Notes on Nash-Up


Here it is Halloween night, but  the wind and rain might be putting an end to the spooky celebrating before it even gets started – sorry, kids! The end of this month also marks the culmination of another Artober celebration for Nashville’s arts community and its audience.

Just like last year, Artober 2013 ended with a Nash-Up creative summit. This year’s event found creators, curators, community leaders and the just plain curious spending the day at the Downtown Public Library, listening to panel discussions, joining-in on facilitated small-group chats and networking with some of the best and brightest of the city’s creative class.

Nash-Up was organized by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission and the Nashville Scene/Country Life. After a few opening words from MNAC Executive Director Jen Cole, Scene Editor Jim Ridley, and even Mayor Carl Dean the event was underway.

Here are a few highlights:



Moderator – Steve Haruch

Kate O’Neill (Metamarketer)

Chris Lee (Apparition Abolishers/Anode, Inc)

Mike Butera (Artiphon)

Robbie Lynn Hunsinger (Multimedia Performer and Interactive Installation Artist).

Nashville Scene Culture Editor Steve Haruch kicked-off a chat about original and reproduced art in the age of the internet with a comparison between the “Mona Lisa” and the website for the film Space Jam. The hilarious juxtaposition lead to a discussion about interactivity in the space where art and technology come together. Chris Lee and Robbie Hunsinger lead the group down a tangent about how technology often evolves in a manner that disguises itself — replicating organic, natural-seeming behavior in order to appeal to users. Kate O’Neill took that discussion as a jumping-off point to discuss how web analytics represent actual human behavior, suggesting that empathy is the missing ingredient in interactive technologies.

The most engaging moments in the discussion were offered by the always-engaging Hunsinger. Easily on the short list of the city’s best artists, Hunsinger seemed to sum-up the spirit of the chat when she posed a series of questions that technology has allowed her to explore in her installations, compositions and live performances: “What’s the nature of art? What’s the nature of music? What’s the nature of technology? There are ways for technology to be very expressive,” she said.



After lunch, attendees were offered several small-group discussions they were free to join or even wander between. About a dozen other attendees and myself spent our time talking about how artists make a profit doing what they love with much of the discussion exploring the pros and cons of exposure in the digital age. Spoken-word artist Stephanie Pruitt was an engaging, energizing facilitator for our group and it was interesting to hear new perspectives on these issues from artists in different disciplines with unique ways of framing the challenge of how not to starve as an artist.



Moderator – Robin Rather (Collective Strength)

Noah Spiegel (Nashville Opera)

Jessika Malone (actress/Sideshow Fringe Festival)

Craige Hoover (actor/commercial real estate activator)

Christopher Mohnani (Artistic Director, Dance Theater of Tennessee)

How does the geography and development in our city keep our creative community from realizing its full potential? That’s the question Robin Rather posed to Nash Up’s last panel of the day. Every member of the panel agreed that Nashville had a “space problem.” A lack of venues was cited by Noah Spiegel and a lack of creative “clusters” was mentioned by Craig Hoover. “My big dream is equal access to the arts for everyone in the city,” said Spiegel. “Whether making art or having the opportunity to be a patron, the arts should be for everyone in the city regardless of socioeconomic circumstances.” The issues of inclusiveness and diversity became the focus of the discussion and Jessika Malone agreed that access to the arts was crucial for Nashville’s creative vitality. “We have a huge responsibility to reflect the diversity of our city,” she said. “Are you just showing plays written by white people and filled with white people and then wondering why only white people are showing up? Why are you surprised?”

Were you there? What did you think about Nash-Up? What did you enjoy? What did you miss?

Leave a comment and continue the conversation.



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About Joe Nolan

Joe Nolan is the visual arts editor. He is a poet, musician, artist and critic who distills the city's gallery scene from Nashville's east side. Find out more about his projects at (Photo of Joe Nolan by John Rogers)