Photo by Steve Barnum / Reporter
As you walk up to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, it’s easy to find yourself feeling anxious, or maybe even a little intimidated, by the Stripped Classical architecture style of the building. Sure, it stands out from those around it in the way that it offers a sense of strength and toughness, as if it’s job is to harshly protect the priceless works of art that lie within, but when the door closes behind you and you take your initial steps inside, everything changes.
As you wander the halls of the Frist Center, the lights get softer and quietness takes over, leading you to the idea that you are about to witness something extraordinarily special. And extraordinary artwork is just what you’ll find in the exhibits of the Frist Center.
The art museum makes it their mission to “present and originate high-quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach activities.” And while they accomplish that task, they do it in a way that still allows the viewer to construct their own ideas and create their own takeaways from the art available. It’s the Frist Center experience, and it’s one worth living.
The Frist Center’s Media and Public Relations Director Buddy Kite says they are trying to bring the art of the world to Middle Tennessee. But here, no exhibit is permanent.
“We are different from a lot of museums in that we don’t collect anything,” Kite explained. “The Frist Center does not own any of this art work which is an advantage in many ways, because we have these galleries to fill and so we are always bringing something new.”
The process of choosing what artwork makes it to display is decided by a Frist Center team, which includes Executive Director Susan Edwards and three other curators on staff.
“We always like to say that we are ‘always changing ever amazing,’ so you can come one month and if you don’t love what you see, check back with us and there will probably be something completely different, maybe up your alley,” Kite said.
The Frist Center’s current exhibitions include “State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now,” “Vadis Turner: Tempest,” “Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art from the Kaplan and Levi Collection” and “Pattern Recognition: Art and Music Videos in Middle Tennessee.”
In these exhibits, you can find art that captures the essence of rural America, art that represents womanhood and traditional art that can be traced back fifty thousand years. Some of the current exhibits also represent environmental issues and race relations.
“We have no limitations of what we show really,” Kite said. “We attempt to present art from all genres, all time periods and from all cultures.”
In the past, the Frist Center has featured car show exhibits, fashion show exhibits and photography show exhibits. The Frist Center plans to soon feature a World War I and American Art show, so there are constantly alterations to the schedule of events and new exhibits that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and walks of life.
The Frist Center tries to appeal to everyone, especially young adults. They strategically target this audience by allowing college students with a university ID to receive free admission every Thursday and Friday from 5-9 p.m.
On the final Friday of June, July and August, the Frist Center presents live music in the Center’s Turner Courtyard with food specials, a cash bar and a chance to participate in artist-led experiences within the galleries. This allows a younger audience an art education but not in a dry, clean-cut kind of way.
“It can be academic, but it’s more than that,” Kite said. “It’s eye-opening in many ways.”
For more information on the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, click here.
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