Contemplative exhibits soothe stresses
Ifwemeasure the beginning of the holiday season by the first time we hear “The Little DrummerBoy” issuing fromthe speakers inabig- boxstore, then we have been deep into Yuletide since beforeThanksgiving. And Christmas is a week from today, and the shopping is not finished, and the trafficonPoplarbetweenOakCourtMalland FayetteCounty ismanic, torturous and impassable.
Let’s pauseamoment or two in the rush to Get Everything Done On Time and Perfectly and seek respite in the quiet aura of art galleries and museums and gaze at some exhibitions that may bring calm and tranquility toyour feveredlives of goals and obligations. At least momentarily.
First, drive down to Flicker Street, under the Poplar Viaduct, to DLG- TEMP, and look happily at “Seasons Greeting,” a sweet, whimsical and touching show of the Christmas cards that artistTedFaierscreated for several decades. Faiers, who died in 1985, taught at the old Memphis Academy of Arts from 1952 to 1977. A master of organic and geometrical abstraction and displaying a deft touch for the woodblock print, the artist made these Christmas offerings as greetings for friends, with no thought of pieces that would eventually be sold at a gallery. The sizes vary slightly, though all are small, usually 4.5- by- 7- inches or 5- by- 6- inches; they divide about equally between horizontal and vertical formats.
While not all of the cards depict precisely seasonal motifs, they include plenty of snowflakes, pine boughs, holly branches and “Ho Ho Ho” elements to qualify. Others are simply fun and fanciful, like winter poems by Dylan Thomas transmuted into visual properties. Always, the color is bright, unexpected, poignant years of the artist’s generous and playful vision, the little woodcuts embody all the feelings of ambiguous pleasure, joy andmelancholy thatDecember brings.
Farther east, at L Ross Gallery, Matthew Hasty presents “The Fleeting Hours,” a show of recent oil- on- canvas landscape paintings that encourages meditation and contemplation inawell- earnedpause fromthe season’s headlong rush. Hasty specializes in low horizonlines that build layers of sky above trees and fields. These skies, captured at all times of day but particularly dawn and dusk, reveal infinities of cloud continents rendered in gauzy blues, mauves, pinks, lavenders and purples, all across the spectrumof skyward hues and tints. Often working with a loose, sweeping brush, Hasty not only re- creates the sublime aspects of the Southern landscape toward a transcendent state. His ability toaccomplishthis feat is true whether he works in large scale, as in several paintings that measure 48- by- 60- inches, or on a lesser scope, as small as 10.5- by- 13 inches. In all, there’s a feelingofgrandeur andquietness.
In Midtown, at Memphis BrooksMuseumofArt, theDecorative Arts Trust celebrates its 35th anniversary — and anticipates the museum’s 100th anniversary in 2016— with an exhibitionofmore than100objects placed ingroupings in the galleries with the permanent collection. Artfully displayed, and accompanied by pertinent historical and artistic informative labels, the exhibition offers a unique view both of the decorative arts, including furniture, silver, quilts, household items and clothing, and of the efforts of DAT to acquire these objects for the museum. transformations in style in English and American furniture in the 18th and 19th centuries and perhaps not so subtly at the end of the 19th century, as the French influence broughtmore ornate lines and ornamentation. Still powerfully effective are the frontier objects of early America, as in a series of sugar chestsdesignednot only topreserve the precious commodity but also to lock it away. Don’t miss a throne- like and surely uncomfortable side chair designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and, for a local touch, a crazy quilt created bymembers of the Snowden andOverton families, long prominent inMemphis.
Admittedly, we don’t have a large amount of time to spend looking at art at the end ofDecember, but itwouldbegoodfor our physical and psychological well- bring to take a break from the holiday hurly- burly and indulge in a little calmness and
Matthew Hasty, “Atmosphere I,” oil on canvas, 48- by- 60 inches.