ISSUE 77 BIYO
8 C1TY BLVD
Design + Nature 3D Printed Stage Canopy
Thirty-five years ago, engineers created and perfected the process we now know as 3D printing. Whether used to make life-saving medical devices, fine art, or superhero figurines, 3D printing represents the limitless potential that occurs when creativity meets technological innovation. oneC1TY honors this interplay between art and engineering with the oneC1TY stage. Not only is our stage canopy one of the worldâ€™s largest 3D printed structures, itâ€™s also the outdoor anchor of a community rooted in innovative, holistic, and creative living. Like the invention of 3D printing, we hope oneC1TY encourages the makers, businesses, and artists among us to stay curious and creative.
JOIN US FOR A #DANGEROUSLYGOOD TIME
TOURS & TASTINGS VENUE RENTALS SMALL GROUP RESERVATIONS FARM FRESH MENU INNOVATIVE COCKTAILS GLUTEN-FREE. FRESH-PRESSED. NO ADDED SUGARS. NOTHING ARTIFICIAL. YOU'RE WELCOME. Join the Diskin Cider Community for updates, exclusive content, merch, contests and so much more.
1235 Martin Street (Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood) | 615.248.8000 | www.diskincider.com |
NATIVE NASHVILLE â€ƒ
Cold beer is still great during winter.... our Nitro Coffee is, too! Nashville's Iced Coffee Microbrewery w w w. s w i t t e r s c o f f e e . c o m NATIVE NASHVILLE
@frankotero Photo: @mandyh0we
A BARBERSHOP FOR MEN & WOMEN OF ALL AGES WA L K I N A N Y D AY O F T H E W E E K F O R A Q U A L I T Y C U T O R S T Y L E
$15 BUZZ | $27 STYLE CUT GERMANTOWN - FRANKLIN - E. NASHVILLE - SYLVAN PARK - THE GULCH | WWW.SCOUTSBARBERSHOP.COM NATIVE NASHVILLE
CONTENTS ISSUE 77
THE GOODS 15 Beer from Here 19 Cocktail of the Month 22 Master Platers 67 You Oughta Know 73 Itâ€™s Only Natural 78 Shooting the Shit
FEATURES 28 Biyo 36 2018 NATIVE Gift Guide
48 No Quarter 58 Josh Elrod
58 NATIVE NASHVILLE
BEHIND THE ISSUE: 2018 NATIVE GIFT GUIDE
Like death, taxes, and shitty Netf lix originals, the holidays are something you can’t escape. Regardless of what’s going on in this weird country, you can always count on a whole lot of eating, shopping, and family gatherings happening in November and December. In a way, the routine is comforting: it’s nice to be reminded there’s some kind of order and regularity in this day and age. Plus, a little time off work never hurt anyone, and we really love any excuse to eat and do nothing. Gluttony and sloth aside, though, the holidays can also be really hard for a whole host of reasons. Maybe they remind you of a time or place you’re not too psyched to revisit; maybe your relationship with your family is, um, complicated; maybe they make you think of someone who isn’t here anymore; or maybe they simply make you wonder how you got to where you are now. Contrast any of those feelings with the joy and cheer that it seems like everyone is displaying for the entirety of December, and it can be a lot to handle. As LCD Soundsystem aptly said, “Christmas will break your heart / If your world is feeling small / There’s no one on the phone / You feel close enough to call.” So this holiday season, we ask that you keep your heart (and inboxes) open to those around you—even if you’re surrounded by Scrooges. We don’t know what baggage the holidays can bring into people’s lives, but we do know that one kind gesture can make this trying time of year a little better for those around you. And—shameless plug alert here—if you really want to make the holidays cheery for someone special, check out our 2018 NATIVE Gift Guide, starting on page 36. Just like we can rely on the holidays coming back year after year, we can always rely on longtime NATIVE contributor Danielle Atkins (she cooks, styles, and shoots our Master Platers recipe every month, and she’s shot countless features for us) to crush any assignment. This year’s gift guide was no exception. Many thanks to all the businesses that contributed items to the guide this year—here’s to Christmas not breaking your heart!
PRESIDENT, FOUNDER: PUBLISHER, FOUNDER: OPERATIONS MANAGER:
ANGELIQUE PITTMAN JON PITTMAN JOE CLEMONS
EDITOR IN CHIEF: COPY EDITOR:
CHARLIE HICKERSON DARCIE CLEMEN
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: ART DIRECTOR:
MARKETING AND DESIGN INTERN:
HANNAH LOVELL COURTNEY SPENCER
SENIOR ACCOUNT REPRESENTATIVE:
EVENTS AND ACTIVATIONS COORDINATOR: HUNTER CLAIRE ROGERS ACCOUNT REPRESENTATIVE/ ADMINISTRATIVE COORDINATOR: PAIGE PENNINGTON PRODUCTION MANAGER:
HANNAH DEITZ CHANCE JARVIS
LANCE CONZETT JONAH ELLER-ISAACS COOPER BREEDEN
NICK BUMGARDNER DANIELLE ATKINS BRETT WARREN DANIEL CHANEY ZACHARY GRAY EMILY DORIO
MACKENZIE MOORE JOSHUA SIRCHIO TAYLOR RABOIN
FOUNDER, BRAND DIRECTOR:
FOR ALL INQUIRIES:
3431 Murphy Rd - dosenashville.com
@DOSENASHVILLE NATIVE NASHVILLE
2316 12th Ave S - (615) 292-7766 @josephineon12th - www.josephineon12th.com photo by Michael Sati
WITH CHARLIE HICKERSON Editor in Chief at NATIVE Beer Name: Coconut White Chocolate Macadamia Brown Brewery: Southern Grist Brewing Co Style: Brown Ale ABV: 5.4% Food Pairing: Thanksgiving dinner (e.g. turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole) Appearance: Dark brown with a beige head Aroma: White chocolate, roasted nuts Where to Find It: Southern Grist East Nashville or Nations Taprooms Overall Takeaways: In the excellent Netflix docuseries Salt Fat Acid Heat, host Samin Nosrat, who grew up in an Iranian household, says of her first American Thanksgiving: “I loved the turkey and stuffing, but there was hardly anything acidic to cut through the richness of all the food. So I kept spooning cranberry sauce over everything.” Nosrat has a point. Most Thanksgiving dinners are comprised entirely of gout-inducing fare (hate to break it to you, but tryptophan isn’t making you sleepy after eating at Granny’s—it’s the 3,000-calorie carboload). So when it comes to pairing dishes, Thanksgiving-ers are left with two options: balance that heaping plate of stuffing with something like cranberry sauce (lame), or say fuck it and double down on the richness (yes). If you’re like me and (often regrettably) always go for the latter option, I suggest washing down that third slice of pumpkin pie with something equally as rich: Southern Grist’s Coconut White Chocolate Macadamia Brown. The beer immediately imparts big, bold chocolate notes that melt into a nutty, candy-ish finish. Then, when you think it’s done, a subtle hint of coconut rounds out this brown. Think of it like the end of an Almond Joy. Will this beer cut through the fat, carbs, and starches you’re going to nervously mainline as your uncle talks about Trump? No. It’s actually going to do the opposite and harmonize with all those flavors. But more importantly, it’ll put you in an ephemeral, opium-like state of bliss—a bliss that reminds you it’s okay to occasionally do too much around people you love. And if that isn’t something to be thankful for, I don’t know what is.
hifibooth.com NATIVE NASHVILLE
THROUGH THE WOODS
BY NATHANAEL MEHRENS BEVERAGE DIRECTOR, STAY GOLDEN
PHOTO BY NICK BUMGARDNER
THE GOODS 50 ml Koval Cranberry Gin Liqueur 10 ml lime juice 5 ml ginger syrup 5 ml simple syrup 2 dashes Angostura bitters 70 ml Matchless Coffee Soda
DIRECTIONS Add the gin, lime juice, ginger syrup, simple syrup, bitters, and ice to a shaker and shake. Pour everything (including the ice) into a 12-ounce highball glass. Top with coffee soda and garnish with evergreen.
READY TO WEAR AND MADE TO MEASURE FASHION JUST FOR YOU
HOLIDAY COLLECTION AVAILABLE NOW 100 TAYLOR ST. SUITE C3 - LILYGUILDERDESIGN.COM Photo credit: Jennifer Stalvey | Model: Nina Covington
MASTER PL ATERS
BY SARAH SOUTHER FOUNDER AND OWNER OF THE BANG CANDY COMPANY
PHOTOS BY DANIELLE ATKINS
SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
5 sweet potatoes 2 tbsp butter 1 sprig fresh rosemary 1 sprig fresh sage 1 large yellow onion, diced 5 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/8 tsp cumin salt and pepper to taste zest of half an orange 1 1/2 cups Vanilla, Orange Ginger Cinnamon, or Chocolate Chili Bang Candy Marshmallows 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prick the sweet potatoes and bake them for 60–90 minutes, until they’re soft and oozing (place a sheet pan on the rack below to catch any liquid). Allow the potatoes to cool enough to touch, then slice them open and scoop out the flesh into a large bowl. In a large sauté pan, brown the butter over medium heat. Add the rosemary and sage and stir until the herbs become fragrant. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent, lowering the heat if needed to avoid browning. Once the onions are cooked, add the cinnamon, cumin, and salt and pepper and stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat. Remove the rosemary and sage and discard. Stir in the orange zest. Mash the sweet potatoes. Add the potatoes to the onion mixture and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish and top with the marshmallows and hazelnuts. Bake for 30 minutes or until the marshmallows are golden brown.
AMIGO THE DEVIL w/ HARLEY POE & SOVIET SHIKSA - THE HIGH WATT BLUE OCTOBER w/ KNOX HAMILTON - CANNERY BALLROOM VUNDABAR w/ ILLUMINATI HOTTIES & THAT'S MY KID - THE HIGH WATT MEWITHOUTYOU w/ SMIDLEY & DAVEY AND THE CHAINS - MERCY LOUNGE MY SO-CALLED BAND - MERCY LOUNGE RUMOURS: A FLEETWOOD MAC TRIBUTE - MERCY LOUNGE HARRY HUDSON w/ JP SAXE - THE HIGH WATT HAR EMMA RUTH RUNDLE w/ JAYE JAYLE - THE HIGH WATT FRONT COUNTRY & THE WOOKS w/ ASHLEIGH CAUDILL - THE HIGH WATT JOSH GARRELS w/ CHRIS RENZEMA - CANNERY BALLROOM THE GARDEN w/ LE1F & MACHINE GIRL - THE HIGH WATT ARLIE w/ BRISTON MARONEY - MERCY LOUNGE JORJA SMITH w/ RAVYN LENAE - CANNERY BALLROOM RISING APPALACHIA - MERCY LOUNGE AP STEVEN WILSON - CANNERY BALLROOM GOOD OLD WAR w/ BETA RADIO & ALLMAN BROWN - THE HIGH WATT POST ANIMAL - MERCY LOUNGE JD SIMO - MERCY LOUNGE
by LANCE CONZETT photos BRETT WARREN
After a decade in the music industry, synth duo Biyo is marching to the beat of their own (808) drum NATIVE NASHVILLE
YOU’D BE FORGIVEN IF YOU THOUGHT BIYO APPEARED
out of thin air. The future R&B duo have exactly six recorded songs to their name—including “Juke,” their first new song in a year—amounting to just under nineteen minutes of music. And yet, they played both Bonnaroo and Forecastle, toured with Washed Out across the Southeast, and packed the creative coworking space WELD nearly to capacity for a single release party last year. “This past year was such a . . . I just felt so lucky all year,” singer Grayson Proctor tells me from his living room. “I had the biggest imposter syndrome. We should not be here! Like this is wild.” Proctor is at home, a former girls’ school turned apartment building near Zanies on 8th Avenue. It’s the one building on the street that doesn’t look like it was built within the past six weeks—a squat brick bungalow on its second life, living in constant threat from the surrounding townhouses and ultra-modern duplexes. In a way, Biyo is Proctor’s second life as well. Formed in 2016 by Proctor and keyboardist Sam English, Biyo is an outgrowth of Proctor and English’s decade-spanning tenure in the Columbia, Tennessee, rock outfit Vinyl Thief. “When I moved from Texas, they were already a band called Friday Special. They were like an instrumental band and then the youth pastor was like, ‘You guys could be a worship band. You need a singer. Grayson just moved here.’ So, he paired me with them and it just went from there.” Proctor was just fifteen when he joined Vinyl Thief. Before that he ran concert lighting for his uncle, Christian Contemporary artist and Gaither Vocal Band member David Phelps. “When I was thirteen, he handed me a manual to a lighting console and was like, ‘I just fired my lighting guy, will you do it?’ And I was like, ‘Sure!’” Vinyl Thief was a capital R rock band, writing and
recording songs that sounded more like The Killers than the shape-shifting, contemporary pop music that Proctor and English now make as Biyo. They tussled in Road to Bonnaroo, found themselves in regular Lightning 100 rotation, and fit neatly into a groove that had been worn by fellow local pop rock outfits like Paper Route, Wild Cub, and COIN. Before the band ended in 2016, Vinyl Thief represented nearly half of Proctor’s life. There’s a reason why university professors often take a sabbatical after seven years—the accumulated burnout can make you feel like you’re drowning. Add personal crisis to that burnout, and the pressure can reach astonishing levels. “I think I just had a lot of things building up that I wasn’t dealing with in my head. Like my mom passed away from breast cancer five or six years ago,” Proctor says. “We were literally on tour in Jacksonville, Florida, the night that I got the call that she went in the hospital. And so we rushed home, drove all night that night. But that was the way I got through it in the immediate time. I just worked. And just focused in on that. Like nonstop, obsessively . . . So I never took a moment to grieve or really deal with any of those feelings at all. And I think it just started to build up over two years.” With Biyo, Proctor and English have completely shifted out of the mode of being in an ambitious rock band, climbing the music industry ladder, always chasing the next big career move. Instead, they’re moving more slowly, only putting out material when they feel like it. The trickling output of new music is intentional—a total change of perspective from the previous ten years. “Early on we had a vision like we wanted to be this massive rock band. So, we were just, you know, train tracks straight ahead like pushing towards that as hard as we could,” Proctor tells me about playing in Vinyl Thief. “Biyo, so far, has been . . . really all about having an idea and it not having to follow a rule book.” NATIVE NASHVILLE
Moments before our interview, Biyo released their first song in a year, a minute-and-fifty-secondlong piano tune that abruptly transforms into lush lo-fi beatmaking. There’s not much to it, but that’s also what makes it a remarkable piece of music—the minimalism in “Juke” brings all of the disparate elements to the forefront, allowing the listener to absorb and ponder them as both component parts and a complete product. It creates space for thought. Also, it’s a solid bop that drinks deep from curious, of-themoment sounds. The song and music video were released suddenly and without fanfare on a Twitter account that had been conspicuously cleared of its history. That, according to music industry veterans and countless Belmont professors, isn’t how you’re supposed to do things. “Over the past year, we were told a lot, ‘No, you can’t. There needs to be a rollout plan, like logistics and stuff like that.’ And we had that a bit in Vinyl Thief too,” Proctor says. “This project is just more about
like just making the thing and then putting it out and feeling the freedom to continue on to make the next thing.” That style of release takes direct inspiration from reclusive electronic artist Jai Paul, whose two officially released songs, “BTSTU” and “Jasmine,” arguably influenced the past decade of DIY pop music. There’s a lot of “Jasmine” in Biyo’s work, particularly in their quietest moments. For example, “Bliss,” the duo’s first release, undulates with electronic frequencies, letting Proctor’s vocals melt into synthesizer textures. It isn’t just the scarcity that sets Biyo apart from the work that Proctor and English did in Vinyl Thief. As the two shied away from local rock, they found themselves in the middle of a growing community of pop and electronic artists trying to find their own way. Kaptan, who opened the last Vinyl Thief show at Mercy Lounge, was the gateway to pop and R&B artists like Milly Roze. In their infancy, Biyo even did a January 2016 remix of Kaptan’s “Everything.” “I’m so lucky to work with a lot of cool people
around town like, people around our age, that are doing some of the most interesting work in town. Like Thad Kopec, Caleb Groh, Amanda [Bantug], Reggie [R.LUM.R], James Droll. I have been so fortunate to write with a bunch of these people.” That pop community is something of a different shade of the Belmont underground that Proctor happened into when he was nineteen and his sister snuck him into a Kopecky Family Band show at Exit/In. That Belmont scene was rife with artists disappearing into each other’s bands, with artists like Evan P. Donohue, FORTIES, Diarrhea Planet, and Big Surr developing in different, collaborative directions. There’s a lot of that DIY spirit in Biyo, who will at last release their debut album in the coming months. “One thing that I love—and when I get in a rut, it always helps me—is to remember to try and embrace the mistakes,” Proctor says. The mistakes have taken the shape of a hundred tracks, all pieced together like a collage over the course of September and October. The record is by Biyo, but the fingerprints of the community are all over it. Tracks made with producer Jon Santana merge into acoustic loops contributed by R.LUM.R and wrap into a package that is uniquely Biyo. At the end of the day, Biyo’s success comes down to the core of how the partnership between Proctor and English works. “I’ll obsess over every detail. I’ll think through every scenario to a point where a lot of times it just keeps me from putting out anything. Sam’s a good balance because . . . any time I’m like, ‘Should we put this song out, like what do you think we should do?’ He’s just like, ‘Why not? Why wouldn’t we? Why wouldn’t we put it out?’” It’s a good mantra. Why wouldn’t they put out the song? On the strength of five songs, Biyo has achieved heights that the five teenagers in Vinyl Thief could only dream about. But, as the duo makes their way toward releasing their first cohesive work, don’t expect them to play by the music industry’s rule book. Proctor and English are determined to do things their way, come hell or high water.
1013 Fatherland St. 6592 Highway 100 Suite 1
EAST NASHVILLE BELLE MEADE
Biyo’s latest single, “Bottle Up/Break,” is available now. NATIVE NASHVILLE 33 NATIVE NASHVILLE
photos DANIELLE ATKINS styled by HANNAH LOVELL produced by CHARLIE HICKERSON
For our sixth NATIVE Gift Guide, we decided to do things a little differently. As usual, we featured products from nearly fifty local businesses, but this time, we pulled items with some explicitly Nashville-y archetypes in mind. We like to think this guide has gifts for the person who can speak on Iron Maiden’s discography with authority (this guy definitely prefers the Paul Di’Anno albums); gifts for the person who says “Anchor Down!” way too often (you only get a pass on game day); and gifts for the person
who is perpetually posting from wineries and farmer’s markets (seriously, what do these people do for a living?). We hope the fictional Nashvillians we’ve created in these pages not only make you chuckle, but also inspire you to buy local for the thrash aficionado or SEC fanatic in your life. Because whether you spend your Saturdays combing through record store bargain bins or tailgating, you’re a Nashvillian. And Nashvillians should try and support the people making stuff in this city.
For the Goth Entertainer: 1
Pink Star Vintage Green Glass Decanter, Pre to Post Modern, $18
Super Gold Sparkling Sake, Proper Sake, $25
Armadillo Basket, Hail, Dark Aesthetics, $279
Ram Skull, Hail, Dark Aesthetics, $199-$299
Moondance Candle, Goodwin, $45
Leather + Pine Eau de Parfum, Ranger Station, $95
Nola Santoku Knife, Coutelier Nashville, $170
Clear Glass Service for 4 Set (4 cups, 4 platters in full set), Pre to Post Modern, $10
Cab! Goes the Country 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, City Winery Nashville, $26
10. Dixie Rib Rub, Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, $7.95 11.
Clary All Purpose Balm, Clary Collection, $17
Four Pound Spare Ribs (Dry), Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, $24.99 (with three sides)
Alabama White Bar-B-Que Sauce, Martinâ€™s Bar-B-Que Joint, $6.95
Tadafusa Sanjo Knife, Coutelier Nashville, $130
For the Instagram Farmer: 1.
Pilea in Hanging Planter, Gardens of Babylon, $70
Travel Set (2 of 3 items included), YuYo Botanics, $175
Leiperâ€™s Fork Distillery/Bongo Java Bourbon Barrel Aged Coffee, Bongo Java, $14.50
Gray Market Tote, Honor Of, $38
Elliston Bandana, Vinnie Louise, $14
Facial Trio Gift Set (1 of 3 included), Erin Body Care, $70
Emnet Pouch (in Cognac), Able, $58
Honey Brown Velvet Hair Scrunchie, Honor Of, $28
Nashville: Scenes From the New American South by Ann Patchett & Heidi Ross, Parnassus Books, $35
For the Steeplechaser: 1.
Smudge Kit, Vetiver Modern Massage, $24
Master and Pioneers Thai Ruby Oolong Tea, Firepot Nomadic Teas, $16.99
Pink Star Vintage Karoff Originals Shrimp Cocktail
Sea Servers (6 servers in full set), Pre to Post Modern, $32 4.
La Luna Ring, Walker Jewelry, $140
Flow Bracelet, Portmanteau by Blaque Reily, $158
1. 2. 3. 4.
Pink Star Vintage Lavender Gloves,
Sunrise Hoops, Walker Jewelry, $90
Pre to Post Modern, $16
Molly Earrings, Walker Jewelry, $90
Bell-White Rotary Phone, Pre to Post Modern, $22
10. Marbles Accessories Resin Rings,
Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century
Anteater/Elephant Gallery, $20 (each)
by Nate Chinen, The Bookshop, $27.95
Form Collar, Portmanteau by Blaque Reily, $178
Tennessee Naughty Tea Four-Pack, Natchez Hill
Emil Erwin Medium Clutch (in Salmon Metallic), Keep Shop, $150
Vineyard & Winery, $14.99
Cocokind Highlighter Kit, Lemon Laine, $35
13. Gold-Filled Chain Bracelet, Branded Collective, $44
Aether Palette, Lemon Laine, $58
Otis James Bow Tie B414, Keep Shop, $100
Pink Star Vintage Polka Dot Pocket Square, Pre to Post Modern, $12
12 8, 9
For the DIY-Til-I-Die Brother-In-Law: 1.
Brett Douglas Hunter Lamp, Anteater/Elephant Gallery, $275
2. 3. 4.
Garage by Olivia Erlanger and Luis Ortega Govela, The Bookshop, $21.95
Policeman Dan, Mailman Mike (A bird can be any-
thing she wants to be), R. Ellis Orrall Gallery, $125
An Anarchy of Chilies by Caz Hildebrand, $29.95 POM POMS Vol. I: Romanticizing the DIY Music Scene & Style of Nashville by Marcus Maddox,
The Truett Cruiser, Salemtown Board Co., $168
Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks for Me & You
Anteater/Elephant Gallery, $40
by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jonny Sun, Parnassus
Elijah Mini Rug, Apple & Oak, $220
Vans Tumble SK8-Hi Reissue, ROOTED, $70
10. Pink Star Vintage Tiger Ashtray, Pre to Post Modern, $24 11.
Vintage Mini Rubix Cubes, Pre to Post Modern, $4
Vintage 1992 Playboy, Pre to Post Modern, $6
4 5 6 7
1. 2. 3. 4.
Collection One Wallpaper Sheet, New Hat Designs, $55 Deep Dream by Daddy Issues, Infinity Cat Recordings, $15 Caseyâ€™s Tape by Colleen Green, Infinity Cat Recordings, $15 Skinny Velvet Camera Strap (in Williamsburg), Original Fuzz, $65
COFFEE BREAKFAST LUNCH OPEN DAILY 7AM-3PM 700 FATHERLAND ST. 615.770.7097 SKYBLUECOFFEE.COM E S TA B L I S H E D 2 0 1 0
FLIPPIN' OUT NATIVE NASHVILLE
East Nashvilleâ€™s No Quarter looks to put the change between your couch cushions to good use
by JONAH ELLER-ISAACS (SCOREBOARD INITIALS: GOB) photos DANIEL CHANEY NATIVE NASHVILLE
It consumes you. In a good way. —Jack Danger, host of Dead Flip Pinball (from Under the Glass) PINBALL IS LIKE DEATH: THE END IS INEVITABLE.
You might have such a supple wrist. You may have crazy flipper fingers. You could always get the replay. And still, your ball will, with complete and utter certainty, end up down the drain. The world record for longest pinball game stands at thirty hours—even that epic run by Wayne Johns (who, I assume, was in diapers?) had to come to a close. Pinball is tactile, real, sensory. It’s analog action in a digital world. That physicality is part of what Scott Holdren and Seth Steele, co-owners of new East Nashville pinball bar No Quarter, find so appealing about the game. Over cups of coffee, surrounded by No Quarter’s pinball machines, Holdren (scoreboard initials DSH) explains the allure to me. “It’s not a screen. Not primarily a screen anyway. It’s something that you can bash around. I really like fixing things, and they’re constantly breaking. So it’s the perfect hobby for me.” Holdren and Steele worked together in software development, but a few years back Holdren moved into a new office near Cannery Row that had a big, empty basement—and endless possibilities. Wood shop? Movie theater? Sex dungeon? To each their own, right? Holdren was considering buying a pinball machine when a Craigslist post made the decision for him. “The Game Galaxy down in Antioch was selling a Black Knight, which was my favorite machine growing up. I went down and bought it and brought it home and immediately broke it,” Holdren laughs. Pinball machines are notoriously
fickle and require constant maintenance, especially older games like Black Knight (made in 1980). And that’s if you know what you’re doing, which Holdren did not. “I plugged it in. You had to take it apart to move it, and when I put it back together, I plugged it in wrong and blew up all the circuitry.” Holdren shakes his head and smiles. “I had to then embark on a crash course in pinball repair. Something about getting that game going again just made me wanna get more machines. And Seth [Steele] caught the same bug.” “I saw the fun he was having repairing games,” Steele (SEF on the high scores) recalls. “The idea of going down to the basement, working on something with my hands, and getting away from a screen for a while was really appealing.” Pinball’s randomness was also a breath of fresh air for Steele. “It’s just not preplanned. That ball can go anywhere. It’s real. And it’s pure chaos, really. Your goal is to control that chaos as best you can.” Steele picked up his own table, High Speed. An action-packed police chase! a game flyer exclaims. Steve Ritchie, one of pinball’s most acclaimed table architects, designed the game. He designed Black Knight, too, among many other countless titles. On High Speed, Ritchie claims, “It was based on a true story. I was actually chased by the cops at 146 mph in my 1979 Porsche 928.” With High Speed, Steele was hooked. “I got one. And then one turned to twelve,” he grins. Twelve became a combined collection of more than forty tables. Naturally, they invited a few friends to the basement. “Once a month we’d have people come out, BYOB, play pinball all night. And we were getting fifty, sixty people. But it was just a private office space!” Steele chuckles. “When we started
getting that many people, and people are having fun, we wanted to rent it out for private events. And it was like, ‘We gotta do something!’” And so No Quarter arose on Main Street, a vision of chrome and neon and dot-matrix displays. A dozen tables make a tight semicircle in the front room, all facing a thoughtfully curated jukebox and a widescreen used to display tournament results and rankings. The guys show me around the rest of the place. There’s a bar, then a very purple room (the color was an accident) where folks can get a break from the noisy action. The bar itself was rescued from Holland House after its abrupt closing. The No Quarter boys are proud to give the storied counter new life in a cozy home. “We spent so much time on this bar!” Holdren exclaims with glee. Steele grabs a small object from above the bar. There’s a friendly rivalry between Nashville and Memphis pinball players, and they face off in an annual tournament. “We lost last year,” Steele says with regret. “This is the loser’s trophy.” It’s a pewter toilet that only just fits a pinball. Over the years, the game of pinball has evolved dramatically. The combination of marbles, a spring-loaded launch apparatus, and an inclined plane was all it took to play the game through the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One hundred years later, pinball is nearly unrecognizable, but the core principle still applies: shoot a small ball through obstacles that rest on an angled surface, ensuring your inevitable plummet to the bottom. As opposed to drugs, coming down is the fun part. When I visit a month and change after their opening, Steele and Holdren have a selection representing a history of pinball over the the last forty years. NATIVE NASHVILLE
Joker Poker (1978), with scores in yellow monochrome on the backglass, sits right next to Jurassic Park (1993), a table that includes a dot-matrix display, music clips from the soundtrack, voice commands (“Shoot the raptor!”), and a gun-shaped auto-plunger that fires your ball to the top of the playfield. Dedicated pinballers have not only a favorite table or two, but a preferred era, or production company, or designer. Holdren only plays Steve Ritchie games. But even the most casual players can have fond memories of particular tables. “There’s a nostalgia thing that kicks in for a lot of people,” Steele tells me. “They might’ve grown up playing it. Bride of Pinbot’s a big one. Our health inspector came in, and she remembers playing Bride of Pinbot when she was working concession stands as a teenager. And she walked in and she was just like—” As if on cue, the Bride of Pinbot suddenly comes alive with a woman’s devilish laugh and a vocoderized, computer-y voice murmuring unintelligibly. Laser sounds. Lights flashing. One of the best-loved games of all
time is trying to draw us in. Of course, teenagers aren’t the only ones who play, Steele reminds me. “Another thing I love about pinball is all these different people from different lifestyles. It’s like all these subcultures blend together when you go to a pinball tournament. These are people you think wouldn’t typically be hanging out. The punk kid is hanging with the preppie kid. It just brings everybody together. The people-watching at events is pretty fascinating. You might have this seventyyear-old man playing against this fifteenyear-old girl—and she beats the crap out of him!” No Quarter plans to rotate their tables, not only to provide a new experience but to have time and space for maintenance and repairs. I ask the guys about their biggest surprises in the life of their new business. “I thought the games were gonna break more,” replies Steele. “Really? I thought they were gonna break less!” Holdren counters, and they both laugh. Holdren continues. “It’s been ten to twenty hours a week, probably, making fixes. I hope it
slows down, and I feel like we’re getting some things under control. But we’re talking about bringing another game over here, and I know the second we bring it over here, we’re gonna find fifty things wrong with it.” Pinball companies (e.g. Stern, Bally, Williams, etc.) never made longevity a priority. A table might be in the corner of a bar or an arcade for a year or two, and then it’s time to upgrade to the newest model. “The plastics, they dry out and snap,” Holdren explains. “And some of the electronics, a lot of stuff overheats. These machines, they don’t seem like they were really built to last thirty years.” “We get asked a lot about repairs,” Steele follows up. “We’re actually using our Twitter account purely to post a maintenance log. When we fix a game, or something breaks, we post on there.” On top of the fragility of the machines, some pinballers aren’t exactly kind when they play. True, there’s a tilt mechanism to prevent egregious injury, but there’s still room for hip checks and forceful slaps of the flipper buttons. Just a little nudge
can mean the difference between the dreaded drain and a continuing game. I ask the boys if the physical manipulation is critical. “I think it’s a huge part of it,” Steele answers. “And it’s one of the hardest parts as you’re starting, figuring out how to move the table and when to move the table when it matters. Your ball will drain, and you’ll be like, ‘If I’d have just moved it when it was up high, it would’ve taken a different angle. And getting that feel—it’s a huge part of it.” “I haven’t figured it out,” Holdren deadpans. We laugh at his self-deprecation. “When you’re watching people play, everyone has their little quirks,” continues Steele. “I have this leg kick that I do! Everybody has a little quirk.” No Quarter has rapidly drawn in fans of the game, all with different styles and varying degrees of skill. Some of their regulars are extraordinary players. After our chat, Holdren and Steele connect me to a few. Aaron Williams is ranked within the top one thousand pinball players globally. He shares via email: “Before No Quarter opened, I played a lot at Game Galaxy
in Smyrna and at Flashback Arcade in Murfreesboro. We’re really lucky to have both in the area. Game Galaxy has an amazing pinball collection of rare machines, and Flashback has really wellmaintained machines. We’re pretty lucky to have a great and growing pinball scene in Middle Tennessee.” “In the beginning, I didn’t think much of playing,” writes Cher Farnsworth. “I went to support my husband while he played in tournaments. I finally played in a tournament and it was so much fun! I would have to say, tournaments/ competitive play is what makes pinball so fun and enjoyable. There is a great community of pinball players all over the world. Anytime I travel, I look to see if there is a tournament nearby that I can go to.” Will Krusa, another No Quarter player, emails me a reminder. “With pinball, there is no winning. Eventually gravity will win out.” Spending money on a zero-sum game can be frustrating; you can measure a beginner’s game in seconds. It’s a lesson ref lected in the pinball documentary Under the Glass. Ben Vigeant, founder
of Pinball Chicago, smiles at the camera and agrees: “It’s an immensely frustrating thing that you’ll immediately fail at.” Steele feels that pain. “It’s a big hurdle. When you talk to people, they’re like, ‘Oh, I’m terrible at pinball.’ Yeah. Everybody’s terrible at pinball. The point of the game is to be terrible!” Everybody’s terrible . I come back to No Quarter for one of their weekly tournaments. I imagine my participation will end quickly. Back when I was tending bar, I’d spend slow nights pumping quarters into our Family Guy pinball machine. But that was a long time ago. Everybody’s terrible, I repeat in my mind. There’s a variety of tournament formats, each of which I’m certain I’ll lose. Tonight it’s a Strike game: lowest score on each table gets a strike; four strikes and you’re out. The first table is Batman 66, a 2016 game that hearkens back to the campy Adam West era but uses all the newest technology, including a crystal clear video screen that plays clips from the old TV show. I come in last. We move to Guardians of the Galaxy,
another new table whose central feature is a fist-sized Groot head. “Hit him in the mouth!” someone shouts. The final bonus on my third ball barely squeezes me past Cassie Rice, Steele’s girlfriend. No strike! All the tables going simultaneously creates a cacophonous chaos. A gunshot announces a replay. “Gamora! Look what you have done!” screams the Guardians table. A n “OOGA-CH A K A OOGAOOGA!” begins, signaling that “Hooked on a Feeling” has been unlocked. Machines from earlier eras gurgle their squawking attempts at human speech. It makes for a distracting experience—I know the serious players by the headphones they pop in before each turn. I make it seven full rounds, but two hours in, I can’t compete with the experts. Clearly I need more practice. And more dexterity. And more quarters. For the record, you cannot play by sense of smell. Pete Townshend is a fucking liar. Pinball lays down some heavy vibrations, but not enough to play if you can’t see. Also, fun fact: a UK music critic named Nik Cohn wasn’t a big fan of an early (pinball-less) draft of The Who’s Tommy. He was, however, a big fan of pinball. So the band turned that deaf, dumb, and blind kid into a pinball wizard. Cohn (allegedly) called the new version “a masterpiece.” The pinball community’s response to Tommy is complicated, as Steele points out. “Some people will get upset at the idea of Tommy or ‘Pinball Wizard.’ It’s just sort of played out. But it doesn’t bother me. [There’s] sort of this weird thing with a lot of extreme pinball players where they’re just like, ‘Oh, Tommy again!’” Steele does appreciate that the music might expose folks to the game, and that’s Steele and Holdren’s goal: to get people playing pinball. W it h enou gh qua lit y players, Nashville could send that “trophy” back to Memphis. For now, the tiny toilet remains at No Quarter. It’s a reminder that, in the end, everything goes down the drain.
No Quarter is open Wednesday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
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KIND OF BLUE by NATIVE STAFF
photos ZACHARY GRAY
NATIVE interviews local sculptor, artist, and former Blue Man Josh Elrod
has ruined for us is denotation. An example: goals was once an actual word that signified a lofty, hard-earned end—something one might spend his or her entire life striving toward. On the internet, however, goals is a hashtag at best and a listicle headline at worst, denoting everything from culinary prowess to “impressive” nicotine consumption (there are over five thousand posts on Instagram with the tag #vapegoals right now). The point: saying someone is #lifegoals or #artgoals doesn’t mean a lot these days. However, if these terms could ever accurately describe anyone, it’d be Josh Elrod. After growing up in Nashville (he’s a graduate of Hillsboro High) and attending the Art Institute of Chicago, Elrod moved to New York and worked as a model (he starred as a studly handyman in an early-2000s Levi’s ad), an accomplished musician, a PA on Harmony Korine’s Gummo, and a Blue Man (he’s played around the world with the famed performance troupe). In 2014, Elrod and his wife, Ivy, who is a playwright, actress, and former Rockette, relocated to Josh’s hometown to open showroom and design shop Wilder. The shop—along
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with the Elrods’ home, “The Rachion”—has been lauded by national and local press alike. Someone on Twitter has more than likely described them as #marriagegoals. Various goals and internet points aside, Elrod is now showing his latest exhibit, Mixed Episodes, at the Julia Martin Gallery. It’s an apt title: Elrod mixes materials like mica, glass beads, and acrylic to create paintings that, on the one hand, inspire meditation and serenity; and on the other hand, imbue viewers with a sense of motion and action. As Julia Martin described one piece in a recent Instagram post, “It evokes a sense of peaceful power, charging viewers with strength and focus.” There’s also a series of delightfully vulgar small works on paper, which will make you laugh, cry, or both, depending on how you’re currently coping with the state of this world. We caught up with Elrod to talk genitalia, dark carnivals (not the Dark Carnival Insane Clown Posse wrote an album about), and painting with your “bad” hand. Check out the Q&A to follow, and catch Mixed Episodes now through November 24 at the Julia Martin Gallery.
Other than giving you the actual physical space necessary for working in large format, how did your move back to Nashville impact your art? Moving back to Nashville has allowed me time and a gentler space to open up the channel. Living in NYC there was so much vying for mental space, I had forgotten how quiet the South can be. How has your background as a performer influenced your approach to painting? I’ve learned how to make a fool of myself. You’ve said your work deals with a “grotesque carnival of people, energy, machines, and colors.” What’s the inspiration behind this “carnival,” and who/what are the people and things that populate it? Even though that is part of my last artist statement, I am not sure I can back it. I’m not entirely sure what my work deals with. Sometimes it deals with “What happens if I use a chopstick to carve into this paint?” or “What does it look like if I add sand?” or “This shape needs genitalia . . .” Mainly it’s space between head and heart, the unconscious—that’s what interests me. Maybe there’s a carnival in there though . . . that would account for the smell and noise. Some of the work in Mixed Emotions—specifically the small works on paper—calls to mind Ralph Steadman or Gerald Anthony Scarfe’s more satirical pieces. Is there an intentionally sardonic or comedic element to your work? My only intention is to be truthful—or to lie really well. There isn’t any intentional comedy or sardonic element, but I’m happy if that appears. It’s hard to be comic in painting, I think. Steadman was an early influence on me, partly because he was fearless in his willingness to depict the grotesque or absurd.
Do you think society is becoming increasingly grotesque? And if so, how do you create in a time when the line between reality and the grotesque or absurd is becoming increasingly blurred? I think society has always been grotesque. Human beings are just really bizarre. I think we’re just inundated with it in the Information Age. When our leaders say something hyperbolic or disgusting, we get it in real time. It’s the zero lag time of the idiots on parade. To make anything in this climate feels heroic. Apathy and anti-intellectualism are a cheap drug, and there are so many addicts. I don’t claim anything, however, other than that I was able to get out of bed and get into my studio.
Mixed Emotions was informed by a “meditative” and repetitive process. What specifically did that process look like, and how did it differ from your approach to previous projects? I was in my studio this spring, and I started a painting. Three strokes into it I realized I was using my nondominant [right] hand. I had an out-of-body experience when I recognized this. I decided to make all the work for my show with my right hand at that moment, to see what it might have to say. It’s like hearing a stereo recording for the first time for me: not necessarily better, just another dimension, right there. Do you have any upcoming projects—whether it’s art, music, or something Wilder-related—that you’re excited about? I’m working with my wife on a presentation called “Volume” for Nashville Design Week that will feature over a dozen local designers, and I am hoping to get to play drums and record with Cassie Berman [of Silver Jews] because she rules.
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Chalk it up to the immediacy of streaming, creepily precise algorithmic targeting, or simply the evolution of popular culture, but one thing is certain: we are living in a post-genre musical landscape. Music fans in 2018 (or at least most music fans in 2018) aren’t loyal to one specific style, and they’re unfazed by the arbitrary genre wars that defined the tastes of past generations. Gone are the days of “Disco Sucks” and “I like everything but rap and country”; check out any local scenester’s Spotify, and you’re likely to find Chic, Real Estate, and Travis Scott all living comfortably next to each other on a playlist. One Nashville artist that thrives in this no-labels world: Thad Kopec. The producer, multi-instrumentalist, and Liza Anne bassist has been hard at work on Center, the follow-up to his 2017 solo debut, The Shadow and the Caster. And folks, let us be the first to say that hard work has paid off. Between international tours and studio time with Anne, Kopec has somehow found time to make a record that takes his debut’s baroque-pop stylings to stunning—and dare we say, genreless—new heights. To say everything but the kitchen sink was thrown at this thing is an
understatement: there are nods to Indian ragas; icy synths and industrial guitar that call to mind Fragile-era Nine Inch Nails; and baby-making grooves that would make Blood Orange blush. We hate to sound like an ad for Nashville Shores, but there is truly something for everyone on this record. So where does a man whose music embodies a bit of everything like to eat? Well, he naturally likes Fido, a place where you can order a bit of everything. He’s particularly keen on the whole grain pancakes, but it’s more about the ambience than the breakfast stylings: “I love Fido because it’s a great place to sit and read alone,” Kopec explains. “It has always felt a bit magical to me. When one of those rare snowy days comes around in the winter, my favorite place to watch from is a seat in front of the big windows at Fido.” If you find yourself alone at Fido on a snowy day, put on Kopec’s Center. We promise it’s wonderful with or without pancakes.
photo EMILY DORIO
The next single from Center is out on December 7. The full album will release on March 3, 2019.
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Tennessee is astoundingly biodiverse. The number of species that are deemed rare or in need of conservation attests to that: in one form or another, close to fifteen hundred animals and over five hundred plants are deemed rare. The smaller the population, the more of a challenge it becomes to use traditional field methods to figure out what might be leading to the species’ demise. Luckily, there’s a particular subset of scientists (and their numbers are growing!) that can lend a helping hand. Conservation geneticists look to the DNA of rare populations to help shed light on why some species are struggling. To understand how DNA can answer questions about rare species, it is first essential to understand genetic diversity. This refers to the number of different versions of a gene there are in a population. In a classic example from Genetics 101, a flower species has a gene that determines its color, but it might have different versions of that gene—one version makes the flower red, another white, and maybe yet another blue (these different versions are called alleles). A population with low genetic diversity means it has fewer versions of a gene. This also means that the individuals will have a lot, maybe even too much, in common. When they continue to breed, or inbreed, then the population becomes less fit to handle the challenges of life. For instance, if a disease sweeps through a population of flowers, and all of the flowers have the same weak disease-resistance gene, that doesn’t fare well for those red, white, and blue flowers. However, if there is more genetic diversity for that gene, then at least some
of the flowers would hopefully be more genetically equipped to survive. If low genetic diversity can lead to population collapse or the extinction of a species, then the insight provided by conservation geneticists can be a lifesaver. Consider the case of the Florida panther, a subspecies of cougar. A couple decades ago, there were only a couple dozen left in the wild, and they were riddled with heart diseases and birth defects. In a last-ditch effort to save the critically endangered population, a group of female cougars from Texas was introduced into the Florida panther population. Several years later, the study showed an increase in genetic diversity, and the population increased dramatically too. One of the primary causes of the loss of genetic diversity in the Florida panthers is a common one for many rare species: habitat loss and fragmentation. While this can be a roadblock for all living things, it gets more complicated for our brethren in kingdom Plantae that lack the means to move themselves from one point to another (except by hitchhiking on an animal or the wind). Plants face all the same risks as isolated animal populations—they also experience genetic erosion (the loss of genetic diversity) from inbreeding and shrinking gene pools. However, things get more complicated with plants. For one, they can reproduce clonally. That is, instead of reproducing sexually and producing seeds, the plants will establish colonies via underground roots. In many cases, this is an adaptation that allows them to survive during times of stress. But clonal reproduction becomes an issue when the population is small and
made up of the same genetic individual. This is compounded when a plant doesn’t have the ability to self-fertilize (also called selfing—a plant that can produce seed when the sex cells come from the same flower). In essence, it becomes a population of clones. Determining whether a clump of stems is a colony of the same individual or multiple distinct plants presents a challenge for ecologists in the field. In fact, this has been an issue with a critically endangered sunf lower, the whorled sunflower, here in Tennessee. With only two known populations that occur in small clumps, biologists who monitor the species are not sure whether they are counting unique individuals or clones that are all part of the same plant. They rely on conservation geneticists who can shed light not only on the genetic diversity but also on the growth patterns of the rare plant. The conservation of our rare species is a true team effort. It requires dedicated field scientists who are willing to brave the snakes, mosquitos, ticks, brambles, and all manner of other obstacles to study species in their native habitat. It also requires the expertise of conservation geneticists who do much of their work in a lab. For all of us, the common goal is to conserve the unique biodiversity, of which genetic diversity is an integral part. So even though we’re in Tennessee where it’s common to make hillbilly inbreeding jokes, give some thought to our furry and photosynthetic brothers and sisters that wouldn’t appreciate that humor. After all, many of them are forced into that lifestyle because we’ve changed their habitat.
*ABOUT THE AUTHOR Cooper Breeden is the conservation coordinator for the Tennessee Plant Conservation Alliance and is finishing up his graduate degree at Austin Peay, focusing on botany and ecology. In the past, he worked in watershed and wetland restoration, environmental education, fisheries management, and philanthropy. NATIVE NASHVILLE
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SHOOTING THE SHIT WITH MIKE KLUGE by NATIVE STAFF photos MIKE KLUGE
In Shooting the Shit, NATIVE talks to Nashvillians who are doing things a little differently—think of it as grabbing a quick cup of coffee with that screenprinter or tattoo artist you keep seeing on your Explore Page. This month, we chatted with Mike Kluge, the audio-visual wizard behind MKAV. He’s done videos and/or stage design for everyone from Paramore to R.LUM.R to Okey Dokey, and if you’ve frequented art crawls around town, there’s a good chance you’ve found yourself in the middle of one of his interactive installations (we spent way too long messing with his boxing installation at East Nashville’s TOURNAMENT gallery— we blame the free beer). Between a few thirteen-hour rehearsals, Kluge caught up with us over email to talk about daydreams, algorithmic art, and the importance of being clever.
For readers that might not have heard of you or your work, can you briefly explain what you do as MKAV?
What’s the most important aspect of creating an immersive art experience? What’s the most challenging aspect?
Well first of all MKAV stands for Mike Kluge Audio Visual. I call myself an audio-visual artist, which in practice translates to making art that combines sound, light, and space as the core elements of composition. Interactivity using live cameras is something I do a lot too. I’ll put a crazy video effect on cameras and then project it on a wall, and people will dance and make faces in front of it. I’ve also been working professionally as a video content creator for Cour Design. Shout out to those schlems!
I think the most challenging part is also the most important part, and that’s doing something clever. It doesn’t have to be overly technical or conceptual, but it should resonate with people. All the tools exist now, but what will you do with them that isn’t immediately obvious?
Audience participation is a huge part of your work. Would you say that the audience’s role in one of your exhibits is as important as your role?
Yes, absolutely. I make things for people! It’s not always interactive, though. Interactivity can be a bit of a buzz word for art installations in general, but to me it implies people having to do something— like dance in front of a camera or play with an iPad to control parameters. But an audience member’s role could also be to just enjoy an interesting arrangement of sound and visual in a space. Similarly, a lot of your installations hinge on a sort of collaborative chaos. At Sum + From – Non, for instance, the installation changed with each person who interacted with it. What drew you to making art that is so impermanent and ever-evolving?
I played in bands for years, and performing music the same way every time really started to creatively block me. I could have explored improvisation more, but I also really like the process of refining a unique and solid idea. That led me to programming rules into a computer, especially playing with controlled randomness to create never-ending variations on a theme. Still in love with this idea.
Do you have any future installations we should know about?
I am pretty involved in Nashville Design Week. November 10 I will be a part of PANTONE, an event by the Museum of Contemporary Art Nashville (MOCAN). I am going to be demonstrating an open-source framework for loading real-time generative art onto a Raspberry Pi, called Openframe, as well as another algorithmic composition. November 15 I’ll be with Cour Design doing a projection and lighting installation at the Roxy Theatre to close out the week. They are closing down Wilburn Street for this—it’s going to be bananas. If you had unlimited resources, what would the ideal MKAV installation look like? And how would you want that installation to impact viewers?
I love this question! I don’t ponder it enough. Time is a very valuable resource. I’d love to dedicate two years to a single project. Probably a semipermanent public art piece. Something that would require people to be on foot to experience, and if they saw it, it would seductively draw them in and distract them for a while. Something like a daydream.
To see more of Mike Kluge’s work, visit mkavarts.com
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Featuring Biyo, the 2018 NATIVE Gift Guide, Josh Elrod, No Quarter, and many more.