Venture off the path in September

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This month there are two openings that are "off the path" exhibits that I believe are important examples of Nashville’s growing love and respect for modern and contemporary art.

The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery announced the opening of its 2008-2009 season with the exhibition, Line Up, Strip Down, Fade Out: Polaroid Photography and Videos by Andy Warhol, Grant Worth and David Horvitz.

The show will feature an intimate selection of original Andy Warhol photographs recently gifted to the Fine Arts Gallery from the late artist’s Foundation for the Visual Arts, along with the work of Grant Worth and David Horvitz, two contemporary photographers based out of New York City.

The majority of the Warhol gift consists of commissioned Polaroid portraits by the artist from the 1970s and 80s.

“A handful are iconic usual suspects,” said Joseph Whitt, curator. “Bianca Jagger, Dolly Parton, O.J. Simpson; but many more depict largely unknown arts patrons—power brokers and trophy wives—attempting drop-dead glamorous poses. Their anonymity is haunting, especially when seen in series, some forty years on. The faded patina of these pictures mixes with each subject’s ambitious expression in a way that feels more ominous than alluring.”

Grant Worth is a emerging photographer and filmmaker who is influenced by the history of Pop Art and picks up, in many ways, where Warhol left off.

One of the centerpieces of the show, Dripping With Gold, would not feel out of place in Warhol’s mid-60’s Factory, the artist’s original New York City studio famed for its groundbreaking parties and decadent atmosphere.

Dripping With Gold is a series of twenty individually framed Polaroids. All are faceless figure studies – young bodies in various tasteful states of undress, surrounded and adorned by gold, freshly cut flowers and the tropes of Bohemia.

Other works by Worth build on the themes of glamour and affluence that were central to Warhol’s art. One Polaroid, titled … and heaven whispered ‘Welcome Home’ (cloudy) – 6.18.5, captures ice crystals outside the window of an airplane as a glistening nebula, refracted in the light of the flash from the artist’s camera.

David Horvitz, also an emerging photographer, is a romanticist, but relies less on visual effects. He describes his work as following a “documentary aesthetic,” which offers a very personal counterpoint to Worth’s world of magic.

Two series of Polaroids by Horvitz, Disappearing Into Fog and Disappearing Into Water, bookend the show. Both depict the artist walking away from a stationary camera into a remote landscape, slowly disappearing into a dense patch of fog and into the sea, respectively.

In the context of this exhibition, they bring to mind Warhol’s famous status as eternally detached bystander. They also reflect aspects of Warhol’s private side, revealed only in the obsessive self-documentation of his Diaries, published soon after his death in 1987.

The show will be on view through Oct. 10. Gallery Hours are noon to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday ,and 1 to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. The Fine Arts Gallery is located at 23rd and West End Avenues in Nashville.

Also, gallery F. at SCARRITT-BENNETT debuts with its first exhibit featuring artists from across the U.S. and their viewpoint on feminine values in art.

Apart from their gender and dedication to art, most of these women are alums from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, which is devoted to progressive ideas and exchange, much like the mission of Scarritt-Bennett.

This exhibition features installation, sculpture, video, painting and drawing and reflect personal statements regarding various aspects of society from politics to philosophy, from spirituality to psychology.

The exhibition is housed in the new gallery F. at the Front Porch Coffee & Gift Shop at Scarritt-Bennett at the corner of 19th and Grand, and is organized by Sabine Schlunk.

An artist reception will be Friday, Sept. 5, from 5 to 9 p.m. at 1008 19th Ave S. Music and performance by Lola, Carry A. Nation and Xiaolun Qi.  The art show runs through Nov. 16.