Last Friday was the night of the firebreathing goldfish in Memphis, with great group exhibits (many featuring little swimming fellows) all over the map.
I managed to make it (in four inch heels--silly me) to several of the shows and took some photos of the night I'd like to share.
First I stopped by Hamlett Dobbins' exhibition space Material, where a show I had been eagerly anticipating was up and open. Your Epidermis is Showing featured several great sculptures and one HILARIOUS figure drawing/fishbowl combo that I will never forget:
After I left Material, I proceeded to drive in increasingly disoriented loops towards downtown Memphis until I finally found my way to Marshall Arts. You would think after the four-billionth time I've tried to make this gallery-leap I would remember to at least pack the GPS, but getting lost between galleries on Friday nights has become a way for me to get a few moments to reflect on what I've seen at one place before I hit another. Someday I'll have to post a drawing of my "lost between Broad and Marshall" map--the most complex drawing I hope to ever make.
It looks a lot like this projection piece by Jennifer Barnett Hensel.
At Marshall Arts there was a great all-girl group exhibit called HEX, curated by two super-talented ladies and featuring works by six more: Hensel, Clare Torina, Anna Kordsmeier, Adair Snow, Raleigh Rodger, and Whitney Schuylar Hubbard. The moment that I walked into Marshall Arts, I was lucky enough to be the only person taking in Hensel's gorgeous shadow-play called "Centered." I always love these projections by Hensel--the shadows cast by mylar and wire make loopy-doodles around the silhouettes of anyone who walks past, reminding me on some nights of viewing the world through champaign bubbles and on others of looking up into the moonlight, Ophelia-like from the bottom of a deep, cool pool. More than anything tonight, I reflected on that lost in-between time, traveling from one amazing space to another.
Coming up for air as I rounded the wall with the projections, I was met with a cooly chaotic arrangement of photos framed in glass punctuated by Kordsmeier's acrylic and plexiglass sculptures.
The photos by Snow, Hubbard, and Rodger had titles like "Unearthly" (Rodger), "Martian" (Snow) and "The Stranger" (Snow) and "Ophelia" (Hubbard). The titles accentuated the poetic distance that photographers used to transform ordinary places into fantasy worlds. Here's a pic of Raleigh next to a photo of a lady removing a goldfish from his bowl. Take from that what you will.
Amid all of these magical photographs, Clare Torina's* amazing paintings stood out. While her three ink drawings on velvet paper are relatively unassuming, the 72"x54" Conversion of St. Paul's Horse is an epic work that deserves deeper and more scholarly analysis than an "aw-shucks y'all" blog like this can handle. Indeed, this piece is so grand in scale and concept that an even bigger and more shockingly transcendent version is being installed in the Jones Hall Gallery at the University of Memphis Campus as we speak. It freaks me out that a seven foot tall painting of a god-struck horse is really just a study for Torina. Someone needs to get her a spare chapel in Vatican City and a cranky pope or two to yank her chain, forget grad school. I was so gobsmacked by this painting that I forgot to take a picture. (doh!)
I did remember to take a picture of the random fire-dancer in the drum circle on the trolley line when I finally left Marshall Arts and hit the arts district on South Main St. See:
The fire-dancing was pretty amazing, but I can honestly say that I spent more time staring at Clare's horse. A few stops past the drummers and fire I got to The Rozelle Artist's Guild's sketchbook show. I love sketchbooks. I was in this show. It was REALLY crowded.
I love sketchbook shows AND I was in this show AND it didn't cost me a dime. Thanks Rozelle Artist Guild. You Rock.
After all of that, would you believe that I rode the trolley to a bunch of other shows on South Main looking for a goldfish sale? I never found it, or the four artists who built a show around the idea. I did get really big blisters as a reward for choosing stupid girly heels with butterflies on them to tramp around town in, but other than those disappointments, I'd say it was a pretty great trolley night.