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Nashville Arts Magazine | September 2O1O

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The Journey 24 | September 2O1O | Nashville Arts Magazine

Art in Recovery Room In The Inn by Jim Reyland | photography by Jerry Atnip

The Nashville winter was hard in 1985.

The art program makes me realize what goodness resides deep inside the homeless that people may miss seeing.

Father Charles Strobel, Catholic priest and pastor of Holy Name Church in East Nashville, served peanut butter sandwiches to the homeless from the back door of his residence. He provided a warm church floor to the cold and forgotten, and from his compassionate heart Room In The Inn was born. It was founded to provide refuge through a network of Nashville churches, and the next twentyfive years would prove to be nothing short of remarkable as it grew not only in church partners but also to represent recovery, healing, and independence as well. On September 9, Room In The Inn will hold an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony at its new Campus center building, a sixty-four thousand-square-foot monument to “Love thy neighbor.” In 2000, fifteen years after the first PB&J, the Campus art program was founded by the late Thomas P. Seigenthaler, Father Strobel’s brother-in-law. “Tom taught the value of art to all who met him. But more importantly, he learned from everyone he came in contact with. That is what made him uniquely Tom in his approach to life. His reason for teaching art at the Campus, to those on the margins of society, was rooted in his own words: ‘People gain self-esteem through the creative process.’” As he prepared to teach his first Campus art class, Tom Seigenthaler put together a plan consisting of ten lessons. Lesson one, the triangle, square, and circle: all art is rudiment to these three geometric shapes. Tom explained this concept

– Father Charles Strobel, Founder, Room In The Inn

to his first class of twelve students. The following week, Tom was greeted by twelve brand new students and a discovery of the transient nature of the general population. So Tom started again—the triangle, square, and circle. Tom never got to lesson two. The staff referred to this phenomenon as “Groundhog Art” after Bill Murray’s well-known film. According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is based on the belief that the creative process involved in the making of art is healing and life-enhancing. Through creating art, talking about art, and the process of art-making with an art therapist, one can increase awareness of self, cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences, enhance cognitive abilities, and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of artistic therapy.

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above : left :

Slavery, A Self Portrait by Fred D.

Face of Recovery-Hope for Change This

portrait was created by participants of Odyssey, a program at Room In The Inn’s Campus designed to assist the chronically homeless in their journey through a progression of steps to establish a stable and productive life including hospitality, healing, education, employment, and housing. below :

Daisy’s Dream (Please God) by Angela J.

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Leather Embellished Dress by Nicole Miller, THE COTTON MILL COLLECTION; Black & Silver Shooties by Calvin Klein, DILLARD’S

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Negativ e Spac e Photog raphy S tyli s t: Connie : Michael Ho Model: Ca thcart -Ric ward Salom hard Hair : S h e S teinmann son a n a Ta Makeu p : Eryk ylor Ph o Loca tio to As s is tant: N Da tura n : Prov ided by allely Ortega Modern Habita tion

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g ra ph His the er M ic hael H or y is t oward hat pho That pa aims t o graphy ssion is s hould m to create imag reflecte es that ake a st d in the are mea atemen se haun ningful t tingly b about l and ful eautifu i f e r a t her tha l of inte l image n being s that r ntion, f just ima emind u ull of p urpose. ges of a s that t hings a nother re not a pretty f lways a s they s ace. eem.

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Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.

– Marilyn Monroe

Princeton Suit Jacket by Raw Correct Line by G Star and Beaded Necklace, POSH; Ruffle Shorts by Mark & James by Badgley Mischka, THE COTTON MILL COLLECTION


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I never decide up front what’s going to be in the painting. Somehow the painting tells me when it’s finished.

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left: Genres,

2010, Oil on canvas, 26” x 38”

bottom left :

Bon Voyage, 2009, Oil on canvas, 30” x 40”

As a professor of art at Vanderbilt University, Porter tries to impart to his students that sense of yielding to the canvas. “I like to remind them that the thing they are making is the thing that is making them. Each piece is my totality in the moment it’s being made. The residue—the painting—is what is left over each time I’m finished with that process.” Working in his home studio almost nightly, into the late hours, Porter has amassed a prodigious amount of “residue” in his more-than-twenty-year career. It was a circuitous path to becoming a full-time painter for Porter. “I always remember that old quote, ‘Opportunity favors those who are prepared.’” Serendipity led Porter to fortuitous opportunities that he had the good sense to seize. Born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, he discovered rock and roll at the age of 14, then “got a job in a drugstore, saved above :

Painting Competition, 2008, Oil on canvas, 42” x 50”

left :

Backstage Flyby, 2008, Oil on canvas, 30” x 40”

my money, bought a drum set, taught myself how to play, and set off to be a musician.” The music took him on a long and satisfying career that allowed him to crisscross the country, with a long stint in clubs around the San Francisco Bay area. “I always had a sketchbook with me,” he notes. “I traveled all over and was constantly drawing.” He allowed a temporary setback to direct changes to come. “It was 1967; I was 25 or so and had been in Atlanta, where my drums and clothes were stolen. I came back to Knoxville to get an idea of what to do next, and a friend called with a job offer. I went to work for a few years as an exhibit technician at an art museum in Greenville, South Nashville Arts Magazine | September 2O1O

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left :

Early Morning Milk Run, 2010, Oil on canvas, 40” x 50”

bottom :

Smoke and Mirrors, 2009, Oil on canvas, 26” x 32”

Carolina. It was a wonderful chance to have time up close with all those art works.” He attended a workshop there with painter Elaine de Kooning and befriended the museum director, who had known Jasper Johns as a child in Georgia. “We traveled to New York and stayed with Johns in his studio,” Porter recalls. Rubbing elbows with Johns and his fellow artists made an indelible impression on Porter—one that he continues to explore in his work.

I had a thing about trucks— the idea of this thing that everybody sees but doesn’t really notice.

“I started out painting abstractly,” he notes. “Eventually, the representative aspects became more interesting to me than the formal aspects of the painting, although every work has abstract qualities throughout it.” In 1984 he entered Middle Tennessee State University as an undergraduate art student, at the age of 40. His talent was immediately evident and led to a meeting with discerning gallery owner Carol Stein, who was fascinated with his series of large canvases featuring the backs of big-rig trucks. “I had a thing about trucks—the idea of this thing that everybody sees but doesn’t really notice. I wanted to see it in a different way and capture that,” Porter says. “I was interested in the reflective quality of his work,” remembers Stein. “I also noticed that as he progressed through his truck series the trucks got smaller as the landscape enlarged around them.” Porter responds with a laugh, “They drove away— and finally just drove out of the paintings!” Porter remained, however, and has been represented by Cumberland Gallery from his undergraduate days through his graduate art studies at Ohio University, then back to Nashville and Vanderbilt. His paintings have been steadily in demand by private, university, and corporate collectors. “Everyone who owns a Porter work owns more than one,” notes Stein.   “I think my years as a professional jazz and R&B drummer, sitting behind all those other musicians, looking out at audiences, gave me plenty of time to think about what I wanted to say. You know drummers don’t say much, there at the back of the band,” Porter laughs. “I realized I could survive as an artist if I could survive as a musician—doing what I wanted to do, seeing things in a different way from most folks. I knew all along that one day I would be a painter. It was something I knew I had to do.”   An exhibition of Ron Porter’s work shows at Cumberland Gallery September 25–October 30. A reception for the artist will be held at the gallery Saturday, September 25, from 6 to 8 p.m. 48 | September 2O1O | Nashville Arts Magazine

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I love painting, but my best work on this earth will probably be as a teacher and mentor.

I am as a painter . . . . The more I paint, the more the portrait and the landscape converge.” Whitelaw shares that the speed of perception and brushstroke that she acquired during sittings as a portrait painter perfectly suit the ever-changing realm of the outdoors. “The effects happen so quickly outside. You are on the line to capture that moment.” Whitelaw’s landscapes are stunning bursts of color and broken lines. Lively brushstrokes and thick layers of paint lend spirit and movement to her canvases. Each image seems to capture a particular time and simultaneously meditate on a different feeling. As people, our interactions with nature are charged with emotion, and nature itself can roar and rage or gently caress us with its changing moods. Whitelaw has connected nature’s bold emotionalism with her own bright palette. Her landscape art develops like a journal in paint—every sensation from the scent of young pines to the flicker of sadness on a darkening day diffuses into the slashing bands of color on Whitelaw’s canvas. “I do a lot of drawings outside, and I make a lot of notes about what it smelled like, what it felt like. A photograph remembers everything—my pencil remembers what is important to me. If you look at a landscape, there are a lot of things you could include. I try to focus on one thought, and that one thought informs the painting. I just have to pour my heart into it.”

far left top:

Downhill, 14” x 11” On a Frosty Morn, 8” x 10” bottom left: Fall Flakes, 30” x 36” top: Spring Reigns, 12” x 16” above center: Stabilize, 11” x 14” left: Greenway, 9” x 14” top center:

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Trax, 11” x 14” Richland Spring, 12” x 16”


top right: center:

A Capitol Idea, 14” x 11” The Warmth of Winter, 24” x 36”

Photo: Jerry Atnip


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La Fruta by Heidi Evans

She churns the dust On the cracked steps— A battle with the breeze— As empty white shirts Rise and fall On the line in front Of the lemon tree. A boy runs to her And she pauses to kiss Each ripe cheek Before he disappears Through the carved door. Sighing at the settling cloud, She resumes her sweeping. Across the road, pesos for

Photo: Anthony Scarlati

A mango slush peppered in chile And the vendor smiles Around big white teeth, Squinting at me Without a sombrero.

Heidi Evans has been infatuated with language since her first poem in the third grade, which was penned in stilted cursive after a lot of windowgazing in class. After acquiring her MA in Creative Writing, she now teaches English at Nashville State Community College, writes a weekly anecdotal newspaper column based on her travels and experiences, and still considers daydreaming to be her most effective muse. She can be reached at “Hija, la disfrutas?” translates to, “Daughter, are you enjoying it?” But literally, disfruta means to take away (dis) the “fruit” (fruta) of a moment or experience.

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Orange drips down my fingers To cool my bare knee And a woman comes to sit, Sipping her own slush. She nods knowingly At the fountain in my hands: Hija, she says, ¿La disfrutas? Instead of answering I obey. Taking another bite, I let the ice dissolve On my tongue until I can feel the slippery string Of the sweet fruit. | 73


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My Favorite Painting

Tonia Trotter

Photo: Jerry Atnip

Director of The Rymer Gallery It’s hard for me to pick just one favorite painting, there are so many that I love, but Lydia and Her Brother by Brett Osborn has to be very near the top. Brett was one of the first artists we chose to represent when we opened The Rymer Gallery in downtown Nashville. He quickly became a sort of mentor to me in the early days of my career and has continued to be a wonderful friend.

resented, which creates a dreamlike mood in what is otherwise a realistic landscape. Most people think the figures in the painting are ghosts, but they are in fact memories of the people who once lived in the depicted scene. Lydia and Her Brother reminds me a lot of my sister and me when we were young. When I mentioned my love for this painting to Brett, he offered it to my husband and me as a gift. It is a simply stunning painting that speaks to me every day and There are so many details in this painting that are reminds me of the friendships I have developed over revealed as you look at it. All four seasons are rep- the course of my career and life in Nashville.

Artist Statement In my paintings, installations, and etchings I invent places that are rendezvous for myself: who I am now and who I was in the past. The iconography I select helps to intersect both a present sense of place and past memory. I often juxtapose elements from multiple seasons into a single work in order to create a sense of place without the specifics of time. The ghostly images are my relatives I position into a landscape that I create through memory and imagination. They function as markers in time without place. Thus the timeless place and placeless forms in a specific time form a world that is familiar and yet not specific. I want viewers to be able to project their own experience, memory, and history onto my work. I am not trying to create a place of beauty, although I have a specific aesthetic. My use of color and form function to represent a sensation. Brett Osborn is represented by The Rymer Gallery.

Lydia and Her Brother After the Wedding, by Brett Osborn 82 | September 2O1O | Nashville Arts Magazine

2010 September Nashville Arts Magazine