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Dobbins opens fall exhibitions in the Leu

Nashville may be nicknamed Music City, but its art scene is just as prominent. With venues like Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and numerous other noted gallery spaces, including the Parthenon replica that lends the city another name, “the Athens of the South,” Nashville is more than a music city. It’s a music and arts mecca.

And for gallery spaces around town, fall means new exhibitions and artists to discover. This semester, Belmont’s Leu Art Gallery in the Lila D. Bunch Library and Gallery 121 in the Leu Center for Visual Art will feature regional artists, whose subjects range from kitchen odds and ends to mountaintop removal in Appalachia.

Leu Art Gallery

Currently in Leu, Tennessee native Hamlett Dobbins’ paintings in “The River Beneath Us” bring splashes of color, symmetry and organic, almost cellular shapes to the space.

His works will be on view until Aug. 29. A closing reception and gallery talk with Jessica Owings, director of Leu Gallery and exhibitions, will take place from 5-7 p.m. that day.

Dobbins works as an instructor at Rhodes College and as the director for the Clough-Hanson Gallery in Memphis.

Though he has spent a lot of his time in Memphis, his work has traveled far. He has shown in New York, Chicago, Amsterdam and Raleigh, N.C.

In his artist statement, Dobbins writes about the influence of stories and movies on his art. From the way Elwood P. Dowd says, “and the evening wore on” in “Harvey” to a late night road trip with an “abrasive friend,” Dobbins uses paint to make sense of it all.

Since 2002, his works have focused on his experiences with “particular people.” Dobbins lists the initials of these individuals in the titles of his works.

“I use painting to focus on an experience and to wrap myself in the moment,” Dobbins writes. “By building the experience I begin to understand what about the moment moved me to paint in the first place.”

While Leu’s larger gallery space showcases art from Dobbins’ solo exhibition, its foyer features Dobbins’ collaboration with another Memphis artist, Tad Lauritzen Wright.

The creative process started in 2008, with the artists sharing and sketching in two notebooks.

“We would exchange the notebooks, working on the riff that the other would lay down,” Dobbins writes.

It’s these notebook sketches that make up the drawings and paintings of “Mellow Mountain Coalition.”

“Instead of getting together and making music together, like jamming, they’re getting together and making art,” Owings said. “You can sort of see some of Hamlett’s work and you can sort of see some of Tad’s work in it, so it’s just this neat marriage between the two.”

Like Dobbins’ solo exhibition, “The River Beneath Us,” “Mellow Mountain Coalition” will be on view in Leu until Aug. 29.

Leu’s next exhibition, “Le Rayon Vert,” featuring art from now Nashville-based artist Mary Addison Hackett, will be on view starting Sept. 9 through Oct. 17.

Her paintings portray commonplace scenes and familial artifacts, all while exploring larger universal themes like memory, according to a Belmont Department of Art press release.

An artist reception will be held Sept. 12, 5-7 p.m., with a gallery talk with Hackett starting at 5:30.

Gallery 121

Just inside the Leu Center for Visual Art and to the left, Gallery 121 currently features juried student artwork from Tennessee high schoolers. And in the LCVA lobby, visitors can see artwork from the students’ art instructors.

These paintings, photography and sculptures make up “Best of the Best Student Art Exhibition and Connections: Tennessee Art Education Association Member Exhibition.”

“The art building is basically taken over for a week in July, so in conjunction with that we turn over the spaces to the TAA,” Owings said.

Every summer for 26 years, Belmont University has hosted the Tennessee Arts Academy, a workshop-based program developed by the Tennessee Department of Education for K-12 art educators.

The artwork in Gallery 121 and in the LCVA lobby will be on view until Aug. 28.

A curated exhibition by Kentucky artist Mary Margaret Sparks will replace it and be on view from Sept. 9 through Sept. 30.

The exhibition,“Project Reclamation,” fuses art and environmental education to spread awareness about mountaintop removal in Appalachia and its effect on the area. It features artwork from 13 artists from Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.

A gallery reception will be held Sept. 25, 5-7 p.m., in Gallery 121, with a gallery talk with Sparks starting at 5:30.

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