The Tennessean

The Tennessean

Tennessean highlights Cassidy Cole Exhibit

"The Arts Company debuts a series of vibrant, expressive abstract mixed-media paintings by Nashville-based artist Cassidy Cole.  Using line, color, texture and a process inspired by her background in improvisation, Cole explores her life experiences and the dynamic ways we we interact with the world around us."

The Tennessean

Tennessean Highlights LaVon Williams at The Arts Company

LaVon Williams, "Piano Lesson #3," painted, carved wood, 37 x 26 x 9.5 in.     (Photo: LaVon Williams)

LaVon Williams, "Piano Lesson #3," painted, carved wood, 37 x 26 x 9.5 in. (Photo: LaVon Williams)

Sara Estes stopped by the gallery to preview LaVon Williams' show for The Tennessean and here is what she had to say about it: "As a whole, Williams' art seems to respond to an innate desire to tell an important story about the triumphs and the sorrows of the African-American experience. 'He’s not just playing, he’s passionate,' said Brown. 'He can’t not do what he’s doing.'" Click HERE to read the full article.

The Tennessean

Nashville Opera reaches out to Hispanic artists

by MiChelle Jones

Later this month, Nashville Opera will present Nashville’s first-ever Spanish-language opera, “Florencia en el Amazonas.” Along with the performances, a show of original art by nine local Hispanic artists — some well-established members of Nashville’s visual art community — will be displayed at four venues around the city over the next several months.

“Florencia en el Amazonas” the exhibition will be on view through Jan. 17 at The Arts Company. It will then be displayed at TPAC during the opera’s run, Jan. 23-27. After that, the work travels to the Noah Liff Opera Center, followed by a show at Casa Azafrán; dates for the last two exhibitions are yet to be determined.

“It’s not a huge show, but it’s a good show,” said Arts Company owner Anne Brown, whose staff curated the exhibit.

From the page

The idea to mount a visual arts show along with the opera production came out of programming discussions Nashville Opera had with Vanderbilt University’s Center for Latin American Studies, according to Nashville Opera’s Reed Hummell. A Metro Arts Commission grant is helping finance the exhibition.

“Florencia en el Amazonas,” the opera, is Daniel Catán’s adaptation based on the work of Gabriel García Márquez, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Colombian author who died last summer. In the story, a group of people steam down the Amazon River.

Surrounded by lush landscape — and in the opera by an appropriately lush musical score — the travelers must also contend with aspects of “magical realism,” a literary device often employed by García Márquez. In such stories, magical or otherwise fantastical elements interact with characters in real environments and situations.

“If you’ve ever read ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude,’ it is magical realism from beginning to end,” said Marcela Gomez of the author’s well-known novel. Gomez, founder of the Hispanic Marketing Group, was brought on board to assist in reaching artists.

Magical realism informs many of the 25 artworks in the exhibit. In Liliana Velez’s photo-realistic painting “Monarch,” for example, a woman strums an acoustic guitar as butterflies flutter around her. One of the insects is shown coming to life from a butterfly tattoo on the woman’s arm.

Butterflies are also visible in Jairo Prado’s Fauvist-like “Journey to Macondo.” Prado’s colorful abstract paintings were visible behind President Obama during his December appearance at Casa Azafrán; the front of the building also displays one of Prado’s signature murals.

Jorge Arrieta, Orlando Garcia-Camacho, Antuco Chicaiza, Yuri Figueroa, Mandy Peitz, Mike Quinones and Jorge Yances are the other artists in the show.

Community connections

First, the group made a presentation at Casa Azafrán, and posted information on social media platforms. In addition to addressing themes from the opera, the artists were also given the option of expressing their experiences as Latinos in Nashville.

“Some of them are professional artists in the sense that that’s what they do full time and they do have studios,” Gomez said. “The rest of them are amateurs; we discovered these folks sort of randomly.”

Brown said the selection process has been typical in that artists were asked to present their qualifications, background and ideas for the pieces. It was important, Brown said, that the artists be able to produce the work in a relatively short amount of time.

“It’s been a collaborative effort, which I love,” Brown said. “It has worked very, very well for all of us.”

Submission guidelines were presented in English and Spanish, translated by Gomez, whose team also created a Spanish-language video for TPAC explaining parking and other performance information.

Nashville Opera recognized early on that this production was an “opportunity to engage the city’s growing Latino population,” Hummell wrote in an email. He added the organization is also committed to projects that bring new connections to opera.

Gomez said the teaming up of the groups — Nashville Opera, the Metro Arts Commission and The Arts Company and Conexión Américas (Casa Azafrán’s parent organization) — will help them reach larger and more diverse audiences than they would on their own.

Gomez and Brown hope “Florencia en el Amazonas” will bring exposure to the participating artists.

“All these initiatives are great and they bring out our very diverse community,” Gomez said, “however, an artist is an artist, whether he is Latino or not Latino.”

If you go

What: “Florencia en el Amazonas,” original works inspired by the opera

Where: The Arts Company, 215 Fifth Ave. N.

When: through Jan. 17

Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday

Admission: free

Contact: 615-254-2040 or

The Tennessean

Artist shares ‘imagined interiors’ at Arts Company

©Mandy Rogers Horton

©Mandy Rogers Horton

by MiChelle Jones

Finding inspiration in catalogs is not unusual; after all, they exist to make us want the items we see there. Consumers are encouraged to imagine themselves in the rooms or to imagine the objects in their own homes. Mandy Rogers Horton takes that to another level; home décor and furniture catalogs are the starting points for imagined interiors — some quite grand and spacious — she renders in collage and paint.

A collection of her new works, “Patchwork and Frankenstein,” is on view at The Arts Company through Jan. 10.

This latest series of collages differs from Horton’s earlier ones primarily in scale, some reaching 44 inches by 90 inches.

Horton began working on the larger pieces upon receiving a commission for “At Home in Any Room,” which now hangs over the hostess stand in the Omni Nashville Hotel’s Kitchen Notes restaurant.

“It was so fun to get to work so large and to see the image that takes up your whole peripheral vision,” Horton said of enlarging the scene.

The original, smaller version of this collage is included in The Arts Company show and features a semicircle of chairs cut from various catalogs.

Thinking big

Working on larger pieces does present challenges for Horton, who works out of a small studio in her home. Her compositions often begin on her studio floor so she can spread out to see, as she puts it, how big the piece wants to be. She lays out the various chairs, windows and other components, then adheres them onto her designated surface.

Horton cuts images from catalogs (Restoration Hardware and West Elm are her current favorites) and magazines (Architectural Digest and Veranda), and maintains files of chairs sorted by size and direction faced, files of picture frames, etc.

The collages began as warm-up exercises when she’d paint on pages or combine images to create new scenes. Anne Brown of The Art Company wanted to show how Horton’s work has evolved, so she included earlier work in the show.

“This is how it started,” Brown said, referring to a couple of small scenes. One of these includes a “fake reflection” Horton created by marrying two similar images.

Rough around the edges

Optical illusions play a significant role in compositions like “Rebuilt From Scratch,” in which the artist conjures an expansive ballroom with Palladian windows and a tiled floor. Some of the windows are in fact upside down, some of the scene augmented with paint.

“I like some of that process to be available to the viewer so it’s not a mystery,” Horton said, “people can see that it’s collage, you can see parts that might be upside down or sideways. In “Good Bones,” text is also visible.

So far Horton has resisted using photocopiers or digital scans to manipulate the images. “At least at the moment, I like the collage and I like the limited vocabulary,” she said. “I can’t just make up a window or make up a chair; I’m limited to what I’ve already found and cut out. If I don’t have the necessary size of an object, I have to go digging for it in a magazine.”

Working with cut-out paper also brings in a degree of imperfection, which Horton said echoes the way new objects acquire a lived-with look once they are brought into our homes.

Horton considers her collaged interiors to be metaphors for the way we construct homes, lives, even our worldviews, from what’s available to us. Thus, the name of the show, “Patchwork and Frankenstein.” Sometimes the results are endearing and cozy, like patchwork quilt; at other times, the mix yields a less desirable result.

“Frankenstein’s monster is also a patchwork and it’s hideous, right? I was thinking about the extreme of those things,” Horton muses. “In the work there’s areas where maybe the patterns don’t match up or you see the linear perspective but then they kind of jog and zig and zag so it’s imperfect, which I think is true of most of our lives.”


If you go

What: “Patchwork and Frankenstein,” mixed-media work by Mandy Rogers Horton

Where: The Arts Company, 215 Fifth Ave. N.

When: through Jan. 10

Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday

Admission: free

Contact: 615-254-2040 or

The Tennessean

Arts Company shares paintings of ‘The New Nashville’

By MiChelle JonesFor The Tennessean

Before the crowd arrived for last week’s First Saturday Art Crawl, two people walked around The Arts Company scrutinizing “The New Nashville: Paintings by Brett Weaver.” One left owning a picture; the other with notes and a touch of envy.

Brett Weaver’s paintings are on view through Nov. 22. He’ll discuss the series during a gallery event 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday (RSVP to 615-254-2040).

Weaver depicts familiar intersections, restaurant interiors and new elements of Nashville’s cityscape in a number of painting styles, including one blending Charles Sheeler’s geometric architectural style with Edward Hopper’s use of rich color.

Skies in Weaver’s street scenes are snatches of abstract paintings while his interiors are warm and glowing, with heavily textured canvases covered in thick applications of paint and the artist’s marks.

Weaver’s small, impressionistic street scenes of the Franklin Theater and First Bank Downtown are beautifully finished in gold-toned frames.

The Arts Company is at 215 Fifth Ave. N. and is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free. For information, call 615-254-2040 or go to

The Tennessean

The Arts Company makes exception for Lonnie Holley

MiChelle Jones, For The Tennessean 

Our Journey  by Lonnie Holley

Our Journey by Lonnie Holley

Upstairs in its recently reconfigured client space, The Arts Company is displaying a suite of new prints by Lonnie Holley.

"He's willing to try anything," said Anne Brown, the gallery's owner.

Brown described Holley's prints as magical, adding that it's an art form she normally doesn't exhibit. She was, however, happy to make an exception for these.

The works were created at the Bay Area's Paulson Bott Press last fall.

Intaglio or engraved prints are a new medium for the Atlanta-based Holley, a self-trained visual artist who is also an acclaimed musician. Holley also recently created a piece of sculpture for Edmonson Park that will be dedicated on Aug. 20.

Holley uses found material in his work. In the prints, he arranged random collections of items on printing plates to form abstract or representational images.

A video made by Paulson Bott Press shows Holley building a sculpture that became "Our Journey," a print of a tall-sail vessel on choppy seas.

"The Things of Life (To See or Not To See)" is a series of three prints that resemble photograms with strong interplays of negative and positive space. A razor blade, pen cap, pencil, coil and plant matter are some of the discernible objects in the designs.

In "Obstacles Before the Goal II," a ghostly soccer ball is positioned behind an airy, floating net.

The prints will be on view through Sept. 6 at The Arts Company, 215 Fifth Ave. N. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information call 615-254-2040 or go to

The Tennessean

Daryl Thetford Molds Photos into Collages

by MiChelle Jones

"My wife is a writer and she says I need to do better on my titles," Daryl Thetford said. The Chattanooga-based photographer creates digital collages, scenes of a man standing in a red rowboat ("Man in a Boat Alone") or another man sitting in a chair ("Man in a Chair)."

But there is also "Trying Not To Try." In the scene, two men sit at opposite ends of a table, a ball balanced on the surface between them.

The collage is based on a book by the same title that discusses a game in which two people try to use alpha and theta waves to repel the ball.

"I thought it was an interesting metaphor and a funny metaphor about trying to access different states," Thetford said.

Always looking

Backgrounds in his work seem to be moving streams of data and text that are almost dissolving before one's eyes.

"His work is visually striking, contemporary, full of visual energy," said Anne Brown, owner of The Arts Company.

"The World of Daryl Thetford," his first show at the gallery, remains on view through Aug. 8. Thetford will discuss his work during a gallery event at 5:30 Friday. That event is free, but reservations are required ( or call the gallery).

Thetford's color-drenched digital photo collages are each composed of bits of up to 100 photographs.

"I'm always gathering material, I'm always gathering color," Thetford said.

His massive archive contains close-ups of graffiti mixed with rust on rail cars, faded signage, old posters. Weathered patinas and intriguing textures catch his eye, though he now often leaves his camera home, especially when traveling.

"Otherwise I'm just constantly looking, and it can really ruin the trip," he said.

Work has 'strong voice'

He refers to himself as fairly obsessive — you'd almost have to be to create these collages — yet his image archive isn't meticulously labeled and organized.

"It's sadly much more primitive than that," Thetford said. Still, he knows how to find everything.

That comes in handy when putting together things such as "Branding Day at the Bird Ranch," a fun, brightly colored composition of a sunglass-wearing cowboy rounding up the flock of grackles at his feet while standing Marlboro Man-tall.

The cowboy was doing rope tricks in Fort Worth, Texas; Thetford replaced his face with that of a friend (he liked the campiness of the sunglasses). One of Thetford's own hands stands in for the the fast-moving cowboy's blurred one.

Thetford photographed the grackles in a park on that same Texas trip. He added Chinese characters on their feathers and, in fact, words run all through the background of the picture, some in English, some in Chinese.

Other text was sourced from paper stuck on a gas pump, part of a circus sign and writing from a chalkboard at a produce stand. The large stars in the collage's top half were plucked from an old sign.

"That image, like a lot of images, started out as: I'm going to make a simple image; it's going to be pared down; it's going to be a lot of negative space," Thetford said. "But really, that's not how my mind works a lot of the times."

As for what comes next, Thetford prefers to let his work evolve without too much interference from, well, him.

"Even though it's difficult for my controlling nature, I try to let the work have a strong voice," he said. "Where does it seem to be leading me. … It becomes a dialog with the artwork; to me that's the most important thing."

If You Go

What: "The World of Daryl Thetford," digital photo collages

Where: The Arts Company, 215 Fifth Ave. N.

When: through Aug. 8; conversation with the artist, 5:30-7 p.m. Friday

Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday

Admission: free

Contact: 615-254-2040 or

The Tennessean

‘Culinary Drama’ spices up The Arts Company


by MiChelle Jones

Knoxville-based artist Denise Stewart-Sanabria has a way with food. Her latest exhibition at The Arts Company includes several overhead views of fruit and produce — eggplants, mangoes, apples, etc. — painted in a way that makes them seem fresh, enticing and also a little mischievous.

“Culinary Drama” remains on view through June 28 and includes “Smashed Watermelon on Mid-Century Pink and Avocado Tile.” In this oil-on-wood painting, a round watermelon sits spilling its bright red guts, yet still wearing its produce label.

The pink and green tile also makes an appearance in “The Battle of Goo Goo Moon” (36 inches by 36 inches), oil on canvas. This painting shares the look of Stewart-Sanabria’s previously exhibited series of decadent doughnuts staged against black backgrounds.

Here, a white cake stand balanced on two empty Ball canning jars is topped with partially eaten Goo Goos and Moon Pies; a wrapper and smashed box (displaying its “Made in Nashville” claim) are also in the picture.

“Polished Key Limes” is a grid of 16 lime halves, some a little worse for the wear, as though they’ve already been squeezed into a beverage of some sort. All have been splattered with pink glitter nail polish.

The Arts Company is at 215 Fifth Ave. N. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information call 615-254-2040 or go to

The Tennessean

Don Dudenbostel’s photos take an inside look


by MiChelle Jones

They are exquisite and ethereal, these X-ray images of flowers. Some are simple, a single bloom, while one image is a frame-filling composition of several kinds of flowers. All blend art and science.

The translucent botanicals, the work of Don Dudenbostel, are on view at The Arts Companythrough May 30.

Dudenbostel’s documentary images of Appalachia and collodion prints will also be exhibited.

“You learn a lot about photography; you don’t just take it for granted,” gallery owner Anne Brown said of the work.

Started as teen

Dudenbostel first experimented with X-ray images as a teenager when he created images using high voltage and a 1920s radio tube to expose film.

“Of course, you have to be careful when you’re working with X-rays — they can be lethal,” Dudenbostel said nonchalantly from his Knoxville home. “My parents never knew what to expect. They thought I was going to blow the house up or electrocute the neighbor’s dog.”

Dudenbostel wasn’t just making it up as he went along — he had a General Electric X-ray engineer as a mentor, a man who provided guidance and also lots of equipment he’d collected from medical and dental offices.

Dudenbostel used scrap parts to construct his own X-ray machine and began imaging flowers after the engineer gave him a company magazine with a floral X-ray on the cover.

Later he concentrated on documentary and news images as the chief photographer for the University of Tennessee’s Daily Beacon. It was during this time Dudenbostel caught the attention of former Tennessean chief photographer Jack Corn.

“He took me under his wing. I’ve been very fortunate to have mentors who were of that quality,” Dudenbostel said.

Dudenbostel’s links to accomplished photographers are indeed impressive: He studied with Ansel Adams and later with Kim Weston in the house and darkroom where his father and grandfather, Edward and Brett Weston, worked. He recalls chatting with the latter Weston and a marathon visit to then 92-year-old Imogen Cunningham.

Reviving old method

Part of Dudenbostel’s Arts Company show focuses on collodion prints, a method of image processing dating to the mid-1850s. He shoots close-ups of antique cornets, tubas and other instruments using lenses from the late 1880s mounted onto a 50-year-old camera.

He thus achieves small, murky results similar to those of early photographers — and also uses the same toxic chemicals. “It requires a bit of knowledge of chemistry,” Dudenbostel said. With his degrees in chemistry and microbiology, it’s no problem.

The X-ray botanicals also require a grasp of science, physics in particular.

Dudenbostel got back into X-ray images more than a decade ago at the suggestion of his wife, painter Cynthia Tollefsrud, whose work is also on view at the gallery this month. (Painter Leonard Piha rounds out the gallery’s May show.)

Many of the flowers come from the five gardens on his property, though Dudenbostel said neither he nor Tollefsrud are particularly talented gardeners. Friends also bring flowers to him, things like cacti from the Sonoran desert or a night-blooming cereus.

“It’s a very exotic, large flower. It only opens once a year and produces just a few blossoms. You have to move quickly because it almost immediately starts closing again and dies,” Dudenbostel said.

Unfortunately, he has to cut the flowers and remove the blossoms to capture the images.

Appalachia series

In addition to a newer home-built machine, he uses a commercially manufactured one the size of an Easy-Bake oven. It weighs considerably more than the child’s oven due to the 500 pounds of lead inside.

Dudenbostel does all the composing on the film, sometimes consulting with Tollefsrud, then uses exposures ranging from around 7 seconds to an hour. He then scans the negatives, adjusts contrasts and levels and also deals with any blemishes captured on the flowers.

The X-ray botanicals are printed on poster-size paper and have a slight taupe tinge.

A sample of Dudenbostel’s series on Appalachia will also be on view at The Arts Company. Dudenbostel is leaving his nearly 100,000 documentary images to theEast Tennessee History Center, where they will compose a special collection to be used for educational and public use. About 100 of the images are also available as a touring museum show called “Vanishing Appalachia.”

If you go

What: Works by Leonard Piha, Cynthia Tollefsrud and Don Dudenbostel

Where: The Arts Company, 215 Fifth Ave. N.

When: through May 30

Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday

Admission: free

Contact: 615-254-2040 or