May's First Saturday exhibits offer shelter from the storms
by JOE NOLAN
Writing this to a chorus of tornado warning sirens, I'm struck by how the May Art Crawl contrasts the windy, wet weather we've seen during these turbulent birth pangs of summer. May's First Saturday events are concerned with calm and comfort, finding galleries filled with cozy craftings, soothing sounds, good causes and simple beauty.
At 79 Arcade, Blend Studio opens an installation by Tiffany Dyer. Fortress explores ideas of home and security with a gallery-spanning environment fashioned from abandoned afghans and other crocheted items. Dyer will have small soft-sculpture houses for sale with proceeds benefiting Safe Haven Family Shelter, but the star of the show will be the installation itself, which promises "an experience of childhood memories and adult fantasies."
Street Crossings is an exhibit of new multimedia works by Joshua Penrose that will be making a noise at COOP Gallery at 75 Arcade this month. Penrose has a background in piano, percussion, composition and electronic music, and his COOP installation can be thought of as a duet between the surging sounds of traffic at a changing streetlight and the playful, electronic tones and phrases that Penrose superimposes upon this too-familiar music of the city. By decorating everyday sounds, Penrose draws attention to the intricate textures and vibrant dynamics of the seemingly mundane.
Twist Gallery at 73 Arcade will be hosting a new exhibit by Lauren Kussro, whose show is simply about beauty and its capacity to move us to yearning and delight. A Joyous Outpouring finds the artist creating multimedia objects that incorporate printmaking, sewing, sculpture and paper crafts in her colorful, organic assemblages. Her strongest pieces are illuminated affairs that glow with an abiding presence. At 77 Arcade, Twist Etc. hosts New York-based Canadian artist Jason Paradis. Gallery-goers may recall Paradis' show at Seed Space in 2010: The artist's installations are preoccupied with time as well as space, and his work acknowledges that even our deepest existential understandings are wrapped in a vast mystery.
The Froelich Gallery at 83 Arcade will feature Berlin, a series of striking photographs by Hunter Armistead. Armistead spent a year living in the German capital, and this is the first time he's shown his work from that period.
On Fifth Avenue, Tinney Contemporary sticks with their April exhibit Stealing Stories: New Works by Patricia Bellan-Gillen. Stealing finds Bellan-Gillen bringing meticulous detailing to the zoological illustrations that populate her dreamscape panels. Rymer Gallery will also hold over What We Carry, a show of Luke Hillestad's figurative canvases featuring narratives of birth, kinship, ritual and healing.
Down the block at The Arts Company, The Intimate World of Leonard Piha is an expansive show that sprawls across much of the gallery's large upstairs space. It's easy to mistake Piha for an outsider artist when discovering his religious, personal work. He paints on wood and cardboard and also fashions sculptures from rough, ordinary materials. In fact, Piha took his M.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and we are waiting for Saturday to see if Piha's work plays the fool or plays for keeps. In addition, Slow Road to China — Drew Doggett's documentary photos of the Land of the Dragon — remains from last month.
Be sure to wander your way up Broadway to the Tennessee Art League for the 46th Annual Central South Art Exhibition. The CSAE is one of the oldest and most prestigious art competitions in the country, and it's the TAL's founding event. This year 419 works by artists from 26 states competed for 60 cash prizes. Saturday's opening will include an early awards presentation at 5 p.m., culminating with the Best in Show prize for Bill Bailey's lovely, light-filled watercolor painting "Humphrey's Mill."
Back at 44 Arcade, Mir Gallery founder/curator Miranda Herrick will be putting her own work on display in an eco-conscious show that resonates with the new frugality informing these money-lean times. Reduced, Reused, Recycled: Visual Art from the Recycling Bin features quilt-like tapestries, crocheted rugs, and crafted aluminum mandalas fashioned from grocery bags, candy wrappers, cereal boxes and beer cans. This will be the last show for Mir Gallery, and the May exhibit anticipates Herrick's rededication to her own creative projects. Since Mir debuted in 2008, highlights at the space have included a number of memorable print and pop-art inspired exhibits, and we hope it will be replaced by another art venue with an equally thoughtful curator. We already know of one new venue that will likely join the First Saturday fray in June, but that will have to wait until next month.
Crawl on, crawlers!