Thursday, February 3, 2011

Frist Center, Music Hall of Fame & Nashville Galleries

Frist Center for the Visual Arts
When you think of Nashville, one usually thinks of music, and you would be right, but it's not the only form of art Nashville has to offer.  A. Paul & I set out today to find the visual arts of Nashville; our first stop, the Frist Center for the Arts. 

Frist interior
The Frist Center occupies a monumental structure of white marble in the heart of downtown which was once home to the US Post Office.  The building was constructed in the 1930s during the Hoover Administration and is listed on the National Historic Registry.  The underused space, after much negotiation, was refitted in 2001 to become the Frist Center for the Arts which solely houses traveling & special exhibits.  Its classic exterior and Art Deco interior are the perfect combination for displaying exhibits of local, national, and international fame. 

A. Paul and I just missed, by a week, the "Birth of Impressionism," artwork from the Musee D'Orsay, and Chihuly exhibit. Currently, the center is in full swing preparing for the next exhibit "Vishnu: Blue Skinned Savior" opening February 20, 2011.  We met up with Michael Brechner, Design Director at the Frisk, outside of the main exhibit spaces.  The design crew was well underway in moving interior walls, replastering, and painting the space in preparation for the Vishnu exhibit.  (And I thought changing our gallery was hard!)  The entire space is restructured to dictate the flow pattern throughout the exhibit space,  Amazing task and design work. Best luck to you, Michael, on the new exhibit.

During our visit, two exhibits were viewable; one on the lower level of the gallery titled "Young Tennessee Artists" which is a select display of works by statewide AP studio art students, and a visual journey through the eyes of photographer William Eggleston called  "Anointing the Overlooked."  I was impressed by the level of promise of the arts via the high school program and content to know that Tennessee state is supporting the arts of its future.

At the entrance to Eggleston's exhibit is a quote by William Eggleston that aptly describes the content held within, "I had this notion of what I called a democratic way of looking around: that nothing was more important or less important."   This quote by Egglestom provides the key to viewing and understanding the beauty of Egglestrom photographic subjects--deserted pinball machines in long forgotten corners, clothes fluttering on clotheslines, rusted billboards alongside freshly planted fields.  His photos capture static moments in time with nuances of familiarity that unlock unspoken thoughts and emotions. Perhaps this is why his work graces so many music and book covers.  People can relate to this Memphis, Tennesseean's imagery.

ArtQuest Room
Around the corner from the Eggleston exhibit was the Frist ArtQuest workroom.  ArtQuest is an educational art center for persons of all ages.  Each station provides a lesson in basics of art--shadow & light; horizon lines, use of figure in landscape, perspective, symbolism, the list goes on.  There is a hands on printmaking station, two impressionist stations, and a video circular room that describes the making of ceramics.  Overall,  ArtQuest serves one purpose and that is to educate and engage its participant in the world of art.  You can visit Frist Center at

Susan Tinney (L) and Kerry (R)
Following the Frist, A. Paul & I visited the Arcade where there are several artists' studios and galleries on the second level.  Across the street, we visited three upscale contemporary galleries--The Rhymer gallery, Tinney Contemporary, and The Arts Company.   All of the galleries and studios participate in the first Saturday Art Crawl. At the Tinney Contemporary Gallery, we met up with gallery owner Susan Tinney who was in the midst of rehanging the gallery with NY artist Bret De Palma's work opening February 5th.  Tinney focuses on exhibiting cutting edge artists and described the changing and growing art scene in Nashville. You can check out her gallery at

The Arcade
Of course, no trip to Nashville would be complete without a trip down Broadway to see the music honky tonks and boot outlets.  A. Paul succumbed and found a pair of boots that he is so comfortable in he states he just might have to buy a pair to wear in his studio. I admit that I looked for a pair myself but still have not found just the right ones but maybe I will in Memphis, our next stop, or Santa Fe. 

To round out our day, A. Paul & I made a trip through Country Music Hall of Fame to see the heart of Nashville's music industry.  Sounds of old country songs, Waylon Jennings, Tammy Wynette and the likes seeped from serpentine booths.  Stage clothing and life stories were plastered along the walls.  Other walls were covered with platinum and gold record hits.  The entire history of country music unfolds before your eyes.

Music Hall of Fame
James King Band
For our last evening in Nashville, we met up with music recording artist John McClure and his wife Annie.  Their goal was to ensure that we saw the real side of Nashville so we headed out to Station Inn, home of the bluegrass bands.  This evening's live entertainment was the James King Band.  The music was soulful bluegrass at its best.  It is probably a good thing that we head out tomorrow as I could stay here and listen to this heartfelt music for quite a long time.  Thank you, John & Annie, we had a wonderful evening.  As a reminder, John, you promised a music file clip of your music recording to put on our blog.  Thanks so much for the inside view into your world of music.

Tomorrow we pack up and move on to Memphis to check out the art scene there then onto New Orleans.