Thursday, September 30, 2010

nashville scene

Nashville Scene

A roundup of First Saturday Art Crawl highlights
Crawl Space
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Extraordinary Geometries at The Rymer Gallery
It's already time for October's First Saturday Gallery Crawl, which the dipping mercury will soon lead us to rename the First Saturday Brisk Walk, to be followed by the Downtown Art Sprint. As we head into the burnt-orange grip of autumn, the October Crawl seems poised to make a particularly strong showing.

Those old enough to remember the TV show Family Affair may recall an episode when Buffy, a stubborn elementary schooler, tried to give up her beloved doll, Mrs. Beasley, cold-turkey. It was a bit like Snoopy Come Home meets Panic in Needle Park.

In Goodbye, Mrs. Beasley, on display at Tinney Contemporary, Artist Carol Es relates Buffy's loss to her own difficult childhood. Es chronicles the traumas of her childhood — growing up in a dysfunctional family amid the sweatshops of Los Angeles — through a number of multimedia canvases, painted panels and works-on-paper. Es' work here is strongest when it replaces woe with whimsy and wonder.

We've always been zealots for the more-is-more philosophy, so it's heartening to see that Twist Gallery is once again operating two spaces. This month's lineup includes a guest curator, former TAG gallery owner Jerry Dale McFadden, who now lives in Chattanooga, where he's the director of the 4 Bridges Art Festival. For his turn at Twist, he's brought a couple of fellow 'Noogans with him.

Mark Bradley-Shoup and Ron Buffington are both instructors at UT-Chattanooga. Bradley-Shoup's spare, flat paintings are inspired by graphic design, and his strongest pieces capture a harsh light that suggests what Edward Hopper might have accomplished in the graphic-novel medium. Buffington wants to demystify painting, favoring "the tainted over the pure, the flawed over the perfect, the personal over the universal and the pathetic over the heroic." But while Buffington is busy killing the Buddha, his striking work seems more than a little enlightened. Printmaker Joseph Lupo will be showing in Twist's Arcade 73 space.

After an exciting exhibit of prints and drawings last month, The Arts Company will be opening a painting show on Saturday. Tony Breuer's canvases present figurative scenes obscured and abstracted by curtains of surreal hues. Many works feature wild mustangs galloping through technicolor waves of light, while fighter jets and at least one largemouth bass appear in others.

Extraordinary Geometries opens at Rymer Gallery. Whitney Wood Bailey's large, psychedelic abstract works on paper explore the point where the natural world and our own imaginations intersect. Bailey uses "tick" markings like those found in early cave paintings to create intricate textures from which colorful abstractions explode, resulting in a transcendent sensory experience.

Estel Gallery will be opening a new show by an old favorite. An Atmosphere for Living: New Narrative Paintings by Harry Underwood finds the titular artist displaying his latest canvases back on home turf, following recent exhibits in Paris (yes, the one in France) and London. Though he's been a formidable presence on the local scene for years, Underwood deserves a most-improved-painter award — his recent work demonstrates a restless progress that finds him paring down his pop-culture postcard paintings to poetic scenes that evoke pathos as much as pith.

We are writing this roundup of Saturday's events by the light of a harvest moon on the autumnal equinox. Welcome to fall!