A Late Winter Snow â€˘ 9x12
LEIPER's CREEK GALLERY in Historic Leiper's Fork 4144 Old Hillsboro Rd, Franklin TN 37064 (615) 599-5102 or (615) 519- 1545 www.leiperscreekgallery.com
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FINE-ARTISAN GALLERY • LEIPER's FoRK,
photo: courtesy Seed Space
Everybody Wins Still from Benton-C Bainbridge's Super Long Play, captured on television set photo: courtesy Seed Space
Building Your Collection through Seed Space’s Community Supported Art by Kristin Juarez
ommunity Supported Art provides its 149 shareholders with unique artworks created by talented visual artists who call Nashville home.
The works they receive are surprising, often unconventional, and made by artists whose works are exhibited and collected around the world.
Jodi Hays' sculptures echo themes and motifs of her paintings photo: jerry atnip
Initiated by Seed Space, the Community Supported Art program (CSArt) is similar to the agricultural model but replaces vegetables with artwork. Removing the guesswork, the pressure, or financial strain of traditional collecting, the CSArt program provides a chance for art novice and expert alike to invest in local cultural production. By commissioning emerging and established artists, the program generates art that reflects Nashville’s unique cultural climate.
photo: jerry atnip
As a fundraising initiative, it is an innovative model where all parties are compensated. Artists are paid for their work, and shareholders’ donations are rewarded with art. Shareholders are also investing in Seed Space, the city’s only nonprofit space committed to exhibiting experimental contemporary artwork without the pressure of selling. In this incubator kind of program, artists are invited to make work specifically for the gallery. Focusing on installation, video, and performance-based work, Seed Space provides an opportunity for artists to stretch the boundaries of their practice and display it publicly. Because the exhibition and the work produced are often ephemeral, a printed catalogue accompanies each exhibition with text contributed by writers and curators from around the country. Echoing the mission of Seed Space, CSArt promotes artist experimentation that remains accessible for new audiences. For painter Jodi Hays, participating gave her the chance to work in a new medium, translating her paintings’ themes into three-dimensional sculptures. 10 | December 2O12 NashvilleArts.com
CSArt on display
Benton-C Bainbridge’s Super Long Play series put video into the hands of shareholders; an art form that is generally collected by specialists. Seed Space’s CSArt program removes contemporary art from its vacuum, reflecting and fostering the symbiotic relationship among the various roles and factors within visual art. By creating more stakeholders, CSArt helps creative communities grow stronger, strengthening a dynamic arts ecology that can benefit all of us. Seed Space and Nashville Arts Magazine are partnering for the CSArt Shareholder Pick-up Party Sunday, December 16, 4 to 6 p.m. at E.T. Burk. For more information visit www.seedspace.org/csart.
photo: Lucas Littlejohn
photo: John Guider
photo: John Guider
Vinyl Growth Rings, with Third Man Records logo in background, 2012, Enamel on vinyl, 12" x 12"
Looking Wild Herb Williams' latest exhibit puts natural secrets on display
Call of the Wild (detail), 2012, Crayons and mixed media, 84" x 180" x 22"
by Joe Nolan Herb Williams is a busy guy. The day I called him to get some information about his new exhibition at the Rymer Gallery, he was in the space helping to install another artist's show. Williams is the curator at the gallery, and the 5th Avenue hot spot has been the artist's home base since it opened in 2007. Williams has always been generous with his time and attention, and he immediately began filling me in on all the details of his December exhibition Call of the Wildâ€”which will also be Rymer's five-year anniversary show. Williams and I dove right into a quick, intense conversation about nature, music, technology, color, and biology. In Wild, Williams is concerned with making the invisible visible, referencing the unseen tides of electronic data that wash over our daily lives in order to remind viewers that nature has always been full of hidden intelligence. The Rymer Gallery will be dominated by a massive tree sculpture that viewers may recognize from its recent tenure at the Nashville International Airport. A trunk with two huge branches, the piece is covered in Williams' trademark colorful crayons. The idea here is that while we may see a tree in browns and greens, other creatures might see it in various spectra. Williams shows us his tree through the eyes of the five life-size crows that have gathered on one of the branches.
Call of the Wild (Fox), 2012, Enamel on illustration board, 24" x 36"
The piece I'm most excited about is titled Entry Call. It features a white wolf and a black wolf howling out a rainbow together. Williams' sketch of the piece caught my eye, but I won't know if the finished work makes the show until Williams' opening at the Rymer Gallery on December 1. Herb Williams' show, Call of the Wild, opens December 1 and will be on exhibit until January 26. www.herbwilliamsart.com www.therymergallery.com
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David Dahlquist’s Needle and Thread by Caroline Carlisle-Vincent, Public Art Project Coordinator n October 2, several hundred Nashville citizens and city officials gathered to celebrate the completion of an important new avenue of travel, the 28th/31st Avenue Connector Bridge. Artist David Dahlquist was chosen through
the public art process to integrate artwork into the project. He did so with Thread, a nod to sewing and quilting, traditional forms of connecting communities. Dahlquist met with community members during workshops held at Hadley Community Center in 2011 and asked participants to create quilt squares of their own. Their squares were inspired by their neighborhood, cultural background, personal histories, and families. Dahlquist then used the community quilt squares to inspire the design of the bridge artwork, which consists of more than 150 steel panels. A stainless steel “thread” weaves through the artwork and across the bridge, symbolically connecting two formerly separated neighborhoods and cultural areas. LED lights illuminate the bridge at night. In addition, Needle, comprised of two transit shelters designed and fabricated by Dahlquist, can be found on the south end of the bridge at Park Plaza. The shelters continue the thread symbolism and function as a gateway to the bridge.
For nearly half a century, two neighborhoods have been separated by natural and man-made barriers. Now each side is easily accessible by foot, bike, car, or bus. This complete street meets an overwhelming number of our city’s goals: wide sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes, and access to Centennial and Hadley Parks, as well as the opportunity to get up close and personal with this new gem in your growing Public Art collection! To find out more, visit www.artsnashville.org, Public Art. photo: Ian Myers
Thread is made up of more than 150 laser-cut, steel panels symbolizing quilt squares, patterns, threads, and knots.
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Billy Renkl, Field (second version), Mixed media, wooden beads, 25" x 35"
The Art of Community by Susan Knowles
Christine Patterson, Unbridled, Photograph with resins, 44" x 63"
elia Walker and I were thrilled to be invited to write the catalogue for The Art of Community: Janet and Jim Ayers' Collection of Tennessee Art. It was like being
given a wonderful gift: the perfect assignment for two Tennesseebased art historians and curators who have followed the careers of many of the artists over the years. Not only did we get to spend in-depth time with artists we have long admired, but Celia and I also met new artists who have arrived recently, or have come back home after years away, or who are just beginning their career paths. During the spring and summer of 2012, we traveled to large and small cities and hidden corners of the countryside to talk with as many of the artists as possible. On some of the hottest days of the year, the artists waited patiently while we held marathon interview days in Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville. The profiles we wrote, presented in lively and elegant two-page spreads designed by Becky Brawner, are based on those thirty-minute conversations. The Art of Community collection includes creative artists working in a variety of different media and styles, but all have one thing in common: lasting ties to Tennessee. We asked each artist the same questions: what prompts you to make your art, what do you hope people will gain from seeing it, and how do you imagine your creative future unfolding? Every turn of the page in The Art of Community reveals a different artistâ€™s words and artwork. Readers of the catalogue will find a fascinating and surprising range of answers to these simple but elemental questions. In our introductory essay we tried to point out some of the threads linking different artists in
April Street, An Avalanche of Bubbles..., Acrylic on canvas, 49" x 65"
the collectionâ€”motivations such as the preservation of a certain place and time, a reverence for nature, the curiosity to try new materials and methods, a desire to somehow contribute to society, and a sincere appreciation for things simple and profound. How well their responses matched their expressive works! Celia and I are delighted to have been part of this publication, a generous gesture by Janet and Jim Ayers that will bring some of Tennesseeâ€™s finest artists well-deserved public recognition. The Art of Community is available locally at Parnassus Books and The Arts Company. www.parnassusbooks.net
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Ode to Hokusai, 2010, Mixed media on board, 38" x 48"
Will is an Air Force brat who somehow managed to grow up mostly in the Nashville area. At his mother’s urgings, he started painting when he was still a youngster. One suspects he knew the Zone even back then, maybe by another name. He helped put himself through MTSU, major in art and design, by selling his drawings of historic Murfreesboro door to door in the very neighborhoods the drawings depicted. Life happened. Will flourished as an art director, designer, and entrepreneur. He now has a wife, a stepson, and his own home in Nashville. He paints steadily, at this point in life slip-sliding nimbly in and out of that holy of holies, the Zone. But unlike Sunday artists, Will doesn’t wait for the Zone to enrapture him. In fact, work has become the Zone, and work is not an ethereal, fugue state you wait around for so you can find an excuse to load your brush. “No magic to it, really,” he says. “I paint every day. I’m not a starving artist. I sell a lot of paintings. I even rent them. That one over there [he points to Nashville Cityscape No. 3] is in the new pilot TV show about Nashville.
Tunable Structure, 2009, Mixed media on board, 48" x 24"
“It’s all in the editing anyway,” he says. “Anybody can paint, but it’s what you do to the painting as it happens and after it’s already there that makes it come alive.” We move closer to Nashville Cityscape No. 3, Will leaning into the painting to show me how he works his surfaces. From a distance, the buildings look distorted, crowded, as if they were dancing. Nashville’s “Bat Building” bulges out from the rest as if through a very wide-angle lens. Perspectives are convoluted, lines not straight nor angles square, and there is a sense of agitation. Up close, however, the surface of the paint is scratched and even mutilated by hard edges, brush handles, pencils, whatever tools or weapons are at hand. The surface is carved, distressed, pulled and pushed around, mashed and molded as if it were clay or some pliable material, the resulting surfaces a moonscape of optical tricks. Then, as one moves back again away from the painting, one sees these micro effects merge into a frenzy of reflective surfaces, thousands of tiny 30 | December 2O12 NashvilleArts.com
Nashville Cityscape #2, 2010, Mixed media on board, 48" x 48"
mirrors leaning in all directions, collectively refracting the light in ways that make the whole image pulsate, crawl, squirm with hallucinatory motion—the “shimmering reality” of Buddhism and particle physics.
What Will is onto is a kinetic technique quite unlike anything I’ve seen. His abstract works echo the technique—from a distance, the joy of movement, but up close, the jagged chaos of movement itself. Precursors? Many. Da Vinci, Raphael, Munch, Turner, Van Gogh. Traditionally, though, movement has been suggested through the application of the paint itself, impasto, color, line, undercoats, and so on. But Will delivers a methodological hybrid limitless in its connotations, subtle on a macro scale but violent and a little fearsome on a micro scale. Perhaps a door has opened, and the continuing dialogue with the past that is art has turned another corner. “Art isn’t about anything but itself,” Will reminds me. “Any narrative gleaned from a painting is the viewer’s work. And they should work. I do. All I ask is that they pay as much attention to my paintings as they do to a song on the radio.
Nashville Cityscape #3, 2010, Mixed media on board, 48" x 48"
“Remember,” he says, “the scratch is the next drip.” Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Fireworks for David, 2010, Mixed media on board, 16" x 20"
Gesture in Blue, 2006, Mixed media on board, 48" x 36"
Riding with Pancho, 2011, Mixed media on board, 24" x 42" NashvilleArts.com
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The pairing of The Copper Fox and Alabama Chanin is as organic as the fabrics. “We handle American, handmade, artisan products, things that strike us as earthy, real, and authentic,” says owner David Fox. “Our motto is Art of the American Hand. That means the more local, the more American, and the more organic, the better.” Alabama Chanin, as Fox points out to me, has long been all those things—a high-fashion iteration of the farm-to-fork movement in some ways. She stresses the use of organic and American; her garments are painstakingly handcrafted by individual artisans, ranging from hobby hand sewers to former textile mill employees, who purchase kits from her and return finished (incredible) garments. When you pay couture prices for her work, you purchase a garment that will withstand time and wear, that will go into your washing machine. It may have been dyed using natural dyes by Nashville’s Southern Hue. It was constructed of organic cotton grown in Texas, spun in North Carolina, and woven in South Carolina. A few moments in her Florence atelier, and you start to get it: Intricate pieces are cut from the patterns made for each garment; prototypes for new garments are tried in house; fabrics, trims, beading, and embellishments are chosen. In a back room, garment pieces are painstakingly stenciled with layouts for cutwork and embroidery.
photo: anthony scarlati
The Barn that Art Built R
alph Lauren could learn a thing or two from David Arms. Arms, one of Nashville’s foremost
visual artists, demonstrates his finesse, style, and expertise beyond the brush in his latest oeuvre: the David Arms Gallery at the Barn at Leiper’s Fork. Rest assured, the artist is still producing his thoughtful, symbol-rich acrylics on canvas. But in addition to paintings, he has established a jewel of a gallery in which to sell them. “As a child, I loved tobacco barns,” the East Tennessee native says. “I worried that my kids would grow up not knowing what barns are.” You have a clear sense of Arms’ viewpoint the moment you drive up to the Barn, the first building you see on the right as you drive into town. An event designer (think Swan Ball) in his previous life, Arms has created an entire experience that extends from the moment you set foot on the property to the time you stand inside the just-so-sized 900-squarefoot space and gaze through the back windows into the pastureland. The first time he saw the barn, which was about 75 percent renovated at the time, “my knees went weak,” he recalls. He had been seeking a place where he could show his art the way he envisioned it, that was warm and honest. Prior to setting foot into the restored barn, your senses are welcomed by the aroma of burning wood from the metal fire pit just off the front porch. The porch itself is clad in jaunty
Still, 2012, Acrylic on wood, 13" x 14"
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by Emme Nelson Baxter
plaid draperies. The interior space boasts an Amish poplar floor, beams from a tobacco barn, metal schoolhouse lights, and walls of bead board with vestiges of paint and paper still adhering. Velvet draperies separate one portion of the room from another while floral linen curtains frame windows. A bar area was fashioned from an old door. The effect is clean yet earthy.
The gallery is the antithesis of the stereotypical intimidating, white-walled space that most purveyors of fine art tend to embrace. Ambient music morphs from Americana to Moonlight Sonata. Outside, black-capped chickadees, wrens, and sparrows munch on sunflower seeds at a feeder as if cued by a higher power to add to the natural ambience. The gallery inventory is a surprising olio in addition to the original paintings, giclees, and notecards one might expect to find. The mix includes handmade neckwear constructed from vintage fabrics; books, coffee mugs, Bible verses on wood, and candles whose scent is identified as “Studio.” Even Arms’ cell phone ring tone—a pleasant warble from some unspecified avian source—contributes to the mood.
I Will Trust, 2012, Acrylic on wood, 14" x 18"
Arms opened the gallery a little over a year ago. He pulled out of all his other art galleries—save the Anne Irwin Gallery in Buckhead—and today finds it amusing that he is represented in “Leiper’s Fork and Atlanta.” The David Arms Gallery at the Barn at Leiper’s Fork is located at 4136 Old Hillsboro Road. www.davidarms.com
At first blush, these elements seem unrelated. Their cohesion comes from Arms’ nature. He is a Tennessean, an artist who wears jeans and bow ties, a bibliophile, a consummate imbiber of French-press coffee, and a self-proclaimed man of faith. The merchandise is his line of lifestyle products. “It is a complete experience to appeal to every sense,” Arms notes. Familiar symbols in the artist’s work are everywhere: nests, eggs, birds, fruits, white linens, perches, numbers, and vessels. “Many symbols I use have been used throughout art history, but a number of them l use because they ‘make visual’ the world as l see it,” he explains.
Trust, 2012, Acrylic on wood, 17" x 22"
Dwell, 2012, Acrylic on wood, 27" x 47"
Beautiful Abundance, 2012, Acrylic on wood, 27" x 37" NashvilleArts.com
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photo: anthony scarlati
Lady in the Dark •
opposite: Mack the Knife, 2009, Oil on panel, 16" x 24"
Beth Foley by Bob Doerschuk
rowing up in Philadelphia, Beth Foley developed a love for literature and film along with a set of childhood fearsâ€”all indicative of an active, fertile imagination.
An undistinguished student, she felt she had no resources with which she could translate what was going on inside of her into any kind of creative expression.
Berliners, 2011, Oil on panel, 11" x 14"
In her early twenties, that changed when she decided to focus seriously on drawing and painting. "I'd never displayed any talent when I was a kid," she says. "I just started doing it because I wanted to wear work shirts and carry around a portfolio."
"I paint a lot of dark scenarios," she says. "Usually murder or some terrible thing is happening. Usually it involves somebody naked, especially women. Nudes are something I do really well, but I don't do them unless there's a reason. I won't say oh here's another nude picture.
The irony of her humor and her fascination with the imminence of danger found outlets as she studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. She found her mentor there in Will Barnet. "He was my favorite because we have a similar aesthetic," Foley says. "I liked the Northern Renaissance painters, and he was always talking about them. He was very supportive of what I did."
"It's sort of anachronistic," Foley admits. "A lot of the scenes take place in Nashville. I always paint what's around me. When I need people to be without clothes on, I use models. I wouldn't ask my friends to do that. But when I use characters who are dressed, I prefer to paint somebody I know.â€? Childhood fears underlie the images in some of Foley's newer paintings. One in particular came to mind while she was down with swine flu several years back. "I was thinking about fairy tales that I could read or that were told to me as a kid, especially because a lot of them are Germanic," she remembers. "The Germanic
After graduating from PAFA and exhibiting briefly in Philadelphia, Foley moved to the San Francisco Bay area. The Joseph Chowning Gallery represented her there until 1995 when she moved with her family to New York. A Nashville resident since 1998, Foley has kept a somewhat low local profile. She has shown at the Zeitgeist Gallery and had two paintings in Real Illusions: Contemporary Art from Nashville Collections at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in 2002. For eight years, she has been represented exclusively by the Ann Nathan Gallery in Chicago. Foley's style stands on a strong technical foundation. Her execution is extraordinarily precise; if there is a lawn in the picture, it will include individual blades of grass in the foreground. Using oil on flat board, Foley applies her appreciation for the Renaissance with vivid color fields and flat perspective. Her fascination with darker corners of the human soul catalyzes her narrative content and ominous but compelling imagery.
The Last Straw, 2007, Oil on panel, 19" x 25" NashvilleArts.com
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Nick Dantona Travels East, Crossing the Spice Roads Story and photography by Nick Dantona
he morning Call to Prayer echoes down the ancient streets of Istanbul and signals the faithful to gather. Others linger at the local Starbucks. There
are ten thousand years of Turkish history to understand . . . Iâ€™m here for three weeks. I have spent nearly a month following the Spice Roads of eastern and central Turkey with my guide and noted social anthropologist Elif Camlikaya. This is hardly enough time to fully comprehend civilizations of a distant past she has brought back to life across these sacred lands. Their stories feature an All-Star Cast: Alexander the Great, King Midas, Suleiman the Magnificent, Emperor Constantine of Rome, Saints Peter and Paul, Mark Antony and Cleopatra, just to name some of the headliners. All of them walked Turkeyâ€™s hallowed ground, and their deeds shaped history and much of the world we live in today. above: The Sultan Ahmed Mosque also known as The Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles that adorn its interior. It was built from 1609-1616 AD. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a school, health care facilities and public canteen for the poor.
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I learn from Elif that cultural distinctions and divisiveness began when people developed the capacity to produce beyond what they could use immediately. It seems the desire to have more has always been the catalyst to form discrete groups as a way to centralize the wealth—which leads us to the Silk Roads. They are a map of migration, conquest, and the absorption of cultures. Fifty miles from Iran, in the city of Van, we are joined by Mehmet Kusman, one of thirtyfour people in the world who can decipher the cuneiforms of the Urartian civilization which fused these groups and their beliefs into a powerful cohesive nation 7,500 years ago.
The Mona Lisa of Mosaics: Gypsy Girl served as home decor 2,100 years ago.
On to the ruins of Ani along the Armenian border and a major Spice Roads junction: This fifth-century “City of 1001 Churches” featured buildings and palaces that were amongst the most technically and artistically advanced structures in the world. Crossing into central Turkey, we stop at Cappadocia whose antiquity reveals itself through wild geological formations. But the real story lies within this sci-fi landscape of Fairy Chimneys. It is here that early Christians created vast underground cities for themselves, their livestock and grain as protection from Roman persecution. Among these locals is a national treasure and Master Potter, Galip Korukcu. This eccentric Einstein look-alike and his studio produce gorgeous ceramic plates and clay pottery etched with the patterns of the ages tempered with contemporary design.
The intoxicating aromas of the Spice Bazaar with its hundreds of shops is the center of the spice trade in Istanbul.
The surrealistic landscape of Cappadocia is the result of intense volcanic eruptions and geological forces. Early Christians found sanctuary within its soft rock. 70 | December 2O12 NashvilleArts.com
World-renowned Master Potter, Galip Korukcu. Much of his work is influenced by the Hittites.
Murals of the Sumela Monastery, dating back to the 4th century, are a stunning example of early Christian iconography.
The Spice Roads now lead us south to Gaziantep, where I’ll leave our story at one of Turkey’s most vibrant cities. This is the home of the world’s largest collection of historical mosaics. These Roman relics are the stunning floor and wall decorations of the villas built 2,100 years ago. Among them is the “Mona Lisa of Mosaics,” Gypsy Girl. Her sideways glance remains as mysterious and endearing as the enigmatic smile of Da Vinci’s famous sitter. There is so much more to this journey. But already Elif Camlikaya has taught me this much: The Silk Roads paved the way for the growth of human development, the expansion of society’s reach, and the interlacing of diverse cultures. So many of today’s nations, people, and beliefs are the current face of that history. For more information about Nick Dantona visit www.ndantona.com.
The Sabanci Merkez Camii is the largest mosque in Turkey. The mosque went into service in 1998 and can accommodate 28,500 worshipers.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, King Antiochus’ temple is a personal gesture of immortality as he is featured along with twelve gigantic statues of various gods.
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~trtnitt lfai~on路路. ANTIQUES
WorkSpaces: Artists' Studios photo: jerry atnip
An Exhibition of Photography by Jerry Park
f life is a sum of all your choices, then Jerry Park is racking up the numbers right now. Park spent his career in corporate sales working in a rigidly defined,
impersonal office space. In 2010 he began WorkSpaces, a series of photographs featuring his co-workers’ attempts to personalize their sterile spaces. He continues his curiosity about workspaces in his latest and ongoing photography series, WorkSpaces: Artists’ Studios. Park turned his attention to photography full time after retirement and decided he wanted to shoot artists’ creative places. After being encouraged by Zeitgeist’s Lain York and The Arts Company’s Anne Brown, he put his background in sales to use and hit the streets to make contacts and meet artists. “Sometimes artists would say no, but I would pick up the phone and try someone else until I got a yes.” His efforts have paid off. Since spring of 2012, Park has been visiting artists in their studios and watching them at work. He learned that some considered their studios sacred spaces for making art, while others felt they could make art just about anywhere. He composes his shots by looking carefully at the arrangement of tools, materials, lighting, and other objects and seeks to capture their relative importance to the artist, although he never includes them in the photograph. “By looking at their space,” he says, “you can learn about the artist and their work.” Park has photographed over forty studios in the Nashville area and has no plans to stop. His decision to follow his curiosity allowed him to enter workspaces very rarely seen—until now, that is. This exhibit is curated by Lain York of Zeitgeist Gallery and Anne Brown of The Arts Company. by Sara Lee Burd Jerry Park’s exhibit WorkSpaces: Artists’ Studios opens at The Arts Company December 1. www.theartscompany.com www.jerryparkphotography.com.
Emily Leonard's quonset hut studio in the woods behind her house. She and her husband were married in a clearing just outside the rear door. 80 | December 2O12 NashvilleArts.com
Every surface is white inside and outside Myles Maillie's home, nothing to compete with or distract from the vivid colors so prevalent in his bold paintings.
Michael Shane Neal
Painter Shane Neal’s traditional approach to portraiture shows up in this warm, classically designed space.
For artist Harry Underwood, the space he uses, currently the living room of his house, takes a far-to-the-rear back seat to the art itself.
Butler adopts animals, lots of animals, all kinds of animals. Butler paints animals. Animals are part of the family and everywhere you turn, so…they're all over this photograph.
This large room is needed to house sculptor Alan LeQuire’s work on giant torsos, busts and other pieces. One of only two studios with an attached gallery for other artists’ work.
Jim McGuire had a 25 ft. sq. part of the roof of his converted industrial space removed and replaced it with a huge skylight and pulley-operated “shade” to control the natural light during his photography shoots.
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Hits the Road Again by Cynthia Bullinger
arrative painters are not unusual. It is rare, however,
to find one who travels the country telling his stories and selling his work. Mr. Hooper takes the road less traveled in the art world. Unlike many artists who primarily make sales through galleries, Mr. Hooper sells 75–80 percent of his paintings at art fairs throughout the country. In 2012 alone he traveled from Denver’s prestigious Cherry Creek Art Festival to Atlanta’s Inman Park Festival. Hooper hit the road early in his career. He notes, “My first show was May 1999, the Howard Finster Festival in Summerville, Georgia. At the time I had just started painting and was a big fan of American folk/outsider art, in particular Howard Finster’s.” That experience set him on the road. At times Hooper’s entry into a festival can seem challenging, as he is a self-described introvert. At home he spends days interacting with no one other than his wife, Krista. At the fairs, he speaks with thousands of people over the course of a weekend. Fortunately, he spins stories that captivate his listeners, a quality apparent in his work as well.
Hank Williams, 2012, Acrylic on wood, 40" x 30"
Hooper incorporates pop culture icons or historical figures into his work.
Pop culture is almost like folklore. It gives us something that we all have in common.
Hooper’s isolated characters are torn from their environment, and subtle visual cues serve to tell their stories. In Bull Lee (William S. Burroughs), Burroughs stands on a dirt road with a bull, referencing his pseudonym in Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road. The visual effect is powerful in its starkness while still conveying Mr. Hooper’s playfulness. Hooper doesn’t randomly choose his figures. He delves into their lives and knows their stories, then paints a retelling of a situation. In Churchill, Winston Churchill stands holding a slingshot, a reference to the position Britain found itself in when up against the German war machine. At the fairs, Hooper attracts a lot of history buffs.
Churchill, 2011, Acrylic on wood, 18" x 18"
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Hooper takes into account his work’s appeal to a niche market. When selecting fairs he needs to know whether the show will work for him or not. “I am a little bit of an oddball out there at the art fairs. You see a lot of traditional painters, photographers, and potters out on the art fair circuit. What you don’t see are a lot of artists who work like I do. I rely on other artists who have participated in a given show to let me know if it is my crowd or not. Usually I need to be in an urban environment where people are more likely to have experienced artwork that is a little out of the box.” Selling one’s own work puts an artist in the direct line of criticism, which is often unfiltered. Hooper relates, “I had a big cowboy dude tell me that my work was ‘complete crap.’ I thought about punching the dude, but I am glad to say that I did not. My response to negative commentary is, well, it is not for everyone. And that is the truth of the matter. Not everyone is going to get what I do. Some people don’t get it, and they want me to know they don’t get it. Others don’t get it, and they just keep walking.” Being on the front line also has its advantages. Hooper hears the praise as well. “Sometimes people tell me that my paintings are the best thing in the fair,” says Hooper. “I like when people email me after the show to tell me how much they enjoyed my work.” Selling the work is the goal and the added bonus, of course. Affirmation is not the only rewarding feedback. Hooper sees himself as part of the art continuum.
The absolute best thing that happens at an art fair is when a geeky, art-school teen comes up and wants to talk all about painting, the process and inspiration. The reason that is the best is because I can totally see myself in that kid.
Mr. Hooper never intended to be a painter who operated under a pseudonym. In college he had a teacher who addressed students by their last names. The parallel between his being Mr. Hooper and the character Mr. Hooper on Sesame Street caused his classmates to snicker, recalling the market owner whom Big Bird would often call by names that rhymed with Hooper. The nickname stuck. He began to sign prints, and eventually paintings, with Mr. Hooper. His given name is Tim Hooper, but you may call him Mr. Hooper— everyone else does. The ability to weather the art fair circuit all boils down to attitude. “When the weekend is over, you take stock of it all,” Hooper observes. “Funny stuff happens. People are weird. People probably think I’m weird. And I probably am.” For more information about Mr. Hooper and his work, visit www.mrhooperart.com
Bull Lee (William S. Burroughs), 2012, Mixed media on wood, 30" x 40"
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photo: joshua black-wilkins
my favorite painting
Jackson Artist, sculptor, and dog lover
have always had a love affair with a specific moment and place in art history. The late nineteenth century was a magical
time in Paris. In a city with a population of less than a million people (fewer than now live in Nashville), a group of impoverished artists revolutionized the world of art: names like Monet, Renoir, Degas, Rodin, Van Gogh, Gauguin. Now art royalty, but then, on any given evening, one can imagine wandering into a late night cafe and any or all of those fellows could conceivably be gathered around a single table, loudly sharing stories and opinions and their ideas about art.
Frederick Trap Friis, born in Sweden in 1865, moved to Paris where he painted and, I assume, frequented the same haunts, brothels, and taverns. Did he know the impressionists? Who knows? But he certainly was aware of and taken with their new vision for art, because when he moved to New York in 1890, he had clearly embraced impressionism. Twenty years or so ago, while attending the Lawn and Garden Show at the convention center, I caught him staring back at me from across the room, lost among the flowers and still lifes and landscapes. I studied this self-portrait, and its price tag, and decided it was a piece I could live without. But it followed me home, etched into my memory, and I found myself thinking about it more and more, irresistibly drawn back until finally I located the painting and discovered it hadn't yet been purchased. So I went back to see it again and, even though it was ridiculously beyond my budget, I realized I had to have it and finally made a deal with the gallery to pay them $50 a month, for what felt like forever. Frederick Trap Friis left Paris for New York in 1890. Then, as now, his work was under appreciated, under known, and under priced. Consequently he spent his years in New York working as a commercial designer and illustrator, and painting took a back seat to earning a living. But he continued to paint, never exhibiting his work, and at the time of his death in 1909, he had produced more than 150 paintings, 23 sketchbooks, and numerous graphics. In 1990, a descendant found a cache of paintings in an attic, had them restored, and put them out for auction. This self-portrait was one of the last paintings of the lot to sell because, as the gallery owner said, "People just don't buy self-portraits.â€?
Frederick Trap Friis, Self-Portrait
In recent decades, Mr. Friis' work has slowly been gaining the respect it always deserved. He is now listed as one of the important American impressionists, and his name turns up with Whistler, Cassatt, Chase and others. He also was chosen for an important impressionist retrospective in Paris, and his paintings finally hung alongside my heroes Degas, Monet, and Van Gogh.
102 | December 2O12 NashvilleArts.com