A Terrible Hankering: Nick Doty’s “gathering for a fire” at Coop Gallery

By Margaret Jane Joffrion





A Terrible Hankering: Nick Doty’s a gathering for a fire @ Coop Gallery





May 5, 2021 – May 30, 2021


Nashville, Tennessee




All images courtesy the artist and Coop Gallery







slow spring, acrylic paint, resin clay, wire, and wood on pedestal (recycled foam, fiberglass, aqua resin, acrylic paint, sawdust, and studio debris) 40” x 10.5” x 9” 30” x 14” x 11” 2020-21







Nick Doty’s gathering for a fire looks and feels like the scene in Despicable Me wherein the youngest child sights an amusement park on the side of the road, squeals, and causes the driver, Gru, to swerve across the solid line. Doty’s sculptures, hanging works, and Super Silly Fun Land share structural similarities—great height, swooping dives, and see-through lightness. Doty’s exhibit feels like a place with multiple attractions. I am also calling on the specific scene from Despicable Me to say Doty’s show is fun—and how fun. In regards to gathering for a fire, I really want ‘fun’ to squeal ‘rare glee.’








in-between places, acrylic paint, woven wire, resin clay, aluminum, found fabric netting, fishing line/ invisible thread, and wood 36” x 26” x 3.5” 2021







    The top of waves is made from plywood shapes. I can see each layer as what was trimmed away to make a more perfect shape, which says something like: “You, me, and Archimedes too, baby. We’re human!” These cuttings are sandwiched together and arranged into a dynamic. Beneath the plywood cuttings of waves is an inventive pedestal. The legs are spindly, and the top of the pedestal is coated in fine sawdust. I walked in the gallery and upon seeing waves, thought, “How perfect for those finger skateboards.” Another person walked in and said “This looks like it’s made for a Tech Deck.” I pocketed a new term. The artist superglued a quarter to the sidewalk.










waves, wood and acrylic paint on pedestal (acrylic paint, wood, sand from ‘tombstone 1’) 38.5” x 17” x 12” 10.5” x 10” x 3” 2019-21







The pedestal for slow spring is completely covered in sawdust, and I see little flecks in it that look like lavender. It makes me think of when you work at a place where they sell something expensive, but you touch a lot of it and sometimes get it for free. The three plants mounted on the pedestal are partially identifiable. One is definitely forsythia, another looks like something I see by the road, and another looks like a green bouquet filler painted purple. While I was in the gallery, Doty mentioned they are like plants seen from the road, and they are recognizable but not closely observed.









outward or inward, acrylic paint, resin clay and wire on masonite panel 56” x 48” x 3” 2021





The woven wire in in-between places varies in each diamond unit, which makes the surface move and seem dimensioned. Come closer, the variation makes every diamond seem precious like a fish scale. There is an orange oak leaf suspended by fishing wire and spotlighted with a yellow circular border. A rectangle of orange netting in the right corner is stuck by a school of thin leaves at even intervals. Chicory in flower travels the fence diagonally. The elements of the work cohere to the wire netting or fencing to create a single surface. This is not because it is a painting, it’s because they are glued there by wind.









things along the way 1, studio objects of potential, ‘tombstone 3’ wood, metal, and acrylic paint on panel 34.5” x 30” x 3.5” 2021- ongoing








In shells from the beach (outer banks), metal pieces are lodged in sand balls that grow smaller from bottom to top. Some of the metal pieces look like cans that have been eaten away, but others look like castings of some flash of sweat on a body. There is an exuberant shard of aluminum at the very top. This work’s column has a clover shaped cross section that comes to a circular flare at the top.










shells from the beach (outer banks), aluminum, resin clay, concrete, acrylic paint, and sand from ‘tombstone 1’ on pedestal (recycling, studio scraps, fiberglass, aqua resin, acrylic paint, sand from ‘tombstone 1’) 39” x 10” 15” x 3” x 2” 2020-21










As a whole, Doty’s show has the same spirit as the children’s book Mud Pies and Other Recipes which contains such instructions as:
Gather enough green leaves to fill a big bowl. Sprinkle with white sand and freshly ground dust, season with minced grass, moisten with a few squirts of water from a squirt gun. Toss as high as you can with wooden spoons or hands, always making sure the salad returns to the bowl after each toss.






Detail of: shells from the beach (outer banks)







That is to say, Doty uses charming and worthless materials, such as sand and sawdust.  Doty’s materials and the ingenuity of their arrangement act as evidence that the work was made by someone with a terrible hankering to make something. I see shells from the beach (outer banks) like a tower of oyster shells fashioned into a little sculpture at a restaurant near the end of dinner. Each sculpture in the show is exciting, and I feel Doty’s work is fun because it appears to be the work of someone who really likes making things. While this sounds like a weak conclusion, I must tell you that nothing else indoors has made me feel like I did when I discovered giant dandelion puffs roadside. I am certain I like the work because it exudes joyfully made.












About the artist: Nick Doty (b. 1989, Nashville, TN) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn and Connecticut. His work has been exhibited in his home state as well as in Georgia, New York, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania; and solo shows of his work have been mounted at 80WSE and The Open Gallery. Doty has also participated in group exhibitions at Studio 200, Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design, and The Center for Ballet and the Arts, among others. Doty has an MFA from New York University (2018).




About the writer: Margaret Jane Joffrion is an artist and writer living in Tennessee.