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Parks and Recreation

Parthenon Exhibitions

East Gallery

  • Flood Lines
  • by Tasha Lewis
  • January 24-May 10 2020

Flood Lines by Tasha Lewis

The Parthenon and Centennial Park Conservancy are proud to present Flood Lines by Tasha Lewis in the East Gallery of the Parthenon from Friday, January 24 through Sunday, May 10, 2020.

A student of art and literature, sculptor Tasha Lewis borrows from ancient artifacts to evoke contemporary narratives about women. In Flood Lines she updates classical forms such as vessels and figures featuring hand embroidered beads, wire, and hand dyed fabric. Over 35 sculptures of exquisite craftsmanship are carefully arranged within the gallery to create an immersive space that is both formal and organic. Here life-sized human heads, legs, and torsos wend their way among Alabastron and Lekythos vessels to create what Lewis calls a “minimalist bath house.”

“I am fascinated by visual languages established through material techniques,” says Flood Lines’ artist, Tasha Lewis. “Like Joyce in his novel Ulysses, I reference Greek art history not as a narrative template, but as a tool reflecting aspects of contemporary society. For example, we continue to live in a patriarchal system that historically imposed limitations upon women. This condition is expressed in my work through suggestions of the corrosive effects of time and tide on ancient forms - the flood lines of water and weather mark time, celebrate history, and acknowledge the toll of it all.”Flood Lines coincides with the 100th anniversary of the 19th US Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote. As Tennessee suffragists were instrumental to the ratification of this law, Lewis sees Flood Lines as an homage to these women.

West Gallery

  • Both Sides Now
  • Plein Air Paintings by Kymberlee Stanley and Ellen Parker Bibb
  • October 12, 2019-January 26, 2020

both Sides now

Both Sides Now features the art of Kymberlee Stanley and Ellen Parker Bibb, and explores the immediate creative process that is central to their work. Literally translated as “open air,” the French term “plein air” refers to a style of outdoor painting with roots in the Impressionist movement of the nineteenth century. As experienced artists and members of Nashville’s Chestnut Group​ alliance, Stanley and Parker Bibb engage in the plein air style, making spontaneous, paint-what-you-see art, all done in the great outdoors. 

A free public reception will be held on ​Thursday, October 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. ​in the West Gallery at the Parthenon​. ​Light hors d'oeuvre, beer, and wine will be served. This gallery opening is free to the public, but reservations are recommended. Please make your reservation at ​​

The Cowan Collection of American Art

Gifford Catskills

In 1897, James M. Cowan from Aurora, Illinois, visited the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. He visited as the director of a group of girls who made up the Armour Drill Corps of Chicago. Cowan already had ties to Tennessee. At the age of thirteen, he had moved with his family to Tullahoma, Tennessee, and remained there until he was in his twenties, when he moved to Cincinnati. He subsequently made his wealth in insurance, but his true passion was collecting art. As he neared the end of his life, Cowan had about seven hundred pieces in his collection. Aware that Nashville's Parthenon was being reconstructed as a permanent structure, he decided to donate anonymously a portion of his collection to be housed there. Between 1927 and 1929, the works were shipped to Nashville, to be moved into the Parthenon upon completion of the reconstruction.

In fact, he purchased many pieces specifically with this destination in mind, eventually giving sixty-three pieces to Nashville. These works, all oils on canvas, dating 1765-1923, are housed permanently in the Parthenon and bear the name of its generous donor—the Cowan Collection.

A distinguishing characteristic of this collection is that all of the work was done by American artists. Fifty-seven artists are represented in the collection, most of which dates late 19th and early 20th centuries. Almost all of the artists represented were also members of the National Academy of Design, a prestigious artists' league of the time. Within the collection, many connections occur among the artists as among their paintings.

A common theme found in most of the paintings is Impressionism. Impressionism was a school of painting introduced by the French in the first Impressionism Exhibition held in Paris in 1874. It was an attempt using pure color to imitate light. Many of the artists in this collection studied in Paris during their careers. Within the collection can be found many secondary artist alliances including the Hudson River School, the Luminists, the Symbolists, Barbizon School influences, and Nabis influences.

The primary concentration in the collection is fifty-one landscapes, including many plein air paintings (done on location) and four seascapes which emphasize an undulating ocean and coast, a difficult and unusual subject matter. There are eight portraits in the collection, in all of which the subject of the portrait is anonymous. Generally, there is one work by each artist in the collection. Therefore, in looking you can learn something of the man who formed this collection by his choices. These reflect a man who was taken with the landscape in its more unrefined form and had a diverse and unusual interest in figure paintings.