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May 232013
Fort Houston's woodshop

One of the many rooms in community creative space Fort Houston

Back in April, I wrote a blog titled “Fort Houston and the Nashville Art Scene Need Your Help!” The piece talked about the vitality of the Wedgewood-Houston arts community and vaguely discussed Fort Houston‘s difficulties in passing the city’s complex coding process. I entreated everyone to write letters to the mayor and city council reps. But I could only tell you part of the story — partially out of deference to Fort Houston while they attempted to resolve matters privately, partially because I didn’t know the whole story.

This morning the Tennessean published an article called “New artists warehouse Fort Houston runs into codes issues.” (In the print edition, it’s titled “Arts Space Seeks Zoning Variance.”) In the article, reporter Joey Garrison uncovers further layers of Fort Houston’s difficulties and reveals disputes with the Houston Street property landlord. The landlord’s arguments in the piece don’t make any sense whatsoever, and I’m convinced he’s not being honest about his motivation. Fort Houston’s lease runs out in November, and I don’t think it is likely that the landlord will renew it (especially after the Tennessean article). The only solution seems to be buying the property outright, but that would require a wealthy benefactor.

There are further layers of intrigue as yet unpublished … other players, other factors; but it would be irresponsible for me to discuss the rest until Fort Houston opens the dialogue. For now, Fort Houston needs your support like never before. Tour the facility. Talk with the staff. Ask what you can do to help.

Many a cadre of talented young people in Nashville have attempted to put together creative spaces like Fort Houston. It’s an incredibly-difficult enterprise. Most fail after less than a few years. But this one is special. Over the past three years, I’ve witnessed firsthand the Fort Houston founders’ high levels of professionalism, work-ethic, future-planning, business savvy and innovation. They are the best and brightest of Nashville’s creative up and comers. If this can happen to them, it can happen to any new arts organization. The question we really need to be asking our city leaders is this: “You have shown you are willing to support large commercial enterprises with questionable ties to the arts community. But are you willing to support young artists, new organizations, bottom-up development, the true future of Nashville’s art scene? Think hard on that before you reply. Your answer determines our future support of YOU.”

And before you read the Tennessean article, read Fort Houston Co-Founder Ryan Schemmel’s introductory remarks to the article here.

May 062013



Nashville musician and multi-media artist Robbie Lynn Hunsinger has a new exhibit opening up at Seed Space on Friday, May 10th from 6pm to 8pm. The reactive sound sculpture is a collaboration with Middle Tennessee Robotic Art Society members Patrick Becker and Steve Ghertner. Skitter Flutter sounds absolutely fascinating, and I can’t wait to check it out on Friday.

The press release at robbiehunsinger.com says Skitter Flutter,

grew partially out of Hunsinger’s Arduino and Sax duet for robotic drummer that she premiered at Soundcrawl 2012.

Skitter Flutter is also heavily influenced by Hunsinger’s years of pre-dawn bird rescue in the Chicago area as Founder of The Chicago Bird Collision Monitors program, a very successful conservation effort in which volunteers save injured and stunned migratory birds that have struck buildings.

She became fascinated with the idea of creating an invisible array of reactive sounds similar to small mammals, insects or birds but created entirely by motors. Sounds pull the viewer in but dissipate upon investigation, much as crickets grow quiet as we approach.

The mirror neuron creates a reaction in an observer which reflects the chemical changes in the person actually experiencing an event firsthand, which seems to manifest the neurological existence of empathy.

“You get hit, I flinch.” These interactive sound sculptures encourage this type of response. They are as much felt as seen or heard.

More info at the Facebook event page and SeedSpace.org.

Robbie Hunsinger: Skitter Flutter
Opening reception Friday, May 10th 6-8pm.
Seed Space
(Inside Chestnut Square Building)
427 Chestnut Street, Nashville, Tennessee 37203

Apr 262013
BYOB London

BYOB London

One of the coolest concepts in pop-up art shows is coming to Chestnut Studios in NoHo (NOrth of HOuston street). Bring Your Own Beamer is a series of one-night exhibitions hosting artists and their projectors, created by Berlin artist Rafaël Rozendaal in 2010. Anyone can host a BYOB event. As the BYOB website says,

It’s very simple:

  • find a space
  • invite many artists
  • ask them to bring their projectors

The Chestnut Studios BYOB event is organized by Watkins professor Adan De La Garza and will feature the following artists:

Mika Agari
Lani Ascuncion
Sam Carlson
Chris Creasy
Adan De La Garza
Josh Duensing
Morgan Flowers
Josh Gumiela
Sarah McDonald
Ray Palumbo
Caroline Rawson
Alexine Rioux
Allie Sultan
Williard Tucker
Chelsea Wright

Check the Facebook event page for more info.

BYOB Nashville
April 27th, 7-10pm, free
Chestnut Sq Building
427 Chestnut Street
Nashville, TN 37203
Park in lot across from Chestnut Sq Building.
Refreshments provided.

BYOB Boston

BYOB Boston

Mar 142013


Nestled in the heart of Nashville’s burgeoning arts community NoHo* (NOrth of HOuston Street), Chestnut Studios gallery Seed Space continues to book exciting sound and video art. If Seed Space curates it, it’s definitely going to be interesting.

But when I read about the Scott Smallwood installation opening this Friday, my jaw dropped. Scott’s a sound artist, composer, inventor, and performer, and he’s worked with some serious badasses: Pauline Oliveros, John Butcher, Joe McPhee, Cor Fuhler, Phil Gelb, Todd Reynolds, and Mark Dresser.

Scott builds his own electronic instruments, sound installations, and even musical video games. hideout, the piece he’s unveiling Friday night at the opening reception is

a quiet, immersive soundscape based on environmentally-empowered sound circuits. Evoking the structural acoustics of hidden, safe zones in nature and architecture, these sounds can evoke feelings of safety and security, as well as a heightened sense of intrusions from outside sources.  As one adapts to the quiet sounds that are often masked or silenced by the presence of crowded social spaces, the piece is also subtly interactive, as the sounds are directly responsive to the presence of light in the space and changes of light distribution through the presence of shadows, reflections, and absorption caused by movement through the space.

If Scott’s previous creations are any judge, hideout will be an art opening you won’t want to miss. Salivate over the video clips of Scott’s work below and then go over to the Seedspace page for more info.

Scott Smallwood’s hideout
Opening Reception Friday, March 15th, 6-8 pm.
hideout will show March 15 – April 29.

Seed Space Gallery
427 Chestnut Street, Nashville, 37203

* Yes, I made that up. Yes, I am shamelessly trying to make it stick.