This Saturday marks the beginning of a new era for contemporary art dealer and gallery owner David Lusk. After the continued success of its Memphis location, the David Lusk Gallery, one of the most established galleries in the south, will officially open the doors to its second location in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.
Though he’s the new kid on the block in Nashville, anyone who’s spent time around the Memphis art scene knows the name David Lusk. Located on Poplar Avenue, the original David Lusk Gallery opened in 1995 and has since been an undeniable success. Like all great salesmen, Lusk manages to make the business of selling art look easy.
If the public grand opening is anything like the soft opening last Saturday, you won’t want to miss it. The gallery was abuzz with people and energy from open to close and a two-man sax and bass combo serenaded guests as they entered. Lusk and gallery director Dane Carder glided through the crowd welcoming everyone as they filed in to get a preview of the new digs and the artwork lining its walls.
This debut exhibition holds little back, coming out of the gate with a large selection of works by twenty-three artists from its impressive roster. Many artists were brought up from the Memphis locale, including some of Lusk’s heavy hitters like photography giant William Eggleston and the late painter Carroll Cloar. These staples join eight newcomers chosen to be represented through the Nashville outpost: Mark Bradley-Shoup, Mary Addison Hackett, Maysey Craddock, Beth Foley, Paul McLean, Kit Reuther, Kelly S. Williams, and Peggy Root.
The exhibition runs the gambit on the media front, pulling in painting, photography, sculpture, and one interactive installation. However, the vast majority of the work is 2D.
The gallery is loosely divided into four “rooms.” In the first room, you’re greeted with “Green House Laughs,” Tad Lauritzen Wrights’s brightly colored floral painting and across from it, on the floor, a pile of small anthropomorphized rocks. Each of them is signed by the artist. (These rocks are guest swag, so don’t forget to grab one before you leave.)
As you walk through to the next section, Mary Addison Hackett’s epic “Blind Man’s Bluff” painting hangs front and center. Opposite her painting is Leslie Holt’s nod to Lichtenstein and a large-scale Huger Foote photograph. Also in the room are two Eggleston photographs from his famous “Graceland” series. Another shout-out to Memphis is “Big John’s” by Jared Small. The painting depicts a blues lounge whose windows feature posters for B.B. King, Memphis Slim, and Sam Cooke. The ambient repose of Kit Reuther’s Rothko-esque “Orchid Room” and Kathleen Holder’s “Okeanos XXVI” offers a serene interlude among the sea of diverse artwork.
The third space features Tyler Hildebrand’s illustrated world of dysfunctional bliss. These six small paintings feature, among other things, a nude woman in roller skates, a pot-bellied biker, and scene of a big guy knocking out a smaller guy. Greely Myatt echoes the sentiment with his sculpture of an ice cream cone dropped on the floor.
Among the artwork in back room, you’ll find a Paul McLean’s painting of a cyclops baseball player, aptly titled “Hero.” No theme or concept comprehends the exhibition, instead it’s a mixed bag and a sweeping glance at what’s to come.