Burst VI by Heather Hartman

Art of the Week

Even the most basic visual elements can offer incredible depth and beauty when presented through the right lens. And this lens is front and center in the current solo show of mixed media paintings by Heather Hartman, “Spare Room,” currently on view at We-Ho’s Channel To Channel gallery.

Through a skillful combination of material, Hartman creates the effect that her work is making a light of its own, softly filtered through obscuring veils. Window VI offers suggestions of a curtain pulled against the sunrise while Pool IV recreates the effect of bright light reflecting from a body of water, for instance. When viewed as a collection, the pieces are each a unique but unified study on light, that most crucial element of visual art, close up, pared down and played with.

“Hartman’s work combines paper softly appearing behind polyester mesh to create the illusion of light glowing through the periphery of life,” according to the gallery. “Her interests lie in capturing the soft, diffused glow of the Tennessee atmosphere.”

Burst VI may be the most overt and aggressive exploration of the show’s unifying element. An explosion of warmly colored bokeh — the way that a camera lens renders out-of-focus points of light as flat, bright circles — and shafts of luminescence erupt from the center. There is no recognizable figure producing this light, just a study on the visual effects of it.

“I am interested in the constant flux of the visual world and our temporary space within it,” Hartman’s artist statement reads, offering some insight into the inspiration behind works like those in “Spare Room” in particular. “Through common distortions of light, shadow and atmosphere, the familiar can become abstracted and unfamiliar. Thus — for a fleeting moment — the mundane is transformed into the sublime.”

Hartman holds a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Auburn University and a master’s in fine art with a concentration in painting and drawing from the University of Tennessee. Her work has been included in numerous art publications and exhibited across the country. She is currently an assistant professor of art at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City.

Channel to Channel is located at 507 Hagan Street in We-Ho.

Anything’s Possible by Will Schumm

Art of the Week

How do you capture the spirit of an entire city in a single image? That is, of course, the type of challenge that’s been tackled by visual artists for eons. They have rendered entire cities realistically from distinct vantage points, imagined distinct sections wrestling with historic events and shown representative inhabitants as embodiments of larger ideals.

It’s a challenge newly confronted by Will Schumm, a self-taught artist whose latest series of oil paintings is titled simply “Nashville.”

“I’m passionate about our great city, all of its nuances, activities, music, people and heart,” Schumm told Art of Nashville. “As such, I’ve elected to use Nashville as my motivating creative emphasis for the balance of my productive days. I’m attempting to paint the history of Nashville on an ongoing basis.”

To capture the full breadth of the city in his work, Schumm has created pieces inspired by Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, the presence of local musicians and Nashville’s explosively creative spirit, among other local points of interest. The series includes skylines, portraits and studies of musicians’ fingers as they play their instruments. Put together and even individually, the works capture something indelible about being here — Nashville’s history as well as its thoroughly contemporary energy.

Anything’s Possible, for example, presents the vitality of Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, one of its most significant tourist destinations today, in the context of its historic legacy.

The painting shows Tom Ryman, the riverboat captain and businessman who built the church-turned-auditorium, standing with Reverand Sam Jones, the preacher who inspired its creation and first stood behind its pulpit.

“My motivation to create the piece was the incredible story of Captain Ryman and about how he came to build the Union Gospel Tabernacle,” Schumm explained, using the original name for the building. “In short, Tom Ryman went to the Rev. Sam Jones’ revival knowing that a certain Sunday’s sermon was pretty much directed at him and business operations that involved gambling and booze, amongst other activities. Before he left the revival on that fateful day, he was saved by the power of the Holy Spirit and decided that he would use all of his influence and money to build a church worthy of the city and citizens of Nashville.”

To create the painting, Schumm conducted a photo study of the Ryman Auditorium, asking tourists to stand in front of its windows for reference. The result bathes the men in light filtered through the space’s infamous stained glass windows, anointing them with the auditorium’s lasting influence. Schumm believes this to be the only image in existence that features both men together and he hopes to eventually donate it to the Ryman.

“Very few buildings truly represent Nashville like the Ryman Auditorium,” Schumm said. “And … very few, if any, historic stories concerning Nashville are more powerful than the Union Gospel Tabernacle/Ryman Auditorium’s story.”

Anything’s Possible will be on display at the 100 Taylor Arts Collective on September 21, 2019, as part of the weekly Germantown Art Crawl.

The 100 Taylor Arts Collective is located at 100 Taylor Street in Germantown.

Desire by Martica Griffin

Art of the Week

There appears to be progress needed in our recognition of female contributions to the history of abstract painting. While leaders of the movement like Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell are relatively well known, these vanguards and many of their counterparts are often overlooked by their male contemporaries, figures like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.

But, putting aside a need to celebrate female contributions to the history of the movement, there are always still chances to consider the contemporary ways in which women interpret the tenets of abstractionism today.

The current exhibition at Nashville’s Tinney Contemporary, “Women of Abstraction” running until September 26, 2019, is an effort to appreciate this female legacy through its acting contributors. By featuring new works by women in the field, the gallery has placed an emphasis on the broad range of abstract painting done today and the importance of individual expression within the movement — thus celebrating “women of abstraction” by showcasing the uniquely abstract qualities of their work, rather than anything particularly “female” about them.

“As a result of the lasting appeal of the Abstraction Movement, there has been an increased desire to uncover and recognize the women of the many periods of Abstraction throughout history,” per the gallery. “In 2019, being an abstract painter holds a highly dynamic and diverse set of meanings — especially when compared to the pioneers of the previous century. Each artist approaches material, shape, color and space in ways that uniquely reflect their own cultivated experiences and ideas.”

Desire by Martica Griffin, one of the pieces selected for the show, exemplifies this attempt to put the spotlight on abstract art’s inclusivity.

“I’m looking at everything as a source of inspiration — nature, history, street art, current events, fashion, food,” Griffin said. “Painting is a mysterious language and I’m always trying to understand it and make it my own.”

Desire‘s color palette and interpretation of movement and feeling was inspired by a late friend. As in the best examples of abstractionism, no direct imagery between this inspiration and what’s on the canvas is immediately apparent, but instead there is a more truthful and natural interpretation of this friend’s spirit and energy.

This reliance on feeling, energy and instinct that is so critical to abstract art is readily apparent in Griffin’s technical process for creating Desire. She began with an un-stretched canvas pinned to a wall, applying the first coats of paint over a rigid surface so that they could “do what they wanted.” She used paints with different consistencies and a variety of tools and techniques to make the underlying texture marks. To add more sensuous shapes to the piece, Griffin used carbon black colored fluid acrylic.

“I worked back and forth adding and subtracting until I felt the piece was in a state to stretch,” she explained. “I did make some changes once it was stretched because I’d kept things that seemed to be getting in my way.”

The five other artists featured in “Women of Abstraction” similarly interpret the movement and its possibilities in uniquely contemporary ways. There are pieces by Mary Long, Carol Mode, Sisavanh Phouthavong, Mildred Jarrett and Jeanie Gooden, in addition to several by Griffin. Each makes a strong case that uncovering the women of abstraction can mean simply recognizing those who are pushing it forward today.

Griffin is based in Nashville and focuses on non-representational and figurative work. She holds a bachelor’s degree in fine art from East Carolina University and studied postgraduate painting at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Her work has been exhibited throughout Nashville for more than a decade.

Tinney Contemporary is located at 237 5th Avenue.

Evening On The Water by Andrea Jacobson

Art of the Week

The DBO Gallery in The Nashville Arcade, a collection of shops, restaurants and galleries in the heart of downtown’s arts district, will play host to the first-ever show from painter Andrea Jacobson from September 7 to 30, 2019.

Jacobson’s work for the show includes a combination of landscape, portrait and abstract paintings, including the recent piece Evening On The Water.

The image for the piece was inspired by a photograph taken by Jacobson’s son while kayaking on the Chesapeake Bay near Tidewater, Virginia. She used a green wash for the background and then added details using an alla prima technique — a process in which layers of wet paint are applied on top of other layers before they dry. It’s a technique that has led to some of the most influential visualizations of water bodies in history, such as Winslow Homer’s Rowing Home.

“Due to the layering of the different colors, the water appears to have a shimmer when viewed in person that is not apparent in print,” Jacobson explained. “The variation in texture and color is also a plus when viewing in person.”

Evening On The Water is exemplary of the rest of the collection to be exhibited at DBO Gallery, particularly in technique and effect.

“This piece is a good representation of my collection,” the artist said. “Many of the pieces have a similar palette, have a bright under wash, then painted alla prima. My subjects are frequently inspired by nature.”

Jacobson began drawing before attending college, then largely dropped the pursuit to focus on software design and parenting. She took up painting in 2009 and has pursued it as a hobby ever since, recently doing so on a daily basis.

DBO Gallery is located in The Nashville Arcade, 65 Arcade Alley. The collection can be viewed by appointment only. To make an appointment, contact the gallery at (615) 669-9701.

First Steps by Mark Schoon and Casey McGuire

Art of the Week

In the mid-1800s, English astronomer and chemist John Herschel was in possession of something that seemed truly impossible: a photograph of a moon crater.

It was incredible enough that Herschel had a photograph of anything — the medium was just invented in 1824. And, even more astounding, Herschel had seemingly brought the new technology to another celestial body. Of course, the crater was actually made of papier-mâché and clay. But, given the fact that the first flight to space was more than 100 years away, Herschel’s constructed image was remarkably realistic.

Paying homage to this groundbreaking photograph and the mystery, aspiration and technical achievement it represents, Belmont University’s Gallery 121 presents “Analogue Landscapes: Beyond the Lunar Vision,” an exhibition of photos from artists Mark Schoon and Casey McGuire running until October 4, 2019.

“Inspired by Sir John Herschel’s iconic … images depicting a recreation of the moon’s surface, ‘Analogue Landscapes: Beyond the Lunar Vision’ is a monochromatic photographic exhibition exploring various aspects of the real, the artificial and the unattainable,” according to a press release from the gallery.

Some works in the collection, like First Steps, appear to be straight from NASA’s archives — an actual photograph of a footprint on the moon’s surface taken by the astronaut who made it. But, like Herschel’s photograph of more than 150 years ago, the images were crafted to recreate a scientific marvel here on earth. First Steps is an archival pigment print, or giclée, an image that’s been digitally printed on an inkjet printer using archival pigment inks. In this way, it mixes the modern and historic not only in its subject matter, but in its very fabric.

“These images were realized through the creation of three-dimensional sculptures for the purposes of making photographic prints,” per the gallery. “As such, they at times reference lunar models, Apollo era images and telescopic astrophotography in an attempt to bridge the gap between historic and modern modes of scientific representation while re-contextualizing and bringing them into a contemporary vernacular.”

Even today, when actual photographs and even video footage from the surface of the moon is available, these recreated images still capture an enigmatic, alien quality that is as palpable as it was in Herschel’s time. And, because they are not actual scientific documentation, their artifice makes interesting comments on the technical process of photography in relation to the space age and beyond as well as photographs as an artistic medium that “brings” us to places we could never go.

Schoon and McGuire are based in Georgia. Schoon holds a master’s in photography from Ohio University and his photographs have been collected by The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego. McGuire holds a master’s in fine arts in sculpture from the University of Colorado, Boulder and her installations have been exhibited in Michigan, Texas and Colorado.

Belmont University’s Gallery 121 is located in the Leu Center for the Visual Arts, 1989 Belmont Blvd.

Forever by Norf Art Collective

Art of the Week

Mural art is a particularly difficult media to capture in the confines of a museum or gallery. Yet throughout the world, and particularly in Nashville, murals are often the most powerful and moving forms of expression a viewer can experience — dominant scenes that transform architecture, embody local spirit and quite literally envelop a community.

In “Murals of North Nashville Now,” an exhibition on view until January 5, 2020, Frist Art Museum has brought the growing mural art scene from one of the city’s most culturally and historically rich neighborhoods into its free Conte Community Arts Gallery by collecting eight new, 8-by-12-foot murals from local artists. There is also a map indicating where full-scale murals throughout North Nashville can be found.

“In recent years, as the Nashville area rapidly grows and changes, a vibrant street art community has flourished,” reads a museum press release on the show. “This exhibition focuses on artists who live, work or have studied in the historically African-American neighborhood of North Nashville.”

Frist has commissioned work for the exhibition from Omari Booker, LeXander Bryant, Brandon Donahue, Elisheba Israel Mrozik, the Norf Art Collective, XPayne and young members of the North Nashville community. Each piece demonstrates a core tenet of mural artwork — commentary on the values, struggles or experiences of the community that it anoints. For instance, Booker’s work examines discriminatory lending and investment practices, Donahue’s commemorates victims of local gun violence and Mrozik’s is constructed around the unique battles that African-American women face in our society.

Norf Art Collective, a group of artist/advocates based in North Nashville that includes multimedia artists woke3, keep3, doughjoe and Sensei, provided two pieces for the show, Fly and Forever. In Forever, the artists point a young girl — one wearing the same clothes as a figure in their 26th Avenue and Clarkesville Pike mural Family Matters, but with her teddy bear and apprehensive look exchanged for a paintbrush and more confident stride — down an optimistic path. Graffiti-style writing is interlaced with stacked books and happy students, a tree of lights, Fisk University’s oldest building and North Nashville’s main thoroughfare, Jefferson Street, leading into a full moon. The airbrushed finish and dripping accents are distinctly inspired by street art, while the compiled imagery and hopeful tone lend themselves to the legacy tradition of community-oriented murals.

“The Norf Art Collective presents the children featured in their Clarksville Pike mural … as maturing individuals rising above negative situations and making plans for a healthy future with education, community and clean natural resources as necessary building blocks,” Frist explained. “The Norf Art Collective … is committed to producing public art that addresses social issues and the distinctive historical aspects of the community.”

Frist Art Museum is located at 919 Broadway.

Dead Horse Bay by Marcus Manganni

Art of the Week

It is the rare painting, photograph or sculpture that can feel truly “immersive.” As striking and engulfing as they may be, they hardly surround the viewer and bombard their every sense. That is what installations, like Dead Horse Bay by Marcus Manganni, are for.

The piece currently installed at Channel to Channel until August 24 involves video, sound and large-scale sculpture to transport visitors from the gallery to a new place in the way that other visual art simply cannot. The name of the installation evokes that place (at least its inspiration) — a small body of water between two inlets in Brooklyn with history as a manufacturing site for fertilizer made of dead animals.

“Referring to the enchanting yet extremely polluted water body in the Brooklyn Rockaways, Dead Horse Bay contains interactive media projections that visually explore the site and its eerie history,” according to Channel to Channel. “Once home to horse rendering plants, the beach became a landfill in the 1930s and continues to leak trash into the ocean today.”

The installation certainly alludes to the darker side of the bay’s history, but also conveys the tranquility of its setting through recorded ambient birdsong and the large silk screens on which visuals are projected.

“The walk to Dead Horse Bay leads through the beautifully green and isolating Millstone trail,” Manganni explained, per an artist’s statement from the gallery. “Unconsciously, I began visually identifying objects — birds flying, bees pollinating flowers and, in the distance, the Gil Hodges Bridge. The further I walked, the more hyper-focused I was of the details — the colors became more saturated, the sounds grew louder — it was a more heightened sense of vision.”

The real power of Dead Horse Bay is the transference of feeling, the chance for the artist to make viewers feel a certain way from head to toe. At Channel to Channel, Manganni has been able to convey and elaborate on the real feeling he got from the installation’s namesake.

“Through the use of media projection, Dead Horse Bay explores this heightened visual sense,” Manganni said. “The walk through the trail is projected onto silk sheers. The physical qualities of the sheers contrast and play with the projected visual information. The forest can seem liquid at times as the the silk ripples and reacts with the viewers movement through the space. Through the silk trail, two massive beach roses intentionally replace the bay as the destination.”

In the universal way that visual art transcends its subject and in the unique way that installation encompasses those subjects, Dead Horse Bay won’t transport you to Brooklyn, but rather to the artist’s personal, heightened experience there.

Manganni is based in Brooklyn and is the sculptor behind Bending Normal and Special Housing Unit, which are installed outside of Wedgewood-Houston’s Packing Plant galleries and studio. He was featured in the 2019 Young Collectors Contemporary at Crosstown Arts in Memphis and in the Museum of Contemporary Art Nashville’s 2018 pop-up show.

Channel to Channel is located at 507 Hagan Street in We-Ho.

Heaven by Jodi Hays

Art of the Week

The term “abstract expressionism” has come to describe visual art that appears wildly chaotic, as in Pollock’s splattered canvases, as well as work that seems regimentally organized, as in Rothko’s studies in color palette. The flaw (and perhaps beauty) of art movement terminology is that it attempts to group work that, in the most significant ways, defies grouping.

But if a label has to be affixed to the work in Jodi Hays’ exhibition “Tend,” on view at Red Arrow Gallery until September 7, abstract expressionism might be appropriate. Not least because of the way her paintings embrace both of the aforementioned extremes of the movement simultaneously.

In Heaven, for instance, a grid of black is interrupted and embraced by stripes and shapes of many colors — the strict lines we might associate with a Rothko are barely containing the more freeform movements of a Pollock. This use of regimentation, and an emphasis on defying it, is constant throughout the pieces in the show.

“These systems (grids) become a scaffold for pictorial inclinations,” the gallery explained. “Stripes generate a placement in pattern, repetition and seriality. Textiles, associated with warmth, the body, pattern, domesticity and weave (stripes) inform this work, as do fragmentary shapes that are plant-like or jaggedly organic, bringing the ‘outside’ into the studio. Hard-edged shapes exist with more rounded/floral moves.”

The ultimate effect that this interplay has on viewers and as an overarching statement about the longevity of the work itself is powerful.

“The way I see my paintings is like how a folded map relates to a pocket, holding potential to be a locative device, to consider consequences and ask questions,” Hays says of her own work, per a statement shared by the gallery. “This exhibition asks what it can mean to care for and remain attentive in painting, revealing how my core iconography elucidates a conversation on abstraction and a generative, inexhaustible mark.”

Hays is based in Nashville and has exhibited her work across the country, including at the Boston Center for the Arts and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. She has received awards from the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Sustainable Arts Foundation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Tennessee and a master’s degree in fine arts from the Vermont College of Fine Art.

Red Arrow Gallery is located at 919 Gallatin Avenue, Suite #4, in East Nashville.

Those Precious Marlboro Menthol Lights by Crys Yin

Art of the Week

Art exhibitions are the chance to see a wide range of visuals tied together by a single, unifying thread. Sometimes this thread is cord-thick, like when a gallery presents the life’s work of a single artist for a retrospective, or when a large museum presents concrete examples of a single artistic movement. But sometimes the thread is a little thinner or more abstract, affording the gallery an interpretive reason to bring together a wide range of work.

Such is the case with “Smoke Show,” the current exhibition found at North Nashville’s Elephant Gallery. The pieces in the show, running through August 3, 2019, are connected only through their familiarity with fumes.

“‘Smoke Show’ is a group show of all things smoke related — ranging from textile, ceramic and sculpture work to drawing, painting and photography of all sizes,” said the gallery. “Over 30 local artists participated in the open call, totaling about 50 artists including the curated out-of-state participants.”

The gallery’s building currently has a mega-sized cigarette hanging outside, above a graffiti advertisement for the exhibition. Pieces on display include a collection of hand-carved meerschaum pipes owned by late founder of Oz Arts Nashville Cano A. Ozgener, a minimal spray paint rendering on french paper called Gary Woods on Fire by self-described Gestaltist and Nashville resident Lindsy Davis and an oversized Zippo lighter dubbed Use It to Start Something by local artist Ian Bush.

Even through the smoke of their connection, you can see that Elephant Gallery has collected a wide variety of art. Many of the pieces seem to take an irreverent view on the subject matter — illustrating the act of smoking or its requisite apparatuses in comical and absurd ways. But others powerfully leverage the visual uniqueness of smoke itself or offer commentary on the role that smoke and smoking plays in the daily lives of many.

Those Precious Marlboro Menthol Lights, a glazed ceramic piece by Crys Yin, may be emphasizing the weight or power that cigarettes carry by rendering a disposable pack in a more permanent medium. China-like blue and white detailing on the box and filters renders the subject matter with more elegance than the viewer might normally consider. The preciousness of the sculpture overtly illustrates the value a smoker places on their favorite brand.

Yin is a multimedia artist who lives in Brooklyn. Much of her work echoes traditional Asian art or the Asian American experience. Her work has been exhibited across the country since 2015.

Elephant Gallery is located at 1411 Buchanan St.

An Agent of Seduction by Tula Telfair

Art of the Week

Illustrating the sheer power and majesty of our natural surroundings has always been a central tenant of visual art. From the ancient depictions of wild beasts at Lascaux to the epic landscapes of Romanticism, renderings of Mother Nature can be breathtaking and awe inspiring, even when they don’t deviate from what is real.

Tula Telfair, a painter and professor of art at Wesleyan University, has communicated this effect and drama that unadorned nature can have in a series of hyper-realistic oil paintings on display at Haynes Galleries in Franklin.

“Telfair has received critical acclaim for her grand landscapes that showcase the terrain and environment of majestic locations like ancient icebergs floating in frigid arctic waters or rugged mountain peaks drenched in the red light of the setting sun,” according to a release from Haynes.

Telfair’s work is particularly affecting when it captures the precious beauty of landscapes that are slowly disappearing. In An Agent of Seduction, the massive strength of an arctic iceberg is demonstrated through its overwhelming size and dominance of the foreground. Its sublime beauty is translated through the eery blues of the ice and dark purples of the frigid waters. But, doubtlessly brought as context from viewers, there is a sense that despite this power and beauty, the landscape presented here is fragile.

Telfair holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Moore College of Art, a Master of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University and a Master of Arts in Administration degree from Wesleyan University. Her work has been exhibited throughout the country for over four decades, from the New Orleans Museum of Art to the New Jersey Center for Visual Arts.

Haynes Galleries is located in Franklin. Visits are welcome by appointment only.