I live in Nashville, TN and see all the great reasons to live or visit, but I’ll admit that art is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of this city. Well, unless it’s the art of songwriting, or playing the guitar.
There’s an on again, off again history of fine art in Nashville, bookended by Red Grooms before and Herb Williams now—the latter an artist who creates sculptures out of Crayola crayons. What has really brought the city recognition though the past decade though has been the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. This is a fine museum housed in a fantastic building: an Art Deco post office from 1934 that was lovingly converted to a two-story art museum.
There are usually three main exhibits downstairs (including one showcasing living modern artists), then a permanent collection and a hands-on children’s center upstairs. Kids 18 and under are free even, so there’s double incentive to expose them to some culture.
A new exhibit on Georgia O’Keeffe and Her Times just opened, with paintings of hers and contemporaries from the same period, all on loan from the Lane Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. O’Keefe has a long and complicated history with Nashville. Her husband Alfred Stieglitz left his collection to Fisk University, a college that has 91% of its students getting financial aid these days. The university is strapped for cash and his been trying to sell a couple paintings to enable them to take care of the rest, which has resulted in a big legal battle.
Anyway…this exhibit of her work plus Ansel Adams, Charles Sheeler, Marsden Hartley and others is balanced by one featuring the rural realist Thomas Hart Benton and Art Week cover boy Oliver Herring. In the upstairs gallery is a photography exhibit, Surrealism in Paris.
If you’re into architecture though, you may be as taken by the building and the historic photos on the walls leading to the cafe as you will be by the art on the walls. It’s an impressive place and I still get excited when I visit.
Admission is under $10 and if you bring a food donation to Second Harvest you get in free on Mondays. There are college nights as well if you have a student ID. There’s a worthy hotel to stay in right across the parking lot: the Wyndham Union Station Hotel, which used to be the city’s train station. There’s a Flying Saucer branch behind it if you want to wet your whistle after the gallery viewing.
See more at FristCenter.org