Dance in the waterfall at Red Arrow, Nashville

By March 25, 2024
Installation view of Dance in the waterfall at Red Arrow, Nashville, Tennessee featuring works by Brianna Bass and Benji Anderson. Image courtesy of Red Arrow, Nashville, Tennessee.

Here is what’s going on with me: my birthday was on daylight savings. I plan to move, and I feel the need to change ‘Home’ in Waze, whose icon is a ghost on wheels, but I don’t live anywhere new yet. I tell contradictory stories to myself and others about my income: As a server, I make so much money. I can afford to live alone. I can barely afford to live alone. I do my taxes and find I owe the federal government six-hundred and fifty dollars.

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There are two settings that feel very soothing to me right now: I like going to Aldi, and I like thinking about staying in a hotel. At this hotel, I pack shearling slippers and am provided with a long and heavy cotton robe. My circumstances guide which works speak to me at Red Arrow Gallery’s Dance in the waterfall. The show includes work by Ashanté Kindle, Benji Anderson, Brianna Bass, Jeremy Shockley, Kelly Williams, Wansoo Kim. I am particularly drawn to Bass and Anderson’s work. I assign Bass’s work to Aldi and Anderson’s work to the hotel. Bass is the ridge of a quarter, channels between aisles, primary colors. Anderson is vision, a chamber of other’s stories and experiences, and fantastical thinking.

Brianna Bass’s As a Way of Formation Between Phonetic Dust and Language is a textured geometric painting of concentric squares. Paint wells where the lines meet, but the lines are smooth like paved paths. The left half of the painting is lemon yellow, golden yellow, cobalt blue, teal, maroon, and fire truck red, the right: lipstick red and Kelly green.

The color field painting is formally rich and deep. It is stark, grippy, and sticky up close, but the muted and darkened effect of complementary colors placed side by side makes it velvety from a distance. I interpret the colors to be a form of logic. There’s one world in which I reason in terms of a, b, and c—yellow, red, and blue, and another in which I think in red and green. I am of two minds. As it relates to my move and finances, it’s as though the right side represents me thinking in two terms, green for wealth, red for poverty, and on the left, three terms, perhaps wealth, expense, and providence. I attach to this painting because it diagrams a mind boggle, and in life I am in one. It is rigid, organized, and confused.

Installation view of Dance in the waterfall featuring works by Benji Anderson at Red Arrow, Nashville, Tennessee. Image courtesy of Red Arrow, Nashville, Tennessee.

Anderson’s voice exploded! He has gone supernova. His colored pencil works Dreams of the Nightingale 1, 2, and 3 feature solidly colored beings with bird heads and human bodies, sometimes with thick lizard tails or wings. They are comic book like in style, resembling the supernatural works of William Blake in subject. Fields are outlined in pencil and shaded solidly. Windows, each enclosing drama, are divided by patterned walls. The work has windows that just say ‘POW’ or “the sun is rising” and others that compose a story with action, setting, and characters. Anderson’s work reads as religious myth. I am moved by Anderson’s ability to design a setting. A yellow tiled bathroom houses a bathtub, which is also a lion. I am drawn to its drama, hue, and medieval architectural details. The room has barred windows and a wooden door with a ringed handle. A pink winged figure sits in the tub looking, jaw open and maybe exclaiming, toward a blue beaked figure peeking through the cracked door and extending one foot into the bathroom. The scene is suspenseful-ajar.

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Anderson’s montages relay the muchness of life—the range of feelings, the strangeness between parents and children, the shifting of sympathy between predator and prey. The chaotic suite of images seems to tell the story of a species; I see birth, wailing, and alerting of others.

I rush away from the show to make it to a self-guided apartment tour. It is the last one I see before making a commitment. The Febreze smell stays on my clothes the whole day. I decide not to take the apartment with 1920s hardware and a door in the ground-floor bedroom opening onto to the street. I reflect on Anderson’s composition. I’ve been following his ultra-promising work for years. I feel proud, though I was only watching.  

Installation view of Dance in the waterfall at Red Arrow, Nashville, Tennessee featuring works by Brianna Bass and Benji Anderson. Image courtesy of Red Arrow, Nashville, Tennessee.

Dance in the waterfall at Red Arrow, Nashville, Tennessee, is on view through March 30, 2024.

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