Saturday, March 18, 2006

Nashville Art and Artists (The How and Why of This Blog)

If you’ve visited our website at all, then you knew it was coming.

(Well, I did, anyway.) Didn’t know how, didn’t know when. It was just a matter of time. Just a matter of purpose before I finally started a REAL, authentic blog.

My husband Chris, writer of fiction, non fiction and blogs has been telling me for about a year to start one. Sure I’ve wanted to venture into the writing of articles and fiction aside from the (very few) comics I’ve written and co-written here and there. But plunging into Writing… becoming a Writer (as well as an artist!) … now that takes utter nerve. And time! Writing professionally takes serious Writing thoughts. Serious Writing skill! (Though, with a blog I could develop serious Writer chops even as I develop other story matters privately … )

But a BLOG? “What for?” I asked. Why write an open letter column online? What would I write about?

I had to find motivation. A hook. An idea to justify writing a blog and spending all that time on it.

The idea finally gelled Sunday March 12th, after the Nashville Artist Guild meeting. The Guild had a terrific program with guest speakers, artists Greg Decker and Nicole Pietrantoni (Ms. Pietrantoni also works for the Tennessee Arts Commission) and Richland Gallery co-owner, Anne Laine Goad. The group discussed the state of Art in Nashville, including our lack of effective and educational Art Critics (note capital letters).

I came away thinking like many others already do, that if we had had more art critics who would look at ALL the different terrific shows around town and write about them, that would help all Nashvillians.

Perhaps we could all learn about more shows this way and go see them for ourselves. Several really good reviews on what’s happening with both high profile and low profile art shows and their artists could only add more useful context for us to understand them. More coverage where we discuss and encourage each other to go look at new works of art, and maybe even relate it to the greater history of art could be really interesting! (Aim huge, I say.)

O.K., so more art coverage could help. How could we get that going? I suppose we can get all the art lovers around town to start a letter writing campaign and ask The Tennessean and the Nashville Scene to add more Art reviewers to their staff. OR --

-- we could take matters into our own hands and GET THINGS GOING NOW. We could start an Art Blog Circuit … an Art Blog Co-op or Community, if you will.

Let’s cover the amazing galleries, shows and artists that live locally here in and around Nashville (I’m counting Franklin, Murfreesboro and Hendersonville in that “Local” perimeter.) I thought THIS approach would justify my blog. I got really psyched. I can be like a newspaper columnist but online! I can cover things I love AND write about them and ALSO get better at writing! (Aim big, I say!)

So here’s my blog. I will talk about the Arts and Artists in Nashville. Now I’ll set my blog perimeters.

Art That I Make and Art That I like

Ok. I’m one of those MAC/PC hybrid humans (to coin a phrase) who is both an artist and utter paperwork geek. I’m a cartoonist, illustrator and painter, and I’m also a Traffic and Production Manager. Schedules and calendars thrill me almost as much as a good painting comic book. It’s nuts.

However, this mixed art/schedule mindset makes me very useful for comics. I spent several years working production in the comic book field -- both as artist in making editorial corrections and as traffic manager I loooooove comic strips and comic books. I read them. I collect them. I now draw them.

In fact, since I moved to Nashville after I married Chris, I’ve focused on creating a comic strip story that’s been living in my brain since I was 18. It’s called The Miller Sisters. Oy vey. It’s challenging and frightening to learn this craft “out loud”. But I can’t see any other way to learn how to make comics other than to draw them and post them on our website and let other people read them and approach them myself afterwards like a reader would. I’m learning about timing and speed and art all at the same time -- it’s a heck of a challenge. But it's fun to learn.

My comics team ups -- where I draw what another writer has written -- have been easier to do, but I’m working up the skill to eventually do graphic novels, God Willing. (So I thank any and all of you who’ve been following TMS so far for your patience with my storytelling!!)

I love a wide variety of art styles and artists from Rembrant to NC Wyeth to Pollock to Rude. I prefer art that’s representational and classical figurative. I enjoy both an illustrator’s story and a painter’s open interpretation approach. I do prefer to see people in the drawings or paintings … but I can enjoy a good abstract … and a sweet Hudson River School or Impressionist landscape will just stop me in my tracks ...

I’ll probably stick to more classical art forms to look at and mention here. But I’ll also mention sculpture, architecture or comics from time to time.

To Wrap This Up

I’m not an art historian, and I don't have a lot of formal art education. Most of what I know I learned by trial and error when I started drawing as a kid, with a year and a half of art classes in college, and drawing classes here and there including one with Peter Cox at the Art Students League in NYC and Hazel King at Centennial Park, Nashville. I started a Joe Kubert Comics Inking Correspondence Course and sadly haven’t finished that yet. So I won’t be able to really plug in where the artists’ work falls in the scheme of Time and Art like an Art History major might, but we do have EXCELLENT curators in town who can do that. (Visit the Frist! Become a member!)

With this blog I’ll mention art shows around Nashville, and think out loud about them. Perhaps if I share these thoughts they may move you to go to that gallery or museum on those days when you need that moment of inspiration and thought. That way you could see firsthand what the beauty/ugliness/magic/surprise/
darkness/joy of that work is all about.