After coming off of my last show at The Arts Company, which was primarily focused on abstract work, I began searching for ideas and inspiration for my next exhibition of work. Back in the winter, after finishing up a large cityscape of New York City with all the energy and movement of the people and tall buildings and taxi cabs, I came up with the idea of taking all the growth and energy that’s currently happening in Nashville and capturing it in the same way I did in ‘5th Ave NYC’. When I presented this idea to Anne and everyone at the Arts Company they were so excited about it that Anne immediately said let’s go ahead, and set a date for the show. I was so pumped about their excitement that I went straight to work.
As I started looking for material I quickly became so frustrated. I had taken on what I realized was an impossible task. Nashville was growing daily and by the time I was done there would be more and more hip cool places that I hadn’t captured. And what were the hip cool places? Did I even know. How would I even do this in fifteen paintings? How do I make it feel massive and full of energy like New York? ‘It’s impossible’ I said. So one day a big light bulb went off and just smacked me in the face and I realized -- Nashville is not New York City. It has its own energy -- it’s own identity. It’s not necessarily even about being hip and cool. It’s about the music art and culture and the people that make it that way. It’s about Nashville -- the New Nashville. That’s the thing that’s always made it what it is. New York is taxi cabs and subways, while Nashville is taxi cabs and pickup trucks. The big thing I keep hearing is that East Nashville is the Brooklyn of the South. Nashville is developing its own culture and its neighborhoods are evolving to create their own identity. These are the sort of things I wanted to capture.
One of the main reasons I began doing abstract paintings was to get away from my paintings being about specific places. A painting needs to be a good painting no matter what it is. This was more important to me in putting together this show than just going around copying places or locations. It has to be about the energy of the place and something that speaks to me about the place, with a strong abstract design as well. In order to do this I determined I needed to have a more permanent presence there. I had grown up with Nashville being the big city my family would go to when we needed something we couldn’t get from our small town. So I had always seen Nashville as a big place with lots of energy. I had even lived and worked there a few different times after college and still hung out there all the time. But at the time I was living in Chattanooga and decided, if I’m going to do this right I really need to be there. So I rented a studio in Germantown and moved up to Nashville in February to begin working on the show.
What is the New Nashville? That was still the big question. East Nashville? 12 South? Downtown? Broadway? The Gulch? A TV Show? Yes. It was all that and much more. For me as an artist it was part of a journey. It was a highway leading most people somewhere to some type of dream. When I was a child it was the main interstate highway that took me there. I kept seeing a recurring theme of highways and crosswalks and patterns of lights both inside and on the streets. These common pathways would be incorporated into most of my designs.
In the past it was just about country music, but now I think it’s about so much more. Having seen Nashville changing in some form all my life and even hearing my parents stories of Nashville, it seemed that some things, whether it be old Nashville or New Nashville, never really changed. People had always come for the Ryman and for the music and they always would. Now they come to see all types of music there. Nashville is no longer just about country music and conforming to some stereotype. There’s something here for everyone. It’s an international city. Sure it’s about the music, but not just country music. It’s crossing so many boundaries.
For me the feeling of a new Nashville really started back when I heard that Jack White moved there and produced an album for Loretta Lynn. Neighborhoods like East Nashville and 12 South have become hip places to live and hang out -- the food and culture now rival any other major city with so many good restaurants that when your favorite is packed out you have four or five more options on the same block that are equally as good. Local coffee shops are a vibrant part of the culture and identity of each neighborhood. We now have an art museum that features major international exhibitions and art collectors can go downtown galleries on 5th Ave and buy high end contemporary art without having to go to New York City. It seems like there are massive amounts of visitors that come in droves to visit Music City compared to four or five years ago -- most of them are coming here for the music, art and culture. This is what the New Nashville is all about. There really is something here for everyone. These are some of the things I really wanted to capture in the show.
Some of the places I think of as being important to the Nashville culture that I didn’t have time to get to include The Frist Center, Grimey’s Record Store, Barista Parlor, the Nashville Ballet, The Gulch, Third Man Records, Fido and Hillsboro village, a rooftop view of the new convention center; The list goes on and on.
About the Artist:
Brett is primarily a self taught artist. His brief introduction to formal art training began as a Civil Engineering Student at Tennessee Tech when he was accepted directly into ‘advanced studio painting’ as a non art major after presenting a portfolio of work to the professor.
After painting landscapes for 10 years, Weaver began also painting abstracts to open up a new world of creativity allowing him to experiment with colors and expression in the use of paint, beyond that which he has experienced in the landscape. Opening up this new perception of color and composition has also allowed him to develop more expressive landscapes. His abstracts are primarily minimalist and non representational. They are based on ideas, emotions and energy that develop as each painting evolves through layers of color and texture. He believes that being safe and obligated to one style can only stifle ones creativity and keep you from growing as an artist. His main goal in his abstract work is to say very much with very little and take the viewer to a state of seeing and experiencing what is perhaps not even there.
Weaver’s influences range from Edgar Payne and Twachtman to Diebenkorn and de Stael. Brett has won numerous awards with his landscapes and his work is in public and private collections including the Tennessee State Museum.