Category Archives: Art

A Little Bit Country Rocks And Rolls!

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I grew up in Tennessee–specifically in Chattanooga. Yes, as in Choo-Choo. My memories are of a childhood surrounded by history that I was not particularly interested in at the time, “lightning bugs” (known to you as fireflies) in the summertime, those little square cheeseburgers (Krystals) that, sorry, no store outside their birthplace really knows how to make, and breathtaking Fall colors each and every year that brought a welcome relief from the unbelievably oppressive humidity of Spring and Summer. Think wearing all your clothes, plus those 70’s and 80’s torture devices known as pantyhose into a sauna, full steam on, and living alternately in that, and a walk in freezer, do not pass go. Not that I’m complaining about air conditioning!

Sweet Iced Tea…Note: When speaking around Southerners, it’s pronounced “SWEETtea” <–one word. Same with beer, aka, “COLDbeer”…:-)  

There’s something interesting I’ve learned about us Southerners over the couple of decades I’ve lived elsewhere in the country though–as a group, we don’t travel much. Driving two hours to get somewhere, to a Southerner, is a major trip. So, it’s really not surprising that even though I grew up in Chattanooga, and lived there until I was around 25, I really hadn’t spent much time in the Nashville area, which is a short 2 hour drive away. Recently, I visited “home” though, and had the pleasure of staying in the Nashville area at a more mature time in my life…when I actually am very interested in the history of a region, when I appreciate what’s going on around me, and when anyone who tried to put a pair of pantyhose on me in this weather, would have to kill me first. 

Always mindful of the true flavor in an area…the off the beaten path, not overly touristy stuff, I’ve compiled a few photos of some things to see and experience  in the Nashville area that you might be interested in if you’re ever hereabouts…Ya’ll…:-) 

My first stop was the Nashville Zoo, which is one of the nicer ones I’ve been to across the country. The best part is their design…they have a lovely tree canopy on most all of the trail, which really comes in handy in the summer heat! For hours and other visitor information, click here: Nashville Zoo at Grassmere

You can’t come here without visiting some sort of Civil War preserved house, cemetery, battlefield, etc. It’s history, and although I know there are some folks who would avoid that sort of thing in order to be politically correct, that’s doing yourself a disservice. To study the reality of history is to protect ourselves from repeating past mistakes. I’ve been to a few of these over my lifetime, but the one I visited on this trip was one of the finest. It was the Carnton Plantation, just a little south of Nashville in Franklin, Tennessee. Everywhere you turn here you can find some sort of house or plantation to tour. But this one, I think, is unique. The house on the property is closed to tours only, which we took. The tour guide was amazing and told us lots of interesting stories about the house, the people, and the Battle of Franklin. This house was turned into a hospital to treat the casualties of the Battle of Franklin, and the bloodstains are literally still on the floors of the house. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before….it was moving and impactful. Click here for more information on this must see: Carnton Plantation 

Also, I picked up this related work of historical fiction in the gift shop–a New York Times Bestseller that I am thoroughly enjoying, particularly after touring the house and grounds, and hearing all about the very real characters…Click the picture below to visit the book’s official website…

The last thing that I definitely wanted to see was downtown Nashville…where it all happened and still happens! If you aren’t good at driving in a city while lookey looing, don’t want to hoof it some fairly long distances, or would like to pop into one of the ultra cool bars with live music flowing out onto the street, even during the day on a weekday, then I highly recommend the Gray Line Music City Trolley Hop. The trolley bus is air conditioned, and the tour takes you all around to the important sites–the Tennessee State Capitol, Music Row, etc. And the drivers, much like the tour guide at the plantation, are amazing! During the 90 minute jaunt, they entertain with lots of fascinating trivia, and let you stop a couple of times to snap pictures. One eye opening bit of trivia I learned from our driver is that Music City is not known as such for the reasons you think–Country Music and its Stars. Nope, Nashville got its nickname when the Queen came to listen to musical performers at Fisk University, who were basically singing to fund the continuance of their school’s existence. The Queen first called Nashville Music City–and it stuck. If you take the trolley, you won’t regret it…And, it’ll orient you to where everything is so that you can go back to your favorite spots later! 

Here are just a few of the interesting and quirky things I saw in Nashville yesterday…

Me with Gary Rossington’s jacket at the Hard Rock Cafe…that’s where you get your trolley tickets, by the way…:-) 

This cool sculpture was too interesting to not get a picture of…remember Minnie Pearl from Hee-Haw? This is an artist’s rendering of her infamous hat located at the Visitor’s Center! 

The broken roller coaster on the Cumberland River (Downtown Nashville’s Waterfront) 

Nashville’s Parthenon…one of the most visited sites in the city. It’s an exact replica of the original. Here are some interesting facts about the Parthenon from Nashville.gov…

Facts about the Nashville Parthenon

  • The bronze doors weight 7.5 tons each. They measure 24′ high, 7′ wide and 1′ thick. There are two sets (4 doors total) of these enormous doors in the Parthenon. This makes them the largest set of matching bronze doors in the world. The Parthenon doors in antiquity were only slightly lighter and were wooden with a bronze overlay.
  • Like its predecessor in Greece, the Parthenon in Nashville faces east. In antiquity this would allow light to come into the building as the sun came up and the doors were opened.
  • Until 1988 visitors entered Nashville’s Parthenon through the doors at the west end of the building. Visitors now must enter the east end of the building at the sidewalk level.The east façade was considered the “front” of the building by the ancient Greeks

And finally, very close to Music Row is this beautiful, controversial, bronze statue. Beautiful, controversial, bronze, and nude–very nude. Hence the controversy, particularly in Nashville which is very much part of the Bible Belt. I loved it…truly a work of art!

For example, here’s the Baptist Press’s take on things: http://bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=16858 And, here’s some information on the history of the statue: Musica
For critics, I think a picture is worth a thousand words…and, well, one word….ART, not to be confused with pornography….

Well, that’s it for now…I’ll leave you with this…pretty much sums it up and says it all!

It’s the Small Things in Life…

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petit     klein     малый       maliit     صغير

piccolo     nhỏ     małych     SMÅ     小     small

μικρές     små     קטן     pequeño     malé   të vogla

छोटा     neliela     bach     pequenas     txiki     ti

փոքր     väike     beag     მცირე     mala     parva

A WittyBizGal Authentic Winner E-terview; Artist Jon Coffelt

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Powder Blue Cosmos on Space Blue Field
acrylic, canvas (heavy stretcher)
30.5×30.5 cm (12×12″)

When I first saw the work of New York artist Jon Coffelt, I was blown away by his originality, his use of color and form, and especially his genuine character, which shines through in every piece he creates. The icing on the cake where Jon is concerned, however, is that he has chosen to utilize his exceptional talent not only to make quite a name for himself in the art world, but to create meaningful miniature works of art which capture the essence of individuals. These particular pieces bring joy to people who commission them as keepsakes for themselves, and also serve as a touching and unique memento for those who are left behind when a loved one passes on. I am so pleased to present this third in my Authentic Winner E-terview series. Readers, you are in for a real visual treat, as well as an opportunity to learn more about this very talented, yet wonderfully humble and gracious artist!

 

 

WBG: Jon, you grew up in small, rural areas of Tennessee, where there probably wasn’t as much access to art or formal art lessons as young aspiring artists in urban areas can take full advantage of. When did you first discover your love of art, as well as your own amazing innate talent? Did you have a special person in your life as a youngster, and/or a professional mentor who helped nurture your artistic development?

JC: My grandfather was my mentor. He was an artist in his own right. He helped me understand color. One of the things I remember him telling me was that “I would have to learn to draw things from nature before I could understand abstraction.” In his words, “I have to paint what was on the outside before I could paint what was on the inside.”

 

66a

cotton, thread, buttons

15.5×15 cm

“These are from the pajamas my grandfather was wearing when he died in 1993. They are among the first of the garments that I miniaturized. They were an ode to him. Some special way for me to thank him for teaching me to love art, to love myself. Oh!, and another thing, my grandfather and I spent many, many Saturdays in the floor making doll clothes for Barbie. He will surely never be forgotten.” – Jon Coffelt, 1993

 

WBG: Please tell my readers about your Miniature Clothing Project! What is your overarching purpose in transforming pieces of clothing into art, and how might someone go about commissioning a piece made from their own, or a loved one’s special item?

JC: My purpose in working on my Miniature Clothing Project is to transform the idea of loss and memory by using garments that hold emotional value for their owner.

 

379

cotton knit, knit

16×16.5 cm

“The miniature helped us transform our experience of Janet’s death. We used her garment as a celebration of her life. Her turtleneck is 100% cotton. She wore it in her retirement, when she could relax and spend time with us. The simplicity of the garment reminds us of her dedication to service. She was a real example of a disciplined life. Her legacy is one of simple truth, and intense dedication. Thank you for your assistance with our journey of letting her go.” ~ The Loved Ones Left Behind By Janet L. Engstrand 1926-2007

WBG: I think that some readers may assume that a special item like this from a renowned artist might be out of reach for them, but the Memory Clothing is actually relatively affordable. Could you tell us what the approximate cost of, say, their Dad’s favorite flannel shirt, or Grandma’s cardigan sweater, if you were to make these into Memory Art Pieces for them?

JC: My pricing starts at $250 for a regular shirt to $500 for a jacket or coat so this work is very well priced for your readers.

 

388

cotton, thread, buttons

15×15 cm

“This is a miniature shirt that Johnny made from my favorite shirt. He bought it for me from Dee and Dee on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for about $7, I love that shirt. Every time I wore it someone would say, “man that shirt is bright,” and I would reply, “no this is not my bright shirt.” (Just a little wry Shawn humor for those that don’t know me) I wore it so much that I put it on a couple of weeks ago and my hand went through the fabric in the sleeves. It’s the shirt that I am wearing in my first Facebook profile picture.” – Shawn Boley, 2009

 

WBG: On your website, you say that you are exploring duct tape as an art medium. Intriguing! What made you decide to work with it in your art? And what sorts of projects can we expect to see in the future from Jon Coffelt implementing duct tape? Do you often draw inspiration from everyday household items like this?

JC: In 1993 I designed a duct tape wallet and started playing with all the colors of duct tape that I could find. The wallets were featured in New York magazine and I did thousands. I had lots of scraps left over and these scraps became the material for the “Circuitry” series that I continue today. I still do special orders for wallets too. My future work always jumps ahead and then pulls back to meld with my older work so I am, at this point still not sure what I will be up to next but it will be exciting.

 

Cosmos Pink Spiral

duct-tape, vellum

91.5×91.5 cm (36×36″)

WBG: You’ve lived and worked in Manhattan for a number of years now, and began your career there in the fashion industry in the 80’s working with well known designer Willi Smith. How do you feel that working with fashion early on, as well as your surroundings and the cultural environment in the city have affected your current work and the pieces you produce now, and will produce in the future?

JC: My view of the art world has always been fluid. I mean everything is integrated. My art has always been about fashion, painting, sculpting and designing to me and living in New York affords me opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise have.

Mayan Circuitry Fetish

duct-tape, Tyvek

129.5×129.5 cm (51×51″)

WBG: And finally, Jon, you have been so successful in your chosen career field, and I bet there are many budding young artists out there who could benefit from your wisdom. What three pieces of advice do you have for someone who thinks they may have talent and might like to pursue art as a career path?

JC:

1. Believe in yourself no matter what happens around you.

2. Have integrity in your work and in the world around you.

3. Never let the word “No” hurt you because it always opens a door to something new.

 

Jon talking to students at GCSU Georgia College and State University,  Milledgeville GA

WBG: Jon, that is wonderful advice for anyone who wants to live their dream, be it as an artist, or some other profession! Thank you so very much for taking the time to talk with us. It has been a pleasure!

To learn more about Jon Coffelt and his art, or if you would like to contact Jon to commission an original Miniature Clothing Piece, please visit his professional website at: http://joncoffelt.com/home.html