Young Artists in Spotlight at Dixon

JONATHAN DEVIN | Special to The Memphis News

The next generation of Memphis artists will have a chance to express themselves in a youth-filled exhibition that has opened at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens.

(Courtesy of artist Kate Bradley)

The Dixon Gallery and Gardens will give young, up-and-coming artists a rare chance to exhibit their work in a museum setting in "10 Under 30," a group show of artists from the Memphis College of Art and the University of Memphis art department.

“10 Under 30” explores the emerging talent of students from the Memphis College of Art and the University of Memphis art department, giving each one of them a rare chance to be showcased in an established art museum before building their careers.

Dixon assistant curator Julie Pierotti, who organized the show, said that she met most of the selected artists at the Dixon’s yearly contemporary shows, which often attract young artists.

“I would love to do a solo show for each of these artists, but I thought a group show would be a great way to introduce a lot of artists to a lot of people,” Pierotti said. “As a young curator under 30, these are my peers, my contemporaries. I think it’s interesting to see what the next generation of artists in this city is going to be.”

The exhibition, which includes about 18 works, will be displayed in the Mallory & Wurtzburger Galleries inside the Dixon until March 6. The artists, hand-selected by Pierotti, are Kate Bradley, Eric Bork, Lauren Coulson, Eli Gold, Joel Halpern, Kyle Holland, Jesse Nabers, Emma Self, Rhonda Spight and Alex Warble.

Bradley’s oil on linen painting, “The British are Coming,” is fairly reminiscent of the work of another Memphis painter, Clare Torina, both of whom used startling colors to form a half-hidden human figure.

Nabers’ “Bay Area” goes even further in that direction by melding bright reds, yellows, crimson and terra cotta into the angles that suggest steep lines of San Francisco.

(Courtesy of artist Lauren Coulson)

“I was really impressed with the maturity and depth of her work,” Pierotti said of Nabers. “The show is so much about color. I knew that Jesse’s work would play well with Kate’s colors, and with Lauren’s too. It was a fun project to do from start to finish.”

Coulson’s two pieces, both photographic transfer and acrylic on panel, contrast each other from across the gallery.

In “Rebirth,” a part human figure appears to be buried in layers of earth and roots with only a broken cattle skulls emerging into a deep azure sky with puffy white clouds.

Coulson’s “Inhibition,” though, abandons color altogether for vein-like shadows comprising a dark path towards a masked man crouching in the corner.

Simpler and fresher is Bork’s “On Sunday Nights,” two paired oils on canvas in which a man in a black shirt sits hunched on his elbows on the bathroom toilet watching over a woman in the bathtub whose hair has been gracefully pulled to the nape of her neck.

The fact that Bork used two canvases creates an unusual intimacy between the two figures, at once dominant in their own space but warmed by the other’s presence.

The exhibition also contains printmaking, sculpture and craft art like Self’s “Doubles Houses,” two books made of homemade paper and dyed fabrics held together by magnets.

Perhaps the most amusing piece of all is Warble’s “100 Pimps,” mixed media on cardboard, a “Where’s Waldo”-like collection of the same cartoonish male figure repeated 100 times with clever and unique changes to each.

Pierotti praised Memphis College of Art and the U of M saying that both art departments have gone unrecognized for their contributions to Memphis’ art culture.

“That’s why this is important,” Pierotti said. “There is a generation of artists making Memphis their home. They’re committed to producing art that is somehow connected to the city, but at the same time promoting Memphis as an arts town and deepening the identity that we have here.”