I enjoyed the art last Friday and the small crowds I mentioned earlier made it possible to actually enjoy it up close. I’m afraid First Fridays aren’t usually the best viewing times for the various exhibitions, but that’s usually when I see them. With the largest part of the downtown crowd settled in on the World’s Fair Park it this particular night offered a great opportunity.
As I usually tend to do, I hit several places in pretty rapid succession and I usually settle in when I find something that really grabs my attention. I enjoyed the Callie Farmer’s work in Bliss Home, Sally Ham Govan’s art at Sapphire and a host of artists at the Art Market. The Art Market has a painting of Paris near the rear of the store I need to get Urban Woman over to see. And we enjoyed a great cocktail at Sapphire before moving on to the 100 Block.
That’s where I was struck by art for the senses or approaching art from multiple angles. Gallery Nuance is one of the places this routinely happens. Not only is there a range of visual art always on display, but owner/curator/photographer Sherry Disney always finds a mix of arts to enhance any visit to her studio. I’ve enjoyed literary arts there, for example, with various author visits she has sponsored.
Last Friday night Scottie Lynne Baxter shaped pottery outside the gallery while inside Americana singer Keven Russell, who actually is a soundtrack writer and an illustrator, provided the music. Just to make the night a little more special, involving more of the senses, she had Classical Indian dance Bharatanatyam performed live by Bijal Desai. I missed the dance, unfortunately, but the beautiful Ms. Bijal agreed to a photograph. Beyond high quality art, of which you always may be assured, you just never know what you might find in that little gallery on the 100 Block.
It was next door that my mind was blown, however in Gallery 1010. On first blush, it looked like any other small gallery: Six works hung on the wall, three on each side. They had a somewhat disturbing, yet comic book appearance. I’m good with that. While we casually looked about, however, we suddenly found ourselves looking at a very different exhibition.
The lights went out and black lights were left to expose hidden text written on the walls surrounding the works. The text related to the work in ways we couldn’t entirely decipher, but added to the entire experience. The crowd also glowed in response to the black lights and it was as if we had transformed from viewing an exhibition to being immersed in and a part of the exhibition. The surprise factor, no doubt, enhanced the experience.
Afterward I spent a few minutes talking to the author of those words on the wall and the person behind the presentation of the art. Justin Clay, a recent MFA graduate from the University of Tennessee, loved comic books as a child and grew up drawing his own illustrations as alternate covers for the comics he loved. He has now written the text of a comic book with every intention of using his skills to illustrate it.
Then he had an interesting idea: What if he solicited artists from all over the world via chat rooms and other connections, to draw covers based on character sketches and chapter segments? Would their vision match his own? Would it add more to the story than he’d realized was there? After many emails, texts, Skype sessions and phone calls, the six works presented in the gallery were produced and he loved them so much he wanted them seen. What resulted was the excellent exhibition I experienced.
Our final stop of the night was the Emporium and, of course, there is always high quality art there. I talked for a while with artist Bobbie Crews, whose work I’ve always enjoyed since seeing her presentation at an early Pecha Kucha. While in her studio, Urban Sister-in-Law told me I had to look at a particular painting and it was captivating. Pin-holes of light literally pierce the large canvas as dimly outlined souls fade into a distant light. It’s a complex work with enough happening to warrant a lengthy viewing. I’d encourage you to drop by her studio and do just that.