Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Nashville Scene: First Saturday Gallery Crawl

First Saturday Gallery Crawl

A monthly event feat. gallery openings, drinks and the chance to mix & mingle with the best and brightest of Nashville's local art scene. The Arcade in Music City's burgeoning Arts District is ground zero for this buzz-worthy party that happens on the first Saturday of every month.

Nashville Scene: Jen Cartwright and Off the Wall at Twist

Nashville Scene

Jen Cartwright and Off the Wall at Twist
Got Any Papers?
Joe Nolan

Paper artist and bookmaker Jen Cartwright has found a way to leap from the page, creating sculptural forms that defy the fragile, fibrous media of which they are made. With just a few tweaks to her paper craft, Cartwright has devised a way to leave the two-dimensional plane behind in favor of the flexible, biomorphic forms that she displays in her new show at the Twist Gallery space at 73 Arcade. Not surprisingly, the organic shapes find their inspiration in the Ph.D. candidate's biology studies. The Off the Wall artists’ group will bring their works on paper, photography, paintings and multimedia work to Twist's space at 58 Arcade. While each artist brings his or her own unique voice to the proceedings, all the work in this new show reflects the group’s shared conceptual preoccupations with curious materials. Off the Wall includes Quinn Dukes, Janet Heilbronn, Mahlea Jones, Jenny Luckett, Jaime Raybin, and Iwonka Waskowski, whose intuitive images allude to body-forms, suggesting the figurative within the abstract and pairing nicely with Cartwright's work.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

new items in the Twist Gallery etsy shop! check it out!

Friday, March 20, 2009

get your Napoleon fix !

the New York Times

March 22, 2009
Twisted Sister


Venus of Empire

By Flora Fraser

Illustrated. 287 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $28.95

True to his Corsican roots, Napoleon Bonaparte made empire a family business. In the wake of his conquering armies, one brother was sent to rule the Kingdom of Naples, another the Kingdom of Holland; a sister and her husband, packed off to Germany, became Grand Duke and Duchess of Berg. But how to deploy his 25-year-old sister Pauline, already a disciplinary hard case, notorious for philandering in a court not known for circumspection? “What is Guastalla, dear brother?” she inquired, when informed of the principality where she and her husband, Prince Camillo Borghese, were to preside. “Is it a fine great town, with a palace and subjects?” Told it was a four-square-mile strip of northern Italy, she erupted in a tearful rage, shouting that she wanted a government and ministers, just like her sister had, and threatening to scratch out the emperor’s eyes. “And my poor Camillo,” she demanded. “How can you do nothing for him?” When Napoleon pointed out that her husband was an imbecile, her answer was simple and direct: “True, but so what?”

It was the sort of impasse Napoleon would often face in dealing with Pauline, who resembled him both in temper and in looks. His solution indicates how well he understood her. Pauline was allowed to retain the title Duchess of Guastalla, along with the subsidiary income that went with it, and the principality itself was sold for six million francs, making her extremely (and, equally important, independently) wealthy. As Flora Fraser remarks in “Pauline Bonaparte: Venus of Empire,” her juicy portrait of Napoleon’s most flamboyant and most favored sibling, one of the few things Pauline respected was the power of money.

Fraser, the author of highly praised biographies of Emma Hamilton, Queen Caroline and the six daughters of George III, prefers to illuminate history from the domestic sidelines, but even she seems to have been surprised by how far into the boudoir Pauline would take her. In a recent interview, Fraser argued that this “caustic, chic and contrary” woman has been unfairly “airbrushed out of the story” — known these days only as the model for Canova’s semi-nude marble statue of Venus Victorious, a tourist attraction in Rome since 1804, when the first plaster model was cast. Yet aside from Pauline’s six-year first marriage to General Victor Emmanuel Leclerc, the “blond Bonaparte,” whom she accompanied to the West Indies in his disastrous attempt to combat Toussaint L’Ouverture’s rebel slaves, her part of the Napoleonic pageant consists mostly of scandalous footnotes — schemes to hide lovers from her brother’s spies, sybaritic retreats to fashionable spas, a lot of social one-upmanship and even more shopping and decorating.

She was said to be the most beautiful woman in Europe: elegantly lithe and long-limbed, with pale skin and dark eyes, as small in stature as her brother. Rumor had it that she numbered him among her lovers. Her great rival, the Empress Josephine, appears to have believed it — and so does Fraser, who thinks Napoleon might have given Pauline venereal disease. But there were many other candidates, particularly after she returned from the Caribbean following Leclerc’s death in a yellow fever epidemic, trailing whispers about her tropical experiments with black and lesbian partners. Back in Paris, she was initially attracted to Prince Borghese (and especially his fortune), but not long after their marriage she was on the prowl again, and would be for the next 20 years. Paganini was said to have sampled her favors; so too the father of Alexandre Dumas, whose son wrote a tantalizingly discreet account of their visit to her country estate. Chateaubriand delivered slippers to her in Rome, shipped via the diplomatic pouch. In between trysts, Italy’s great actor, Talma, read to her from Molière, and she herself was fond of declaiming lines of Petrarch learned at 15 from one of her first lovers (to whom she had sworn “my heart is not for sharing”). When her last great amour died in Russia at the Battle of Borodino, the bullet came from the gun of a fellow French officer. Some wondered whether he’d fired out of jealousy — or on orders from Napoleon.

Only when she entered middle age did Pauline’s predations acquire a tinge of desperation. The sort of antics that had previously seemed mischievous (camouflaging a lover as her chamberlain, hiring a handsome violinist to lead her nonexistent orchestra) began to look pathetic. But in her early 40s, she managed to pull off one last coup. Losing her looks and succumbing to the cancer that would soon kill her, she persuaded the pope to shame Prince Camillo, whose company she’d long spurned, into evicting his mistress from his Florentine palazzo and welcoming back this most unrepentant of unfaithful wives. Pauline remained difficult to the end. On her deathbed, she interrupted the priest’s homily and substituted her own, then carefully dictated a long will (providing, among other matters, for the disposition of the urn in which she kept the embalmed hearts of her first husband and her only son, felled in early childhood by a fever) and lectured her maid on precisely how her corpse was to be dressed. She was interred in the Borghese family vault in Rome, “the Corsican cuckoo,” as Fraser puts it, in the company of a pope and a cardinal.

Pauline’s life wasn’t entirely self- indulgent. She appears to have been courageous in the face of horrific violence and disease in the West Indies. She alone of all his brothers and sisters joined Napoleon in exile on Elba. In the lining of the carriage he abandoned at Waterloo was a diamond necklace worth half a million francs, her contribution to his aborted restoration. She was preparing to join him on St. Helena when word came of his death. Still, after reading Fraser’s account of Pauline’s mostly amorous adventures, it’s hard not to agree with a friend of her first husband’s who observed that “she had no principles and was likely to do the right thing only by caprice.”

Certainly it’s the caprice that’s most memorable. Pauline’s two favorite roles were seductress and invalid, and she combined them in inventive ways as she roamed southern Europe in search of a cure for what Fraser believes was salpingitis, an inflammation of the fallopian tubes (which can occur after childbirth, but is also caused by multiple sexual partners and gonorrhea). One of the symptoms of the condition is abdominal pain that can be aggravated by walking — so Pauline insisted on being carried from bed to chaise longue to bath and back again, preferably by whatever man she had her eye on. Those who weren’t candidates for romance were treated more cavalierly. One visitor was stunned to find Pauline’s lady in waiting flat on the floor, Pauline’s feet firmly planted on her throat, in what was apparently her accustomed position. The lady remained there as Pauline chatted with her guest, joining the conversation in garbled tones. On another occasion, en route to a spa, Pauline made a brief rest stop. The owner of the estate had already been informed that she bathed in milk, but although he’d made sure to have plenty on hand, the arrangements were insufficient. “And my shower?” she demanded. In the absence of such a device, she required that a hole be cut in the ceiling above the bath so more milk could be poured down. This done, she continued on her way, ready to torment a new host.

Impetuous, cruel, alternately spendthrift and miserly, wildly manipulative and so self-destructive that her doctors helplessly sought ways to curb her sexual appetite, Pauline was, Fraser admits, “a terrible role model.” Which is, of course, why she’s such fun to read about. “I don’t suppose,” Fraser confesses, “I’ll ever write about anyone so infinitely entertaining again.” Well, maybe not the next time out. Fraser has just started researching what looks to be a much more sedate project: “Portrait of a Marriage: The Washingtons.”

Alida Becker is an editor at the Book Review.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

creative process talk from Ted.com

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Off the Wall Art Group at Twist 58 in April

CONTACT: 888-535-5286
twist@twistartgallery.com, contact@offthewallartgroup.com

Off the Wall Art Group at Twist 58
Opening Sat April 4, 2009
6:00 – 9:00 PM
58 Arcade
5th Ave N
Nashville, TN 37219

Twist Art Gallery has invited the six members of Off the Wall Art Group to present their new work. Off the Wall is Quinn Dukes, Janet Heilbronn, Mahlea Jones, Jenny Luckett, Jaime Raybin, and Iwonka Waskowski. An opening reception will take place at 58 Arcade on Saturday April 4, as part of the First Saturday Arcade Crawl. This event is free and open to the public. The show will run through April. Twist 58 is located in the balcony level of the historic Arcade building.

The six members of Off the Wall met as students at Watkins College of Art, Design and Film. The group developed as the artists sensed that their work was connected. The members share a similar artistic language, involving a foundation in conceptual art, a curiosity about materials, and an interest in making work with personal resonance. Off the Wall has been exhibiting since 2005.

Mahlea Jones explores the diorama as a learning tool on a human scale.

Jaime Raybin uses microscope photography to uncover tiny visual secrets in apple skin and lemon pulp.

Jenny Luckett's paintings are a memorial to the little things she has lost.

Janet Heilbronn’s paintings explore the 'quiet, private places' of one’s internal experiences and how they shift once brought out in front of others.

Iwonka Waskowski works within an intuitive place of form finding. Her images reference the body without committing to it. Mind, memory, and transference play with the possibilities of psychological deterioration as she explores thoughts about emotional, physical and social issues of isolation.

Quinn Dukes’s work reflects her ambivalence towards living in the “planned” environment of a major city, with its lack of connection to the natural world. The pigeon becomes a symbolic substitute for the influence of nature that she once encountered on a daily basis.


April at Twist Jen Cartwright at 73

Jennifer Cartwright: artist statement
Online portfolio: www.flickr.com/photos/jen_cartwright

Before I ever thought of myself as a sculptor, I was a papermaker. I taught myself the basics of papermaking from books and the internet, mostly by experimentation. To make decent recycled paper, all you need is a kitchen blender, water, a mounted piece of screen (called a “deckle”) and a flat surface for drying. Like many ancient crafts, papermaking is quick to learn but requires a lifetime of dedication to master; simple in concept yet endlessly complex in its challenges and rewards.

My papermaking took on sculptural dimensions in response to a simple question: if a flat deckle can be pulled up through paper pulp to collect the fibers, I asked myself, could I pull a more complex wire form through the paper pulp instead? My first experiments with a few twisted strands of wire produced intriguing results: paper fibers do indeed cling to the wire, and in the drying process they mesh together and condense, forming a richly textured “flesh” of paper over the wire skeleton. Once dry, the wire/paper form can be twisted, curled or manipulated into a variety of shapes. Encouraged by this discovery, I began making ever more complex wire sculptures as substrates for paper fiber, incorporating techniques like knitting and crochet and mixing together a variety of gauges, from sturdy bailing wire to hair-thin beading strands.

Soon enough, a problem emerged: fragility. Newly created sculptures are intricate and flexible, but with repeated handling the paper fibers begin to loose their grip on the wire, and will eventually disintegrate and flake off. If the piece gets wet, the problem is worsened: water is the medium which arranged the fibers in the first place and it can easily wash them away again. The solution I’ve found is to use acrylic media as binding agents. Imagine zooming in to the microscopic level of a finished sculpture: you would see paper fibers wrapped and tangled like threads around each strand of metal, held sturdily in place by long polymers of acrylic. The resulting piece is flexible, durable, waterproof, and can be made opaque, translucent, or even virtually transparent, depending on the types of acrylics used and the ratio of acrylic to paper fiber.

My most recent challenge has been to “scale up” the dimensions of my work, from individual hand-held pieces to a room-filling installation. Nature offers a model for this: a repetition of modular units (a leaf / a hair / a cell / a root…) all similar but no two the same, nested together into a pattern of subtle complexity. While an organism like a tree makes these units simultaneously, I only know how to work sequentially, accumulating piles of wire forms, all of a common design but each slightly different from the varying movements of my hands over time. As I add layers of paper fiber and acrylic, sometimes also incorporating thread, glue and pigments, each segment takes shape before my eyes. The final product is—in a very real sense—of its own creation more than it is mine, and it may bear only abstract resemblance to my initial idea. I’ve come to think that I do not “make” these sculptures, so much as I nurture them through the process of becoming, much like a parent or a gardener. Illumination and movement are the final maturation phase of each work, and the interaction of light and gravity, suspension and shadow can produce an infinite complexity of sculptural results.

Jennifer Cartwright: Biography

Jennifer Cartwright is a self-taught paper artist and bookmaker, born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. Her work incorporates handmade wire forms, recycled paper fibers and acrylic pigment to create sculptural works which are lightweight, flexible, and waterproof. She is also a Ph.D. student in biology at Tennessee State University, where she’s studying the abilities of soil bacteria to break down harmful chemicals in the environment. Thus it’s no surprise that much of her work incorporates organic imagery—pattern, translucence, nested repetition—or that her sculptural process is experimental and emerges from the media she uses: wire, paper, plastic / metal, fiber, polymer.

Jennifer has also worked as a community organizer, gardener, tutor, and a painter of sets for country music videos (ahh, Nashville…) So far, her artwork has all been created in the kitchen of her tiny apartment and in the studio of her mother and mentor Sally Rutledge, a ceramic artist and science teacher. Soon, however, she is moving up the road to Joelton, where she’ll have her own dedicated studio surrounded by goats, blackberries, chickens and bamboo.

Jennifer Cartwright: Online Portfolio


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

this month at Twist

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Photographer's urban landscapes reveal layers of perspective

The Tennessean

March 8, 2009

Photographer's urban landscapes reveal layers of perspective

By MiChelle Jones

http://www.johndowell.com">John Dowell's images of cities — convention centers, skyscrapers, squares — display a startling clarity, a crystal-clear sharpness that can take one's breath away. So far he's photographed about 12 cities, including New York City, Chicago, Atlanta and his hometown of Philadelphia, where he teaches printmaking at Temple University's Tyler School of Art.

"What guides me in traveling is that, I'm in 70 museums. They didn't come looking for me, I go there and knock on the door," Dowell says by phone from Atlanta. "Every time I visit to show somebody some work, I'm shooting photographs."

He planned to do the same this weekend in Nashville — "Hermitage in the daytime, skyline at night," he says — while in town for the opening for a show of his works at Twist Art Gallery's Space 58.

He doesn't really consider his photographs to be skylines; to him they're "urban landscapes." The idea, Dowell says, is to capture several layers of a city as a metaphor for the continuum of time.

"There's an old African saying about the past and the future and the present; that continuum exists all the time," he says. "I'm always looking at how (to) show that dual existence."

One way he does this is through reflections and nocturnal scenes.

"I can shoot a building and that, especially with the glass, will reflect what's in front of its façade, and then I'm also photographing the façade," he says. "But if it's in the evening and the lights are on, I can penetrate that space and put you inside. So, I'm looking at a building, I got a reflection of another building on it, I still see the building itself and I can look into that building. That's when I'm happiest."

Getting the shot

In 2007, Dowell was asked to photograph excavations of the President's House, the executive mansion used by George Washington and John Adams from 1790 to 1800 during Philadelphia's stint as the U.S. capital. Though he first balked at the assignment — "I shoot buildings; that's just a dirt hole," he thought — Dowell found himself contemplating history as he spent long nights photographing the site, which included remnants of slave quarters.

This led him to plan a series of lithographs and paintings called The Dinner Party, based on the celebrations he imagined slaves had when masters were away. During a panel in Memphis, he mentioned the project to Kevin Bartoy, archeological director of The Hermitage. Bartoy in turn told Dowell about evidence of slave celebrations at The Hermitage and invited him to Nashville.

Meanwhile, Dowell is preparing for a 2010 show of 40 nighttime images of Atlanta. Things were going well this trip: He'd been given access to a penthouse undergoing renovation, a law firm with spectacular views, a building's entirely empty 16th floor and the Atlanta campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design.

"I like to shoot down, but at the same time, I don't want to be up too high; I want you to be able to see and identify with it," he says. "Ideally, I'm happiest around 20 stories."

Even Dowell's wonderful shots of the Chicago River meandering under bridges and past buildings in the Loop were shot from inside, not from, say, a helicopter hovering over the water with Dowell hanging out into the elements.

"No, I'm in a hotel room, very comfortably, with the raging wind outside. Drinking tea, shooting," he says, laughing.

Overcoming technical difficulties

Still, getting from negative to print is a lengthy and costly process.

"Some of the people that process my stuff and some of the curators say I couldn't have picked a more difficult subject matter to do," Dowell says, laughing. "So at retirement age, I start spending more money than ever (in) making my art."

Dowell uses a large-format camera and still shoots film. "There's a group of us, the archivists, we call ourselves," he says. Dowell says the cost of a digital camera of a comparable size would cost about $60,000. Still, he admits he faces certain technical challenges.

"They no longer make tungsten for what we call night illumination, so I can only use daylight film," he says. The images are then scanned and the color balance tweaked in Photoshop. "Then there's this testing and testing and testing, right until it's printed."

Those prints are usually 22 by 30 inches, or 27 by 34. But he has also gone larger.

"I've had a couple printed at 44 by 55 inches," Dowell says, "and they're just as sharp, and that's . . . oh, my God, it's wonderful."

Additional Facts
What: Photographs by John Dowell
Where: Twist Art Gallery’s Space 58, 58 Arcade
When: Through March 28
Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday
Admission: Free
Contact: 1-888-535-5286 or www.twistartgallery.com

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Twist in the scene

Work by Shana Kohnstamm at Twist Gallery
Art Twisted Together
Joe Nolan

For this month's First Saturday Art Crawl, Twist welcomes a prodigal daughter with a brand new perspective and a perpetual wanderer who has trouble shaking off the memories of his travels. In Twist's 58 Arcade Space, John Dowell's I Want to Capture Your City brings horizons from around the country to our own Nashville skyline with evocative photographs of cityscapes from Houston to Norfolk. Former Nashvillian Shana Kohnstamm fills the 73 Arcade Space with her newly inspired abstracts, exploring the meeting ground of the organic, the exotic and the erotic. Kohnstamm was an active pioneer in the construction of the downtown art scene, and Growing Season marks a strong, new vision in her work. The Twist event will serve as a sort of homecoming for this hometown fave.