Go Look at All the Visual Art in Memphis

Posted by Dwayne Butcher on Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 2:13 PM

Someone says to me, on an almost daily basis, that they hate Memphis and that nothing ever happens here. How wrong they are! Just last week, I wrote about how it is possible to see over fifty years of visual art in Memphis at various locations around the city during the course of one weekend. It is a hell of a thing to be able to see where we came from, where we are, and where we are going as a Visual Arts community. It is encouraging to see all the work that the artists have created and are doing to help promote this community. They are doing this not only by working hard and being aggressive in the studio, not only by exhibiting their work out in the world, but also organizing thought-provoking events throughout the city.

One such event is Memphis’ first performance art festival beginning March 22, 2013 at Beige Organized by Joel Parsons, “’Otherwise,’ opens with an exhibition of performance scripts written by more than twenty artists, choreographers, writers, and film makers from across the country. During the course of the exhibition, Memphis locals will perform the scripts in public and private locations throughout the city. The project will culminate in an e-publication documenting the scripts and their performances.” The first performances begin Friday at 6-9pm at Beige. According to their Facebook event page, things that you may see happen this Friday are artists talking to plants, eating cake, dancing with strangers, saying yes, playing games, throwing things, making faces, being in love, eating a rose...Memphis has long needed an art festival that wasn’t focused on selling cheap art in 10’ x 10’ tents lining the streets of downtown and midtown. Hopefully, this is the first of many. Beige is located at 173 St. Agnes Dr. Memphis, TN 38112.

Justin Bowles
  • Justin Bowles

Another such event is “xxxy” featuring the work of Krislee Kyle and Justin Bowles. The exhibition will be held Nu Gallery with a one-night only opening Friday, March 22, 2013 5:30 — 8:30pm. The exhibition is a visual conversation concerning the binary of gender. Kyle and Bowles are each students at the Memphis College of Art. Bowles was was recently part of the “Contemporaries” exhibition at Marshall Arts and this will be a continuation of her examining normal conventions of gender. This next generation of artists in Memphis are not at all focused or concerned with the traditional and conservative work and ideas that have dominated the art scene and commercial market for decades in Memphis. Instead, they are focused on projects and ideas that concern the community as a whole. This is absolutely a good thing. Nu Gallery is located at 2577 Broad Ave.


Michael Velliquette
  • Michael Velliquette

Also it is the last week to be able to see the psychedelic work of Michael Velliquette at the Clough-Hanson Gallery at Rhodes College. “Cosmic Bodies” is a survey of work by Velliquette that consists of drawings, paintings, and paper sculptures. He engages in a process of ornamental abstraction as a framework to explore themes of transformation, ritual, and order. He lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin, but these pieces look like were created by and for the legendary Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans celebrating St. Joseph’s Day. According to the exhibition statement, “the works explore and aesthetic concern with visual opulence and ceremony.” That they certainly do. Please do go see this exhibition at the Clough-Hanson before it closes March 27, 2013.

Images courtesy of the artist.
Michael Velliqutte image courtesy of DCKT Contemporary, New York

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Memphis has never lacked an undercurrent of gifted visual artists, writers, photographers and musicians. What Memphis lacks is a means to support these men and women.
I find it simultaneously soul crushing and tiresome to read that people loathe living here. To despise where you live but to have so little self esteem to change your venue is obscene. I don’t mean that in a reactionary “love it or leave it” fashion. But often those who profess to “hate “ living here because “nothing happens” are precisely those who never support the gifted visual artists, writers, photographers and musicians who do make things happen.

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Posted by Brad Phillips on 03/23/2013 at 1:24 PM
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