Instagram as Art: Richard Prince’s “New Portraits”

posted by – 07/03/15 @ 4:33pm

The Huffington Post recently published an article about appropriation artist Richard Prince, the artist who refurbished random Instagram photos in his 2014 exhibition “New Portraits.” The exhibition sparked controversy, raising questions regarding copyright issues and originality.

"New Portraits"

“New Portraits” /

The show is made up of enlarged copies of Instagram photos, posted by both celebrities and ordinary people, with Prince’s own comments at the bottom of each. The pieces reportedly sell for $90,000. The exhibition calls into question the notion of ownership in the Internet age, as well as the importance of personal branding.

"New Portraits"

“New Portraits” /

“New Portraits” also highlights the role Instagram plays in today’s art world. As a purely visual medium, Instagram offers everyday users a way to express themselves, as well as a platform for artists to promote their work and establish their brand. The age of social media calls for fluidity and flexibility, and Prince’s work highlights the changing nature of ownership.

Printing the Past and Present for the Future

posted by – 06/23/15 @ 3:39pm


A recent article in The Atlantic describes the formative steps the Smithsonian is taking in order to preserve and protect the artifacts so delicate and yet so critical to understanding human history and culture, or what I’d simply like to call the Smithsonian’s attempt to create a “future for the past.”

Essentially, technicians and conservators at The Smithsonian take an object, scan it, then create a 3D cast of the object, which is further processed to make it look like the original. These copies are kept by the Smithsonian to be brought out for special occasions, as the original collection owners rely on the income from these artifacts. The concern here is, do the objects hold onto their authenticity once there are copies? This highly intriguing article discusses the “benefits of accessibility…pitted against those of authenticity” and the ongoing quest by museums and others of how to integrate the ever-changing world of technology into the world of antiquity.

Not only is 3D printing going to be progressively used in preserving the past, but it is also going to be transformative in the contemporary art world as artists, including our very own Carol Prusa, as seen below, are ever increasingly experimenting with and using 3D printing as a medium of artistic expression.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 3.36.07 PM

3D printing is literally and figuratively shaping the worlds around us, keeping our head on a swivel while leaving us attentive to the subtle nuances created by increased use and appreciation for rapidly changing technologies.



Romancing Banality: The Art of Lyle Carbajal

posted by – 06/19/15 @ 2:33pm

Lyle Carbajal’s roving exhibition Romancing Banality incorporates elements from years spent traveling, absorbing new cultures. Nashville is the exhibition’s third iteration, following openings in Seattle and New Orleans. Carbajal lives in each city for months leading up to the opening, incorporating himself into the city’s culture.

“It’s a city’s Zeitgeist that interests me,” said Carbajal, “The sights, the sounds, the way its people either cherish or disregard artistic forms, the city’s visual connection to the past and whether or not it recognizes its indigenous culture.”

Romancing Banality

Visitors to Romancing Banality find themselves immersed in an authentic, urban/primitive experience completely lacking in pretense. Capturing the spirit of anti-artistry and folk art, Carbajal seeks inspiration in the everyday.

“These are the truths I perceive through my eyes, my journeys, and my exploration as an artist,” said Carbajal of his work.

The effect of Romancing Banality in the gallery space is truly transformative. In addition to the paintings and multimedia works adorning the walls, Carbajal installed a half-scale model of a carcineria in the center of the gallery. He is also exploring film as a medium, and a film shot and produced entirely in Mexico is projected onto one of the gallery’s walls, furthering the multi-sensory experience that is Romancing Banality.

Art Basel 2015 Opens

posted by – 06/16/15 @ 5:05pm

With the opening of Art Basel 2015 in its founding city this week, I’d like to shed some light on this wonderful European exhibition of art from around the world.


Distinctively located on the borders of Switzerland, France, and Germany, Basel provides the most strategic location for the exhibition of over 300 leading galleries from Europe, North America, Latin America, and Asia. The works presented at the 2015 Art Basel show encompass most mediums of Modern and contemporary art imaginable from sculpture and painting to videos to performance art by both well-known and newly emerging artists.


Over 90,000 art lovers—collectors, gallerists, artists, curators, and simple art enthusiasts—from across the globe attend Art Basel each year. The attendance and the involvement of buyers has been crescendoing recently as the arts become more prevalent in the public’s eye. Founded in 1970 by a few gallerists in Basel, the show has increased its attendance from 16,300 people in its initial show to almost 100,000 people estimated for this year. Basel is not the only location for this sophisticated “arts fair” either, which also takes place in Miami Beach in December and Hong Kong in March.

Described as the “Olympics of the Art World,” Art Basel has figured out the formula for an art show: find and provide the platform for excellent art and let it speak for itself. Each work of art has a unique effect on every individual. We are all idiosyncratic with distinctive perspectives stemming from our own experiences in life, and the discernment we all have for art is just as original as the art itself. With Art Basel, the collection of art of over 4,000 artists from these hundreds of galleries drives the success of this “arts affair.”


Already at the incipient of this year’s showing, Leonardo DiCaprio has shown his man-bun and museum and private collectors have been seen in full force. (


Among the attendees for the Miami Beach Art Basel in 2014, were our very own Susan Tinney and Sarah Wilson, who hope to some day make the trek to Basel for the experience of a lifetime.

Spanish Sculptor Jaume Plensa Exhibits at Two Nashville Venues

posted by – 05/06/15 @ 1:33pm

Jaume Plensa is the latest international artist to bring his internationally acclaimed art to our city. Exhibiting work here for the first time,  the artist is bringing work to display at Nashville’s two largest art venues: The Frist Center for Visual Arts and The Cheekwood Museum & Gardens. Though the majority of the large-scale works will be installed in the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, the Frist will also share a few pieces of the collection.  Plensa’s large-scale sculpture Isabella will be displayed at the entrance of the Frist Center, accompanied by a “sister” sculpture in the Cheekwood Gardens. there will be a series of small-scale works inside the Frist, as well.

"Sho" stainless steel, 2007


Plensa’s work deals with the human figure, transforming the dimensionality of the human form to create intriguing silhouettes while manipulating the material to transform the way we think of the human experience. “Plensa’s body of work is primarily inspired by the complexities of the human condition. He is known for the exploration of the tension between the interior and exterior life. The artist uses a variety of materials—from cast iron to steel and bronze to alabaster and synthetic resin—choosing the material which will best communicate his idea for the image. Plensa’s portraits are a radical reinterpretation of what is usually considered the domain of a more classical art.” (

"Paula, Rui Rui, and Awilda"


The artist’s work is likely to raise a great deal of conversation while on exhibition. This is the most in-depth display of his work in the country since 2010. While the artist has publicly exhibited in many major US cities, there has never been a show in our region. This should be a fantastic and rare opportunity for our city to experience world-class large-scale sculpture.

Vanderbilt’s Hamblet Award Exhibition

posted by – 04/15/15 @ 1:26pm

Each year, Nashville’s own Vanderbilt University gifts one of the most impressive undergraduate art prizes in the country.  The Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Award, or “The Hamblet” as it’s known colloquially, awards a $10,000 prize to the runner up, and $25,000 in the form of a travel and research award to the winner. Since 1984, this prize has been given by the Hamblet family to allow for graduating art students to travel and make work that was inspired by their experience abroad. The department brings in three outside jurors, all of whom are respected practicing artists and academics in their own mediums. This year, the Tinney Contemporary’s own Carol Prusa was selected as one of the three jurors who had the responsibility of choosing the recipient of this impactful award.


Prusa is a professor at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, and has been represented by the Tinney since 2010. Prusa’s work is both intricate and otherworldly. Her silverpoint methods are dazzling in their technical application, and she continues to push the limits of her work, incorporating three-dimensional forms, as well as multi-media aspects in many pieces. Prusa was joined on the judging panel by Billy Renkle, of Austin Peay State University, and John Douglas Powers of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. It is notable that Powers was a winner of the Hamblet Award in 2001 as a Vanderbilt graduate.

Alexis Jackson's "1,437,201,654 Black Lives"

This year’s show was a beautiful and ecclectic gathering of works that represented the diversity of the art department at Vanderbilt. As a B.A. program, the department requires that students take courses in each of the mediums offered. From meditative video, to complex and immersive installation, to portrait painting and photography, the show reveals the essence of the department’s character. As many of the students major in other departments as well as the arts, the influence of other academic and social interests was apparent. This year’s winner, Alexis Jackson, impressed and challenged the viewers in the gallery with her piece 1,437,201,654 Black Lives. Her poignant discussion of the history of racism in this country, as well as events in recent years was powerful yet non-confrontational. The work consisted of photographic prints depicting recent young victims of racial violence done in the iconic style of the Obama “Hope” campaign posters. These still pieces were accompanied by a running video of portraits of black individuals throughout history, with soundtracks running from racial protest events. The second place winner, Emily Neal, displayed her piece Clonal Colony in the very center of the gallery. This three-dimensional work incorporated an actual tree stump in an installation depicting relationships of time and organismal ancestry.

Crowds around Emily Neals' "Clonal Colony"

Altogether, this show was a strong display of well-developed student work. It is exciting to see the abilities of these young artists, as well as to know that they are receiving critique and guidance from such well-established and talented artists. As the concepts discussed in their shows become more developed, it is almost certain that the research and time invested into the work will compound to produce even more impressive pieces. Make sure to watch for the return show for the winner held at Vanderbilt’s Space 204 gallery this coming January.


SGC Knoxville; A Conference for a Creative Community

posted by – 04/03/15 @ 3:09pm

The Southern Graphics Council printmaking conference is an annual affair of ink (whether there is more in on paper, or on the arms of the attendees is still up for discussion). The conference usually gravitates toward the typical artistic destination cities; Portland, San Francisco, and New York City are found among the short list of recent host-cities. However, the neon allure of middle Tennessee seems to shine as a beacon for creative individuals across the world. Knoxville, an oft-overlooked town in art conversation, has been home to one of the top printmaking departments in the country for decades. The University of Tennessee volunteered as host school for this year’s conference titled Sphere. They undoubtedly delivered on the expectations of southern hospitality and home-cooked creativity. During my four days among the Knoxville downtown area, I met printmakers from Belgium and Birmingham, Texas and Tacoma. It’s interesting to see how an art process can unify such a diverse group. Not only does the conference aim to host helpful workshops, informative and interesting speakers, and portfolio sessions, they also work to build a community among the artists in attendance. Throughout the week, there were official conference social events scheduled and aimed at facilitating the camaraderie of creativity, and even more were spontaneously born at local social establishments. It seemed that everyone was there to share their knowledge and learn from each other. Tips and tricks of the trade were passed around like the latest gossip on the playground, jokes were told that only a seasoned pressman would catch. As a student I was astounded at the breadth of technique I found in many of the artists’ work both in casual discussion and the workshops. One workshop was particularly impressive (and over my head). Ohio University professor Art Werger demonstrated how to achieve an infinite range of tone in his etchings through a two-plate, à la poupée inking technique using complimentary colors. The process was delicate, intricate, and innovative. Undoubtedly, the most memorable event hosted by the conference was the printmaking/performance piece by Midwest Pressed titled Freebird. Througout the day images of iconic Americana were heavily screen printed on oddly shaped pieces of plywood nailed together in a structure reminiscent of an 8-year-old’s fantasy backyard fort. During the performance, members of Midwest Pressed and their friends strummed through a rough rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s famous track of the same name. Then, all of the sudden, in a fight for freedom the lead guitarist and operator of Midwest Pressed, Tim Dooley, swung his instrument into the broad side of the fortress splintering and shattering the rickety makeshift building. Blow by blow, the red white and blue clad plywood crumbled, and by the final swing, the guitar was wedged perfectly horizontal in the center of the wall, declaring its defeat over the contrived edifice. The performance perfectly depicted the expressive spirit of the conference.

The final day of the conference was a full open portfolio session. Every artist who was able to register for a table displayed their work for an hour. The sea of work was dizzying and after the first hour, I found that my mind had a hard time deciphering one image from the next. It was like a year’s worth of Saturday Art Crawl’s in one afternoon. But, by the end of the conference, I found myself already thinking of ways to emulate some of the new and interesting things I found there. I contemplated the use of new methods, and relished my new friendships and acquaintances. Among my new friends were many of the entertaining folks who work at Hatch Show Print, Nashville’s most famous letterpress shop. Many other of our town’s locals made the drive down I-40 for the conference, and I realized how lucky we are as a city that the printing industry is alive and well here.  It’s a funny thing how travel can make you appreciate where you came from. The community of printmaking, especially in middle Tennessee, is a thriving source of creativity and culture.



Discovering Jaq Belcher’s “Hidden Light”

posted by – 03/11/15 @ 4:35pm

Jaq Belcher’s newest exhibition Hidden Light is her second solo exhibition in the gallery, her first since 2011. Perhaps it is thousands of tiny shadows cast on the paper that create this “hidden light” referred to in the show’s title. Maybe, though, it refers to the contemplative nature of these meticulously hand-cut works. Jaq Belcher’s works “testify to the idea of ‘being’ in the moment, the idea of staying in the ‘now’, the ‘present.” Inspired by esoteric philosophy and the notion of converging ideas, these works beg the viewer to invest a patience and mental energy when viewing the work. At times, the dizzying array of cuts can seem overwhelming; an arrangement of shapes in all directions. After a time, though, they unite to form singular images characterized by the delicate play of light and shadow, and positive and negative space. It is in this moment, when the shapes converge into a whole, that this “hidden light” is revealed. The light might be embodied by an idea, a realization, or maybe the enlightenment or serenity that these works seem to bring those who stand before them.

Belcher’s framed works rest in delicate balance between two and three-dimensions. Though they are cut from a single sheet of paper, the raised pieces lend a dimensionality that is both physical and visual. Her installation piece, titled Lunar Codex, is a true three-dimensional work and was perhaps the most entrancing of any of the works on display during the First Saturday Art Crawl. The striking balance of light and shadow comes alive in the installation. Bringing elements of the physical space together through an arrangement of 70,000 of her cut paper “seeds” on the floor and a mesmerizing rectangular prism suspended from the ceiling, Belcher gives life to the “hidden light” she wants the viewer to find in her pieces through this work. It seems that these works are present with the viewer, engaging in a dialogue that evokes a sense of serene contemplation; a contemplation that is certain to yield rewards of discovery, in the work as well as for the self.

"Lunar Codex" installation at the March Art Crawl


“Beautifully Subtle Things”- The Art and Process of Jason Craighead

posted by – 02/11/15 @ 3:14pm

To some viewers, abstraction can seem impersonal or distant. The lack of objectivity in the work can sometimes establish a disconnect with the human experience. However, in the work of Jason Craighead, the connection to a personal condition is the focus. In these large-scale abstractions, the artist’s process is evident. The expressive gestures of line suggest a concern for an emotive exchange between the piece and the viewer that is entirely human. Without erasure, without correction, these works are a direct register of each of Craighead’s physical expressions of thought. The work is raw and honest. Muted tones are accentuated by strokes of vibrant color. Repetitive marks break up, join together, and mingle with other aspects of the work as though the chain of dialogue between artist and viewer is pictorially

Jason Craighead

represented in the piece itself. Craighead admits, “[his] work requires a lot from the viewer.” The depth of these pieces lies within each successive layer of applied material, each partially revealing the thoughts that were expressed before it. In a video discussing his work and process, the artist makes it clear that there is more to each of his works than what simply fills the picture plane. During February’s art crawl, Jason was with his viewers in the gallery. Knowing the intent of these works, it was an almost surreal moment seeing viewers have personal discussions with these works while the author stood but a few feet away. Though, the beauty of the exchange was that the artist need not intervene because the pieces carried out his end of the dialogue. These pieces require a mutual investment of time and energy from each member of the exchange, much like any worthwhile conversation between two people. Craighead explains, “My work requires my own patience and understanding, and in turn, it calls the audience to slow down and realize that the work is not something you see in front of you, but something much richer.”


To see the video mentioned in the article, follow this link:

“State of the Art” Addressed

posted by – 01/30/15 @ 4:57pm

As a Northwest Arkansas native, I can’t help but to share the love I have for the Natural State. Crystal Bridges Museum, Alice Walton’s controversial new mecca of American art, is located in the retail dynasty’s hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas. During my last visit home, I made the short drive to the museum to see their latest exhibition, State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now. This particular show had created quite the buzz for Crystal Bridges around the country, certainly the most notable since they opened doors for the first time in 2011. The show sought to display the landscape of American contemporary art. This included works from over one hundred artists, from all four corners of the country. The jurors made a point to discover those artists whose work had “not yet been fully recognized on a national level” ( It seemed that nearly everyone I spoke to in Nashville had heard of the show, and had already formulated their opinions based on the venue.

Ialu wood, steel, plastic and electric motor 57 in. x 78 in. x 108 in. 2011, John Douglas Powers

Video of \”Ialu\”

As I coasted down the scenic drive leading to the museum entrance, I was eager to make my own evaluation. Once I had inhaled the natural beauty of the Crystal Bridges campus, a delightful patch of Ozark forest a world apart from Manhattan, I entered the State of the Art exhibition area with high expectations. Immediately I realized that this collection of works was in a separate sphere altogether from the collection of 18th century portraits and busts in the hall adjacent it. I entered the show through a hallway cloaked in a crocheted installation piece by artist Jeila Gueramian. The womb of thread evoked a sense of childish wonder, and marked the entrance into the space much like the rabbit-hole into Alice’s Wonderland. Soon I heard the dull screech of John Douglas Powers’ Ialu that was all-too-familiar. I had seen a piece by the same artist that was displayed during a recent show in Vanderbilt University’s Space 204 gallery, the alma mater of the now Knoxville-based artist. It was easy to become entranced by the mechanized structure subtly swaying to and fro in front of projected video. The hypnosis I was afflicted with while looking at that piece lasted throughout the show. Whether it was the wall-sized quilt of artist Gina Phillips or the patiently rendered carbon pencil drawings of Adonna Khare, beautiful digitally recorded video or old-master style painting, the work begged the viewer to stay and marvel at the devotion to quality these artists displayed in their work. It wasn’t about shock-value for these artists; it was about the intense dedication of time that many of these artists had poured into it. Along with Powers, the Nashville connections continued as the Tinney Contemporary’s very own Pam Longobardi displayed her meditative three-dimensional works of reclaimed ocean refuse and mesmerizing paintings. Longobardi was also selected to give an artist lecture during the exhibition. Continuing through the show, I began to make note of the value of craftsmanship the curators had shown in their selections. Some pieces bordered on neuroticism, but the effect on the viewer was one of powerful appreciation. After hours in the space, I found myself wishing for more time to stand among these works.

Pam Langobardi 

"Ghosts of Consumption/Archaeology of Culture (for Piet M.)"


"Ghosts of Consumption/Archaeology of Culture (for Piet M.)" found ocean plastic,steel pins 110" x 75" x 5"


As I pulled away from the museum, I struggled to concentrate my thoughts on any one particular piece. The show had ripped open the curtains of the contemporary art scene for this young art student. I think that the state of art, not the art market, was on full display at Crystal Bridges. It was interesting to me that such an expansive view of the art landscape would find itself nestled in my small corner of the state. However, it may rather be even more fitting that this work from artists who live and work out of the spotlight was displayed in a place nearly as inconspicuous as they are. Perhaps we should take note of the wonderful things going on in not-so-obvious places.