Winter Arts Guide 2022: Visual Artists’ Poll | Cover Stories

For our first local visual artists’ poll — a feature we plan to revisit on occasion — we’ve asked a select group to share their ideas about Nashville’s art scene. Below, read what they love about it and what they’d like to change. 


Caroline AllisonDavid Onri AndersonAlex BlauOmari BookerAmelia BriggsLeXander BryantAndrés BustamanteLindsy DavisAshley DoggettJohn DonovanElise Drake and Thew JonesMarlos E’vanJosh ElrodKevin GuthrieJana HarperJodi HaysRocky HortonCourtney Adair JohnsonAlex LockwoodRob MatthewsElisheba Israel MrozikXavier PayneJames PerrinWendy Walker SilvermanVadis TurnerYanira VissepoHerb WilliamsDonna WoodleyLain York


What’s helped you the most in coping with the ongoing pandemic?

We are grateful for receiving a United States Artists Relief Grant at the beginning of the pandemic. Also our biweekly lunchtime excursions in nature, often overlooking the lake or river, is a lifestyle change for the better. Elise Drake and Thew Jones

Having a studio space at Elephant Gallery. I find solitude there, but also have a supportive artist community. Yanira Vissepo

Spending more time with family, being outside and home-cooked meals. I also picked up biking in 2020, and it’s been a game-changer. LeXander Bryant

My exercise crew on Zoom, self-imposed media blackouts, NTS Radio, family hangs, outsider art books, East Side Banh Mi, unfollowing Yoganons. Josh Elrod 

Trying to take advantage of the downtimes to create as pure expression without having to think about art as a business or commodity, and having my loving family with me every day. Elisheba Israel Mrozik

An amazing dog we rescued via Snooty Giggles. His name is Nero and he loves to snuggle. Alex Blau

Learning in general; but specifically, working to understand the good and bad philosophical ideas that underpin our society and their effects. James Perrin

Shelby Airpark, playing Minecraft with my kids, having a studio and staying busy in it. Alex Lockwood

Having the ability to go to openings again was a huge help in feeling more connected to other local artists. It has also been thrilling to see some local galleries and artists thrive during such a stressful year. Amelia Briggs

Being reminded of the resilience that we as human beings are equipped with to take in what has happened, adapt to it, and then adjust and conquer the challenges that come along with something so massively traumatic to our global society. It helps when you’re not alone. Also, being able to use my mind to continue making art, and venturing into some other untapped ideas that I may not have otherwise thought of had it not been for the pandemic. There’s a lot that came out of being with my own thoughts. Donna Woodley



What was your favorite new discovery of 2021?

Turnip Green Creative Reuse. LeXander Bryant

The Great Women Artists podcast, Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varos, and Ninth Street Women by Mary Gabriel. Yanira Vissepo

Roxane Gay’s substack The Audacity. It’s a great curated email of all the things I want to know about. Jodi Hays

Opening up with other artists whom I have admired from afar and building friendships based on similar experiences of loss and grief. Lindsy Davis

Artist talks over Zoom. It was fantastic to be able to dial in worldwide for things happening beyond home. Caroline Allison

Broadway Brunch at Nashville Rep and Stacy’s Bagel Chips. Elisheba Israel Mrozik

Legacy mural on Jefferson Street created by Woke3. Omari Booker

The work of Mike Goodlett, a Kentucky artist who sadly passed away in 2021. Josh Elrod

DegThai. It’s pretty tasty. Alex Blau

Ted Lasso, Phoebe Bridgers and matcha from Weak Coffee at the Nelson Drum Shop on Riverside. Herb Williams

Olivia Tawzer, a Chattanooga painter. Alex Lockwood

The paintings of Marion Nicoll. Wendy Walker Silverman

He’s certainly not new to most, but he is to me: Samuel Dunson, who was part of the wonderful group show Futurephilia. His work inspires me to get better, yet also to give up because the bar he sets is so high. Kevin Guthrie

Houseplants — especially rex begonia and nepenthes varietals. As our apartment downtown approached jungle status, my husband instituted a one-in, one-out policy. Vadis Turner

Buchanan Arts is a great addition to the Nashville art community, especially since Watkins merged with Belmont. Amelia Briggs

I would have to say the Nashville Ambient Ensemble, unless it counts as a discovery that I realized Joe Versus the Volcano is a better movie than I remember. Rob Matthews



“Multiple Moons,” from Caroline Allison’s Behind the Moon at Zeitgeist Gallery


What was the best art exhibit or event you attended in Nashville recently?

The best show I’ve seen recently in Nashville was Caroline Allison’s Behind the Moon at Zeitgeist in November. Some of the most gorgeous, poetic and thoughtful work I’ve seen in a long time, and it just bowls me over that this is what she was thinking about during the pandemic: how to capture a snowball, a spiderweb, the movement of the moon, and my God — Galileo’s sky. Jana Harper

Caroline Allison at Zeitgeist! Vast expanses were collapsed into intricate collages. Smashed snowballs became textured galaxies. Vadis Turner

Caroline Allison’s Behind the Moon at Zeitgeist Gallery, Past Present by Jodi Hays at ZieherSmith and Pattern Recognition by Margaret Hull at Coop Gallery, to name just a few.  Amelia Briggs

Benjy Russell’s Cowboy Riding a Beam of Light in Dowelltown. Caroline Allison’s Behind the Moon at Zeitgeist. Jodi Hays

Adam Sings in the Timber at Coop. Caroline Allison

Soundclash Nashville: Bren Joy vs. Jake Wesley Rogers at Marathon Music Works. Elise Drake and Thew Jones

Alicia Henry: 2020 and 2021 at Zeitgeist . Yanira Vissepo

Albrecht Dürer and Picasso back to back at the Frist is proof that organizations read comment cards. It was also great to see Arden Bendler Browning’s paintings at Tinney Contemporary. Rob Matthews

I haven’t been to many events, but I did enjoy the Futurephilia exhibition, and To Get to the Other Side: Death and Time Travel that was at Elephant Gallery. Xavier Payne

Alicia Henry at Zeitgeist, Lindsy Davis at Red Arrow, Nick Fagan at Coop, Brady Haston at Zeitgeist. Alex Lockwood

Nuveen Barwari at Red Arrow. Andrés Bustamante

Renaissance at Tinney Contemporary, curated by Michael Ewing. LeXander Bryant

I truly enjoyed every art exhibit at NKA Gallery in 2021, as well as Renaissance: The Contemporary Expression of the Ancestral Spirit curated by Michael Ewing at Tinney Contemporary, Carlton Wilkerson’s In the Gallery at Zeitgeist, and Kindred Links with Omari Booker and Henry L. Jones at the Parthenon. Elisheba Israel Mrozik

Rest in Peace While You Are Alive by Shabazz Larkin at NKA Gallery. Omari Booker

I took a ceramics workshop with John Donovan at Buchanan Arts. I learned a lot and had fun. Alex Blau

MOCAN/“Radical” Thoughts. Lain York

Bethany Collins’ Evensong at the Frist. Wendy Walker Silverman

I love everything The Red Arrow Gallery is doing. And Electric Shed brought a great lineup — including artist Rae Young’s NEO-Lilith and musician Eve Maret hosting an electronic music night. Courtney Adair Johnson

Alex Lockwood’s show at David Lusk Gallery last winter, Watch for My Signals. That dude can flat out get it. Kevin Guthrie

Paintings by Lakesha Moore at NKA Gallery. John Donovan

Brady Haston’s show at Zeitgeist, and the Kara Walker print show at the Frist. Rocky Horton


Rae Young at Electric Shed



What upcoming art events are you most looking forward to?

I want to go to a Foxy Brown event at Ce Gallery! Xavier Payne

Benji Anderson at Elephant Gallery in March. David Onri Anderson

Vadis Turner’s nighttime art-viewing at Zeitgeist. Caroline Allison

Josh Black is exhibiting at Julia Martin Gallery. Omari Booker

Kelly Williams at David Lusk Gallery, Vadis Turner at Zeitgeist, Ash Atterberry at Julia Martin Gallery. Alex Lockwood

Ted Faiers at David Lusk Gallery and Alma Thomas at the Frist. Rob Matthews

Vadis Turner’s upcoming exhibition at Zeitgeist. James Perrin

LeXander Bryant: Forget Me Nots at the Frist. Lain York

Alma W. Thomas and Light, Space, Surface: Works From LACMA — both coming to the Frist. Wendy Walker Silverman

EADJ — Engine for Art, Democracy & Justice, which has Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons and Nisi Daily building rad programming at Vanderbilt University, is going to be something to watch. Courtney Adair Johnson



“Untitled” from Alicia Henry’s Alicia Henry: 2020 and 2021 at Zeitgeist


What do you think Nashville’s art scene is missing?

More spaces that champion BIPOC and LGBTQIA artists, for the Frist to actually take a risk, Nashvillians who buy contemporary art. Josh Elrod

We need to continue to cultivate a more contemporary perspective for younger artists and buyers. Elise Drake and Thew Jones

A public, permanent contemporary art collection. Caroline Allison

More Black and Brown-owned galleries please. Xavier Payne

More Black-owned spaces/galleries. LeXander Bryant

A place to create free from the constraints of capitalism. Elisheba Israel Mrozik

Sales. Alex Lockwood

Though it’s come a long way, a more consistent local collector base is something that could be developed. Omari Booker

​​A collecting art museum with a permanent collection, and more options for studio spaces. James Perrin

Plentiful industrial spaces and a more centralized part of town where artists can find cheap and inspiring places to work. Alex Blau

More venues for pop-up shows. Lain York

A permanent collection that is easily accessible by the public. Wendy Walker Silverman 

A simple website with social media presence that covers all the gallery happenings in one place. As good as the Nashville Scene is in covering the arts, there’s too much going on for it to be a complete resource. Kevin Guthrie

A Masters of Fine Arts program. Vadis Turner

I would love to see more experimental spaces and pop-up exhibitions like Adult Contemporary and Electric Shed. Amelia Briggs

I’m not going to waste a sentence talking about critical dialogue. More people buying local art is always appreciated. Rob Matthews

We need more diversity in the stories we tell. I’m pretty tired of going to the same galleries showing the same people that make the same work and tell the same story from the same white privileged perspective. We need curators, galleries and museums pushing boundaries! Andrés Bustamante

A new wave of serious art collectors. Artists can’t buy materials and pay bills with “likes.” Nashville needs to invest in its art community if that’s really a priority. There is a market here that is way overdue for expansion in relation to the citywide growth. John Donovan

Collectors that are interested in Nashville’s art scene. Broader support from public art funds for artists. I’d love for funding to be available for socially engaged projects. Rocky Horton

I don’t think having all the galleries host openings on the same night is as good an idea as it once was. I don’t feel like the art crawl gives justice to some of the shows that are really pushing the boundaries of the art scene. I think it would give more respect to the concepts of these shows — and the artists working to make the shows happen — if the community wasn’t expected to dash all over town in a one-night art-consumption extravaganza. Lindsy Davis

More contemporary influences that drive home dynamism, community and intrigue surrounding fine art. Ashley Doggett

A celebrity to embrace the visual arts and become a national spokesperson and advocate. Herb Williams

A broader collector base that’s willing to invest in the artists here, before you buy a Kaws. (Why?) We still need more diversity in our structures and programming. Overall the Nashville art scene has some of the most talented artists, galleries, curators, etc.; however, we must solve these issues if we want to go further together. We should be to art what Atlanta is to music — an Art Mecca in the South! (Drops mic.) Marlos E’van 


Winter Arts Guide 2022

We poll local artists on the visual arts scene, look at some of the best events of the season and more