Nashville, TN
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Red Grooms: A Retrospective
October 4 - January 13, 2019

Charles “Red” Grooms, performance artist, filmmaker, printmaker, and cartoonist, was born in Nashville in 1937. Known best for his colorful popart, Grooms captured both the grotesqueness and the humor of everyday life. Today, Grooms stands among Tennessee’s cultural icons. He attended Hillsboro High School, where he met Walter Knestrick, and they both took art classes together. Knestrick became a life-long collector of the graphic works of his friend. This exhibition contains what Knestrick has generously donated to the Tennessee State Museum, as well as earlier pieces the Museum had acquired. They trace Grooms’ work in the mid-50s, when he focused on the human body, macabre figures, and monstrous faces; then into Grooms’ exploration with new media in the 1960s when he began experimenting with 16-millimeter film and three-dimensional pieces; and emerging into the end of the decade when he received his first significant recognition with City of Chicago. The exhibition also covers the next two decades, which see Grooms celebrate major urban environments, with prints and three-dimensional works, and the artist’s look at the rich variety of city life, with gritty depictions of everyday activities, and colorful characters one encounters in city living. From the 1990s to present, Grooms has begun to reflect back, on great artists who came before, as well as the Civil War, examining the battles, leaders, and events of that period in his prints, paintings, and sculptural works.

In Search of the New: Art in Tennessee after 1900
October 4 - March 31, 2019

At the opening of the 20th century, Tennessee was transitioning from a primarily agrarian economy to a mixed one. Artistic tastes would also change in this period. With the advent of photography, hard-edged reality could be captured by a camera much cheaper and truer than a painter could achieve. Artists began to go out with newly invented chemically-produced pigments in paint tubes, and that freed them to paint outdoors from reality, rather than from sketches. Experiments in new ways of depicting the world also very gradually crept into Tennessee as well. Artists represented in this show include Mayna Treanor Avent and Willie Betty Newman, two woman artists who went to Paris in the late nineteenth century to take painting lessons. When they returned home to Tennessee with their newly acquired training, their work brought new ways of showing the world around them. Other artists visited the state, or passed through, including Will Henry Stevens, Rudolph Ingerle, and Ernest Lawson. The Great Depression brought opportunity as well as hardship, with the WPA paying artists to create murals for government buildings across the state. You’ll discover several examples of studies by Dean Cornwell, Luis Mora, and George Davidson in the collection. Following World War II, artists such as Philip Perkins, who had worked in Paris before the war, came back home. European artists like Eugene Vitale Biel-Bienne also came to Tennessee from Paris, and taught other artists. These influences began to move some of our artists to use expressionism, abstraction, and surrealism.

Tennessee artists now are very much attuned to the latest styles and methods used in all forms of artistic expression. Nashville-natives Red Grooms and Robert Ryman have made international names for themselves. Margaret Ellis made a name for herself with a jewelry line, and Richard Jolley is an internationally known glass artist. At the same time our traditional crafts are also thriving. Akira and Larry Blount made dolls that are widely collected. William Edmondson is a legend in outsider sculpture. Wendy Maruyama brought a new style of Studio Furniture to the Appalachian Center for Crafts. Mark Taylor makes some of the finest musical instruments today. All of them are a reminder that the arts are very much alive and well in Tennessee.

Tennessee and the Great War: A Centennial Exhibition
October 4 - July 21, 2019

From the summer of 1914 until the spring of 1917, European nations were engaged in a global conflict that was supposed to be the “War to End All Wars,” while the United States remained a neutral country. President Woodrow Wilson had tried to keep America out of the war but forces inside and outside of the nation compromised its neutral stance and the U.S. entered the conflict on April 6, 1917. This exhibition will highlight the more than 61,000 Tennesseans who were drafted into the war and another 19,000 who volunteered. Most served in the army, but some joined other service branches. All served courageously, particularly the six Tennesseans who earned the Medal of Honor. In addition to those who served overseas, many contributed through war industries and volunteer organizations that mobilized at home. Women temporarily joined the workforce or became nurses. After the war, Tennesseans honored the service of all veterans with grand commemorations and memorials across the state.

Early Expressions: Art in Tennessee before 1990
10/4/2018 to 7/21/19

From the first inhabitants in what would become Tennessee, thousands of years ago, to people living here today, decorative and utilitarian art have been an important outlet for expressing who we are and how we live. Hand-made objects are a constant in the history of design in Tennessee, and the Museum has gathered in this exhibition the finest collection of artistic expressions from our state. The exhibition begins with Southeastern Indian ancestral figures, celts, pipes, ceramics, and basketry, which continues on to join textiles, ceramics, furniture, silver, jewelry, weapons, paintings, sculpture, prints, toys, photography, and musical instruments of later centuries.

The State of Sound: Tennessee’s Musical Heritage
10/4/2018 to 7/21/19

Tennessee has earned a worldwide reputation as an important music center. The State of Sound illustrates the development of Tennessee music from pre-Columbian times to the present, telling the story through artifacts and audio-visual media. The visitor will learn about the merging of Southeastern Indian, European, and African American styles, laying the framework for traditions, including folk, spiritual, and even classical music. The visitor will also understand technological and cultural changes that effected the development of hybrid forms like ragtime, rhythm and blues, gospel, rock and roll, and soul, all of which were produced and played by Tennessee musicians. Throughout the gallery, from “Discovering Tennessee’s Musical Roots” to “Tennessee Music in the Industrial Age” to “Tennessee Music Comes of Age (1910-1945)” and finally “Taking Tennessee Music to the World,” the visitor will learn about the people, places, and events that transformed Tennessee into an internationally celebrated music center through an array of artifacts. Highlights include an early Parlor Guitar from Pulaski, images and records connected to the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a bow tie worn by Jimmy Rodgers, and a performance outfit worn by Isaac Hayes.

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