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.

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