Richard Heinsohn’s recent work has been a mixture of abstraction and surrealism, embracing painting, photography and sculpture to explore the possible catastrophes of the Anthropocene. His work has never lacked expressive energy or ambition, but this new show of aesthetically and conceptually stripped-down pieces might be one of his strongest local displays yet. A Place for the Mind sees the artist abandoning large narratives and big themes to create a more formal display of geometric abstracts. This show still includes Heinsohn’s wild color palettes and frictional compositions, but it also fits into an emerging category of contemporary painting that I call “Modern 21” — it’s a term I use to label a 21st-century trend that finds painting retreating back to the kind of pure formalism, elemental geometry and abstracted natural imagery that marked the very origins of modernist painting. A Place for the Mind opens at Modfellows Gallery in South Nashville on Jan. 29.
The Frist Art Museum kicks off the new year with On the Horizon: Contemporary Cuban Art From Pérez Art Museum Miami. The show features 70 works by 50 artists, including Yoan Capote, Los Carpinteros, Teresita Fernández, Zilia Sánchez and Vanderbilt professor María Magdalena Campos-Pons. On the Horizon opens on Jan. 28 along with Nashville-based artist LeXander Bryant’s debut solo museum exhibition, Forget Me Nots. Bryant’s multimedia display includes photos and wheatpaste-poster murals, along with the installation of a large slab of concrete that the titular flowers grow from.
Modfellows will also be opening its first show in its Packing Plant satellite gallery, with a reception for East Nashville painter Ryan Michael Noble on Feb. 5. And on Feb. 25, the Frist will open Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful. This career-spanning display tells the story of the life and work of Thomas, who was the first Black woman to have a solo show at the Whitney Museum.
“Red Gate” was the highlight of Vadis Turner’s Bedfellows exhibition, the artist’s 2018 solo show at Zeitgeist. The massive oval grid made of twisted, red-dyed bedsheets dominated an entire gallery wall and marked a shift in scale for the artist, whose best-known works had been painting-size wall sculptures composed from colorful ribbons, and small installations of objects and materials organized on gallery floors. Scale can be addictive for artists, and Turner’s new Window Treatments exhibition picks up where “Red Gate” left off, finding the artist creating a whole display of new portal-like constructions built from curtains, sheets, gravel and copper. The pieces explore themes ranging from the connections between feminine consciousness and traditionally feminine decor, to the liminal space between domestic interiors and the natural — even wild — spaces our windows open to. Turner won a Current Art Fund/Tri-Star Arts grant to help fund this exhibition, which also includes lighting and projection mapping by Mike Kluge and Jonny Kingsbury, with sound design by Emery Dobyns. This multimedia collaboration results in an immersive installation that reaches far beyond a traditional sculpture exhibition. Gallerygoers concerned with Nashville’s spiking sickness stats in the wake of the Omicron variant will be able to enjoy the illuminated display and hear its hissing and cracking soundscape from the street — the installation will be visible through Zeitgeist’s windows 24 hours a day through March 19.
One of the biggest changes coming to Nashville’s gallery scene in 2020 will be the shifting spaces at The Packing Plant — I gave a full rundown on this game of musical galleries earlier this month in my Crawl Space column. The biggest news finds Coop upgrading from their intimate digs in one of the building’s front galleries to the large central gallery formerly operated by Channel to Channel. Artist-run spaces like Coop — which is also a nonprofit organization — can program shows that might not lend themselves to commercial sales. Artist-run spaces also often prove to be more timely, agile and adaptive in their programming than their institutional peers. If you want to find the evolving edge of an art scene, go straight to the spaces where artists curate other artists. Coop has always been dedicated to hosting out-of-town creators, but its annual exhibition of its newest local members is always a calendar highlight. This February, Coop will host works from Yanira Vissepo, Lisa Bachman Jones, Quintin Watkins and Beth Reitmeyer.
Nashville artist Benji Anderson will open a solo show at Elephant Gallery on March 4. This exhibition promises to be yet another of the gallery’s all-over installations, not merely just a conventional display of 2-D work hanging on white walls. Anderson’s fantastical multimedia works read like a window into another world packed with mysterious natural spaces populated by bizarre creatures. It’s exactly the kind of weird and irreverent work that we expect to see showcased at Elephant. Follow Anderson’s Instagram account (@benjianderson3) for a digital sneak peek at one of the most anticipated shows of 2022.
Lauren Gregory is a native Tennessean who’s recently relocated to Nashville after making a reputation as a painter and animator in venues including MoMA, P.S.1, New Museum and MOCA Los Angeles. I love Gregory’s penchant for impressionistic portraits rendered in thick layers of gooey paint. But she takes these works to a whole new level when she transforms her traditional oil paintings with stop-motion animation, making the implied movement of her energetic lines and smeared textures come shimmering to life. Gregory will open her new solo show at The Red Arrow Gallery on March 5.
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