Reviews

During my visit to Memphis on a hot August morning when the thermometer was already approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the cool temperature of Tops Gallery’s subterranean space offered welcome respite. Located in the basement of an old industrial building on Front Street, the gallery feels both hip and romantically forgotten. The gallery’s current exhibition, “Screen…

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Go to any souvenir shop in Greece and you’ll see them: statuettes of demonically grinning little satyrs with giant phalluses. Scotty Bowers in Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood is the human embodiment of that giggling, pleasure-seeking ready-for-anything sybarite. At age 94, he has the curly blond hair of a Hollywood-style Roman emperor, with…

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It is difficult to digest the numerous facets of “Breaking the Mold: Investigating Gender at the Speed Art Museum.” Though the overall installation is visually pleasing, it is quickly evident that the shared aim of the works is challenging representations of beauty, idealization, race, and gender. Walking through “Breaking the Mold,” visitors encounter representations of the…

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If anyone deserves to be angry, Spike Lee does. And circa 2018, Lee should be his angriest yet, in the wake of Trump, and Charlottesville, Charleston, Philando Castile and any number of recent indignities and endless signs that America is backsliding into the Mississippi mire. And yet Lee is in a conciliatory and healing mood…

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Over the past two decades, the need for authenticity has become a visual battleground for New Orleans. The city’s tourism industry, while not inherently evil, reliably churns out pigeonhole iconographies that incidentally contribute to a plague of Airbnb pockets that eat away at local residential districts – the sites of genuine cultural generation. You can…

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The tagline of Gus Van Sant’s new film Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot promises a film about “the healing power of art.” But rather than an exegesis on transformative creativity, Don’t Worry is a gooey, sentimental and highly conventional therapeutic road to wellness. Based on the autobiography of countercultural Portland cartoonist John…

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The vigorous, highly saturated paintings in “Pinkney Herbert: Tower of Noise,” on view at Sandler Hudson Gallery through July 28, fall somewhere in the lineage of Abstract Expressionism, but they do not accept the authority of the mark or gesture as absolute. Layers of uncertainty and seemingly incidental spaces playfully undermine any modernist posturing in…

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“Miecznikowski” is Kirstin Mitchell’s original family name, and the name of her Working Artist Project exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia through September 8. It was the Polish family name of her father, whose approaching death shaped the trajectory of this show without determining its content. This body of work (emphasis on…

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There was something about the little trip-step that occasionally broke the performers’ unison walking pattern executed with laser intensity and fluid intention as one of the opening salvos of Tere O’Connor‘s new work, Long Run, at Duke’s Reynolds Industries Theater on July 10-11. The interrupting hiccup in the pattern signaled the redemptive potential of complexity….

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Art Vandenberg’s combined fascination with mathematics and the art practice of indigenous cultures come together in the very short-run exhibition “#Day25,000” at Poem 88, which closes this Saturday, July 14. The seeming chaos of brightly colored boards, nails and knotted cords hung in parallel lines are in reality a completely logical shorthand for the days…

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Since the early 1980s, British artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah has offered up some of the strongest aesthetic responses to the intersecting discourses of history, identity, and culture for those excluded from power. Alongside such famed New Left intellectuals as Richard Hoggart and Stuart Hall who through their work made it impossible to ignore the role…

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Along with the documentary Advanced Style about women of a certain age with enviable, age-resistant personal style, Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist joins the ranks of films about badass oldies, in this case 77-year-old punk rock British designer Vivienne Westwood, the woman who famously dressed the Sex Pistols, collaborated with Situationist provocateur Malcom McLaren on turning…

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“Outliers and American Vanguard Art”—from the title, it is not immediately clear that this exhibition reconsiders art often referred to as outsider, visionary, or folk, in order to examine its relationship to the development of modern art in America. Curator Lynne Cooke chose the term “outlier” to counter the dismissive or limiting connotations that previous…

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When artist and writer John Berger died on January 2, 2017, the art world paused to remember the man, but also to remember his groundbreaking book and BBC television series “Ways of Seeing.” In Nashville, Third Man Records (owned by musician Jack White) even held a 16mm screening of the entire series a few months…

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In Rachel Kushner’s electrifying 2013 novel The Flamethrowers, about a young woman who falls in with a fictionalized crew of post-conceptualists in 1970s New York, an artist tells the unnamed protagonist, “You don’t have to immediately become an artist… You have the luxury of time. You’re young. Young people are doing something even when they’re…

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