Gearing Up for the August Art Crawl

August 3rd, 2016

The August First Saturday Downtown Nashville Art Crawl is upon us! I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve spent the last couple of weekends working on the art I’m putting in the show.

I’ve never done anything quite like this before.

nine-canvasesWhat I’ve done differently about this set of paintings is I’ve created everything all at once. I usually work on one piece at a time. But this time, I laid out nine canvases on a big big drop cloth, and got to work on all of them at once.

Because they are being developed simultaneously, they all have a lot of the same colors and similar compositions that somewhat carry into each other from one canvas to another.

Part of that is because when I started, I made lines ran from canvas to canvas, but as I built them up, they took on their own compositions.

While the canvases are all being developed at the same time, I am developing each canvas individually. The result is really a small body of work where the pieces are all connected not necessarily by their adjoining areas but in terms of color and mood. Each piece will have something about it that stands out from the others. One color is be more dominant on one than another, but there is a common constant visual theme throughout. I am really excited about this project!

I think I like this technique: it’s fast.

It’s a very fast way to work. I’ve developed nine paintings all at once. Normally that would take a very long time. And in the process of developing this cohesive set of works I’ve come across a couple of new techniques that work really well for me, spreading paint with nontraditional tools. Painting on the floor is interesting because I usually work with the canvas on an easel.

And yes, there’s a downside.

The only downside to working on several paintings at once like this is, if one canvas is too wet to work on, the others probably are, too. But that forces me to sit back and look at everything to figure out what is next.

Slowing down is good, too.

So much of the process of making art is just staring and looking.

Stay tuned for the final result for this new work! If you can’t make it to Erabellum in the Arcade this Saturday night, to see the work in person, watch this space for the final work with some more time lapse goodness. (Feel free to subscribe to my emails so you can know when I get it posted.)

My Painting was Drab and Dark, So I Did Something About It

June 15th, 2016

My Drab Wall of Paintings at Erabellum for the January 2016 Art Crawl Back in January 2016, I participated in the First Saturday Art Crawl by hanging some work in Erabellum Gallery in the Arcade. When I saw all my work together on the wall, I was stunned at how dark everything was.

This was about the time I resolved to get more color and life into my work.

By the time the April 2016 Art Crawl rolled around, I had my chance to show some new pieces I had created that were colorful and broke away from the “dark horizons” I had been doing the past couple of years. I don’t know if I just get bored easily, but I do think it was time to experiment with color again.

I had to carve out some time to get in the studio and explore some new ideas to supplement last year’s work. I was pretty happy with the result. You can see how it looked on the wall here.

New work up at @erabellum in the arcade! Come say hey if you’re at the #FirstSaturdayArtCrawl

A photo posted by Brad Blackman (@bradblackman) on

"Pressure" acrylic on canvas. 20 x 20 inches. 2016

Pressure, 2016. acrylic on canvas, 20x20 inches

"Bend" acrylic on canvas. 14 x 11 inches. 2016

Bend, 2016. acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11 inches

"Scattered" acrylic on canvas. 16 x 20 inches. 2016

Scattered, 2016. acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20 inches

I wound up donating two of these to the Music City Derby Day silent auction.

As of right now I’m planning on participating in the August Art Crawl. I’d love to participate in the July Art Crawl, but don’t have the time or the space to work on the pieces I have in mind to have new work ready in time, so I’m shooting for August. I have some ideas I can’t wait to try out. I’m thinking even larger next time, with a more cohesive set of works.

Music City Derby Day 2016: Champing at the Bit for Bridges in Nashville

May 14th, 2016

Nearly 20 years ago, the EAR Foundation granted me a scholarship that helped me attend Harding University. Some years back, EAR Foundation merged with the League for the Hearing Impaired to form Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to join their board, and I have always felt it was a chance for me to help others since others have helped me.

Welcome to #MusicCityDerbyDay 2016!

Last weekend we had our third annual Music City Derby Day event, and we raised $55,000, an agency record. I’m happy to say that I contributed two paintings to the silent auction. Sure, it’s fun to get all dressed up, sip mint juleps, watch a horse race, particpate in a silly version of croquet, but it’s even more fun to do it all for a good cause.

I put in some recent pieces that I painted a few months ago:

"Bend" acrylic on canvas. 14 x 11 inches. 2016

“Bend” acrylic on canvas. 14 x 11 inches. 2016

I was excited to put something this colorful and lively in the silent auction. For me this piece is about embracing life and building connections.

"Pressure" acrylic on canvas. 20 x 20 inches. 2016

“Pressure” acrylic on canvas. 20 x 20 inches. 2016

These gold swirls on a neutral background with a teal undertone were actually inspired by some lazy pressure-washing I saw on the sidewalk one day. I love reinterpreting ordinary things as something unusual and exciting and even glamorous.

It was great to be part of this awesome cause again. Plus I got to meet some really cool people. Former boy-band singer Evan Farmer was a hilarious emcee, Lucia Folk’s Russian jockey getup was a hoot, and TSU men’s basketball coach Dana Ford and his wife were as nice as ever.

We all had a great time and I can’t wait for next year.

Lipstick and Explosions at the Art Crawl

September 16th, 2015

Unlike last month, Annie and I left home early to get to the First Saturday Art Crawl. We drove through a short but very intense shower but downtown was dry as could be.

art-crawl-sep15-twitterThe weather was hot, but that short burst of rain cooled things off just enough that it wasn’t uncomfortable or too humid.

The Peanut Shop was closed 🙁

Of course, our first order of business was to see if the Peanut Shop was open. It wasn’t, so Annie was disappointed.

From there we went to the upstairs of the Arcade to check out the galleries. It was nice to beat the crowds.

Let’s Join the Circus

Living in the Tree of Life by Sarah Kaufman at BlendThe first gallery we visited was Blend, which is run by my friend Ben Vitualla. We loved the show that was there. It was this highly detailed, surreal, circus-themed art by Sarah Kaufman and her book The Circus that the paintings were in.

I was so proud of Annie for being able to read the book. We would have bought it right there but I didn’t have $25 on me. (I had just $20 and that was for snacks!) You can order The Circus from Amazon, too.

The Circus by Sarah Kaufman

Sarah’s work was a lot of fun. Everything was so magical and it really brought you into this world the artist had created. The best art immerses you into an entire world.

And Sarah’s paintings do just that.


We loved the delicate floral ceramic sculptures by Carolyn Baginski and Audry Deal-McEver in the 40 AU gallery. They had collaborated to put together a show where their ceramic work complemented each other. I enjoyed getting to meet the artists and talk to them about how they made their work. Taken together, it all looked like part of the same body of work.

HAUS and 40AU are pleased to invite you to our newest curatorial project: Artificial Splendor, a joint exhibition featuring new work by Carolyn Baginski & Audry Deal-McEver.

Marleen De Waele-De Bock

Next, we visited Marleen De Waele-De Bock again and got a chance to meet her this time. However, Annie was getting hungry at this point so she was getting antsy.

But that didn’t stop her from taking selfies with the art. Annie’s favorite piece was the painted coffee table, which she excitedly took a picture of with my phone.

Annie: I like art, but first let me take a selfie

Marleen - Coffee Table


A Snack at Frothy Monkey

Our next stop was Frothy Monkey. We ran into my friend Adam and his 4-year-old little girl on the sidewalk. So the girls said hello and then we went on to get a snack.

Annie and I split a Cowboy Cookie. She got hot chocolate with cinnamon and I got a cappuccino. I showed her how delicious it is when you dip your cookie in your hot beverage.

I taught Annie the joys of dipping a cookie in hot chocolate.

Explosions at Tinney Contemporary

After Frothy Monkey we went to Tinney Contemporary and looked at some huge paintings by James Perrin. They looked like they were of some abstract otherworldly explosions. Or migraines.

Observations, Integrations, Pareidolia, and Polysemy New Work by James Perrin at Tinney Contemporary

I was struck by how many people were walking around the gallery looking at their phones. Look at the art, people! Talk to your friends who are actually with you.

Big Lips and Abstracts. Abstract Lipstick?

Next up, we visited The Rymer Gallery. It was all excellent work, as usual. My Instagram Friend Alex Hall had some new abstract pieces up, which are a change from the usual polished, realistic/surrealistic works he has done.

New Abstract Work by Alex Hall at Rymer Gallery

We had a brief conversation about the marketability of abstract work over detailed realistic work. I think it is because in abstract painting, people can inject a part of themselves in it. It’s more universal by default. The more realistic and specific something is, the less universal.

The giant lips by Elizabeth Winnel were pretty cool, too.

Elizabeth Wimel at Rymer Gallery

Annie with One of Alex Hall's Paintings at Rymer Gallery

The Arts Company

Finally, we closed the night by visiting The Arts Company.

Of course, Annie found the pop-up books and had a blast going through those.

Annie Reading Pop-up Books at The Arts Company

I loved the paintings by Edie Maney and the giant sculpture by Edward Belbusti. I don’t know how they got that in the door.

Annie with a Painting by Edie Maney at The Arts Company

"Water Source" by Edward Belbusti at The Arts Company

It was a good night. I had a blast meeting some artists I’ve only known online. It was worth it to get there early and beat the crowds and brave the weather that turned out to be not so bad after all.

Annie - Art Crawl Sept 2015

Review: First Saturday Art Crawl, August 2015

September 10th, 2015

Last month, my daughter and I went to the August First Saturday Art Crawl in Downtown Nashville. This marks 9 years of the First Saturday Art Crawl! I think I have been going for seven years now. Maybe eight.


I decided not to go in July because the first Saturday was the 4th of July. They did move it to Friday the 3rd but I figured it would be too hot and too crowded anyway. So we postponed it for a month.

I considered going to the Franklin First Friday Art Scene, but I don’t know enough about it to make an informed decision about going. (Where do I park? Where do I start? Etc.)

First Stop: The Peanut Shop

The Peanut Shop

So, the first thing my daughter wanted to do was go to The Peanut Shop in The Arcade. As usual, that was her first priority before going to any galleries. I was thankful they were open for the art crawl because this is always the highlight of the evening for her. The Peanut Shop has an erratic track record when it comes to being open for the art crawl, so this can make or break her whole art crawl experience.

She got Mike & Ike candy, we got my wife orange slices to take home, and I had a soft serve ice cream cone. It was delicious. Not quite as sugary as Chick-fil-A’s soft serve, so it was perfect.

After our treat, we went to the second level of The Arcade to visit the galleries. There were two galleries that made an impression on me in the Arcade this month.


The first was 40AU — named after the estimated distance the Voyager 1 spacecraft turned 180° to take the famous “Pale Blue Dot” image of the Earth. My friend Megan runs the gallery.

Since I had a fast-footed first-grader with me I didn’t get a real close look at anything but at a glance it looked like little sketches of places the artist slept for a number of months.

Apparently at some point in the series the artist broke up with her boyfriend. There was one where the caption was something like “The last night he slept in our bed. The next day he moved down to the basement.” And then another had a caption like “95 days before we broke up.”

There were something like 50 hotel keycards attached to the wall adjacent to the sketches of places she stayed. One interesting thing was she stayed at the same hotel chain twice in two different states, and her room was identical in both places. Which isn’t surprising. I wasn’t there long enough to put together the whole story.

Marleen De Wale-De Bock

The other gallery that was impressive in the Arcade was Bel Art, showing Marleen De Wale-De Bock’s work. I had just into my friend Joe Smith and he said to check out Marleen’s work, and it turned out to be as nice as he said it was. It was mostly large, beautiful, abstract landscapes. She clearly has a good command of color.

Marleen De Wale-De Bock - Summer Mood - acrylic - 48 x 36 inches

The Rymer Gallery

The Rymer Gallery was nice as always and in the loft were some really nice abstract paintings that I loved by Femi Ojo. I had seen them before, but the last time I saw them they didn’t make a strong impression on me.

Somehow this time around Ojo’s paintings were more impressive. Maybe because I’ve been doing somewhat similar work lately. I loved the intensity of almost edible glossiness of the varnish on the yellow paint on one canvas. The holes in the canvas were fascinating. It seems to be a tension between creation and destruction.

Femi Ojo at The Rymer Gallery

The downstairs at Rymer was really impressive. It was wildlife/nature photography by Barrett Hedges. Annie loved it because it had animals. Of course.

Barrett Hedges at Rymer Gallery August 2015

Tinney Contemporary

Then in Tinney Contemporary, there was a body of work by José Betancourt that centered around Cuba. Everything was in blue shades. I didn’t really get a chance to look at it since it was getting late and Annie was getting antsy.

Cuba: reconstructing memories by José Betancourt

(Aside: We got to the art crawl late because I didn’t want to pay $20 to park for just 2 hours so I searched for a long time to find a free place to park. Eventually I parked someplace off close to where I used to work, where I just got laid off from due to massive restructuring and downsizing at my former day job as a graphic designer.

Parking downtown is tough if you want to do it cheap or free. I had forgotten how hard it was. For nearly 4 years I was spoiled, parking for free in a downtown garage!)

The Arts Company

After Tinney and Rymer, Annie said, “Let’s go to the place with the pop-up books!” I told her it was getting late so we needed to hurry, but we went we went to The Arts Company anyway.

The Arts Company sells these fancy pop-up books. You could say they are pop-up books for grown-ups, but kids love them, too. They’re very elaborate. Annie loves them. She always wants to go to The Arts Company just to look at the pop-up books.

Avant Garage

Avant Garage

The Arts Company was having their annual Avant Garage sale. Their building has a garage in the back, which they partially open up to the public when they have their openings for the art crawl.

The Avant Garage Sale is exactly what it sounds like: a garage sale with old stuff that’s been discounted. The Arts Company opens up the garage in the back of their building. They often open part of it for the art crawl but once a year they open up a larger space and have stuff you might find at a garage sale: old stuff they had discounted, knicknacks, furniture, sheet music, and so on.

600 Black SpotsThe pop-up books Annie loves were marked down to $10 each. I told her, “Pick one out, and you can take one home.” She was so excited. I told her she would have to keep it in a safe place where the dog or her brothers won’t find it and tear it up.

She picked out 600 Black Spots by David A. Carter. Here’s a YouTube video that shows what it’s like:

LaVon Williams: Rhythm in Relief (The Arts Company)

I didn’t get to look at LaVon Williams’ work much, but it was impressive. Large relief wood carvings made by an equally large man. (He’s a former basketball player for the University of Kentucky. He also played professionally after that.) I’d say his work is a sort of African-American take on folk art with a strong Jazz influence.

Rhythm in Relief: the Art of LaVon Williams

9 Years of First Saturday Art Crawls

Congrats to the Art Crawl to making it to 9 years. I can’t wait to see what happens next year for the 10th.


I really want to make it to the Art Crawl on Wedgewood/Houston but that’s a logistical challenge especially with a small child in tow. I don’t want to spend all my time looking for parking.

I know there was a trolly running for the art crawl, but I don’t know if that was going to Wedgewood/Houston. Maybe the two art crawls are better connected now and can help each other out.

For More Information:

This article from The Nashville Scene is actually a bit more comprehensive. Check it out.

Header Image source via Tinney Contemporary: Art Crawl Celebrates Its 9th Birthday!

BYOB - Bring Your Own Brush (#creativenash sponsored by @JerrysArtarama)

June 6th, 2014

This coming Monday, June 9 from 6-8 p.m. at Emma’sBistro” meeting space a bunch of us from the Nashville Creative Group are getting together to paint and create music! It’ll be a fun two hours of co-creation. Listening, painting, feeling, seeing, and playing.



If you’re a musician, bring your instrument or your voice. We’ll have a freestyle jam session that pays homage to everything that is Nashville. (Anybody who’s taken a stroll down Broad at rush hour knows what I’m talking about.)


And while the musicians are singing and playing, painters will be painting. BYOB (Bring Your Own Brush) — Jerry’s Artarama is kindly providing canvas and paints for us. We will end up with a large collaborative art installation piece to exhibit.


Or if you’d rather just hang out and chat, that’s fine. Maybe you’re not an artist or a musician but you’re a friend of the arts. We’d love for you to come. RSVP on Facebook Bring a friend, a drink, a snack to share!

Big Thanks to Jerry’s Artarama

Let’s all give Jerry’s Artarama thanks by visiting their website, liking the Jerry’s Artarama page on Facebook or following them on Twitter at @JerrysArtarama and by using our official hashtag #creativenash. Read more about this event. Jerry's Artarama


Jerry’s Artarama is a national retailer of arts materials and supplies headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., with 15 physical locations throughout the United States and an online store. Jerry Goldstein opened the first Jerry’s Artarama in Long Island, N.Y., in 1968 with the goal of offering quality discount-priced products to established artists. Jerry believed in treating customers like family, a tradition that still continues. Today, Jerry’s offers more than 70,000 top-quality art materials at direct savings — as much as 75 percent off traditional retail on products from the industry’s leading art manufacturers, as well as Jerry’s own exclusive product lines via the online retail store, art supply catalog and Jerry’s Artarama Superstores. In addition, Jerry’s Artarama serves as an artist resource by offering instructional workshops, new art supply demos and special art-related events, including the Art of the Carolinas Tradeshow, an annual event held in Raleigh. For more information, visit Image Sources: Lost and Taken. creativenash-tall

Regional Styles in Nashville Art

September 5th, 2013

Print Regional Design Annual 2012

Graphic design magazines like HOW and Print have various annual editions each year. One of those is a Regional Design Annual. It’s interesting to see how design looks in a particular region, but over the years I’ve seen less “regionality” as everything begins to look the same regardless of origin. It’s probably due to a combination of atrophying print design skills and a general global homogenization due to the Internet.

But when it comes to local art, that is, Nashville art, I can’t say I’ve ever noticed a “Southeastern” or “Nashville” or “Tennessee” style in the galleries I’ve been to or on the art crawls.

Nashville Arts Magazine - August 2013What I have noticed is something of a tendency toward impressionism and a healthy dose of folk and low-brow influences, but I’ve never seen anything that screams it’s location for me. What I see in the pages of Nashville Arts Magazine seems pretty eclectic.

Maybe I just haven’t traveled enough to know what’s outside of Nashville. I don’t travel much.

So maybe what looks like “normal” art to me is plainly “local” to an outsider.

Nashville Styles Summer 2013

Now, I know there are regional styles out there. Southwest is the first that comes to my mind.

I have no idea if there’s a particular style coming out of L.A. or New York right now.

I can say, though, with what limited exposure I have, that it looks like Boston art collectors favor tighter, more realistic paintings, given the communication I’ve had with Quidley & Company. I did a painting for a show there last year, and the exhibition’s organizer kept asking me to make it more crisp. Melrose Interchange is more crisp than most of my work. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s not my usual style, either.

Brad Blackman Melrose Interchange

Back to Nashville: I’m sure there’s a local style, but it’s a bit eclectic and hard to pin down. In short: there’s a lot of “low-brow” influence from comics/comix, outsider/self-taught/naive art, plus postmodern sculptures and installations along with classical-inspired figure painting. It’s a pretty mixed bag, and I like it that way.

Image credits: From the August 2013 issue of Nashville Arts Magazine: Cano Ozenger, Susan Simmons, Bruce Munro, Mark Hosford, Greg Pond, and Richard Greathouse