Spanish Sculptor Jaume Plensa Exhibits at Two Nashville Venues

posted by on 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.” (www.cheekwood.org)

"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.

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Vanderbilt’s Hamblet Award Exhibition

posted by on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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:  http://vimeo.com/103644630

“State of the Art” Addressed

posted by on 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” (http://crystalbridges.org/). 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.

 

Carla Ciuffo’s Stasis: Heavenly Bodies

posted by on 01/05/15 @ 6:25pm

There is an air of mystery in the captivating pieces currently hanging in Tinney Contemporary. We were lucky enough to learn more about Stasis: Heavenly Bodies from an exclusive Q & A interview with the artist, Carla Ciuffo.

 

Part of the mystery in Ciuffo’s work possibly comes from the medium she used to print her images on.


M: You’ve worked with printing your images on many different surfaces, why did you find printing Heavenly Bodies on acrylic to be the best medium?

C: I really wanted to enhance the negative space in the images – so the art wouldn’t be confined. I also wanted to “project” them as far as I could without using traditional 3D methods. The acrylic creates depth, and expands the negative space. It’s clean, minimal, and allows the images to “float” a bit away from a wall.

 

Texts also heavily influenced the elements that work through her pieces.


M: As many of your works involve lyrical imagery, what narrative pieces inspire you the most? Are there particularly poets, authors, or playwrights that you found especially stirring in relation to Heavenly Bodies?

C: Perhaps. I am a voracious reader. Non-worldly stories influence me. Neil Gaiman, a favorite. There was also one book I was reading when I began working on Stasis, The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry:

“There is lace in every living thing: the bare branches of winter, the patterns of clouds, the surface of water as it ripples in the breeze…. Even a wild dog’s matted fur shows a lacy pattern if you look at it closely enough.” ― Brunonia Barry, The Lace Reader

“I’ll pit my God against your god any day, I say to the Calvinists. It’s not their god I’m praying to…. The God I’m praying to is neither male nor female. My God is the one who exists apart from all of men’s agendas, the God who takes you away when there is no possible place you can go.” ― Brunonia Barry, The Lace Reader

 

The illustrative manner of this body of works is evident throughout the collection and many of Ciuffo’s other works. However, Stasis appears more monochromatic in comparison to Ciuffo’s more colorful bodies of work such as Thrill, Pandora’s Box, and, Cloud 9.


M: How was creating Heavenly Bodies different and/or similar from past works?

C: When I began working on Stasis, it became an exercise in restraint. I began stripping away color. I was searching for the essence of an emotion – the emotion that was driving the work. Stasis became a neutral, non-judgmental place of refuge. A place with infinite possibilities but remaining an “in between” space. I like to call the series “life in between”.

…The most difficult work, for me, is paring it down to its simplest form. That’s Stasis.

 

Though Ciuffo worked to construct an image in its simplest form, she doesn’t necessarily expect everyone to experience the same feelings from viewing it.

 

M: What would you like for viewers to collectively feel and take from Heavenly Bodies?

C: That is entirely up to the viewer. I’ve enjoyed people sharing their viewing experiences with me – and they are all different. One common collective emotion that people seem to feel is a calming feeling. But – with a dash of uncertainty.

 

The artist uniquely defined Stasis: Heavenly Bodies for us, the way she herself views the collection.

 

M: How would you best describe Heavenly Bodies in your own words?

C: Finding positive in a negative space. A moment of total and absolute stillness in a non-judgmental atmosphere. A refuge of sorts before taking the inevitable next steps back into life.

 

And we have much to look forward to from Ciuffo…

 

M: Finally, are there any new projects that you are currently working on? If so, do you feel comfortable sharing with us any details about them?

C: I am working on a new collaboration for a much larger installation. It would bring “Stasis” to life. The images are of tiny, mostly androgynous pod people – that reside in a garden. Let’s just say those are the “seeds” of the project

 

 

 

 

Art Overwhelm? Try a Piece by Piece Approach

posted by on 12/20/14 @ 1:51pm

Not sure what to do with the in-laws and family members this holiday season? How about checking out a few art galleries and museums as a family? If you are starting to shy away from this idea because you’re not sure everyone in your party would enjoy the outing, don’t shun the idea just yet.  It’s understandable that some find art museums and large galleries daunting. Even for the casual admirer, most museums contain enough artwork to merit days of enjoyment and discussion, it can be overwhelming to know where to start or even how to talk about what you see. Many of us find ourselves racing through each room casting hurried glances at piece after piece. Art critics Blake Gopnik and Christian Viveros-Fauné offer a different suggestion for approaching art appreciation. Forget the scramble to see and decipher every piece; pick just one. Pick one work of art and spend some time getting to know it and the artist. In case you aren’t sure what they mean, you can check out their video Strictly Critical. They spend a full hour at the MoMA examining and discussing Jackson Pollock’s One: Number 31, 1950. In case you don’t have time to view an hour long discussion this holiday season, no worries, the highlights of their discussion are collapsed into this easily digestible five minute video. Check out this interesting perspective on viewing an American masterpiece, then head to a few local galleries and museums to try out their approach first hand.

MASS MoCA + Sol Lewitt

posted by on 09/09/14 @ 1:20pm

On this day, It seemed nothing short of appropriate to compose a blog post about artist Sol Lewitt, celebrating not only his personhood but also his career, one that continues to make strides in the art world today. Born 86 years ago today, Lewitt became a modern pioneer in the realms of Minimalism and early Conceptual art. The key to understanding the artists body of work is to remember that the focus is not so much on the execution and final product, but on the idea. He became in creakingly controversial due to the fact that many of the works were temporal and often executed not only by Sol himself, but also by a team that carried out written instructions of how the work was to be created. This yielded beautiful inconsistencies that contributed to a well structured overall work. This would become the statement of LeWitt, imprinting this process into the history of modern art.

In an effort to pay homage to the visionary work of LeWitt, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in partnership with other prestigious institutions is hosting an exhibition that will run until 2033. Yes. 25 Years.

MASS MoCA Director Joseph C. Thompson comments, “With this exhibition, Sol LeWitt has left an amazing gift for us all. Great art draws upon previous artists, but also contradicts and contravenes. And the most essential art argues for new ways of seeing, even as it is almost immediately absorbed into the work that surrounds and supersedes it. As I believe is evident in this landmark exhibition, LeWitt’s wall drawings rise to those highest of standards. This amazing collection of works is on long-term view as a sort of proton at the center of our museum around which our program of changing exhibitions and performances will orbit with even more energy.” (www.massmoca.org)

Like the art on display, a gesture such as this makes a statement about the lasting impact of certain works and the urgency to see them preserved and appreciated by the public. Just as the first pieces created by Lewitt himself, all of these drawings began as a set of instructions and evolved into something that reflects the often unobserved collective experience to making art.

As the exhibition makes clear, these straightforward instructions yield an astonishing — and stunningly beautiful — variety of work that is at once simple and highly complex, rigorous and sensual. “The drawings in the exhibition range from layers of straight lines meticulously drawn in black graphite pencil lead, to rows of delicately rendered wavy lines in colored pencil; from bold black-and-white geometric forms, to bright planes in acrylic paint arranged like the panels of a folding screen; from sensuous drawings created by dozens of layers of transparent washes, to a tangle of vibratory orange lines on a green wall, and much more. Forms may appear to be flat, to recede in space, or to project into the viewer’s space, while others meld to the structure of the wall itself.” (www.massmoca.org)

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective

A unique exhibition such as this is a rare find in a world that is constantly moving forward onto the next thing. Perhaps not even LeWitt himself would have imagined that it would be his work that would challenge viewers to slow down; to observe; to think. In remembrance of Sol and the many contributions of his career, there could be nothing more fitting than an installation that will last for years to come.

For more information, visit http://www.massmoca.org/event_details.php?id=27

A New Lens

posted by on 08/28/14 @ 2:01pm

When considering the medium of photography, the associations made most often relate to images captured from real life that render an interpretation of a single moment in time. Though the medium has changed over time, viewers look to photographs for a glimpse of something otherwise left undiscovered. Local artist Carla Ciuffo has created a body of work that serves to disembody known conceptions of photography, thus illustrating concepts and juxtapositions that manifest their own life.

Carla Ciuffo

The artist describes her works as “an amalgam of narratives, abstracts and lyrical imagery emphasizing the enigma of being human. Quality of light, both natural and constructed, provides luminosity within alternate dimensions that expand the boundaries of her photographic world.” (artist bio, carlaciuffophotography.com) As in the case with her series Words Fell, there seems to be an exploration of that equilibrium that we all seek, a oneness with self, nature and the world. The joining of botanical elements and anonymous figures create a dreamlike world in which reality seems to fade and the abstract comes to the surface. There is most definitely a narrative present, but how it plays out seems to be unknown.

 

The series entitled Stasis draws on a similar theme of humanity and the ever looming thought of mortality. The images contain a tree or branch of a tree and a composited figure. The silhouette is small but magnificent in its flight. There is a mesmerizing haze that seems to have settled over these photographs, adding the dreaminess of them. Perhaps this relates to that world we enter in our sleep where we can indeed become immortal. And what if these worlds collided? What would be the result? Ciuffo poignantly asks the questions of life, asking us to consider exactly what our world consists of.

 

Look for Carla’s upcoming installation and solo show with select and new artworks from Stasis at Tinney Contemporary: Finding Stasis in a Positive Negative Space.

Visit www.carlaciuffophotography.com to view more work and to find a schedule of upcoming exhibitions.