Spend Time with Karen Seapker this Weekend


I was chatting online with Laura Hutson last weekend about her story in the Nashville Scene and the happenings at the Art Crawl and in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood. She missed the weekend events — she was busy researching an upcoming Nashville Scene cover story out of town — so I promised to keep my eyes open at the Saturday night exhibits and file a report if I found something of interest. This is that report.

As I mentioned in Crawl Space, there were a ton of worthwhile events happening last weekend. I made the choice to hit the Wedgewood-Houston shows — if you’ve ever tried to do downtown and We-Ho on the same night, you know what a shallow, frustrating experience that can be. That mission is better left to a commando or a long-distance runner than to an art lover or a critic.

It turns out my favorite single piece of the night was a painting I found at the first venue I visited. Karen Seapker’s show re: surface is hanging alongside Brady Haston’s A Brief History of Nashville at Zeitgeist. Seapker’s colorful canvases are an interesting blend of stylized imagery and absolute abstraction, creating supernatural compositions that suggest the presence of the wondrous in the everyday and the natural.

I don’t want to list titles and post spoiler images here, so check out the show for yourself to get a sense of Seapker’s range. As a teaser I’ll tell you that my favorite piece was Seapker’s “Clearing,” which pictures an isolated house on a colorful landscape being engulfed in a comic book-colored swirl of measured marks that find the surface of the painting seeming to give way into an empty, black void in the lower right corner.


A digital image like this may be intriguing — it intrigued me when I visited Seapker’s site after receiving Zeitgeist’s press release — but my favorite aspects of Seapker’s work are the gooey brush strokes on her painterly surfaces that lend a felt presence to her images, grounding them in a physicality that makes their fantastic subjects seem all the more immediate and plausible. But, you can’t see that online. These are paintings you must stand in front of, and you’ll be glad you did.

This review originally appeared on the Nashville Scene’s Country Life blog.

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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 joenolan.com. (Photo of Joe Nolan by John Rogers)