Friday, March 04, 2011

The March Art Crawl looks a whole lot like the February version — and that's a good thing

Nashville Scene

The March Art Crawl looks a whole lot like the February version — and that's a good thing


First Saturday Art Crawl
6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 5, downtown

This month's First Saturday brings March to a crawl.

February offered an intriguing roster of exhibits, and many downtown galleries are sticking with last month's programming. This is not a bad thing. The March Art Crawl promises unexpected surprises along with space for reflection.

The show at Twist is a highlight. Who can't relate to Anxious Days' themes of weird weather, terror alerts, looming pandemics and economic instability? Curated by artist/educator Brady Haston, the group printmaking exhibit addresses contemporary dilemmas using techniques that originated in the ancient Far East. How does that Chinese curse go? Oh, yeah: May you live in interesting times. ...

At Twist Etc., Matt Christy's Trust Us God We Got This finds the artist painting breasts on brassiere advertisements, effectively undressing his models by covering their printed images. Christy's new work includes a number of pieces that make use of cardboard, silk, notebook paper, fabric and ribbon. The show expresses a playful cynicism, exposing the urge to death that lies at the heart of beauty. William Blake called this urge an "invisible worm." In Christy's work, the worms are on display.

With The Fulcrum Lost Its Feather, wife-and-husband artists Shu-Mei Chan and Daniel Evans create a site-specific installation at COOP Gallery, improvising an atmosphere with ceramics and other materials. Part love letter, part misunderstanding — we're not sure what to expect, but COOP's consistent commitment to contemporary art in a variety of media is the medicine that makes the Crawl a thought-provoking journey and not just another cheap date.

Mir Gallery's new show features "over 20 of the wildest pop surrealist, fantasy and lowbrow artists in this no-holds-barred, kick-in-your-teeth group art event." You had us at surrealist! Curated by Brandt Hardin and Miranda Herrick, Versus fills Mir with the comic and the cosmic, serving as a battlefield for unlikely adversaries. We're particularly looking forward to Billy Tackett's "Frankenstein vs. The Rubik's Cube." Hardin is also among the February Crawl artists held over at the Tennessee Art League. In addition, Studio A Group will feature new faces in TAL's Second Floor Gallery, including Annie Tagg, Arlene Bates, Peach McComb, Susan Walker and Wendy Latimer.

Estel Gallery opens a group show curated by Jerry Dale McFadden. Just So includes Mark Bradley-Shoup, Claire Brassil, Kelly Williams and Chris Scarborough, whose recent paintings may be the biggest surprise of Saturday's Crawl. While Scarborough still plays with pop and anime elements, the artist reduces his new figures to crystalline blasts of geometric abstraction. We expect the unexpected from Scarborough, but this show has us feeling excited about what's coming next.

The Arts Company is the only Fifth Avenue gallery opening a new show. While Norman Lerner's mid-20th century photographs remain, the gallery is also presenting a show that may struggle to live up to its helter-skelter title — The Floating World: A Tribute to The Beatles features tar paper paintings embedded with miniature sculptures. This Fab tribute is the work of Tres Taylor and Xander Booker. Each piece incorporates an iPod mini queued to a Beatles song. And you thought letting Ringo sing was zany.

Tinney Contemporary will continue its show of Brett De Palma's collages, and The Rymer Gallery will host an encore reception for Gordon Chandler's figurative metal sculptures. Some may find this repetition disappointing, but we find it refreshing, and this slow-down highlights an important point. While the Art Crawl has become an unqualified success, 30 days isn't necessarily enough time for a show to find its audience. Early converts may wish to see an exhibit several times, and many shows take their bows just as word-of-mouth really starts to build. The monthly novelty of the Art Crawl is one of its strengths — but when it comes to scheduling potentially exceptional shows, we ask curators to gaze into their crystal balls, take a deep breath, and step away from the calendar. Again, William Blake has some relevant words of advice: "Eternity is in love with the productions of time."

We'll be spending some of ours downtown on Saturday night.

Happy crawling!