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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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 »

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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.

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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. 

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