Friday, September 23, 2011

An Institution

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 6:03 PM

The National Ornamental Metal Museum will participate in honoring the Smithsonian Institution, an historically precious national treasure boasting 19 museums and galleries along with the National Zoological Park, by welcoming visitors this Saturday from 10a.m. to 5p.m. free of charge.

The U.S. government receieved the bequest of scientist James Smithson's estate in the interest of creating an "establishment for the diffusion of knowledge among men." John Quincy Adams then persuaded congress to preserve the fund for an institution of science and learning. The museum also became a depository for various Washington and government collections, and remains open and free to the public every day.

One of the Institution's two publications, Smithsonian Magazine, is sponsoring the nationwide event with a ticket for Museum Day eligible for two people, available through their website.

The Metal Museum currently features exhibitions by Fred Fenster, Thomasin Durgin, and ongoing selections from the permanent collection.

By Fred Fenster
  • By Fred Fenster

Fenster, a Master Metalsmith, will also give a demonstration during Repair Days weekend, to supplement his collection of holloware and serving pieces made of pewter and sterling silver on display. Metalsmiths from all over will be present at the museum from September 30th to October 2nd to solder and repair garden items and statuaries in celebration of the annual Repair Days event. The craftsmen come at their own expense, and all proceeds benefit the museum. Estimates for personal repairs are free, and visitors holding repair receipts will receive free museum admission.


Chrysalis Swing, Memphis Botanic Gardens
  • Chrysalis Swing, Memphis Botanic Gardens

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Installation Situation

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Growing up on a commune in rural Tennessee, artist Jackson Martin fell in love with the craftsmanship and idealism inherent to the creation of sculpture. His old artist statement describes the core of his extensive body of work as, "a collaboration between the natural and the cultural."

Uproot/Re-root, 2009
  • Uproot/Re-root, 2009

Earning an MFA from the renowned Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art, he now teaches at the College of Charleston while also working for the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston, South Carolina. Martin has set up installations all over the U.S., including one at the Pratt Institute's celebrated sculpture park in Brooklyn. As a visiting artist to our own esteemed fine arts college, Memphis College of Art will hold Martin's reception in Rust Hall's Callicott Auditorium tonight at 7p.m.

Martin's style tends to be primarily concerned with blending the natural elegance of organic materials with the finite modernity of man-made mediums, and the culmination of a contemporary human situation.

"I incorporate the permanence of steel, wood, glass and plastic, in order to represent my human propensity towards order and control. On the other side of this convergence exist the elements that are continually beyond my authority. I employ ephemeral materials, such as plants, soil, water and light that represent the uncertain and unpredictable world around me. With these two material extremes, I construct frames, containers and enclosures in which the cultural elements attempt to hold and embrace the natural. Ultimately, these constructed situations are intended as portraits of human communication and interaction," says Martin.

Well Preserved, 2007
  • Well Preserved, 2007

Although his developing interest in photography has turned toward erasing the distinctions between traditional American male and female roles, his work as a sculptor has been widely recognized, most recently in a group exhibition of the Whitney Museum at Viridian Artists in New York City. Learn more about the artist's work here.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

All of the Lights

Posted By on Sun, Sep 18, 2011 at 5:21 PM


The giant Sears Crosstown building at 495 N. Watkins will be set aglow tonight with the first active art project undertaken in the 85-year-old sprawling site that was once a bustling center of commerce for Memphis. The winning project of Crosstown Arts' April event, MemFEAST, Robin Salant proposed to draw attention to the building by lighting it up in two phases - first the lower body and then the tower - using low-wattage LED lighting equipment powered by a rooftop solar array.

As a temporary public art installation, Apollo Design Technology, Inc. donated theatrical gels to Salant, who will use them to illuminate the main body of the Crosstown building to be seen as far away as Union Avenue in broad daylight. The Tailgate Reception will run from 8-10 p.m. in the parking lot south of the building, and of course, is free and open to the public. Phase two of Salant's project, tackling the soaring tower, is set to be completed in conjunction with Memphis Heritage's Architectural Auction on October 22nd.

Continue reading »

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Art Manifested on Tap

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2011 at 4:17 PM

If you’ll excuse me, the correct term was 'Stout Gelato,' served up on a warm, soft brownie, much to my delight.

Boscos Stout Gelato
  • Bosco's Stout Gelato

Last Friday night, Halley Johnson and I had the pleasure of attending the Dixon Gallery and Gardens' aforementioned annual bash, Art on Tap. We sampled at least one offering from every vendor (food included), and each new venture did not disappoint. Right away we closed in on Cotton Boll Catering’s chicken tenders and fries, then began our tour with Budweiser Memphis. I chose the Lord Chesterfield Ale, a great go-to beer, then we moved right along to Bluff City Brewers and Connoisseurs, sampling the fragrant and delicious Rosemary Pale Ale and similarly distinct Ginger Summer Ale. Ghost River had their usual favorites on tap with an exciting new dark beer, Ghost River Black Magic — a gentle alternate to darker varieties. We took a break to brave the growing line in wait for Las Delicias’ scrumptious guacamole with their homemade tortilla chips, steak tacos, and tamales which we then paired with our old friend, Dos Equis Amber from A.S. Barboro. At the very end of the stretch on the driveway that led directly to the Dixon’s former residence was Bosco’s stand, where we tried my personal favorite of the night, Biere de Tonduese, and Biere de Garde(n), made specially for the event. Capping everything off with their homemade brownie topped with the stout gelato (shockingly good, no matter how it sounds) was quintessential.

Tacos and guac from Las Delicias.
  • Tacos and guac from Las Delicias.

The nice weather and ale were the perfect compliment to the Dixon's enchanting scenery and truly inspiring exhibits; Jean-Louis Forain’s “La Comédie parisienne,” and local artist Daniel Tacker’s “The City Loves You.” The Forain exhibit closes soon, on Sunday, October 9th, and for those who haven’t seen it (or read the many articles on it, including this one from Memphis magazine), the French Impressionist tribute is not to be missed. With a huge array of the artist’s works, mediums, and thematic interests, the Dixon offers a thoroughly educated and ultimately intriguing look at Forain’s personality and life in France as both a practical, yet talented etcher, and a skillful water-colorist and painter. Organized with much of the Dixon’s own collection in collaboration with the Petit Palais, Museum of Fine Arts of the City of Paris, the exhibit focuses on the artist’s preference for social satire and his fascination with the spectacle. A self-professed “painter of realities,” Forain was largely influenced by the Impressionist circle and also by poetry — a close friend of Arthur Rimbaud and Verlaine, among others — and became one of France’s best known and most revered artists of the time.

The Artists Wife Fishing
  • The Artist's Wife Fishing


An unexpected bonus to viewing “La Comédie parisienne” is a complementary ticket to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art’s exhibit on the Impressionist Revolution, “Monet to Cézanne/Cassatt to Sargent,” also open until October 9th. Combined with pieces from the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and also borrowed from the Dixon, the Brooks’ showcase seeks to encompass the entire movement, ranging from such celebrated masters as Renoir to contemporary American works.

“The City Loves You” exhibit runs a week further, closing on October 16th, and highlights the artist’s illustrative techniques as a graphic designer. Having shown work all over town, Tacker demonstrates a professionalism and high-polish to his decidedly urban compositions. Make sure to check out both before it’s too late, and buy your ticket early for next year’s Art on Tap.

Never Say Goodbye
  • Never Say Goodbye

Monday, September 12, 2011

Q&A: Photographer, Tam Tran

Posted By on Mon, Sep 12, 2011 at 12:16 PM

One of my oldest and greatest friends, Phi, came with members of her family to live in the United States in the early nineties, around the same time that Tam Tran moved to Memphis, Tennessee from the town of Hue in Vietnam in 1992. Phi’s integration into American - and more precisely, Southern - culture, due directly to the turmoil resulting from the Vietnam War, always fascinated me, as the best example I have of the promise our country holds.

While every individual experience of America is by definition profoundly different, the transition between Asian and American cultures holds an assortment of implications and tests of fundamental values all its own. Which is why the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Program, decided to feature an exhibition of artists conveying their personal backgrounds through portraiture.


Tam Tran, a shy 25-year-old who holds down a day job as an art director for Splash Creative and graduated from the University of Memphis, has an obvious vision and polish to her photos. Her portrait series was chosen along with the work of six other artists who range from celebrated fine-art photographers, to PhD. candidates and professors. Tran has exhibited work only a handful of times, garnering some much-deserved attention for her inclusion in last year’s prestigious Biennial at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. I had the pleasure of viewing “Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter,” on a recent trip to the nation’s capitol, and I must say, it was moving to see a promising young Memphis artist honored with work on display for the world’s stage. When we spoke, she hadn’t yet been to see the new exhibit, running until October 14, 2012, but will attend the reception on the 16th at the end of this week.


How did they choose your photos for the exhibit?
I’m guessing that Brandon, one of the curators, saw my show at the Whitney, was interested in what I did with my nephew, and went to my website. She didn’t really clarify how she saw my work. I just assumed she saw what I was doing, then she contacted me and said my self-portraiture was really fitting with their new show, so she asked me to send more. We corresponded through email for a couple of months, deciding what she wanted to show, so that’s how it all happened.

Why did you choose the title ‘Accents’ for your series?
I’m playing on how there are dialects in every language, important to each identity. I thought about calling it ‘Southern Accents,’ but felt like it might be too constricting, so I made it more bare and simple and straight to the point.

What does your collection ultimately say about identity?
Basically, I’m not just one identity, one note. You adapt to everything around you; the people you hang with, the books you read, the music you listen to. I feel like you don’t have to be just one set.

How is this exhibition important to you and your career?
People don’t know I’m a photographer until I tell them or they happen to see my work online or something. I kind of keep it a secret, keep it my own thing, but now people know, and I feel like I’m being watched. In a way it’s thrilling, but then it’s kind of scary and nerve-wracking.

How did you get interested in photography?
I don’t know how it found me, it was just so easy for me to snap pictures and then start conveying meanings and emotions with it. I can’t do it through painting and I can’t do it through writing, really. Anyone can be a photographer, I guess.

How does the shutter release function as part of the composition in all your pieces for this series?
To be honest, it’s easy to use a shutter release. You have to run back and forth with a self-timer, and I could use a wireless remote, but I opted for the cord because it reels my audience in, it’s more of a participation kind of thing.

What brought you to work for Splash Creative?
I’ve been there for three years. I do all the graphic works that they need, ads and stuff. I was interested in graphic design while I was majoring in journalism. The internet journalism course I took — you migrate to using Adobe Dreamweaver, you have to write and publish, do everything, the media and design work for it all — that piqued my interest. My classmate had a job at Splash and he connected me with David Brown, so I interned and just never left.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Beer Gelato!

Posted By on Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 2:57 PM


The insane heat is finally over and the weather is absolutely perfect outside. That means it’s time for the Dixon Gallery and Gardens’ annual Art on Tap, tomorrow night from 6:00 to 9:00pm within the Dixon’s 17 acres of elegant gardens. Purchase of a ticket will get you unlimited beer tastings from the likes of Ghost River, Magic Hat, and New Belgium brewing companies among many others, along with food provided by local favorites like Boscos Squared (also providing beer and the above mentioned beer gelato), Las Delicias, and L’Ecole Culinaire, as well as access to the incredible Jean-Louis Forain exhibition and a show of works by local artist, Daniel Tacker. The Grammy-nominated band Almost Famous will also be on hand to entertain art and beer lovers alike with classic hits and party favorites.


Tickets are free to Young at Art members, — a special membership group for young professionals who receive free admission to the event with a membership purchase — $40 for members of the Dixon, and $50 for everyone else. The unlimited perks will be well worth it for those age 21 and up, to get a taste of refinement on every level. Buy your admission at or tomorrow night at the door.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Appreciate Your Muse

Posted By on Tue, Sep 6, 2011 at 3:30 PM

Show Memphis your love and support of cultural heritage this coming Saturday, at a discount!

Discover Memphis - a recent collective of attractions and museums - will usher in a new annual event, Downtown Museum Day, to celebrate and promote the city's historical and artistic value. All participants are offering free or discounted admission along with special events and exhibits.

The Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art at 119 S. Main will screen South Korea's 2003 film "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring" and also offer ten percent off their gift shop items and half-price the general $6 admission.

The Cotton Museum at 65 Union Ave. is hosting a Seersucker Social Party in the afternoon, complete with mood-setting live music and classic cocktails, and half-price the general $10 admission.


Elmwood Cemetery, located at 824 S. Dudley St., will offer free tours with the choice of a guided excursion at 10:30am, or self-guided audio tours from 8am to noon.

The Fire Museum of Memphis at 118 Adams Ave. will have the option to buy one admission ($6 for adults) and get one free.

Memphis historian, Jimmy Ogle, will guide free tours around downtown; beginning with the Union Ave. manhole cover and history tour (at the Cotton Museum at 10am), then the Cotton Row tour (also starting at the Cottom Museum at 11:30am), moving along to the Mississippi River Tour (at Confederate Park at 1pm), and ending with the Court Square tour at 3pm.


The Mississippi River Museum at Mud Island on 125 N. Front St. is hosting a Hatilloo Theatre performance from noon to 3pm, and will offer the general $10 admission as buy one, get one free.


The National Civil Rights Museum at 450 Mulberry St. will also have buy one, get one free admission ($13 for adults) and the chance to check out the makings of the museum with its special "Portrait of a Movement" exhibition series, in celebration of the museum's 20th Anniversary.

The National Ornamental Metal Museum at 374 Metal Museum Dr. will have free admission to all exhibits and host blacksmith demonstrations all day.


The Stax Museum of American Soul Music at 926 E. McLemore Ave. will have buy one, get one free admission ($12 for adults), and a tribute to Otis Redding! The exhibition celebrates the much-loved artist's 70th birthday, which would have been September 8th.


Sun Studio at 706 Union Ave. will offer free admission and tours of the famous facility.


The Woodruff-Fontaine House at 680 Adams Ave. will offer its $10 admission as buy one, get the second for half-price.

And just announced, The W.C. Handy Museum at 352 Beale St. and Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum at 826 N. 2nd St. will offer buy one, get one free admission ($4 and $6, respectively).

So soak in as much as could possibly fit into a single day, and learn that much more about where you live.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Paula & Raiford's Disco: Part II

Posted By on Sun, Sep 4, 2011 at 5:31 PM


She’s almost finished! The flashy, glow-in-the-dark mural of disco dancers going up at Paula and Raiford’s will be done by the end of next week. It’s to be the perfect backdrop to the let-loose vibe that Raiford’s brings out in the best of us.

When I last visited, owner and illustrious performer, Robert Raiford, was napping in a booth nearby the dance floor, and stirred to admire the painting’s progress and show me some of his fabulous costumes, featured nightly at the club.

“She’s doing a great job,” Raiford says. “I liked disco, I stayed with disco. Now it’s 35 years later and we’re still going strong.”


Friday, September 2, 2011

Ring True

Posted By on Fri, Sep 2, 2011 at 11:59 AM


The one-and-only National Metal Museum is hosting a likewise unique exhibition of jewelry from Memphis artist and MCA graduate, Thomasin Durgin, who spent all of last year crafting one ring per day. Located alongside the museum’s permanent collection in the grand library building, Durgin’s thoughtful pieces can be infinitely wearable and lovely, or highly conceptual comments on the world around us. She is also a regular vendor for the museum’s gift shop. Thomasin Durgin: Ring-A-Day is on display at the Metal Museum until Dec. 1, 2011. Visit the artist’s website here.

Demonstrating the functional Abu Ghraib #4, portraying a prisoner on a leash.
  • Demonstrating the functional "Abu Ghraib #4," portraying a prisoner on a leash.

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