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July 10, 2013

Tennessee Art League festivities dazzle grand opening crowds

The Tennessee Art League has formally joined Nashville’s hub of art centered on N. 5th Street. T.A.L. held its official grand opening Saturday during the monthly Art Crawl staged on 5th Avenue North by Nashville’s legion of art galleries. With a delightful young juggler tossing digitally lighted spheres to the welcoming tunes being played over the course of the evening by featured musical group, Duology (Barry Coggins and Joseph Brunelle), guests found the hallways and walls festooned with works of visual delights and discovery.

Special features of the evening included portraits-while-you-wait were available by a T.A.L. member for a most modest rate, featured artist Carolyn Freeman was on hand to meet guests and discuss her varied collection of art works and her passion for creation, and the always enthralling refreshments table and wine bar filled with treats prepared by T.A.L.members themselves or supportive friends and colleagues. The T.A.L.’s own Gift Shop  was a mini-showcase in itself, offering a wondrous assortment of jewelry, smaller artworks, handcrafted wooden writing pens and wine bottle stoppers and wearable apparel accessories.

'Florida' - Florida Highwaymen Collection

‘Florida’ – Florida Highwaymen Collection

Along with Ms Freeman’s collection, paintings from the famed Florida Highwaymen are exhibited within The Broadway Gallery, a group of 26 African American landscape artists active from the 1950s through the 1980s. In the 50s and 60s, amid the Jim Crow South, it was impossible to find galleries interested in selling artworks by a group of unknown, self-taught African Americans. As a result, in order to survive, the artists sold their art directly to the public, going door-to-door to businesses and individuals. Rediscovered in the mid-1990s, today are recognized as an important part of American folk history. These exotic and alluring images all feature ‘Florida’ as the theme but each differentiates itself as the artist presents his own perspective on what is ‘Florida.’ The resulting imagery is vivid, striking and dramatic.

Two Clarksville artists are included in the July exhibition. Kelly LaPlante is an Austin Peay arts major who has found her medium in Steampunk Art. She specializes in jewelry and copper wire structures. Her ‘Hope,‘ a structured tree of copper wire is a excellent example of her craft. She has several jewelry pieces on display for sale in the gift shop. Tess Marie Lankovich is a visual arts painter. She has been with The T.A.L. for about eight months and enjoys the nurturing atmosphere which permeates every aspect of their operation.

'The Barn Door' - Carolyn Freeman

‘The Barn Door’ – Carolyn Freeman

Carolyn Freeman’s collection occupies the Ethel Smith Gallery section of the exhibit hall. There are several large works with a water lily pond theme to them. The dark waters do invite contemplative reflection. This reviewer found ‘The Barn Door’ and ‘The Dinghy’ to be particularly intriguing.

Also on display are triangular pillars showing the works Ev Neiwoehner- musical instruments and jazz themes flow forth from his works, John Cranshaw has several works which document his enchantment with Lower Broadway and Nashville’s r music center serves as his muse. Also featured are works of  Sandy Spain and Bob Jones, the gifted pen and ink master who has presented a plethora of astounding hand-rendered black/white portraits.

Another special aspect of the exhibit of artworks byThe Lost Boys of Nashville. Photographs of everyday life, paintings and wood carved masks share the story of these former child-soldiers as they seek to displace the trauma of their child-warrior careers and blunt the terrors inflicted on their psyches.

The new location has meant a re-thinking of the Members Gallery. The open wall space brings stark white backgrounds to each artwork while offering maximum display placement spacing. Images compete for their own individual viewing attention and yet easily encourage the viewer to step over to the neighboring images as well. But fear not, the visual arts are limited to canvas presentations. Along with Ms LaPlante’s ‘Hope,’ Ned LaBone and his his wife each have sculpture pieces on display which delight the eyes and lift the spirit.

'Bowl' - Barry Warner

‘Bowl’ – Barry Warner

Additionally, Barry Werner continues to present wood art that simply commands contemplation. His ability to accent the hidden hues and growth patterns within each piece of wood is most impressive. No two pieces of wood have the same characteristics and Barry deftly charms the wood and turns it just so to reveal its unique characteristics.  You’ll want to caress and hold each masterfully turned piece he renders.

Bernie Wilson, a recently joined new T.A.L. member, has added to his collection with a stirring painting hanging in The Members Gallery section of the exhibit hall. His motion figurine statuettes continue on display in The Gift Shop. The colorful figurines are a delightful escape from a tedious afternoon in the office. Naturally, kids just go bunkers over them.

TAL-LogoThe Tennessee Art League, affectionately referred to as ‘The T.A.L.’ has gathered a great assortment of strikingly engaging and distinctive artwork for their summer exhibition offering to 5th Avenue North art aficionados and novices alike. A special effort has been made to offer affordable works for the budding art collector to begin their own collection. An afternoon within the walls of 219  5th Avenue North will prove more than satisfying, it is mesmerizing.

Closed Sundays and Mondays, plan your adventure for Tuesday – Saturday and indulge your senses and your whimsy. Go awandering  and become immersed. Enjoy the tingle.

For more info, call 615-736-5000 or ‘like’ them on Facebook.

[Photos by Turner McCullough Jr./JazzWaves Imaging Solutions]

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