Some Firsts for the Nashville Arts Scene

The Eight Lenses and a Code photography exhibition and accompanying Festival of Salon Saturdays is now midway through a two-month run at The Arts Company.

Presented jointly by The Arts Company and South Light Salon, a group of Nashville-based photographers focused on the influence of southern light in their work, it took some three to four months of weekly meetings in advance between the photographers and the gallery to figure out how to present the art of photography in some new ways. All that time in planning has paid off.

The Arts Company has presented photography since day one, but never with the kind of consistent response and commentary this exhibition has attracted. It is hard to single out the highlights to date or to predict them for this next month. We have had unexpected large crowds for every event, plus much ado in the press on and off line. What all of this activity tells us is that there is something compelling about this series of programs.

Introducing the idea of the QR Code Reader set the series up with new ways to think about linking photography with new technology. The QR Code as part of every photographer's body of work was assumed at the beginning. How they each incorporated this new dimension to their photographs was up to each of them. Some used videos, some recordings only, and others used words and music to add to their images. Some were whimsical, some were serious, but all were inventive and interesting. That set the tone for the whole series of events.

The first preview session with the South Light Salon photographers, hosted by Paul Polycarpou, executive editor of Nashville Arts Magazine, laid out clearly the various kinds of depth of passion and intention these particular artists have brought to this exhibition.

It is a no brainer to single out the impact of Sylvia Plachy when she came as the group's legendary guest photographer for the first Salon Saturday event a couple of weeks ago to talk about her outstanding career as a photographer with the Village Voice, as well as more recently with the New Yorker and other publications. The many books of her work are now collectors' items. Her presentation transported the some 100 folks at the gallery that particular Saturday afternoon to another world. Having met her and learned from her, everyone there that day had a sense that she embodied a world of experience and insight all unto herself, fitting her life and her art together seamlessly.

The second Salon Saturday attracted some 80 guests to learn from South Light Photographer Robert McCurley about street photography in a "Taking It To the Street" session upstairs at the gallery, culminating in breaking up the group with some of the other South Light photographers and sending them out to do some of their own street photography. We hope to have some of the results up on Facebook very soon.

The good news is that we are only half way there. There is yet another month of exhibits and Salon Saturday Festival activities planned. Our Collectors Art Night scheduled for Friday, February 3, (5:30-6:45) will feature three outstanding Nashville photography collectors, hosted by Jerry Atnip, a master photographer himself, talking about what kind of photography each of them collects and why. Billy Frist and David Conrad, both photography aficionados, and Jack Spencer, a legendary Nashville-based photographer who also collects other photography he admires.

And then there is the First Saturday Art Crawl on Saturday, February 4 (6-9 pm). The entire photography exhibit will be installed Upstairs at The Arts Company, a great environment for viewing and talking about artwork. Nine folks selected for a Portfolio Review by the group will present their work.

Following that, the next two February Saturdays are filled with the last two scheduled Salon Saturdays. On Saturday, February 11, 2-4 pm, Robert McCurley will mix it up with some of his photographs, his own related poetry, and the poetry of two other Nashville poets--Randy Foster and Amy E. Hall, followed by an art film. The idea is to connect the dots among these art forms, making it another special Saturday afternoon destination for those of us wishing to cross the lines from one art form to another.

And yet, like the late night commercials say, "and yet there's more...." The Closing Celebration Event for the two-month extravaganza is scheduled for Saturday, February 18, 5:30-7:30 pm. It will be a celebration of the fact that this ambitious exhibition cycle did come to pass and did do what everyone involved with it hoped it would do--get the art of photography connected with more people.

A couple of things you should know:

All events are free, but reservations are required. We have just so much space, and that's it. See below what to do to RSVP.

If you have not read Joe Nolan's comments on the exhibit in this weeks Nashville Scene, we are attaching it here. It is an outstanding example of how a really good reviewer can help you know something about exhibits. He is a writer who looks carefully and writes well about what he reviews an exhibit. This is well worth your time. You will learn something about the exhibit and about Joe's well-deserved reputation as a reviewer. Here's the link:

The only other thing you need to know is dates and times and the RSVP reservation contact. For that, go to to find the complete schedule of events. To RSVP for any event of your choice, or 615-254-2040.