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Elevate – Nashville

About the Exhibition

Elevate at 21c presents temporary exhibitions of works by artists living and working in the communities surrounding each 21c Museum Hotel property. Elevate provides hotel guests with unique access to the work of notable regional artists, while featuring their work in the context of 21c’s contemporary art space. To view these works, please stop by the front desk to arrange access to the vitrines on guest room floors.

On view from December 2017– June 2018, Elevate at 21c Nashville presents the work of Barry Buxkamper and Marilyn Murphy.

Marilyn Murphy (American)

The Trade, 2014, Graphite on Stonehenge paper

Cloud Nine, 2017, Graphite on Stonehenge paper

The Plumper, 2011, Graphite on Stonehenge paper

Marilyn Murphy’s graphite drawings typically include one or two figures involved in an improbable action or working at some unusual task.  Often, the objects in Murphy’s drawings are not the same scale as the humans, creating a dreamlike atmosphere.  In The Trade, the two female subjects seem to be in the middle of negotiations, working out the details of an exchange of an oversized pearl for a dessert. The exact details of the subject’s actions remain vague, inviting the viewer to imagine their own narrative.  According to curator and art critic Peter Frank, “If this is dreaming, it is lucid dreaming, a knowing exploitation of the dream state by Murphy to provide her and us, with images and sensations of improbable freedom and thrilling or hilarious juxtaposition.”

Influenced by magazines from the 1940s and 1950s and their picture perfect scenes of domestic life, the female subjects in Murphy’s Cloud Nine and The Plumper, have found (or are in the process of creating) their own transcendent atmosphere of comfort, relaxation, and happiness. A “cloud-like” bed, as well as perfectly fluffed, “plump” pillows, can be the difference between a good night’s sleep, and a night of unrest. Murphy, who grew up on the Great Plains in Tulsa, Oklahoma, often includes the action of the wind, clouds, and strong sunlight in her work.  The intense light and shadows create a sense of mystery.  Murphy obscures the identity of these women to direct the focus of the viewer towards the activity they are performing. She notes, “the identity of the characters in my pieces are always less important than their actions.”

Marilyn Murphy came to Nashville as a professor of art at Vanderbilt University in 1980. Her work has been shown in over 390 exhibitions nationally and abroad.

Barry Buxkamper (American)

Man with Plane and Running Dog, 2017, Acrylic on unstretched canvas

Missing Dog, 2017, Acrylic on unstretched canvas

In Man with Plane and Running Dog, artist Barry Buxkamper uses a portrait of himself asleep on a bed as the focal point of this dreamlike scene, where the angles, depth, and forced perspective of the small space make his surroundings seem out of scale, unconventional, and unexpected. He holds a model plane in his hand while a dog walks across the ceiling. Buxkamper’s unique style of cutting the edges of his unstretched canvas—often as an element of the landscape—creates a three-dimensional quality within his two-dimensional work. In his painting, Missing Dog, the artist combines elements of highly detailed, traditional still life painting with multiple, unconventional, and often-illogical scenes to create an unnerving landscape. Clouds and sky seem to blend into water. A pack of dogs runs from one scene into another, disappearing into what is painted to look like a black, plastic-like material. Is the chair a reflection in a mirror or a view through a window? The interior scene outlined by an ornately painted frame within a canvas delineates one scene from the other but does little to clarify the scene.

Barry Buxkamper is Professor Emeritus of Middle Tennessee State University, having taught 23 years in the Department of Art.  His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and has been featured in notable exhibitions including the Whitney Biennial.


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