Review: Art of the South 2018

By Carol Sams


Expectation…More to Consider


I suppose one enters any display area with expectation; indeed, the rebirth of Sears Crosstown Building as Crosstown Concourse gives much reason for the assumption. Anchored on the ground floor, a red stairway of generously spaced platform steps spirals upward one turn. Visitors, aware of its significant elevation, may opt for the elevator only to deny its dramatic presentation. Crosstown Arts, regardless of the route taken, is the destination in the second floor’s vast display area as host to Art of the South 2018.


Currently on display through September 2, 2018, Number: Inc presents the fifth annual Art of the South exhibition in Crosstown Art’s main gallery space. Brian Russell Jobe, an artist, educator, independent curator and non-profit co-director of Locate Arts and Seed Space in Nashville, Tennessee, reviewed 426 entries from 147 Artists. Allowed three entries each, Jobe selected 58 works from 59 artists (Quantum Superposition #2 is a collaborative piece by Averell Mondie and Terri Phillips). The resulting exhibit surveys sixteen states defined here as “the South”: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.


The installation is coherently organized, comfortable to view and tidy without distractions. Deliberate or not, and if so, cleverly hidden, there is order; ask for the list. Jason Brown’s Erratic, a small, wooden, geometric construction, is #1 and placed just inside the entryway on the floor to the left. Dependent upon the list of artist’s names corresponding to numeric labels, I continued along an imaginary path following the room’s perimeter, unable to disengage at will. Bending knee to locate the consecutive numbers, I rise and continue to the next. My viewing becomes a layered knowledge directed by position and sequence; in this way the show relies on its viewers to participate and — in the process — more is revealed to the experienced art viewer.


I am intent on writing about “seeing” art. In Katie Hargrave’s Campsite Rules, #34, for instance, she demonstrates the pivotal moment to ask the question, “Can I rely on what is real in what I see?” Will two separate piles of river rock on the floor, topped with illegible embroidered triangles, be enough to move me past all that is present in my expectations? What this reviewer observed as most lacking in Hargrave’s Campsite Rules is its power to persuade.


Overall it’s a good show, it’s nothing new, but it has surprises. Jobe is well qualified to have been both juror and curator, and it works in his favor. I have my “picks” from the show and know of some submissions that I think needed to have been “picked” that were not. Art of the South 2018 challenges the viewer to consider what they know to be real and it inspires them to consider more (maybe, for the reasons I describe).