Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Art This Week: Low-Brow, High Tides, and Steamrollers

Posted By on Tue, Sep 10, 2013 at 1:26 PM

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It’s a week of oppositions in Memphis galleries: high-brow meets low-brow, the natural meets the plastic, and the old meets the new. At David Lusk Gallery, the paintings of Leslie Holt and sculptures of Wayne Edge are (respectively) cynical and stoic; hot pink and earthtoned. At Memphis College of Art, the main Rust Hall Gallery is devoted calming depictions of the Gulf Coast, while the neighboring Alumni gallery is full of Chloe York’s bright, cartoonish paintings. At Five in One Social Club, artists have revisited oldtime woodcut printmaking with new(ish) heavy machinery.

Memphis College of Art is displaying "Horn Island 29." The Rust Hall Gallery is packed out with student, faculty, and alumni work— all inspired by a May 2013 trip to Horn Island, off the Gulf of Mexico. This is the 29th year that MCA has sent a group to the island. The resulting works run the gamut from traditional painting, to cartoons, to metalwork and conceptual sculpture.

The best work this year comes from Slade Bishop, whose linocut prints of various forms of crustaceous life seem an appropriate reflection of the Island’s creative environs: meditative, simply executed, serious without being somber. Bill Nelson’s careful paintings and Adam Hawk’s fabricated steel-framed sculpture/painting also stand out.

Luke McDowell showed three enigmatic photographs that he shot at night from the actual inside of a dead jellyfish, using a waterproof camera. McDowell, a recent grad in illustration, said that he never expected to take photographs from the innards of sea life but, when he found the jellyfish on the beach, he thought, “Why not?” The results are as painterly as they are photographic, echoing a cross-media note that is repeated throughout the exhibition.

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Friday, August 30, 2013

On the Scene at The Sketchbook Project Event

Posted By on Fri, Aug 30, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Slideshow
The Sketchbook Project Stops In Crosstown
The Sketchbook Project Stops In Crosstown The Sketchbook Project Stops In Crosstown The Sketchbook Project Stops In Crosstown The Sketchbook Project Stops In Crosstown The Sketchbook Project Stops In Crosstown The Sketchbook Project Stops In Crosstown The Sketchbook Project Stops In Crosstown The Sketchbook Project Stops In Crosstown

The Sketchbook Project Stops In Crosstown

The Sketchbook Project, a traveling, crowd-sourced exhibition of handmade books, stopped in Crosstown on Thursday afternoon.

By Flyer Staff

Click to View 10 slides

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Jessica Lund's "WREFORD" at Crosstown Arts

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 3:21 PM

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This Friday at 6 p.m., Memphis-based sculptor and installation artist Jessica Lund will be giving a talk about her most recent show, "WREFORD," in the gallery at Crosstown Arts.

Attendees of the talk might hear stories about Lund’s former landlord (Wreford himself), or the resident apartment complex cat (Elvis), or about what it is like to live in an apartment that, according to Lund, “looked like a scene from Hoarders.”

Lund, who recently received her MFA from the University of Memphis, says that her interest is in how people relate to the spaces they inhabit; how architecture shapes people and their habits. Lund's concern is with mundanities of property: a neighbor who threaded his failing fence together with an old garden hose, or a weekly $2 fine levied on apartment residents who failed to correctly dispose of their trash.

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"WREFORD" is a paean to life in a low-budget apartment complex. (Plexiglass sliding doors, whitewashed metal fences, hair-grain carpeting over cement floor. Rooms that have been vetted by flea bombs and laden with roach motels. For those with an architectural bent: last-ditch Corbusian modernism, rentable for $600ish bucks a month.)

The back wall of the show is composed of insulation, layered concentrically, a zen mounting of that sublime pink stuff usually only seen in half-lit attics. The wall works as a humorous backsplash for other elements of Lund's show, including an axial sculpture of plywood and intricately cut carpet samples, located center-gallery and looking something like an imploded building.

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Lund’s show also conveys a sense of constantly being monitored through motion-censored lights, placed above a series of wall-mounted shoe box sculptures. It is a clever play on the practice of lighting individual paintings in a gallery from above. Rather than unobtrusive track lighting, Lund includes intrusive high wattage outdoor lighting; rather than paintings, small boxes coated in camo duct tape and mesh, arranged into pseudo floor plans.

Lund’s show is cleanly executed without losing a sense of the intuitive. It is successful at communicating the indefinable atmosphere of a place without sacrificing humor.

The talk, and following keg party, will be held at Crosstown Gallery from 6-9 p.m., Friday August 30th.

Images: Katie McWeeney

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

John Jerit's Folk Art Collection

Posted By on Tue, Aug 20, 2013 at 11:02 AM

Memphis art collector and business owner John Jerit has one of the most unusual collections of art in the country.

Jerit, whose company American Paper Optics, has a corner on the 3-D paper glasses manufacturing market, collects folk art. A lot of folk art— enough to cover the 20-ft high walls of his Bartlett office, to fill a large Memphis home, and to occupy several storage units.

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"Folk art" is a blanket term for Jerit's collection. More correctly, he collects work by self-taught, visionary or outsider artists. It includes memory works (paintings based on artists’ memories rather than observation), wood carvings, tramp sculpture, trench art and handmade circus paraphernalia. A large part of the work is Southern, though some is from other corners of the country. A small amount is European.

Housed in this collection, alongside works that Jerit purchased for as little as a couple hundred dollars, are works by Henry Darger and Martin Ramirez. Darger and Ramirez are two of the best-loved (and, for a collector, most-sought) self-taught artists.

Images: Brett Hanover

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

GLITCH Gallery

Posted By on Thu, Aug 1, 2013 at 8:08 AM

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Memphis has a new addition to its small but interesting constellation of house galleries. On every night except the last Friday of the month (e.g. Trolley Night), it is the home of painter Adam Farmer and roommates. On final Fridays, it becomes GLITCH.

I moved back to Memphis from a five-year stint in NYC at the beginning of July. While I was schlepping among the Brooklyn schleppers, attending storefront gallery openings and back room specialty cinema clubs, it seemed like everybody was talking about glitch art.

Glitch art is imaging created in a software malfunction. Has your browser ever frozen on a half-loaded image? Have you ever watched satellite television during a rainstorm? If so, you have seen glitches.

Glitch art plays out when artists insert different x-factors into an algorithm, creating visual effects that at rational variance with an initial formula. Artists intentionally jam data in different ways. The results look modernist (picture bar codes crossed with static? Maybe just picture static) but are post-modernist. Critics throw around the term “post-human.” There’s a definite lack of humanity in the pixellated, scratch-tape successes of the genre.

Glitch Gallery, this past Friday, was more psychedelic than post-human. The show/event, “Fur load” featured wall-to-wall murals, installations, projections, stuffed animal drink tables, and VHS viewing rooms. Two bands, Spoiler Alert and Leolin, played sets.

Continue reading »

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Flyer Art Box Contest Returns!

Posted By on Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 3:35 PM

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Late 2011, the Flyer sent out a call for artists and artistic types to submit ideas for transforming Flyer newspaper boxes into works of art for our first Flyer Art Box Contest. We got nearly 150 submissions, choosing 13. What we got back was a whirl of creativity — graffiti, pharaohs, old maps used for collage, a Day of the Dead Elvis, the pairing of pastries and animals … And so, we’re doing it again.

Here’s how it works: If you would like a Flyer box to transform into art (without disassembling, please), go to boxcontest.memphisflyer.com to submit your idea.

• Submissions will be accepted through Wednesday, August 7th.

• We will select a group of artists who will be notified on or around August 9th, and each will have one month to transform their box. A materials stipend will be provided for all selected artists courtesy of our sponsor, the Art Center Supply Store.

• Once all of the boxes are completed and returned, we’ll have a photo shoot of the artists with their work.

• Artists will be honored at the Flyer’s annual Best of Memphis party, and full artist profiles and box images will be featured in the October 3rd edition. Boxes will then be displayed as working public art throughout the city.

Flyer readers will also vote on “Best in Show,” the winner of which will receive a $500 cash prize.

boxcontest.memphisflyer.com

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Coriana Close's "Solar" at Wrong Again Gallery

Posted By on Thu, Jul 18, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Coriana Close
  • Coriana Close
This coming Saturday, Memphis-based photographer Coriana Close will be showing “Solar,” recent photos and videos from her summer trek across Puerto Rico and Vieques. Solar means “piece of land” in Spanish, but reads differently as the title for a North American show. “Solar,” in English, means the sun, but it is the sun as experienced through space science and earth science, as read by sci-fi writers and clean energy activists. Solar panels, solar technologies, Solaris.

The opening will take place at Greely Myatt’s Wrong Again Gallery, a short jag away from Sun (Solar?) Studios on Marshall Avenue. Wrong Again Gallery, according to Myatt, is “more of a project than a gallery” (The “actual” gallery exists behind a nonfunctional door inside Myatt’s sculpture studio. It’s a concept.) For exhibitions, Myatt skypes in a remotely located artist, who discusses his or her work via a large projector screen. The only rule, Myatt says, is that the artist cannot be in physical attendance of the show.

It is fitting that the title of Close’s show should have dual meaning: tying her directly to the land on which she has been walking and camping, and beaming her through space traffic to arrive at her own opening.

Close’s past work has concerned intersections of race, history, and cyclical violence. Travel sheds a different light on these elements.

Image by Coriana Close
  • Image by Coriana Close

It is easy to be suspect of the artist/writer on a journey who makes work about that journey, that the all-too-easy trope of the artist who goes on a trip to wherever and finds themselves.

The court of the public opinion is particularly hard on female artists who leave their lives to go on quests. Think about the backlash to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. In the 2012 movie, Tatu, many characters are racists, expatriates and imperialists, but it is the female lead who arguably receives the most directorial flack. A contemporary performance artist, Ellie Ga, who recently took a trip to the Arctic, got a lot of attention for her work, but every interview with her has some ring of “…and what was your business up there?”

It is not that travel works by women are criticized; it is how they are criticized. Compared to the vast body of man-on-a-motorcycle literature and photography, there are few records of women going on journeys for reasons other than escape. When they do appear, they are read as self-absorbed and naive.

It will be interesting to see how Close handles this in her recent works, as a woman of color, as a critic of history, as a tourist, as (perhaps) a pilgrim, and as an artist with the ability to share her work globally.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summer in the City: Art at Gasoline, David Perry Smith, Gallery Fifty Six, and Java Cabana

Posted By on Wed, Jul 10, 2013 at 2:01 PM

Mid-summer is a notoriously slow time in the art scene. People leave town to go to Sandestin, or else they watch high-budget, low-content movies in the safety of air-conditioned megaplexes, or else they read fiction about wealthy cliquey teenagers. Or else they buy Icees. I don’t know.

What I do know is that if a light summer novel were to take its plot points from current Memphis art shows, the main character would be “somebody’s cat from Facebook” (Paul Edelstein, at Java Cabana), the love interest would ride custom-painted motorcycles through a 1960s pop underworld (Nosy42, Gasoline Gallery), and the conflict would happen when all electronics across the world break down and everybody has to look at a new universe of unimaginable static (Gregg Haller, Gallery Fifty Six).

Nosy42
  • Nosy42

At Gasoline Gallery, on Broad, the unavoidable Memphis street artist Nosy42 has a show of pop collages: stenciled bombs and guns and pictures of what your mom looked like in 1959, classic film regalia, newspaper bits, compiled and decoupaged under thick layers of shellac. Nosy42 is also responsible, in his more recognizable street art style, for a purple, airbrushed painting/sign outside the gallery: the name “Gasoline,” stop-ended by a sketch of the Broad Ave water tower.

Steven Williams, Gasoline’s proprietor and the show’s curator, told me that he personally doesn’t like graffiti, particularly not the uninvited tags that crowd the walls surrounding his property. Steven is a custom automotive painter, and, when his mammoth workspace (located behind the gallery) isn’t hosting some graphically enflamed motorcycles, it is the makeshift home of his stylistically similar paintings.

At the David Perry Smith Gallery, “Green,” curated by gallery intern Natalie Brashear, is all over the map: rough, cheese-grater abstracts by Collierville-based painter Mike Coulson, some miniature, meticulous, thick-framed paintings called “Treescapes” by Andy Reed, as well as canonical Southern landscapes by painter Jeanne Seagle. The gallery’s back room, which, happily, is painted a pale metallic green, holds some rather beautiful Charles Ivey encaustics, and one toxic-event-looking abstract by Paul Vinsonhaler.

Andy Reed
  • Andy Reed

At Gallery Fifty-Six, on Central, a no-holds-barred incredible show called “Causal Momentum,” opened last weekend, featuring work by local artist Gregg Haller. Haller, a self-educated painter and lay mathematician, produced a body of 18 paintings over the past year, working steadily on several canvases at a time in his small apartment. Haller doesn’t have a home phone or computer, and his paintings look like the work of someone whose focus developed in under semi-hermetic conditions. Which is to say, the cumulative product of a lot of uninterrupted labor, and obvious, singular focus.

Haller’s paintings appear, to me, like a direct transcription of the breakdown of a thought process: frenzied, black, white and grey marks, half-symbols, thick-layered, voiding each other in the canvas’ static grounds. He told me that he considers this body of work to be anterior to his previous works: hand-drawn, mathematically reasoned variations on the form of the cube. He describes his previous, mathematical/visual processes as tantamount to piling single granules of sand together, one after the other, until the resultant mountain of sand capsizes under its own weight. The process of making these latest paintings, he says, felt like that avalanche.

Gregg Haller
  • Gregg Haller

Paul Edelstein also has new paintings on display amidst the Java Cabana bric-a-brac. Among the works: loose figurative pieces, a wall of folk artsy flowers (which fit nicely next to Java’s teal wall color), and one glaring, white cat.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The End is Near

Posted By on Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 8:57 PM

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.

Bobby Spillman
  • Bobby Spillman

Melanie Spillman
  • Melanie Spillman

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.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Future is Now

Posted By on Fri, Apr 5, 2013 at 11:27 AM

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.”

Brit McDaniel
  • Brit McDaniel

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.

Brittney Boyd
  • Brittany Boyd

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.

Elizabeth Joy Greene
  • Elizabeth Joy Greene

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.

Lisa Pendleton
  • Lisa Pendleton

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.

Angela Morgan (detail)
  • Angela Morgan (detail)

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.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Unicorns and Our Future Artists

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 2:00 PM

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.

Emily Cifaldi
  • Emily Cifaldi

Alex Paulus
  • Alex Paulus


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.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Go Look at All the Visual Art in Memphis

Posted By on Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 2:13 PM

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.

Justin Bowles
  • Justin Bowles

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.


Michael Velliquette
  • Michael Velliquette

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

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Never Stop the Celebration

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 12:22 PM

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.

Alex Paulus
  • Alex Paulus

Lindsay Overbey
  • Lindsay Overbey

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.

1961 Memphis
  • "1961 Memphis"
Many of the artists that David Lusk represents are included in both the “Present Tense” and “Hanging Participles” exhibitions. Which is understandable, being the leading contemporary arts gallery in Memphis for over 15 years. But their inventory and interests are much broader than that. Opening Friday, March 15th, 6-8 p.m. is “1961 Memphis: Art, Furniture, and Furnishing.” The exhibition comprises of several interior vignettes that showcase work created in 1961 by artists Dorothy Strum, Ted Faiers, Carroll Cloar, Veda Reed, Mary Sims, and Walter Anderson. DLG has partnered with Grace Megel Interior Design and Sarkis Kish Oriental Rugs for this exhibition. It is almost like walking on to the set of Mad Men. I hope they serve Old Fashioneds at the opening!

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")

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Living the Artist Life? People want to do this?

Posted By on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 10:54 AM

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Really, you want to live the life of an artist?

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.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Would You Ever Really Want to Date an Artist?

Posted By on Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Elizabeth Alley
  • Elizabeth Alley

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

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