Thank You, Come Again by Frances Berry

Art of the Week

The current exhibition on view at Nashville’s Channel To Channel gallery is a collaboration between two dynamic and energetic creatives: Frances Berry and Stacy Kiehl. The show, titled “At Your Convenience,” includes bold visuals that jump off of the gallery walls and visual reminders of the synergistic potential that this type of collaboration can manifest in the creative process.

“Though Frances Berry and Stacy Kiehl have vastly different artistic styles (Stacy having a more graphic style, Frances, more painterly), they share a bold and vibrant color palette,” explained the gallery in a statement. “They have described their collaborative process as being comparable to tag-team wrestling or pen pal correspondence, as they pass work back and forth until they achieve a satisfying result.”

Berry’s Thank You, Come Again is a powerful example of her signatures: it’s a bold elevation of a seemingly benign object, rendered with a brash outlook. In some ways, it is a variation on her previous work, exhibited at Channel To Channel in 2019.

But the tag-team approach between Berry and Kiehl seems to have drawn new energy and execution out of the artists, as the collaboration marked firsts for them both.

“While Frances has previously created collaborative art with her past studio mate … she has never collaborated with another female artist before,” per Channel To Channel. “This is Stacy’s first artistic collaboration.”

The two found that their partnership could yield substantive creative output almost instantly — Kiehl visited Berry’s studio one day and Berry asked her on the spot to help with a piece that she felt wasn’t quite finished. Two days later, Kiehl came back, added some elements to the painting, and the pair began their working relationship.

“She’s become my very best friend in such a short period of time,” Berry told Choose 901 in an interview.

Berry received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Alabama and her Master of Fine Arts degree from the Memphis College of Art. Her work has been featured in Marfa, Texas; Paris and by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She currently lives in Memphis.

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

#1508-3d by Kit Reuther

Art of the Week

Currently on view at David Lusk Gallery until October 17 is a variety of work by multimedia artist Kit Reuther, including painting, mixed media and sculpture work, for a show titled “Assembly.” As a collection, the pieces complement one another through geometric form, tone and palette, but each add a variation on the themes.

Reuther’s collection of sculpture on display at David Lusk Gallery.

The centerpiece of the show is a range of a dozen or so wooden sculptures arranged on a white platform on the gallery floor. As a whole, they convey a power in the show that can transcend the sum of its parts, a forest of seemingly organic forms containing mysterious power. Taking in the show as a whole this way enforces the self-taught Reuther’s approach to her work, which is dictated by the natural material and a respect for her community.

“This series of wood sculpture begins and ends with compositions of simple shapes,” Reuther explained in a statement shared by the gallery. “Each piece is dictated by the wood resources available to me. I am surrounded in the studio … by builders and artisans making beautiful furniture and other utilitarian objects, so I’m always observing and taking in technical information. Working in wood is always a negotiation between my ideas and the limitations of the material — it can be a humbling process but ultimately satisfying.”

But the collection doesn’t need to be viewed as a whole to convey this sense of organic discovery or aggregate respect. As a series of Reuther’s trademark wooden forms presented side by side, for instance, the single piece #1508-3d contains a diaspora of form and movement in and of itself.

Reuther‘s work has been displayed across the country and she’s been selected for numerous awards and fellowships, including the VCCA International Residency Program in Schwandorf, Germany.

The David Lusk Gallery’s Nashville location is located at 516 Hagan Street in We-Ho.

June 2020 by Mark Mulroney

Art of the Week

For its latest exhibition, Wedgewood-Houston’s Julia Martin Gallery presents a compelling, sardonic collection of mixed media pieces by New Haven-based artist Mark Mulroney. The show, called “Family Values,” offers artistic takes that are firmly rooted in the here and now, as well as reflections that are thoroughly timeless.

Mulroney’s work features political figures, cynically-edited cartoons, magazine cutouts and other creative collections to elicit humor, ironic reflection and a range of other reactions. In the pieces that dwell on current events particularly, this approach is uniquely effective for this confusing and unprecedented time.

“Mulroney’s narratives often depict superheroes, baseball players and charming little scenes from when America was so ‘great,’ albeit peppered with missing limbs and squirting blood,” exhibition curator Daniel Lonow explained in a message from the gallery. “This is a grail show for me. Mark is an artist I have dreamed of bringing to Nashville since I first encountered his work in Miami in the early 2000s.”

Lonow highlighted Mitch McConnell From Memory, a piece that depicts the Senate Majority Leader as a pink puddle of goo wearing his trademark spectacles.

“His touches on the political are flat-out genius,” Lonow said. “For instance, Mitch McConnell From Memory captures McConnell as a slab of raw meat wearing glasses. Enough said.”

The acrylic collage June 2020 offers multiple touch points that serve as a kind of microcosm for the collection as a whole. Painted on “quarantine cardboard,” as the gallery put it, it includes a smattering of cartoon characters, memento mori and earnestly haggard faces — all rendered in cartoonishly bright fashion.

It speaks well to how Mulroney has been able to capture the unique, disturbing essence of our time throughout Family Values.

Mulroney holds a BFA from San Diego State University and an MFA from the University of California at Santa Barbara. His work has been exhibited throughout the world, including at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, SUNY Cortland in New York and the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago.

Julia Martin Gallery is located at 444 Humphreys Street in WeHo.

Simon The Protector by Mary Kinzel Means

Art of the Week

As important as it is for artists to interpret and refract the social issues of their time, visual art is often just as powerful when it provides a complete fantasy or escape from our fixed perception of reality.

As a showcase of this fantastical power, Bennett Galleries is now hosting the work of multimedia sculptor Mary Kinzel Means, a collection of ceramic busts depicting mythical figures and animals that project a serene and joyful energy.

“‘I aspire to capture lightness and fully embrace the spiritual feel of my work,” Means said in a statement shared by the gallery. “It may sound strange to some, but I can feel the energy come through the clay, almost like I’m capturing an image of a visitor from above. I feel only lightness when I work, stress and negativity seem to magically disappear the minute my hands get in the clay. I’m hopeful the gift of ‘lightness of being’ translates through my creations.”

No piece in the collection better captures this spiritual feel than Simon The Protector, a 10.5″ bust depicting a Romanesque winged figure. It appears that, rather than a representation of a specific myth, the piece was derived from the visit of a figure directly to Means as she worked. Its serene expression, inventive composition and handcrafted finish all contribute to its lightness of being.

Means’ ability to instill her work with such lightness and imagination may derive from her earliest experiences with art, as she observed her grandfather work in his own studio.

“My grandfather’s studio was mesmerizing, full of odds and ends with paintings strewn everywhere, the smell of turpentine thick, I was in awe!,” she said.

It’s comforting to know that memories like that, even from the very beginning of an artist’s journey, can ultimately elicit the same feelings of awe, no matter what else has changed.

Means studied art and psychology at the University of Tennessee. She is an award-winning artist and gallery operator whose work has been exhibited throughout the Southeast.

Bennett Galleries is located at 2104 Crestmoor Road in Green Hills.

Lil Ratchet: Tryin’ To Ride Up by Desmond Lewis

Art of the Week

It’s been pretty clear over the last few weeks that Nashville’s artists and curators are aiming their creative efforts toward the avalanche of social issues proliferating our times. There have been the fundamental inequalities laid bare by the death of George Floyd and emphasized in protests and activism across the country, the rampant spread of the novel coronavirus, the damage wrought by local tornadoes less than six months ago, a tense political climate punctuated by the upcoming presidential election and more.

Putting these issues on display, local galleries have exhibited Marbles by Lorenzo Swinton at DBOGallery, Tribute To George Floyd by Ashley Doggett at David Lusk Gallery and The Survivor by Eleanor Taylor at Frist Art Museum, just to name a few.

And now, Red Arrow Gallery is hosting “Breathless,” an exhibition of work from 15 artists that emphasizes the broad range of creative interpretations being applies to current events all in one show. The name is derived from a common feeling generated by this unique place and time.

“Since early March 2020, the state of the world has changed, and our lives have been altered forever,” the gallery explained in a release. “‘Breathless’ is a group exhibition featuring new work created at the beginning of March through present. Influenced by the March 3 tornado. Influenced by the pandemic induced quarantines we’ve experienced over the last five months. Influenced by the racial divide, injustice and protest movement that is at the center of our current political and social environment.”

Exhibited artists include Nuveen Barwari, Bethany Carlson Coffin, Paul Collins, Lindsy Davis, Amy Dean, Marlos E’van, Jodi Hays, John Paul Kesling, Marcus Maddox, Joe Nolan, Dax Van Aalten, Tara Walters, Ripley Whiteside, Christopher Wormald and Desmond Lewis. Exhibited works include photographs of local protests, portraits of political figures and mixed media representations.

Lewis’s piece, Lil Ratchet: Tryin’ To Ride Up, hangs from the ceiling of Red Arrow as an installation — a single-wheeled BMX bike suspended with a ratchet strap. Among the recent local artistic commentaries on current events, it stands out for its use of found objects and three-dimensional attention. Visitors may also be struck by the hopelessness it evokes, which draws a parallel between the challenges faced by those attempting to lift themselves through a rigged system, and the inherent futility of a bike with one wheel and a flat tire.

As for people of color who live under an unequal social system, or victims of a tornado who are then quickly buffeted by an international pandemic, it’s more than just difficult to lift yourself up when you don’t have the necessary tools or circumstances — it’s nearly impossible.

Lewis received his master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Memphis. He has participating in residencies at the Pittsburgh Glass Center, Skowhegan School of Painting, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and others. His work has been collected at the Carolina Bronze Sculpture Park, Vermont Carving and Sculpture Center, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and elsewhere.

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

White Nationalist by Marlos E’van

Art of the Week

From now until August 29, Nashville’s Channel To Channel gallery features three local artists who present complementary but diverse viewpoints on our past and present society using kindred creative approaches. The artists — Nuveen Barwari, Courtney Adair Johnson and Marlos E’van — have assembled for a show entitled “Hot Cheetos: Activism and Junk Food.”

“Barwari, E’van and Johnson first came together in 2018 and again in 2019, working together with local youth on a summer program with McGruder Social Practice Artist Residency (M-SPAR),” according to a release from the gallery, referencing a program to accelerate artistic participation and collaboration in North Nashville through the McGruder Family Resource Center. “There are many parallels in their methods and personal histories, as each artist was raised in the southern United States. However, each has different heritage and backgrounds that play an important part in their independent art practices. Their interest in social justice, historical narratives and the use of repurposed material have interlaced them into a working collective.”

Barwari is a Kurdish American whose work spans multiple disciplines and whose focus tends to be on migration, refugee experiences and transnational identity. Johnson explores issues of waste and consumption through her work, emphasizing sustainability and reuse. E’van works in multimedia, including film, and much of the resulting art accentuates figures from current events and the vices of commercialism — as in the piece The Last Suppa. But E’van’s work also offers perspective on other contemporary issues, particularly at this moment of reflection on societal inequalities.

“[E’van delivers] critiques on the criminal justice system, both in America and abroad, while offering works and exhibitions that ask questions of how we, as a society, can break the chains that oppress us and finally live in a world as a unified people.”

His piece White Nationalist, featured in “Hot Cheetos,” offers a seemingly clear viewpoint on a social issue: a call to eliminate white nationalist sentiment. But it is more than just a social traffic sign. The canvas is stretched over a window pane that E’van salvaged from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, literally embedding a moment in American history during which people of color suffered disproportionately and, like the peers along whom this piece is hung at Channel To Channel, demonstrating the power that art has to revive and transform found objects.

E’van received their bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Watkins College of Art in 2016 and has been exhibited widely throughout Nashville. E’van also cofounded M-SPAR.

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

The Survivor by Eleanor Taylor

Art of the Week

Our current social climate may put stress on any one of us, but some populations are more acutely affected than others. The need for quarantine and social distance, for instance, impacts teenagers in particularly challenging ways — dramatically changing rites of passage like high school graduations, limiting in-person contact with peers and otherwise adding extra stressors at a point in life when determining your path and identity are already hard enough.

But in Frist Art Museum’s latest online exhibition, some local teens are turning these challenges into opportunities to create unique and captivating works of art. Frist is presenting the second edition of its “Teens Take The Frist!” showcase, with roughly 50 pieces of different media created by artists of ages 13 to 19 from Nashville’s surrounding counties. Coinciding with the spread of the novel coronavirus, the exhibition offers a critical opportunity for these young artists to express themselves and amplify their creative voices.

“With many schools shifting to online learning because of COVID-19 restrictions, art has become more important that ever as an avenue of communication and connection,” said Shaun Giles, the museum’s assistant director for community engagement and the exhibition’s curator, according to a press release. “The works in this exhibition provide a glimpse into the artists’ observations and what is important to them.”

The show is an all-too-rare chance to connect with the perspectives of emerging artists. And, with many of the exhibited pieces being created while these artists were in quarantine, it also offers a glimpse into how some members of this uniquely affected population are interpreting the world around them. The Survivor, an ink and acrylic drawing on newsprint by Eleanor Taylor, serves as a relatively direct commentary on the health crisis.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the world into turmoil and uncertainty, affecting the lives of billions of people across the globe,” Taylor wrote in an artist’s statement shared by Frist. “And yet, hope remains. This piece shows the image of an old woman smiling over a COVID-19 newspaper article. It is a reminder to smile even during dark times.”

Frist Art Museum is located at 919 Broadway.

Tribute To George Floyd by Ashley Doggett

Art of the Week

David Lusk Gallery is now hosting “HEED,” a new exhibition of four artists whose work is focused on the major challenges faced by our entire planet and everyone on it. The show will run through the month of August and exist primarily online, though there will be some work on display in its Nashville and Memphis locations. The gallery will also be making extra effort to provide context around the show and to fight some of the challenges that its participants highlight.

“Through social media, DLG will dedicate a week to each artist, using their platform to tell the story of their intention, background, trajectory and process,” the gallery wrote in a statement. “During August, DLG will donate 25 percent of sales from this exhibition to an organization of the artist’s choosing.”

Participating artists include Maysey Craddock, Leslie Holt, Rob Matthews and Ashley Doggett. Each creative brings their own style and subject matter to the fore, with each processing and presenting some of the most fundamental challenges we face in their own ways. For Doggett, that meant honoring a figure whose untimely death at the hands of police officers has ignited a wave of protests, reflections and demands for substantive change in systemic racism.

Her Tribute To George Floyd, rendered in purples and blues and illuminated by a saintly red halo, speaks to the martyrdom of his death, caused during an arrest where a white officer knelt on his neck for nearly eight minutes. The tribute is a powerful example of the content and approach that Doggett is most known for.

“In direct conversation with contemporary art practices, Ashley Doggett explores themes of religion, race, gender and dissociation by citation of historical narratives,” David Lusk Gallery shared. “Her focus is America’s tragic legacy of white supremacy, slavery and the trauma that is often revised or erased by dominant historical narratives.”

By presenting a portrait of Floyd that casts him in a spiritual light, she is amplifying the empathetic interpretation of his death (and the larger struggle for equal treatment under the justice system) as well as recasting any lesser portrayals of him. Again, this presentation of the now iconic Floyd is emblematic of her larger mission as an artist.

“In her paintings, drawings and woodcuts that are primarily figurative works, she re-contextualizes racial stereotypes in an act of aesthetic protest,” per David Lusk Gallery. “Her reclaiming of these icons encourages reconsideration and engagement with these historic, yet systemic and recurring issues.”

Doggett holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Nashville’s Watkins College of Art. Her work has been exhibited throughout the country.

The David Lusk Gallery’s Nashville location is located at 516 Hagan Street in We-Ho.

Laminae by Kayla Rumpp

Art of the Week

Following a break from in-person exhibitions due to the novel coronavirus, during which it still hosted the online-only show “Pockets Of Real Passion,” Nashville’s Channel to Channel gallery has reopened with a solo show from Knoxville-based artist Kayla Rumpp.

To exhibition is titled “Betula” and features Rumpp’s signature three-dimensional pieces that defy the typical definitions of painting or sculpture. The brightly-colored work clings to the gallery walls, but through the use of form and material, breaks through the flat plain that typically constrains paintings.

“Rumpp creates work inspired by the relationship between paintings and sculpture with a childlike approach to ingenuity and invention,” according to a statement from the gallery. “Materials, color, texture, form and light all play key parts in the sensory experience created for the viewer. Conventional materials, such as wooden popsicle sticks, are reimagined in their use to create provoking, interactive works.”

Laminae, like other pieces in “Betula,” uses form and unique material to literally break free of the gallery wall and approach viewers.

This hybrid approach means that the exhibition’s individual pieces, like Laminae, engage with viewers in a unique and thought-provoking way, making for a dynamic experience that Rumpp hopes will grow with visitors.

“Color and soft texture embrace the sensory, providing the eye with a sense of touch, and an allure to move the hand closer. I am intrigued by the physical encounter a viewer might have when interacting with the work,” according to a statement from the artist. “My hope is to create an immersive work that confronts the viewer to experience the piece with an altered perception that is slowly formed and evolves in time with the piece.”

Though the show is scheduled to close on July 25, Rumpp’s work is sure to engage visitors who are able to see it in person or access the images online.

Rummp holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and Master of Science degree in art education from the University of Tennessee. Her work has been exhibited widely throughout Tennessee since 2015.

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

Marbles by Lorenzo Swinton

Art of the Week

At a time when many artists are being called to depict some of the harshest realities our society is now living through, it can be difficult to find inspiration and hope among the resulting work. But, as always, some creatives have turned their eyes and skillsets toward the silver linings that shine through.

One example that very much addresses the unpleasant reality of the present, but with a hopeful bent to the future, is Marbles, an oil and charcoal piece by Lorenzo Swinton, currently on display at Clarksville’s DBO Gallery.

Marbles was the first piece in Swinton’s “Americana Series,” a study of race relations and police brutality in America. Like Marbles, the other works in the collection include bright coloring and featureless figures, but these also have identifiable scenes from historic civil rights moments, like the desegregation of public schools, or more literal depictions of police brutality and American militarism. Of the entire collection, Marbles may be the most allegorical piece, depicting not a historical moment or scene of action, but an uplifting interpretation of the innocence of children — two little girls of different races playing together, without prejudice or misconception.

“I was inspired to bring to the forefront particular perceptions and visuals of American history that were emotionally impactful, with the intent for viewers to contemplate on the many obstacles that were faced head on in the past, and to raise the question of how much progress has really been made throughout the decades,” Swinton explained to Art of Nashville. “I feel that Marbles opens up the conversation of racial biases as well as the suggestion that children are programmed to see race at an early age… Choosing marbles as the main focus was to bring an elevation of bold colors to the soft and harsh sfumato of the children, also to insinuate that in some irony ‘people have lost their marbles.'”

Swinton’s non-representative, softened technique lends itself inherently to the allegorical message behind the piece. It’s a powerful symbiosis that complements both his talent as an artist and the subject matter he hopes to tackle.

“He would say that the expressionism and influences from developing his paintings comes from personal, everyday life,” according to his artist statement. “As a result, Lorenzo continues to become more involved with the creation of abstract and contemporary paintings.”

For those who aren’t seeking an escape from the real world, but perhaps a new outlook on it, Marbles may offer the right perspective.

Swinton is originally from Winston-Salem, North Carolina and currently resides in Clarksville. He has been practicing art since he was six years old and his work has been displayed throughout Nashville and Clarksville.

DBOGallery’s Clarksville location is on 106 N. 2nd Street.