Post-mortem: Nashville Art Crawl (July 2019)

This was my third Nashville art crawl, and I am already beginning to notice some patterns. For one thing, I am learning that I get as much enjoyment, if not more, out of the curatorial side of assembling and showing these collections than I do out of knowing that it is my own work on display. I don’t think I could say for certain why that is, but it seems to be true.

My research interests were embarrassingly Wagnerian.

Maybe it’s just my background. I didn’t spend my entire academic career holed away in a studio honing my skills as a painter or printmaker. I did, however, spend the bulk of my academic career hidden away in the library learning to draw parallels between disparate art forms and various branches of the humanities (my research interests then, as now, were embarrassingly Wagnerian).

There is, of course, a limit to the amount of curatorial control one can exercise as part of a group show that only lasts a total of a few hours. And yet, there are a couple of threads that run through the three pieces on display at this past Crawl.

“They all dip a little deeper into the realm of fantasy than pieces I’ve shown in the past.”

For one thing, they are all based on found photographs (until now, I’ve only shown original photography). And second, they all dip a little deeper into the realm of fantasy than pieces I’ve shown in the past. As such, I think the intended sense of whimsicality came across a little more clearly than in past collections.

Early in the evening, a woman approached me and asked me directly if the pieces on display “mean anything”, which is always a difficult question to answer. In one sense, yes they do mean something in the sense that there is a self-contained narrative within each one. But as far as some kind of grand political or social message, there really isn’t. Not in these pieces, anyway. There is, I think, a certain subconscious philosophy that influences the source materials I am likely to draw from, but that’s a question for another time.

A surprising number of people are amused by the idea of grabbing the Devil by the tail.

Due to their location within the gallery, it was difficult to subtly gauge the audience reaction to the show apart from the handful of people who sought me out to discuss it directly. What I do know is that people are drawn to color (not really a surprise at all) and that a surprising number of people are amused by the idea of grabbing the devil by the tail. But perhaps the most flattering (and accurate) interpretation came from a friend viewing the collection online the next day who compared them to the films of George Méliès. While I don’t think I would ever have the confidence to compare myself to a visionary like Méliès, his is work that I’ve watched and studied for so long, it would be foolish to claim he is anything but a major influence.

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