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Art Crawl returns for 2013

by Cass Teague

The First Saturday Art Crawl returns for 2013 with a fascinating slate of photographs, portraits, installations and artifacts for all in downtown Nashville. The First Saturday Art Crawl is a monthly visual arts event centered at the 5th Avenue of the Arts, occurring in the historic entertainment district of downtown Nashville. Saturday, January 5 from 6-9 pm, an alliance of art galleries and museums collectively invite the public to explore the vibrant Nashville downtown art scene. Admission is free. Last month’s preview started on Broadway. This month we begin at the other end of the crawl.

Tinney Contemporary is pleased to present Silent Gestures, a new exhibition of works by Korean-born artist, Hyunmee Lee. Known for her signature style of gestural abstraction, Lee’s most recent body of work reflects the diversity of her background and artistic influences in a way that is spectacularly simple, yet decidedly bold. This striking duality is a theme that persists throughout Silent Gestures, with the title itself suggesting an inherent paradox in action that is simultaneously careful and unrestrained, quiet and confident.

Her large, abstract canvases delight in the union of opposites, where vast fields of carefully delineated color and expanses of blacks and whites intermix with expressive lines and brushstrokes. The resulting works are beautifully balanced as a result of Lee’s skillful use of color, composition, and design and are reflective of her extensive artistic training in Western Modern art with experience in Eastern painting and calligraphy. Lee’s art and life have been heavily influenced by the ideas of Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Accordingly, in these recent Silent Gestures paintings, Lee seeks to combine opposing forces to reflect her own life, which conveys both East and West. In her vibrant black and yellow canvases, nonrepresentational and representational forms inspired by her roots are brought out slowly through silent gestures.

Hyunmee Lee, born in 1961 in Seoul, Korea has crossed three continents over two decades in South Korea, Japan, Australia, and the United States. She recently retired from teaching to focus on her art full time.

In her new body of work, ‘Refueling’ in the rear gallery at Tinney, Sisavanh Phouthavong explores the commonality of hummingbirds to human behaviors. Both exhibit agility, efficiency, and versatility in a time of crisis, and while beautiful in all shades of color, are practical, extremely territorial, and resilient. Through vibrant and aptly titled paintings such as ‘Cacophony,’ ‘The Tempest’ and ‘Discombobulated,’ Phouthavong takes the image of a hummingbird-a heuristic for spring’s whimsicality-and crafts it into a writhing cyclone of hummingbirds. Her systematic compositions and use of monochromatic, intense colors reflect current environmental as well as personal events. Yet the openness and clarity of the design does not detract from the works’ underlying meaning, which playfully seems to tell the viewer to just embrace the madness.

Don’t forget to catch the Carrie Mae Weems: Three decades of Photography and Video retrospective at the Frist Art Center before it closes on January 13, 2013.

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