Dearest Dear ones,
I have been so busy working on other creative projects and responding to requests for art/book/movie reviews that I’ve been neglecting this little bright blinking space where we seldom – if ever – bother to sleep.
With that said, I’ve decided to fill you in on some of my latest doings by sharing a number of my recent writings/singings/dancings/rantings with you here on the blog.
A new gallery recently opened in Nashville and in the course of penning a monthly art column I write for the Nashville Scene weekly, I was made curious about this show of installations and objects that purported to document one of the city’s hidden wild spaces. I must admit, I was a bit skeptical when I read the propaganda, but as soon as I saw the show, I knew it was one of a small number of exhibits that have really stood out in the usually slow winter art season in the city.
I was asked to review the show for the online journal ArtNowNashville.com
I’m always happy to see new art spaces in Nashville and if the opening at this gallery is a sign of things to come, we’ve reason to be very excited indeed. 40AU is a start-up website/digital app studio at 69 Arcade. While the back room is all business, the front space is set to remain an Art Crawl gallery. Their inaugural show was curated by HAUS Rotations and it features work by local artist/COOP member Will Tucker’s students from David Lipscomb University. Sevenmile Creek: Relic, Rhythm and Process includes work by Alana Thomas, Alexa LeBouef, Erin Watkins, Joe Ernst, Jessica Richardson, John Hillin, Mariel Bolton and Zac Swann. I’ve recently seen a number of student shows, but this one is particularly impressive. It speaks to a natural place in Nashville where Sevenmile Creek, Paragon Mills Park and a diverse Nolensville Road neighborhood all merge. Several pieces capture the physical presence of the place, making the gallery at 40AU feel nearly as vital as the creek itself.
With “Sugar Hives, 2011” Alexa LeBouef creates artificial bee hives out of beeswax, honey and sugar. The pieces were made in an attempt to attract the bees from the Paragon Park area, encouraging them to build hives of their own inside of the structures. The latest understanding of honey bee colony collapse disorder places the blame on systemic pesticides which effectively turn the blossoms of blooming plants into tiny pesticide factories. LeBouef’s work can be seen as a gesture of reconciliation to these bees. Her comparatively clumsy construction also highlights the incredible skills of worker bees in building their own beautiful, delicate factories.
With “Fly Fishing, 2011” Joseph Ernst explores the fish populations that call Sevenmile Creek home, interacting with them through the age old tradition of fly fishing. The Romans recorded one of the earliest reports of fly fishing near the end of the 2nd Century and it’s important to understand that Ernst and the fish he caught are participating in an ancient rite, connected by the artistry of an artificial bug and the athleticism required for its precise presentation. Ernst’s project is centered on a performance art of sorts that he documents by dousing his fish with gouache and allowing them to flip and flop across the surfaces of his drawing paper before releasing them. The designs are dynamic and surprisingly composed. Ernst’s use of his own hair, fingernails and clothing in the construction of his flies further embeds the artist – and the viewer – in the experience of literally hooking into the life of the creek.
Other pieces in the show connect the viewer just as directly to the more ephemeral stuff of the place. John Hillin’s “Wind Drawings” are rendered with a machine he constructed by attaching a pencil to a board with a series of springs. Six white balloons filled with helium are attached to the pencil by a long length of mono-filament fishing line. A piece of paper is positioned under the pencil. As the wind blows, the point of the pencil skips bounces and scratches across the surface of the paper, creating the eerily similar-seeming drawings the artist also has on display.
Erin Watkins’ “Creek Fossils, 2011” may be best described by the artist: “These fossils speak of the earth gathering itself together and birthing new beauty from its remains.” Watkins presents actual fossils from the bed of Sevenmile Creek along with the beeswax molds she made of them, the plaster casts she used in her process, and even abstract, decorative interpretations of her own fossils made from her leftover materials – aptly mirroring the creek’s own cycle of life, death, decay and preservation.
Joe Nolan <3