October 2019 Nashville Art Crawl post-mortem

Saturday night, I showed some of my work at the Nashville Downtown Art Crawl for the first time since July. After my last Art Crawl, I had decided to take some time off to develop some new pieces as well as focusing on preparing some new, smaller works for the Handmade & Bound show coming up at the Southern Festival Of Books this coming weekend.

I’ll break down the new stuff piece by piece in the coming days, but for now, here is a look at the layout and my general feelings about the October Art Crawl.

After participating in three consecutive Crawls, I was beginning to feel as if the pieces I was presenting were rushed. The July Crawl, in particular, left me feeling somewhat unfulfilled . . . perhaps even a little uneasy. It’s one thing to make no sales (who hasn’t been there?), but it’s something else to feel no enthusiasm for one’s own work. So I took some time to poke around and pull at a few threads of inspiration. Ultimately, I wound up in the same place so many others have over the last 400 years. At Shakespeare.

Maybe it was my concurrent preparations for the Southern Festival of Books that ultimately led me down that, but as I sat watching a (mostly) amateur production of Pericles at the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, I was suddenly flooded with ideas. From then on, it was open season on literature. Not everything on display last night was, the focal point of the show, in fact, drew on much older source material. As much as I love the idea of complete creative freedom, I have long found a certain vitality in the practice of breathing new life into something that’s been done to death (which, I suppose, will come as no surprise to those who know me).

With the exception of a couple of older pieces, everything I showed at the October Art Crawl was inspired by literary sources. And I think it was a wise move. By the end of the night, I felt a kind of creative energy I hadn’t felt in months. Perhaps it was the new space (still part of the DBO Gallery, but in a different room with nicer floors and better air circulation), but the whole experience felt different. While there was less foot traffic than other months, the audience felt more engaged. More than once, I heard gasps and saw jaws drop. At one point, a crowd gathered four rows deep, all of them looking at my work. I felt like a real artist for the first time. Yes, I am bothered by how much I enjoyed that feeling, but I am also encouraged by what feels like the wide-ranging appeal of an aesthetic vein I also find to be creatively satisfying.

P.S. If you are headed to the Southern Festival of Books October 11-13, or just in Nashville that weekend, stop by and see me at the Handmade & Bound tent on War Memorial Plaza. I’ll be there all weekend.

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