Storied Strings: The Guitar in American Art is the first exhibition to explore the instrument’s symbolism in American art from the early nineteenth century to the present day. Featuring 125 works of art as well as thirty-five exceptional instruments, the exhibition will demonstrate that guitars figure prominently in the visual stories Americans tell about themselves May 26–Aug 13, 2023 in the Ingram Gallery of Frist Art Museum.
Works by artists such as John Baldessari, Thomas Hart Benton, Lonnie Holley, Dorothea Lange, and Annie Leibovitz and seminal instruments by Fender, Gibson, and C. F. Martin & Company show how guitars have served as symbols of American history, cultural attitudes, identities, and aspirations. For the presentation at the Frist, notable instruments and other artworks drawn from Middle Tennessee collections will be on view, reflecting Nashville’s internationally renowned status as “Music City” and a mecca for outstanding guitarists and socially impactful music.
The accompanying three hundred–page catalogue positions the guitar within a nexus of art, music, literature, and cultural histories.
Guitar Town: Picturing Performance Today features work by ten Nashville-based photographers who capture the energy of Nashville’s diverse music scene through images of guitar players performing in venues across the city. Highlighting a variety of musical styles and attitudes, the photographers employ dramatic angles, surprising cropping, and hair-trigger responses as they capture decisive moments in each performance.
The photographers in the exhibition are Angelina Castillo, Lance Conzett, Steven Cross, Emma Delevante, H.N. James, John Jo, Laura E. Partain, John Partipilo, Jenni Starr, and Diana Lee Zadlo. Through images of musicians including Brandi Carlile, Sierra Ferrell, Brittany Howard, Peter One and Jess Sah Bi, Marty Stuart, William Tyler, Adia Victoria, Jack White, and Yola, viewers see how the performers’ self-presentation—clothing, hair, stance, and facial expressions—provide visual links to the music they are making and bring viewers into the room with the audience to share the visceral experience, on view in the Conte Community Arts Gallery through August 20, 2023.
Celebrating guitars, photography, and more, the Frist Art Museum will hold a weekend-long Frist Arts Fest on June 3–4 spotlighting the exhibitions Storied Strings: The Guitar in American Art, Guitar Town: Picturing Performance Today, Ron Jude: 12 Hz, and Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature.
Saturday, enjoy live guitar-centric musical performances in the auditorium organized by WNXP 91.1. Sunday, programs geared toward children and families include sets by The Rock and Roll Playhouse inspired by artists represented in Storied Strings and an instrument petting zoo with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. All weekend, enjoy songwriters performing in the Turner Courtyard, exhibition tours; art-making activities, food trucks, games, a photobooth, and more.
Admission to Frist Arts Fest will be free for Frist members and guests ages 18 and younger. For all other guests, the regular $15 adult admission will apply both days. All normal discounts are suspended during the weekend. For more details, go to the Frist website: fristartmuseum.org/