Crawl Space: October’s First Saturday Is Full of Text and Texture


“Untitled,” Lars Strandh


Content-focused artwork is about something. Formalist artwork is something. And encountering an exhibition of Lars Strandh’s formalist color-spectrum paintings in this era of content-forward gallery programming can feel as invigorating as the first chilly day of fall. Strandh is a regular on Zeitgeist Gallery’s roster, and this new exhibition is the Norwegian artist’s fifth solo show with the gallery — and his first Nashville show since 2014. Spectrum is built around a display of a dozen acrylic-on-canvas works of various colors — from yellow through red, blue and green, and back to yellow. Smaller black-and-white paintings round out the exhibition. Strandh’s painting has always been about color, and the cake-frosting textures of his surfaces where each of the artist’s meticulous brushstrokes is registered in infinitely explorable horizontal lines. These repeating left-to-right patterns read like ripples on water, or rows of crops in a field, or the metaphysical horizons of a lifetime of experiences receding into both the future and the past. For me, Spectrum is about looking at colors and textures, but like all of Strandh’s Zeitgeist displays, it’s also a show about landscapes — geographical and ethereal. It’s about horizons of desire, and the ebb and flow of memories lost and found. Opening reception 5-8 p.m. Saturday at Zeitgeist Gallery, 516 Hagan St. 

Strandh’s show is the most intense display opening in Nashville on Saturday night, and the exhibition across the street at Red 225 in The Packing Plant is the perfect complement. Washington, D.C.-based artist Adam Mele’s art is graphic and illustrative, knowingly irreverent and a little bizarre. Etruscan art, Bazooka Joe bubble gum comics, Indonesian street art and the Chicago Imagists all inform Mele’s self-taught practice. The artist’s detailed acrylic-on-canvas works feature the recurring motif of a Kilroy-esque cartoon peeking out from plants and superimposed onto the faces of wild animals. Mele likes to paint borders on his surfaces to visually frame his images, and his flora and fauna are decorated with obsessive markings, tying the exhibition together with repeating design elements. The Chicago Imagists often get confused with New York pop artists — both schools loved comic art, but the Chicago artists also looked to surrealism while the pop artists in the Big Apple were swooning over advertising imagery. Mele’s monster-like creatures and displaced faces speak to Dalí and Dr. Seuss more than packaging design, and the show feels so illustrative that I’d love to see a collab between the artist and some of the writers, printmakers and zinesters who frequent the Free Nashville Poetry Library’s Show & Sell events. Opening reception 6-9 p.m. Saturday at Red 225, 507 Hagan St.

The Free Nashville Poetry Library pulled out all the stops at their first Zine City Fest celebration of all things DIY publishing during last weekend’s Artville happenings in Wedgewood-Houston. And their October Show & Sell event is set to feature new creators, familiar faces and lots of artsy (and wordsy) gifts at every price point. FNPL kingpin Matt Johnstone referenced Jack Kerouac’s “October in the Railroad Earth” when hyping this event on the library’s Instagram account (@nashvillepoetrylibrary). Head down to The Packing Plant and see the outdoor bazaar for yourself under a “blue sky of perfect lostpurity.” 3 p.m.-sunset Saturday at The Packing Plant, 507 Hagan St.


Natalie Tyree

Coop closed out September with their Into the Fold exhibition at The Packing Plant’s Zine City Fest event. Coop is sticking with the textual themes for the month of October with The Intersection of Art, Text and Design. Here in the standard-less, uncategorized hell of our postmodern moment, it’s reassuring to be reminded of a time when there were clear lines — if not boundaries — demarcating art and design. Of course, back then we were always complaining about how the separations seemed arbitrary and unfairly enforced. The ink is always greener on the other side of the newly established cultural norms. Text is ubiquitous in designs of all kinds, but the writer in me is a sucker for visual artists from Cy Twombly to Ed Ruscha to Jean-Michel Basquiat who found novel ways to incorporate written language into their compositions. And my favorite aspect of this group show at Coop is how it highlights the use of text in art beyond advertising design, poster-printing, greeting-card messaging and holiday decorating. This show features work by Patrick Vincent, Danielle Myers, Natalie Tyree and Taylor Walton1-9 p.m. Saturday at Coop, 507 Hagan St.


The Frist’s Multiplicity: Blackness in Contemporary American Collage includes work from Lovie Olivia, and the artist’s latest solo exhibition opened at Tinney Contemporary on Sept. 16. It continues this month through Oct 28. Beauty as Method is a predictably multimedia affair that marries collage and assemblage techniques to Olivia’s flair for fresco painting. Beauty as Method, like Olivia’s work in the Frist show, is brimming with content about Black-queer-femme-Southern identity. But it’s the artist’s formal innovations — like her unique blending of printing and mold-making, and her conceptual use of data records in her collaged portraits — that make Olivia’s work remarkable. Reception 2-8 p.m. Saturday at Tinney Contemporary, 237 Rep. John Lewis Way N. 

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