Meet Barry A. Noland and Stephen Watkins

Barry A Noland

Barry A Noland

Two of Nashville’s notable African American visual artists will meet their fans and discuss their works early in December in two separate exhibitions. Stephen Watkins will give a talk on December 1 at TSU, and Barry A. Noland will be at a reception for his work on December 6 at GJCC.

Stephen Watkins is a Nashville artist whose larger than life art captures what is human and real through expressionism. Watkins finds his voice through his art, which is a reflection of his life growing up in a large family in the countryside of a small Tennessee town. His life experiences shine through his art, putting him in contact with his inner spirit and emotions.

“Growing up in the country, I had my moments of loneliness, yet gratefulness, mostly to Jehovah God. Through Him I found my comfort and ability to speak. My art became my voice. It always will be.”

Watkins became interested in art at a very early age. He started by tracing cartoons from the comics until he gained enough confidence to draw on his own. Art classes in high school were the only formal training Stephen had until he studied with local muralist Jim Evinczik. Watkins describes his art as raw and emotive that draws his viewers into his internal world while making them contemplates their own. His work is captivating and easy to get lost in.

“Through travels, wonderment of the world, and how we are all connected as simply as through our expressions, I wish for my art to give allowance for all to think, feel, and respond.”

Artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Leonardo da Vinci, and Vincent Van Gogh are artists he admires the most and have had great influence in his career and works. Watkins is the owner of Watkin’s Studio that is located in historic Germantown at 100 Taylor Street in Nashville.

His exhibition entitled “Taming What’s Within” runs through the end of December in the TSU Downtown Campus Library. You are invited to a reception for the artist there on Friday, December 1, from 12 Noon until 2:00 PM His talk begins at 12:30 PM.

“ABOVE” is the long overdue first public collaboration between artists Barry A. Noland and Brian Parker. Noland’s images, taken from his early catalog, are the nuclei from which Parker creates individual worlds of wonder. The main collection is the multimedia vision of Parker, utilizing the imagery of photographer, Noland, as his inspiration and focal point.

“ABOVE” is a conversation between Barry and Brian driven by the intuitive synergy of their ideals. Both are fascinated by abstractions of simple shapes and objects in their work. Both are attracted to a sense of liberation or “rising above” the everyday.

These collage-style pieces are an exposition of the ethereal inclinations of both artists expressed mainly in the language of “scapes”—landscapes, waterscapes, cityscapes . . . escape. Many of these works give the impression of floating or a sense of lightness and buoyancy. This lightness may be one response to the recent escalation in violence and suffering. “ABOVE” is our refuge; but it’s also our hope for the ideal plane.

You are invited to the “ABOVE” opening reception, which is free and open to the public, hosted by Barry A. Noland on Wednesday, December 6 from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM at Gordon JCC, located at 801 Percy Warner Blvd, Nashville, Tennessee 37205. See you there!

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