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Red Grooms in Nashville


From: V Moreira Komando (komandov_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Aug 14 2004 - 09:21:38 PDT

FYI - Red Grooms:
On display thru September 5th, at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, features the graphic works of the internationally renowned artist Red Grooms.
This exhibit reveals, in both two and three dimensions, the works of the Nashville-born artist's engaging repertory of colorful character types, funky urban scenery, witty autobiographical narratives, and heroes from the realms of art and history.
Red Grooms: Selections from the Graphic Work is organized by the Tennessee State Museum from the collection of Walter G. Knestrick.
First Tennessee Free Days at the Frist

As a sponsor of the Red Grooms exhibitions, First Tennessee is providing free admission to the Frist Center on the following dates throughout the summer: July 7th , August 4th and September 1st.

Red Grooms: Selections from the Graphic Work

Over 120 works on view June 4 - September 6, 2004

From June 4 through September 6, 2004, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts will present the largest collection of Red Grooms' prints ever assembled for an exhibition. Red Grooms: Selections from the Graphic Work includes over 120 works, both two- and three-dimensional, covering 40 years of printmaking by the renowned artist and Nashville native.

Created between 1956 and 1999, the works reveal the practiced hand of a master draftsman who has experimented with an array of printmaking techniques ranging from delicate softground etchings to an eight-foot-high woodblock print, to 3-D graphic versions of "sculpto-pictoramas," the large-scale environmental works for which Grooms is best known.

This exhibition focuses on themes that have been central to Groomsˇ¦ work since the late 1950s. Galleries focus variously on images of the city and its denizens; icons of popular culture such as Elvis Presley; portraits and self-portraits; and heroes of the art world.

Grooms introduced the theme of the city in 1962 with his first commissioned print, Self-Portrait in a Crowd. The image of a jaunty, striding figure wearing a stovepipe hat on a busy street signals the artist's confidence in his quickly rising art career. In 1967, Grooms created his first life-size installation, inspired by nostalgia for the "Windy City" of Chicago, where he had studied art in the late 1950s Avenue. Four years later in 1971, Grooms portrayed the densely swarming streets of New York City in his first print portfolio No Gas. In later works, Grooms continued to portray New York with exaggerated street perspectives, outlandish people and a high degree of nervous energy.

In the gallery focused on the influence of popular culture in Grooms' work, the viewer will find humorous 3-D prints and expressive caricatures of well-known people and everyday events such as Chuck Berry, Ginger Rogers, and a basketball star. Grooms has always been drawn to the "human pageant" and captivated by boisterous crowds and rampant consumer culture. His interest in popular culture has often caused him to be considered a Pop artist, although his work forswears the cool irony of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein or James Rosenquist for an expressive immediacy that remains lively and engaging.

Portraits and figures comprise another theme in the exhibition. Like a number of other young artists active in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Grooms began turning to ordinary subjects such as his friends and family members and depicting them in a simplified representational manner. He forged his own style of figurative expressionism, often including his own image as an actor on the stage of life. This gallery features a self-portrait of the artist making a print and an image of the collector, his friend Walter Knestrick.

Beginning with the tiny linocut Five Futurists (1958), Grooms celebrates his own existence as an artist by paying homage to many of the important figures in the history of Western art. His fascination with the prolific Spanish painter Pablo Picasso is reflected by four prints. Although he respects such artistic "heroes", Grooms isn't afraid to have a little fun at their expense, as seen in Nineteenth-Century Artists (1976), a series in which he spoofs the fathers of modern art from Realist Gustave Courbet to Post-Impressionist Paul Cezanne. Elsewhere, Grooms simulates the styles and subjects associated with earlier artists, such as Paul Gauguin's roughly carved woodcuts of the South Seas, Edward Hopper's light-filled New England beach scenes and the tall, thin figures of Alberto Giacometti.

Red Grooms: Selections from The Graphic Work is organized by the Tennessee State Museum and curated by Susan Knowles from the collection of Walter G. Knestrick. Locally, the exhibition is sponsored by First Tennessee. The exhibition catalogue, Red Grooms: The Graphic Work by Walter Knestrick will be available for purchase in the Frist Center Gift Shop.


Born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1937, Charles Rogers Grooms began his artistic experimentation while in grade school. He took his first formal art lessons at the age of 10, attending art classes at the Nashville Childrenˇ¦s Museum. In 1952, while at Hillsboro High, Charles Grooms and fellow art student Walter Knestrick, who became an important collector of the artist's work - struck up a life-long friendship. As a high school Senior, Grooms presented his first show, a two-person exhibition at Nashville's Lyzon Gallery, with Knestrick.

After studying briefly at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the New School for Social Research in New York, Grooms returned to Nashville to attend Peabody College, where he completed his first print, Minstrel, in the fall of 1956 (which is on view in this exhibition). The following year, Grooms enrolled in Hans Hofmann's school of painting in Provincetown. While there, the young artist became interested in filmmaking and performance art and was dubbed "Red" because of the vibrant color of his hair.

After moving to New York in 1957, Grooms and studio-mate Jay Milder turned part of their shared loft into the City Gallery, mountings show by fellow artists such as Lester Johnson, Jim Dine, Alex Katz, Claes Oldenburg and Bob Thompson. While in New York, Grooms also participated in a number of "Happenings," including his most famous performance art piece The Burning Building, a 10-minute theatrical event presented in December 1959. The artist was also drawn to filmmaking, and created 12 films of varying lengths.

In 1963, Grooms' art career took off with his first "uptown" show at Tibor de Nagy Gallery, and a full-length article in Art News, which appeared in 1966. Grooms created major "picto-sculptoramas" during this period that can now be found in the Art Institute of Chicago, the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN) and the Museum of Modern Art (Forth Worth, TX).

Working from 1994 through 1998, Grooms created an artistic icon for Nashville's Riverfront Park when he produced 34 life-sized carousel figures for the Tennessee Fox Trot Carousel, a working amusement ride featuring figures from Tennessee's history.

A versatile artist, Grooms has also created theatre sets for the National Dance Institute, Minneapolis Children's Theatre and the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, NC. In 1999, he gained full member status at the National Academy of Design, with the presentation of his diploma piece Manhattan Lulluby.


Red Grooms: Creating the Carousel
June 4 - September 6, 2004
Conte Community Arts Gallery

On view in the Conte Community Arts Gallery, this exhibition shows the development and production of Red Grooms' whimsical Tennessee Fox Trot Carousel and includes preparatory drawings, watercolor studies, and models and casts of actual elements of the piece. Included with Grooms's designs are proposals for new theme park rides created by students from Hillsboro High School.

Project Access
June 4 - September 6, 2004
Education Gallery

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts and the Nashville Public Library received a National Leadership Grant in 2003 from the Institute for Museum and Library Services to fund Project Access. Computer terminals in this exhibition introduce the website for Project Access, A special component of the site allows visitors to have works of art created in ArtQuest, the Frist Center's interactive education gallery, posted on the website and to write a narrative about their work of art.

In addition to the website, the grant funds a multiple visit program for adult English Language Learners. This program introduces participants to the Frist Center and the Nashville Public Library and provides opportunities for participants to practice visual art and writing skills through the development of personal narratives. Computer literacy skills are also targeted in the program. Works of art created by these ELL participants will also be on view during this exhibition.

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts will present a series of programs intended to enhance the visitor's experience of the featured exhibition Red Grooms: Selections from the Graphic Work. Programs include a Red Grooms film series, a Family Day and two lectures highlighting the works.


Thursday - Friday, June 10 & 11
The Films of Red Grooms
Films will be screened, beginning at 7:00 p.m., at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and the Belcourt Theatre; $8 suggested donation per screening

The Frist Center and The Belcourt Theatre collaborate to present films by Red Grooms. Characterized by an imaginative blend of handcrafted scenery, unique characters, live action, and animation, these films possess a fiercely independent cinematic style and personal vision that can only be described as "Groomsian." For a complete list of films please visit our website at

Thursday, July 8
Artist's Perspective: Red Grooms with Walter Knestrick
6:00 p.m.

Join us for a conversation between artist Red Grooms and collector of his work and life-long friend Walter Knestrick, as they discuss the works on view in Red Grooms: Selections from the Graphic Work.

Sunday, August 22
Red Grooms Family Day
1:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Explore the art of Red Grooms in both Selections from the Graphic Work and Creating the Carousel. While at the Frist Center you can also contribute to a collaborative sculpture based on the artist's work, create relief prints similar to Red's or listen to "The Music of the Carousel," a concert inspired by the famous Fox Trot Carousel.

Thursday, August 26
Curator's Perspective:
Red Grooms: The Serious Side
6:00 p.m.

Susan Knowles, guest curator of Red Grooms: Selections from the Graphic Work, talks about Red Grooms as a serious and complex artist who has a long-standing interest in art history and intellectual and social movements, which he presents in a variety of print styles and media.

During the run of this exhibition, the Frist Center will also present Family Nights at the Frist Center each Thursday evening at 6:00 p.m. and offer Story Tours on Saturday mornings at 11:00 a.m. Family Nights at the Frist include a brief tour of the exhibitions and a hands-on activity designed for families to enjoy together. Story Tours include a story read in the galleries followed by a visit to ArtQuest, the Frist Center's interactive art education space.
The Frist Center will also host its first Family-friendly Exhibition Preview for Frist Center Members on June 3, in conjunction with the opening of this exhibition. This event will include a special hands-on project for the whole family to enjoy and children-friendly fare.

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., is an art exhibition center dedicated to presenting the finest visual art from local, regional, U.S. and international sources in a program of changing exhibitions. Gallery admission to the Frist Center is free for visitors 18 and under and to Frist Center members. Frist Center admission for adults is $8.50, $7.50 for seniors and military with ID and $6.50 for college students with ID. Discounts are offered for groups of 10 or more with advance reservation by calling 615.744.3246. The Frist Center is open Monday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and Sundays 1:00 until 5:00 p.m. The Frist Center is open extended hours Thursdays until 8:00 p.m. and, during the run of the Red Grooms and Coming Home exhibitions through September 6, 2004, Fridays until 9:00 p.m. The Frist Center website can be accessed at




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