It was Friday at noon. Instead of taking just a lunch I was getting a half a day off from work. One of the perks of an office job, until I can do my art full time. For the past two years I've done the same thing with my get out of work free card, I've taken a sketch book and a pencil and gone to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts to see the current exhibit and renew my membership.
It didn't start out as a tradition. I just realized year after year I ended up at the Frist. Even before I worked at this job with a 1/2 day off work thing, I would go downtown for a day of day drinking and museum wandering.
Thinking back, it makes sense. I'm starting a new year out experiencing something new, being inspired by great artists, and looking forward towards my own dreams. It's a time where I can turn off my phone and really see something extraordinary, and think about the possibilities of being another year older.
I've been to quite a few art museums all over the country. But the Frist is one of my favorites, because the whole structure of it is so different.
It completely changes every exhibit every 6-8 weeks. I've seen so much classic art like ancient Egyptian relics or sketches by Michelangelo. But the Frist also does an amazing job of showing contemporary artists. Artists who are alive now, and making really interesting things.
The museum also has that art deco architecture that makes me want to put on a flapper dress and walk around saying "yaaa seee" in my best 1920s gangster voice. Which is reason enough to visit.
After I purchased my membership and got some discounted parking I went right through the main glass doors to see the first exhibit. There were very cool, very expensive, shiny cars in the Bellisima! The Italian Automotive Renaissance, 1945-1975. Honestly, I'm not a big car enthusiast. Actually I know absolutely nothing about cars except how to change a tire and a battery, out of necessity. Other than that I'm pretty much clueless. But after I spent 30 minutes sketching a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO...
I realized these weren't just cars I was looking at. I was looking at a time of innovation and design. A time of experimentation to make the most beautiful, unusual, and startling cars.
Basically, there were some weird ass looking cars. Some of them were super hard to draw. Like this impossible car that my brain could not understand. Drawings like this always make me think of the first day in a drawing class I took in college. The teacher stood at the front of the room and said something like:
I get what she was saying and it always stuck with me. Because that car drawing is hilarious. Hilariously terrible. After a few discouraging attempts I gave up, for now, and went on to the next exhibits.
The next exhibit was the Women, Art, & Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise. This was probably the least exciting exhibit for me this visit. While the pottery was beautiful, I was actually more interested in the story of the women working there, which I think is the point of this exhibit. Along the walls, next to cases of pottery, were pictures of these Southern women who had been given a chance to work and become financially independent.
It took walking through the entire thing to realize how lucky I am to live in a society that does promote art. Where I can create things I want to create and show it to the world. Feeling humbled and inspired I went to the next exhibit, which would be my favorite part of my visit. I would be introduced to one of my new favorite artists, Inka Essenhigh.
Inka Essenhigh, Between Worlds is exactly what I was needing to see. The first couple of small drawings stopped me immediately. I felt drawn (haha get it) to them. But then, I walked in front of Spring Bar Scene and legitimately laughed out loud, in a museum, which made people stare at me.
This painting hit me at a deep, core level, which is what good art is supposed to do, right? This was how I felt for a good 6 years of my life while I was waiting tables. I instantly started crushing on Essenhigh's artwork, hard. And this feeling would only get stronger as I walked through the exhibit.
Birthdays are all about celebrating yourself, so why not take time doing something you love every year. For me, that is going to an art museum for a couple of hours by myself. After that I'm ready for family and friends, drinks, and of course, cake.
Happy Birthday to everyone this year, and if you have a special birthday tradition please tell us in the comments below. I know I would love to hear about it.
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I'm Jackie, an artist, illustrator, and friend to ghosts, monsters, and aliens. This blog is full of DIY projects, stories, and things I think are cool. Stay weird.