The Breslin

On Monday night, a couple friends and I stopped by The Breslin for an after-work cocktail. We moseyed on up to the bar on the mezzanine level where we drank gin and lavender cocktails, ate “thrice fried chips" and people-watched below. Awesome. But as delicious as the food and drinks (and hipsters) are, the design of the space is even better. The lacquered olive green walls, plaid accents, and animal tchotchkes are incredibly charming and make you feel as if you’ve been transported out of Midtown and into a great, old pub in England. This is absolutely one of my favorite spots in the city. 


Mel Ziegler at Cheekwood

Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum
Over the holidays, I visited the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum in Nashville for the first time and was transported to another era by the 55-acre gardens and gorgeous architecture that evokes 18th century England.  It’s a real gem that surely is even better in the warmer months.  On view was a small show of Mel Ziegler’s work focused on ideas relating to the military and war.  My favorite artwork Rock Hard Individualism is a wall sculpture consisting of over a hundred “rock faces” arranged in the shape of the United States.  In concept, it reminds me so much of Korean artist Do-Ho Suh’s work.  Like Suh’s use of hundreds of military dog tags to create a single shape, Ziegler’s faces could be viewed as both distinct and homogenous. Ultimately, it seems both Suh and Ziegler are challenging the fine line in military culture between strength in numbers and conformity versus individualism. Check out my article in Review Magazine for more of my perspective on the show.
Do-Ho Suh, Some/One
Mel Ziegler, Rock Hard Individualism


Thomas Eakins' Peculiar Portraits

On a recent trip to the Dallas Museum of Art I encountered the bizarre painting above by Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) of Miss Gertrude Murray, the sister of Eakins’ good friend and studio mate.  It’s an odd little work that stands out in the sea of hyper-flattering, propagandistic portraits we usually see in museums.  I want to know more about this woman—what is she thinking?  Was she pleased with this portrayal?  After my visit, I looked more into Eakins’ work and discovered a cache of striking portraits.  Check them out!  I’m amazing at how he can capture the psychology of a sitter simply by applying paint to a canvas.  
The Thinker: Portrait of Louis N. Kenton
Portrait of Susan MacDowell Eakins 
Miss Amelia Van Buren   


I'm confused...

Left: Moore in Harper's Bazaar, Right: Currin, The Cripple
I don’t understand why magazines are appropriating artwork that critiques the very culture of perfectionism and consumerism they perpetuate.  Do they not see the ideas behind Barbara Kruger and John Currin's work as being in direct conflict to the unattainable ideals and superficiality that these magazines (and celebrities) promote? Are these publications more self aware than we give them credit?  Or are Kruger and Currin essentially pulling the wool over their eyes?
W Magazine cover w/ Kardashian
Kruger, Untitled (I Shop Therefore I Am)
Kruger, Untitled (Your Body is a Battleground)


Degas Keeping it Real

Degas, The Star, 1878
Degas, Dancers Bending Down, 1885
I’ve seen two incredible exhibitions recently that have changed my mind about artist Edgar Degas— Birth of Impressionism at the Frist in Nashville and The Modern Woman at the Vancouver Art Gallery.  Before these shows, I associated Degas solely with his idealized images of ballerinas above. It always bothered me how he depicted these girls as soft, innocent and sweet when in actuality dancers are tough as nails and their lives can be pretty brutal.  So I was surprised to see the Degas paintings below that portray a less glamorous side of life—a girl getting a pedicure that doesn’t exactly look spa-like and an unflattering angle of a woman bathing.  These images may not be particularly striking given our standards today, but they were painted at a time when people largely viewed art as an escape from banality.  Flowers, seascapes and haystacks were popular subjects, not reminders of mundane daily life.
Degas, The Tub, 1886
Degas, The Pedicure, 1873