Friday, July 01, 2011

This month's Art Crawl lights the fuse on Fourth of July weekend

Nashville Scene

This month's Art Crawl lights the fuse on Fourth of July weekend
Crawl Space

First Saturday Art Crawl
6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 2, downtown

The art scene always slows in the summer, but the July Art Crawl offers a compelling lineup that has us hopeful about the coming months. Expect to see strong debuts, archaic techniques and a gallery full of fireworks to ignite your excitement for the Fourth.

Julie Lee is best known as a singer-songwriter and in-demand collaborator who's had a couple of songs recorded by Alison Krauss. But it's Lee's visual art that will be in the spotlight at both Twist Gallery and Twist Etc. this month. Her found-object assemblages are a fitting visual complement to her collage-like music, and the end result yields a similar blend of the personal and the traditional, the newly discovered and the nostalgic. This is the first installment of Twist's summer series, featuring big solo exhibits encompassing both spaces, 73 and 77 Arcade.

Coop Gallery has a reputation for shows that are full of surprises. Last month's installation by Justin Farris Braun was a completely different affair from what Coop's official propaganda had lead us to believe, and this month's artist seems like another wild card. Steven Frost's show is titled Every Man is a Winner, and it finds the artist recontextualizing heroic tropes within his own craft/design aesthetic. Some past Frost favorites made use of lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) imagery and costumes, but in Frost's hands these expressions of flamboyant machismo were reimagined through an examination of materials as well as the pop cultural language that surrounds contemporary notions of success.

Out on Fifth Avenue, The Arts Company opens Summer of Serendipity. A midyear catchall show, Serendipity showcases work from the gallery's archives, arranging art, decor, books and artifacts in tableaux of living and working spaces. The show offers something for any crawlers looking for some design inspiration.

At Tinney Contemporary, Silver: Points of Departure spotlights artwork created employing silverpoint, a centuries-old drawing medium — using a silver stylus to make marks on prepared surfaces. The technique was widespread before the ubiquitous adoption of graphite; the contemporary artists featured are reviving the practice and the ephemeral, shimmering images it creates. The exhibit brings together silverpoint practitioners from across the country, including Joe Biel, Anne Connell, Lori Field, Marietta Hoferer, Michael Kukla, Kate Kretz, Susan Schwalb, Fran Siegel and Carol Prusa, who guest-curated the show.

Down the block, Rymer Gallery opens Material Inversions. featuring works by James Worsham and gallery director Natalie Andrews. Worsham's mixed-media pieces explore the boundary where nature collides with extremes of civilized luxury. We've been peeking at Andrews' website since she joined Rymer and we're excited to see her work on display. Her sculptures feature repeating lines in harmonious forms and reveal a high level of craftsmanship. We suspect that Andrews' work may be the talk of the Crawl.

If you missed Estel Gallery's show at the June Crawl, you'll want to pop by this two-person exhibit. Using acrylics and charcoal, Dan Bynum has created black-and-white portraits of children that feature colorful symbolic images floating at the center of each piece, tallying a childhood inventory: lightning bugs in a jar, a playful squirrel, a school desk. Bynum's work exists somewhere between the universal and the banal, the resonant and the merely nostalgic. Jenny Keith's beeswax paintings burst with bold color and feature charming characters in fantastic narratives. Up on Broadway, the Tennessee Art League opens five new gallery exhibits, including a show of abstract mixed-media canvases by Judy Bobula.

Blend Studio hosts Combustion: A Group Show at 79 Arcade. Combustion is a collective of visual arts professionals that meets monthly for critical discussion and mutual, creative accountability. This show features drawing, sculpture, painting and mixed-media work by Mandy Brown, Charles Clary, Amanda Dillingham, Jason Driskill, Derek Gibson, Hannah Maxwell Rowell, Sarah Shearer and Blend's own Ben Vitualla.

While Heather Lose was known for hosting Honky Tonk Jukebox on the late, great WRVU, this Saturday she blasts off on the visual art tip with her pyromaniacal From Canvas to Canvas: Selected Images from the Tennessee Fireworks Project. Hosted at the Picture This space at 44 Arcade, the fireworks-centric photos are printed on canvas, and the titular allusion also nods to the familiar roadside canvas tents where fireworks are often sold.

Have a great Crawl and a fun Fourth of July — try not to blow up any crucial body parts!