Co-authored by Sara Lee Burd, Executive Editor Nashville Arts Magazine
The flourishing visual art scene in Nashville is not just the glitz and glam Music City you've seen in the tv show Nashville. This is a city filled with contemporary art galleries commanding the attention of a broad, educated, and well, wealthy audience.
Located in the historic buildings on 5th Ave of the Arts in Downtown Nashville, The Rymer Gallery offers a reprieve from the exhausting urban development encroaching all sides of the city. The glass storefront of the sleek contemporary gallery provides a clear view of the artwork carefully hung and starkly lit on white walls with accompanying white floors and ceiling.
In this blank space anything can happen. Curator Herb Williams created a zone of tranquility with Todd Williamson's exhibit No Rhyme or Reason. Colorful, geometric square and rectangle panels transfix the viewer as a group and still each painting commands individual attention. Williamson's style is clear and holds up to the Modernist ideal of formalism inciting an immediate emotional reaction. He exemplifies the power of line and color to dominate the viewer and evoke an altered state. In the triptych, originally shown at the Nashville airport, entitled The Thought, The Place, and The Idea, Williamson presents bands of subdued, monochromatic tones washed across the canvas, the color fading to deep indigo across the bottom of each panel. The title suggests both a subject and concept for each work, but the overall experience of the art is more ethereal. Like words used in a guided meditation, Williamson uses color to provide focus to the viewer but leaves the existential meaning to be resolved by the individual.
A common element Williamson includes is a strong centrally placed vertical or horizontal focus to each composition. The color and orientation of these works differ in that the plumb works appear brighter and more energetic while the others seem subdued and restful.
This is art to live with, perhaps to greet you at the door or stay where you relax. It is the type of work that commands simultaneous focus and escape. Psychologically, physically and maybe even spiritually Williamson's art triggers your attention and stimulates your imagination.
The exhibit at the Rymer gallery provides a selection of Williamson's paintings in various sizes and colors, each a perfect catalyst for a visual meditation. Gazing at the lines, I noticed that at times the edges were rough and the colors blurred. I wondered if these were intentional, mistakes, or happy imperfections. I thoroughly enjoyed allowing my mind to roam and imagine the work being made. Part color theory, part therapy these paintings appeal at visceral level.
So I ask you, what do you imagine when you see Todd Williamson's art? Are you relieved, relaxed, thoughtful, worried? Your answer may say more about you than Williamson. Leave a comment; start a discussion.