Project

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 10:45 AM

River Project model
  • River Project model

Erin Harmon makes her work in a green garden-shed-turned-studio, a location that seems fitting for an artist whose dioramic painting/collages often depict botanical cabinets of sea-anenome-shaped neon plantlife. Harmon’s botanicals are, for lack of a better word, “oogly”— full of acidic dots and undulating yellow lines; seductive and poisonous-looking.

In the past, Harmon’s work has been mostly small-scale and confined to the page. She breaks this habit with her latest project, a collaboration alongside choreographer and dancer Steven McMahon, of Ballet Memphis. McMahon’s original ballet, (working title) BIRDS, premiers in mid-October as a part of Ballet Memphis’ River Project. Harmon designed the set, per McMahon’s request, with “not a feather in sight.”

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, August 11, 2014

Deep Elvis: Ron and Lew Elliott

Posted By on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 4:19 PM

Happy Elvis Week, everyone! In honor of this most sacred of Midsouth holidays, I’d like to formally inaugurate a category of Elvis fandom heretofore under recognized by the local press. I would like to call this category “Deep Elvis” and have it signify all the Elvis attractions that lifelong Memphians know about, and that aren’t on the general tourist roster.

A good example of Deep Elvis would be (RIP) Graceland, Too. A better example would be The Blue Suede Lounge on Elvis Presley Blvd, where I once spent a solitary night drinking whiskey-cokes while I waited to pick up some friends from New Jersey who’d decided to go to the candlelight vigil, and where the bartender showed me his extensive collection of Bob Marley posters by the light of a disco ball. Deep Elvis is your Mom’s stories about scaling the fence at Graceland when she was a child. Deep Elvis is knowing where Elvis’s honeymoon house is without knowing how you know (it is in Palm Springs.) It is personal and ineffable and as beautiful as any Elvis sweatrag bought off eBay for a mint.


The best example of Deep Elvis that I can think of is Ron and Lew Elliott’s motorcycle shop, SuperCycle, located at Bellevue and Harbert. Ron and Lew were commissioned to build a three-wheeled motorcycle for Elvis. They gave it to him, eerily, exactly one year before the King died. They keep a full-scale replica of the bike in their in-shop Museum, which also hosts leather-wearing fashion mannequins, a bunch of overgrown plants, wooden tiki sculptures old magazines and postcards and plaques and brochures, and, of course, tons of custom bikes from the brothers’ long custom automotive careers.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Jason Miller's New Mural at the Gaisman Community Center

Posted By on Thu, Aug 7, 2014 at 11:18 AM


Community-themed murals are often big, colorful, optimistic, and kind of terrible. For some unknown reason, neighborly virtue is universally painted in watered down oranges and neon greens. Communityish things are always created with the exact emotional range of the bureaucracies that commission them. They are hard to get right and easy to get wrong and either way we are stuck with them.

Jason Miller's new mural at the Gaisman Community Center in Gaisman Park (near the intersection of Macon and Covington Pike) is not terrible. It is big and colorful, but more weird than optimistic. The mural features Gaisman community members suspended in a larger than life, gravity-less parkland. A white-haired, wizardly-looking man plays pool. Elvish community members, as portrayed by Miller, go about their normal community center routines— working out, playing bingo or pool or basketball, or jubilantly doing the splits—but look very like mercurial forest nymphs caught at play. A few of them hold their bingo boards and stare knowingly at you, as if the bingo boards held incalculable secrets. The mural is big and detailed and just mystical enough as to not be drab. You can get lost in it.

The mural is not visible from the street but is definitely worth some investigation if you are in the area.

Tags: , ,

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Brooks' Cameron Kitchin to Cincinnati Art Museum

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 11:41 AM

Brooks Director Cameron Kitchin is having "internal meetings" for his new job as Director of the Cincinnati Art Museum. No word yet on who might fill Kitchin's post at Brooks.

Read more in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Cincinnati Art Museum president Martha Ragland said that Kitchin is an "accomplished museum leader" who has a passion for art and a commitment to community.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Cedar Lorca Nordbye's "To Frame - To Construct - To Occupy” at Crosstown Arts

Posted By on Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 7:44 AM


This past weekend at Crosstown Arts, artist and U of M professor Cedar Lorca Nordbye began the install for his upcoming show, “To Frame - To Construct - To Occupy," with two materials: more than a ton of fresh lumber and four big, empty walls.

"There is a sense of wonder,” Nordbye says, “to coming into a room and seeing this much wood...I thought, ‘When am I ever going to have piles of lumber and a huge empty room again?”

Nordbye is no stranger to wood-centric installation (past works include cluttered and colorful “Everything Connects to Everything” as well as a sparse and dark related work, “Everything Connects to Emmett”), but “To Frame” is the artist’s most ambitious installation to date. For the project, Nordbye sourced lumber from several local sources and recruited around 30 people to help paint the boards.

Using the wood, Nordbye will construct a small house inside the Crosstown Arts gallery space. The gallery walls are painted to appear as an active deconstruction of the house — Nordbye brings his talent as a draftsman into several huge, fragmented murals. Following the exhibition, the lumber will be donated to Habitat for Humanity and used to construct a new home.

Nordbye says, “This project goes back to a fantasy that I had about 10 years ago. I thought, ‘I would love to have a contractor deliver the whole lumber load and let me work on the wood and then have it be randomized into the construction of a real house.”

“To Frame” treats themes of diaspora and residence. The show, rapidly and intuitively drawn together, takes place in a spare moment of the whole project. Nordbye plays the role of artist-as-orchestrator — pulling together disparate people and materials — for the final structure, a marked record of its journey.

Opening is Friday, April 25th from 6-9 at Crosstown Arts (422 N Cleveland.) Show runs through May 24. Casual artist's talk at 6:30 on Friday.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Visit to Mary Jo Karimnia's Studio

Posted By on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 10:30 AM


I recently stopped by Mary Jo Karimnia's painting studio, a cement-floored building that backs up against the Cooper-Young railroad tracks and houses several Midtown artists. You might recognize Karimnia's work from last summer's Five-in-One Steamroller Printmaking day (her mammoth woodcut features a woman wearing stripey knee socks) or from the Cleveland Street Flea Market, where she helps craft displays. Mary Jo's current group of beaded paintings and tie-dyed woodcuts seem at home next to her studio mate Mark Nowell's half-assembled and colorful scrap metal sculptures.

Karimnia, who recently received an ArtsMemphis ArtsAccelerator grant, has been at work on the series of beaded paintings (most of which depict women in historical costume) for several months. The work is painstaking— she uses thousands of tiny "seed beads" to make each piece— but feels playful. Commenting on her preference for work that is bright and synthetic, Mary Jo told me, "I can't stop. I can't help it!"

She took a few minutes to speak with me about her work and upcoming shows.

Continue reading »

© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation