Sunday, November 22, 2009

Seeking Sanctuary

The Saturday before Thanksgiving featured a delivery run for “Sanctuary,” another show with the Underground 9 at Tennessee Art League. The show's theme got me thinking about various aspects of ‘sanctuary.’ Beyond the obvious church sanctuary references, I was thinking of things like refuge -- structural (buildings, rooms, forms of shelter); spiritual or mental (moods) and physical (tasks, activities).

My photos for the show are a mix of black and white handprinted and color digital images, a collection of old and new work with a church interior, a lighthouse window, an isolated church in the barren Icelandic landscape, a simple chair and basket, a pair of images from inside the car in the rain, my grandmother’s hands knitting and Boyfriend in the man cave playing his guitar. There are many more images I could have used, including some capturing the peace and solitude of the woods and a bamboo grove forming a cathedral-like space, but there are always space limitations in any show (wallspace) and I have resource limitations like frames, matts and the checking account balance. There are many more images I’d still like to shoot on his theme.

Boyfriend, Junior and I drove into Nashville, and after delivering the photography, we changed our initial plan to visit the 55 acres of tranquility at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum. It was 3:30 by the time we left the art league building after a comical romp through the darkened second and third floors, multiple elevator rides and finally banging on the locked door of the main level gallery for help. The sidewalk sandwich board sign said ‘open’ but for a few minutes we were the only signs of life there. Cheekwood was still a trip across town (and closes at 4:30) and perhaps more importantly, the big people were hungry, so we decided to head to Opry Mills mall for food and a movie.

Opry Mills sits on the site of the former Opryland USA Theme Park, erased from the face of Nashville after the 1997 season to erect a shopping mall with 200 stores and the Regal Opry Mills 20 movie theater and IMAX. Opryland Hotel, the largest non-casino hotel in the world, the Grand Ole Opry House and The General Jackson Showboat are in the immediate vicinity.

Approaching the mall, we could see insanely long lines of traffic snaking along the service road at the perimeter of the complex. Vehicles were backed up in all directions – coming and going on the access roads, jammed in the parking lot aisles, and there were pedestrians everywhere, including an overabundance of the really smart ones who choose to walk in the middle of the roads and parking lots.

It may have been the perfect (hell)storm of activity – the latest Gaylord ”Ice” show opened Friday, the Christmas lights have been installed and lit at the hotel grounds for weeks, the General Jackson Showboat Dinner Theater was between lunch and dinner cruises, stores in the mall are having sales. The line at the movie ticket counter was about a hundred people deep, most probably there for "New Moon," the Twilight movie sequel which was showing on at least a third of the screens.

It turned out the movie we wanted to see, “The Fabulous Mr. Fox” isn’t even playing yet (but tickets go on sale starting Tuesday the 24th). After a 25-minute wait for a table at TGI Friday’s we ate, then shopped, jostling in and out of the massive, ever-present crowds. The best spot in the mall seemed to be the Gibson Showplace – a guitar and banjo workshop and store -- and by 'best' I mean a cluster-free spot of sanctuary from the madness in the mall, where Boyfriend and a few other customers played guitars and one guy was playing a bass. Sweet.

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