The July heat may have wilted ambitions a touch on last First Friday, but a couple of one-night-only exhibitions could be found in the farther reaches of the downtown-centric night, one a multimedia show curated by local sound artist and University of Tennessee professor Seva David Ball at A1 LabArts.
First greeted by paintings hung on pegboard ("Splattering Wasp Tail," $22; "3-legged Bird Lady," $66), the second-most reliable attraction in the Randolph Street warehouse, once the sound was turned up, was a small screening room set up with a long reel of short films, some with title cards, many without. With patience, you'd be treated to some pleasingly hypnotic images pixilated to abstraction in all colors of the 16-bit scheme, and, later, Matthew Rooney's lovely pixilated explosions and repeated shots of working machines, washed out into delicate lines. But it was the (not credited) jerky and saturated shots of raw meat set to jaunty music that took the prize for funny and refreshing before your attention turned to the back of the gallery, where five jumbo screens eventually (after spending the first portion of the evening showing the JVC logo) got around to featuring a repeat performance of Taylor Trumphour's "Panoramic Lapse," also on the short film loop. The short explores daytime activity at the Krutch Park annex, the KAT hub on Main Street, and the southeast end of Market Square through various shots at various times, lined up to create a panoramic effect. The large format was an impressive, immersive setup. Sometimes bigger is better.
But staying to view it again in full wasn't an option, as something threatened to happen in the other room off the entrance. That turned out to be either a practice run or a real why-the-hell-not kind of performance of spoken word and music from a piano getting worked over—both on the keys and its exposed innards—and a laptop. Meanwhile, a seemingly unrelated Mac projected onto the wall, first, a student film of sparkling skies and shimmering seas, then the desktop.
Another exhibition took place at Ironwood Studios off Central Street. Brian Waldschlager played to the mostly seated crowd, but the walls were plastered with vibrant paintings by Kit Hoefer of classic still-life subjects (tablescapes, statues) and landscapes, all made to bend, loop, and quiver in jewel tones. As if that didn't fill up the room, pedestals here and there featured the metal works of Ironwood co-owner Preston Farabow, some home décor-friendly tendrils, others fish skeletons with wings and plastic baby-doll legs. The metal coat rack near the exit neatly tied it all together, but was not credited.
Back in downtown proper, and still available for viewing, two exhibitions opened at the Emporium Gallery on Gay Street. Upstairs you'll find Forms and Figures, bite-size series from each of seven photographers: Alan Finch, Kathy Frankford, Carl Hill, Scott Lee, Ross Mol, Carole Usdan, and Dennis Usdan. Nature, portraits, and canoes are on display, but what unites these artists is their insistence that the photographer be as present as the objects in front of the lens. (That, and being the only show of this lot that can boast a frame around every picture.) From Finch's nature photographs, zoomed and cropped close and printed large (see "Marine Abstraction"), to Carole Usdan's portraits involving various intimate situations, obscured in various ways, ripe for an erotic-thriller movie poster, there's a conceptual bent or stylized streak to every series. But with so many artists involved so briefly, the contrivances feel like both too much and not enough. Like being served a Brandy Alexander as an aperitif.
Downstairs at the Emporium is A Celebration of Color: New Works by Larry S. Cole. Forgoing texture for geometry and having a way with layers and lines, Cole rescues the city streets, the boat docks, and the woman whose face we cannot see from the realm of sickeningly romantic through the jarring brightness of his palette and his ability to paint a lot without ever painting quite the same thing twice. And there is a lot to see. I think it's no coincidence that this show is where I encountered one of the most attentive five-year-old boys I've ever seen. The artist statement on display mentions using color to quickly engage the viewer's senses, and so it was entirely appropriate that in lieu of cheese and crudités, the food offerings on the table were cookies, ice cream, and sprinkles. m
Forms and Figures and A
Celebration of Color
New Works by Larry S. Cole
The Arts & Culture Alliance
Emporium Center (100 S. Gay St.)
Through July 30