Review: First Saturday Art Crawl, August 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

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.

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.

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

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.

(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 Companyanyway.

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

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.

The 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.

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!