Back in the Days by OSGEMEOS

Art of the Week

A recurring set of iconography or particular way of rendering characters has become a staple of contemporary art. The “elevation” of cartooning to echo the rise of street art, inject the artist’s own persona directly into pieces, comment on the proliferation of corporate branding or otherwise has been successfully accomplished by the likes of Keith Haring and KAWS, among many others.

OSGEMEOS, the pseudonym of Brazilian twins Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo, similarly merges the worlds of graffiti and traditional art, cartoon iconography and nuanced metaphor, whimsical depictions and social commentary in their work currently on display at Frist Art Museum’s “OSGEMEOS: In Between” exhibition.

“The works tell stories — sometimes autobiographical — of fantasy, social change and how tradition and progress coexist in Brazil,” according to Frist.

The duo, whose moniker means “the twins” in Portuguese, began as graffiti artists in São Paulo in the ’80s. As their frail-limbed, large-headed characters and ability to blend hip-hop culture, Brazilian folklore and regional social issues became recognized, they were commissioned for public works and added to private collections around the world. But, despite any “validation” offered by this rise in popularity, their work has remained as unique and broadly iconic as ever.

“While their major reputation in the art world is well established, with works in major private and public collections, OSGEMEOS has never lost sight of their desire to be accessible to wide audiences,” Mark Scala, Frist’s chief curator, wrote in a press release.

Frist is exhibiting eight mixed-media paintings and two sculptures by the duo until January 12, 2020. Among the works on display is Back in the Days, a meta study of graffiti culture that offers some insight into the brothers’ own development from practicing street artists to lauded representatives of the genre itself.

“During the 1990s, they were in close contact with the American artist Barry McGee, who met the twins while traveling in Brazil and was so impressed with their work that he offered advice on painting techniques and shared photographs of New York graffiti with them,” Scala wrote. “Works like Back in the Days … which depict American rather than Brazilian subway cars, likely relate to this early exposure.”

Back in the Days is also representative of OSGEMEOS’ close ties to street art and their ability to create nuance from it. The work itself is not graffiti, but rather a scene in which graffiti thrives — offering some elevated perspective on the movement’s roots. The character depictions for which the duo has become well known stand with icons of hip-hop culture and a range of skin tones. Explicit text encourages viewers to “make your mark on society.”

All together, the piece makes it easy to see how OSGEMEOS has become a contemporary art movement in and of itself.

Frist Art Museum is located at 919 Broadway.

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.