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.


Sara said...

Hello! I just found this blog and I'm frankly a little creeped out.

1. I am a local artist (painter and illustrator).
2. I am also a traffic/production manager.
3. I am married to a man named Chris too.

Besides that, I welcome the idea behind your blog. The serious artists around town have long known that the scene here is growing and that there are many artists. But there is little support (from collectors, buyers, state, criticism) to be had. Many good artists look elsewhere to make a living, and most times they MOVE elsewhere to make a living. Cheers to you. I will keep an eye on your blog.

Erica Well said...

Hi Sara,

Weird...! Funny how it's taken MOVING here for me to finally meet other people who trafficked AND did art, too. Some people like to categorize folks into left-brain/right brain-only types so often.

Plus! I just met ANOTHER comic book/illustrator- trafficker/production manager person about two weeks ago--(but he's not married to anyone named Chris, as far as I know. LOL)

Life is so interesting! (And pattern-like...)

I think compared to the relative anonymity of artists struggling to make it in NYC, there is more local awareness here and more people actively participate in doing arty things... I think if we artists first help support eachother it makes a huge difference...not that artists don't already support eachother. They do. But there could be a little more active participation in getting the word out for eachother and showing up to eachothers' receptions and etc.,. (But I'm just getting to know more artists now, so it's possible there are already groups that function more in this way...)

Sara, let me know if you have any shows coming up -- I'd like to see your work. :)

Sara said...

I show at Zeitgeist and do various little independant things with buddies in town. Gambit (organized by Beth Gilmore) will be having a show the third weekend in May. I'll be in it, as will Chris Scarborough (my hubby) and a handful of others. Here's a link with info from our last show.

Not to come across as elitist or anything, but the "serious" contemporary artists in town do all know each other, pretty much, and attend each other's shows. If the organizer can at least get a press release to the Scene, we will come. However, there are masses of artists whose circles do not overlap.

If I may, I suggest you head over to the Cumberland soon. Mark Hosford and Kurt Kemp have a very nice show up there. If you'd like to see my stuff, it's here:

Erica Well said...

Thanks for the links, Sara! I will take a look at them after the weekend (deadlines! AGH!)

Cool on the Zeitgeist connection. They have a beautiful space and the Picture Mechanics show they currently have running was the first one I got to see there. I found that encouraging since they're all illustrators. I'll make a point of visiting them more often and definitely stop by when your show is up.

I don't think it sounds elitist that people hang out with eachother. It's just reality that we should gravitate to other like individuals. I've also heard several artists comment how there is very little overlap of groups.

I'm just thinking there is only so much that we artists can do together and/or for eachother. We need to reach out to people who'd enjoy art but would maybe never step into a "GALLERY" space for example.

I wonder what we artists can do to encourage regular (non artists/otherwise non inclined-to-visit type) folks to come by and see what is being done live and NOW. I mean, what can we do to help people see that they can visit a gallery like they could a museum. Only at a gallery they could even buy something they really like...?

I can see grains of support being put into place. For example, one of the Guild members mentioned to me that the Frist has started a "Young Collectors" program to educate people about contemporary art and art buying...! And there is a regular meeting held where the Executive Directors of the many lovely Arts Programs we have here in town (the symphony, ballet, opera, the film festival) make specific efforts to keep eachother in the loop of their organizations are all doing, so other Arts people can be aware of what's happening. Sometimes some very nice cooperative programs can come out of that.

I think it's exciting to be here, as modest as the overall art scene may be considered by some people.

Perhaps it's wishful thinking, but maybe if we do create a blog-community we may be able to get some kind of group overlap/crossover/breakout and reach out farther...

Thanks for your links again--! (And I'll check out Cumberland) :)