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Meet the Artist: Richard Lou

Open Late: Meet the Artist Richard Lou
Thursday, May 17, 6-8pm
Mallory/Wurtzburger Galleries
Dixon Gallery and Gardens

Opening Reception for "IN LAK’ECH ALA K’IN," Tú eres mi otro yo, You are my other self'' (On view May 6-July 15, 2018)

Free admission

With his exhibition “IN LAK’ECH ALA K’IN” Tú eres mi otro yo, You are my other self,' Memphis artist, educator, and activist Richard Lou transforms the Mallory/Wurtzburger Galleries into a work of art that centers on the idea that we as a human species respond best when we work together, create bridges, and seek common purpose. “IN LAK’ECH ALA K’IN,” Tú Eres Mi Otro Yo, You Are My Other Self' is a Mayan concept about community that gives voice to humanity's interdependence. From time to time, we all must be reminded of one of our larger goals: to make community. This exhibition explores that responsibility as well as ways that we may accomplish this important goal together.
Listen Up: Clay Markley
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As a child living in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, Clay Markley drew cartoons. But the characters weren’t Batman, Superman or other superheros.

“They all looked like me,” says Markley, 31.

But not exactly like him. “I always imagined having long hair because mom would never let me have long hair. I guess years later as the cartoon progressed, the characters would emulate the things I would desire. Like tattoos and piercings.”

He also held a guitar in some of the drawings. “A bass, guitar. I also drew my own custom pro models.”

As the years went by, Markley let his hair grow. He got tattoos and piercings. And he got a guitar in his hands. But life wasn’t smooth sailing.

“I know a lot of people say this with pride: ‘I’ve seen a lot of things. A lot of things have happened to me.’ I really have undergone a lot. I don’t say that from a point of pride. I don’t say that proudly.”

Markley’s hair was still short and he didn’t have any piercings or tattoos when he picked up the bass for the first time when he was in the fifth grade. His friend’s dad taught him to play so he couple play bass in a band with his sons who played guitar and drums. “He taught me my first bass line to a song. It was actually a Christian song he taught me. One he made up. And we performed it at the fifth grade talent show and we won. ‘What’s the Good News.’”

Markley still didn’t consider himself a musician. “I didn’t think I’d ever be cool enough to be a musician. I thought it involved people in big cities that were born into it, or, mysteriously, on the radio.”

Then Markley, who was overweight in elementary school, lost weight the summer before he entered middle school. “No one knew who I was. They’re like, ‘Who are you?’ I said, ‘I’m Clay.’ They’re like, ‘No way. You’re not Clay.’ It was really a culture shock for me. And then something that never happened to me before: the girls were actually interested in me.”

They started calling him. “I’m freaking out. For me, I’m just that fat kid that likes to draw cartoons. That probably doesn’t shower enough.”

In seventh grade, he became the new Clay Markley. “All of sudden different kids that never talked to me wanted to be my friends.”

Markley, who adopted “one of those late ‘90s beach blonde haircuts,” dated the sister of the most popular girl in school and began hanging out with their friends. “I became totally different. I started going shopping with them. Going to the mall. Started wearing Abercrombie. And changed completely.”

That didn’t last long. “I watched this movie and I think it changed me because I was so impressionable. I’ve always been impressionable. It was called ‘SLC Punk’ and it was about these punks that lived in Salt Lake City, the Mormon capital, and they’re just creating anarchy everywhere they go. I loved it. For some reason, the music was like nothing I’d ever heard. And their attitude towards everything was so different from anything I’d comprehended. Instead of conforming to the system, it was identifying the system and basically revolting against it.

“I pierced my lip in the eighth grade and I got suspended for it. Just started acting up. I was in school suspensions for dropping the F bomb.”

He dressed differently. “One day I wore oven mittens to school. I would take whatever color of Kool-Aid I could find and dye my hair that color for that day.”

He also put Krazy Glue in his hair. “Then I talked my mom into letting me grow my hair out. She’s like, ‘As long as you don’t put glue in it.’”

Markley was more into skateboarding than into music. “I was like, ‘This is anarchy on four wheels.’”

He began smoking pot. “I liked it. It gave me a break from myself and my mind.”

Markley continued to play bass, but his music interest piqued when he began playing keyboards. His mother, who was taking keyboard lessons, “had the keyboard hooked up to this Mac with a midi cable. And with GarageBand I figured out I was able to play not only sounds on the keyboard that go through the computer, but I could actually create sounds. I started getting into sound production.”

He thought he was “just creating weird sounds,” but, he says, “I was actually composing songs.”

Markley was making music, but he also was continuing to get in trouble. He and some friends got caught breaking into a house. “At that age of 16, I got on probation, broke my probation, was spending every weekend of my summer in juvenile hall.”

He had been drinking and doing drugs for years. “It wasn’t severe at that time, but, of course, it escalated.”

Markley was kicked out of school. “Pot and drinking. Parties. All that stuff. Everything they don’t want you to do, I did.”

He “got into this meathead phase” so he could try to stop smoking pot. He “got all hostile and started getting into boxing and fighting. Started hanging out with the tough guys in school.”

Markley moved to California for eight months. “I’m in California at 17. This is amazing. Everyone has pot. This is awesome. I was listening to music. I can be a little of everything here. I can be a skater. I can be punk. I can be a hippie.”

He got back into music big time when he was 18. Markley, who had moved back to Wisconsin, and some guys played in a jam band, Crunch Factory. “That was our coined term. And we thought we were very cool saying it, ‘Hey, man. It’s crunchy crunchy jam.’ Everyone would say, ‘That dude’s heady.’ But the thing about being heady, if you’re truly heady, you don’t say you’re heady.”

He and the band members got an apartment together in Waukesha, Wisconsin. “It was the birthplace of Les Paul. There’s a really cool little music scene there. About two months later we got evicted. Band broke up. Someone got stuck with the lease.”

Markley moved in with a friend, who had just gotten a five-bedroom farmhouse and barn “in the middle of nowhere” in Watertown, and formed “Tiramisu,” a jam band. We played shows in our barn. The barn had a full bar. It had a stage. It had a basketball court. It was the best place to party in the world.”

His drinking kicked in. “I remember every day after work i’d stop and get a fifth of whisky and a 12 pack. Old Thompson and Miller LIght. PBR if they weren’t sold out.”

Things got out of hand. “It was getting to the point where a week would go by and I’d be like, ‘What the hell happened?’ I’ll never forget that feeling I had of just, ‘This is not the way to live.’”

The band broke up. “I ended up calling my parents and saying, ‘Hey, mom and dad. I have a problem.’”

Markley moved back home and stopped drinking. He cut his hair and began exercising. “That was a big deal for me to cut my hair.

“I thought for the first time, ‘Do I actually like music?’ It was a hard question to seriously ask myself. Because drinking became associated with music. And music became associated with drinking. And they went hand in hand. I relied on it. I relied on music for all my creative juices, influences, how I played on stage. I relied on it for everything in music.”

He then began “identifying with the acoustic guitar” a lot more. “I felt like I was able to say a little more. I was able to sing with it. That’s when I believe I started getting into songwriting. And that was a huge moment for me. To be like, ‘I do love music.’”

“Crazy Young Lady’ was his first original song. “It’s about an ex-girlfriend that I had on the farm. And she broke my heart.”

He also realized he could sing. “I never thought I could sing. I know I’m not an amazing singer, but I can sing enough to get my point across.”

Markley was 22 when he said, “I’m a songwriter. That’s what I am.”

His songs were “about a girl. Every time. About getting sober. Real heavy stuff.”

Markley became “spiritual” after he was fired from one of his many factory jobs. “I was just getting into Christianity and I went to a Christian music festival with one of my friends in sobriety. It was called Life Fest.”

Noticing a booth for Visible Music College in Memphis, Markley grabbed one of the school’s brochures and stuck it on his bulletin board at home. “I spent a year working at those factories and looking at that brochure on my bulletin board. Every night when I was falling asleep I would look at it and I would envision myself on a stage.”

Markley got fired from his factory job after falling asleep working third shift. “I’m like, ‘That’s it.’”

He and a buddy hit the road for Memphis and Visible Music College. In Memphis, Markley immediately “noticed the weather. How people talked. How people were a little friendlier. I could tell there was a spirit here. I could tell there was an atmosphere here. That there was something electric and alive.”

Markley loved Visible Music College. “I couldn’t believe I was going to school for music. That was the coolest thing. I felt so cool. I felt so good. From being a kid who never thought he could be a musician, to be in a music college that I had auditioned to get into. I was very surprised.”

He played bass and wrote songs. “I started messing around with some electronic stuff, too.”

Markley then decided to again change up things. “I was going to switch schools and go to this music college in Germany by a man named David Pierce. He does radical missionary ministries. Just going into some of the darkest places in the world and doing this Christian music. In places that you can be killed for doing it. I loved his passion. Because it resonated with that whole passion: ‘No, I’m not going be normal. No, I’m going to pave my own path.’ I just loved that. It spoke to the whole hippie thing, the punk thing, all of that.”

Markley was accepted to the school, but he didn’t have enough money to go. He ended up taking a trip to Alaska and getting a job with a buddy at a Bible camp in Alpine, Alaska. They played for worship services each day. “I know Christian music gets pigeon-holed, but we made it fun. I remember we were doing this song called ‘Blessed be the Name’ and we were doing 190 beats per minute making it punk rock for the kids. They loved it.”

He enjoyed working with kids. “I love to be goofy and joke around, so being around kids, I feel like the filter comes off of me and I get to be really silly.”

Markley returned to Visible College that Fall. “I was in songwriting for a year. I loved it. I got my first standing ovation ever. I’ll never forget it. It was one of the best moments of my life. I was playing this original song I wrote for the school. My first performance as a songwriter. It was called, ‘What I’ve Been Given.’ Just a three-chord song. It was a rock song. Gut busting. For some reason it worked.”

That same year one of Markley’s good friends died. “Lost him. And it really hit me hard. I was class president at the time. Everything in the world was going for me. I got Dean’s list, all this great stuff. And then he passed away. I started to lose my faith. One day a drink came my way after five years of not drinking. And I took that drink. After that it was a matter of time before I completely self imploded and was off my rocker.”

He quit school and signed with an independent label. He also got a job at a bar. “My drinking and drugs, they went with me. I would do cocaine so I could drink more. I know that sounds really weird, but I would take cocaine and Adderall at the same time, just so I could drink all night.”

Finally, he says, “I hit a bottom. I was thinking about ending it. I started to get to a really dark place.”

There were “just a lot of dead ends in my life. I was just going to drink and drink and drink and, hopefully, my idea was, ‘Maybe, I’ll just do something really stupid while I’m drinking. Just not thinking clear at all. Maybe I’ll drive my car off the road or something.’”

Markley again had to look at himself. “I had to make a decision again. I’m either going to keep doing this and die or I’m going to change my life again.”

He decided to stop drinking. “I started hanging out in a recovering community. I started getting involved with other people who were sober and met such amazing people. I believe they saved me.”

Markley was back in Wisconsin when he got a call from Sarah Simmons, who had gone to Visible. She said they needed a bass player to tour with her band, the Sarah Simmons Band. Markley left for Nashville the next day. “I made a conscious decision to start pushing myself.”

That was three years ago. Markley, who still plays with the Sarah Simmons Band, is a substitute teacher at School Rock.

A “totem pole of joy” is one of Markley’s many tattoos. “I believe my gift is joy. The spiritual gift of joy. Being able to joke or bring humor in dark situations somehow. Sometimes, it’s really uncomfortable. And it’s painful sometimes. But joy is not happiness. Joy is a state of mind. And it takes trials and tribulations to hold that joy. And it takes strength."


Clay Markley will perform at 8 p.m. May 13 at Canvas at 1737 Madison. No cover charge.


Presence Residency Exhibition

The Collective Presents: Presence Residency Exhibition
Saturday, May 12, 5-7pm
Orange Mound Gallery
2232 Lamar Avenue

Join us for the Opening Reception of Presence Residency Exhibition: The existentialism of the Black identity within America across race, gender, sexuality. 

The exhibition will feature work from the CLTV's resident artists, including Rahn Marion, Catherine Elizabeth, Quinn, Bria Brown with featured works from Rudy King and Kenneth Alexander. 

Performances by Jasmine Settles, Tonious Smith, De-Mi Ellington, and Ashley Bend

All of the contributors to Presence will express their unique experiences through visual art, written word and film. These works demonstrate Presence. Presence is the embodiment of our journey to self-acceptance and strength and a demonstration of the continued perseverance of the Black community.
Beale Street Caravan Produces “I Listen to Memphis” Video Series
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Kevin Cubbins, executive director of Beale Street Caravan, says it was time for the long-running radio show to change directions.

"About three years ago, we redefined our mission. We turned everything on its ear. We were NPR's blues radio program. I felt we would be better served, and be better aligned with our funder's mission, if we focused more on the city of Memphis.

Cubbins says the thinking was that the change would "keep our messaging simpler and more effective and allow us to expand the genres we aired. Instead of just blues, that meant soul, gospel, hip-hop, and rock-and-roll. A lot of people thought we were nuts to do that, but in a 12-month span we went from 230 stations in the U.S. to 404. I think the message is so much cleaner and easier to get into. 'I Listen to Memphis' is just another step. The mission of Beale Street Caravan is sharing the music and culture of Memphis with the world."

The response has been overwhelming. "People absolutely love the music from this town," Cubbins says. "Sometimes I wish all the local artists could see all the feedback and responses that we get, so it would change our opinions of ourselves. What we have here is so vibrant, so authentic, and so original. There's just nothing like it anywhere else in the world."

NPR's audience has grown significantly in recent years, as the organization has embraced the digital world by adding video components to its programming. Cubbins says "I Listen to Memphis" is Beale Street Caravan's entry into new media. The web series films Memphis music artists playing live in front of their hometown crowds.

Christian Walker, who plays with Memphis punk legends Pezz, was tapped to direct. In a gruelingly short schedule, Walker and his crew filmed 10 acts in 10 Mid-South music venues. "Some places have historical significance, some places only have significance to Memphians," says Cubbins. "Our international audience is going to hear about Wild Bill's for the first time."

Midtown punks HEELS played in front of what's left of the Buccaneer, the underground music club that burned last year. Motel Mirrors filmed at the Galloway House on Cooper, where Johnny Cash played his first gig. "That sanctuary sounds incredible," Walker says. "That could be Memphis' Ryman." Rev. John Wilkins recorded the classic "May the Circle Be Unbroken" with his daughters in his Como, Mississippi, church. "His dad was making blues records here in the 1930s," Walker says.

Marcella Simien's performance was captured at the P&H Cafe. "We called Spooner Oldham from Fame Studios in Florence. He played on so much amazing stuff, and wrote or co-wrote so much of it. So we did two videos for her: 'I'm Your Puppet', which he wrote, and 'I'd Rather Go Blind.' Marcella does that song anyway, and Spooner played on the original Etta James version. I think if we do this again, we want to do a lot of more of those mash-ups."

Cubbins says adding video to the Beale Street Caravan formula was a steep learning curve for the combined crews. "I met some of the smartest people I have ever met in my life. I didn't know the depths of talent we have in the Memphis film scene."

"I Listen to Memphis" premieres this week, with Cedric Burnside playing in Royal Studios. The 10 videos will be released weekly throughout the summer. Cubbins says he hopes the series not only reaches music fans around the world, but also helps Memphis discover its own rich music scene. "Get off your couch and go see a band," he says. "If you don't do that, you're missing out on the coolest part of our culture. It's like living in Florida, and never going to the beach."

Question the Answer/Paper & Clay: One Year Anniversary Party

Question the Answer/Paper & Clay One Year Anniversary Party
Saturday, May 12, 2-7pm
486 North Hollywood

Can you believe it’s already been a year? Join Brit & Lauren for a party celebrating ONE YEAR in the Broad Ave Arts District! We will have refreshments, music, new work for sale and a ton of gratitude for each of you who have stopped by in the last year to support us and cheer us on. Thank you! Now let’s party!
Me Too Exhibition

Me Too Exhibition
Reception Friday, June 1, 6-9pm
Work on view May 23 - June 1
Marshall Arts
639 Marshall Avenue

Me Too Exhibition will display sculpture, painting, prints, interactive art, crafts, and much more of local artists bringing awareness to the ideals of the Me Too Movement and the issues faced daily with sexual violence and rape culture. There will be fine art and crafts on display and for sale with 15% of the proceeds going towards RAINN (Rape and Incest National Network)- a dedicated organization that has many programs in place to prevent sexual assault, assist survivors, and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Gallery Opens May 23rd- (viewing hours coming soon!)

Closing Reception is June 1st from 6PM -9 PM

Participating Artists:

Elizabeth Bateman
Kristen Rambo
Zoe Allred
Melissa Farris
Wilson Minshall
Maddy Corron
Funlola Coker
Tawny Skye
Jonah Westbrook
Desmond Lewis
Baleigh Kuhar
Leandra Urrutia
Darcie Beeman-Black
Nikkila Carroll
Denise Wakeman
Lauren Blair
Haley Bagwell
Luca Jiron
Christopher Dickson
Peyton LaBauve
Ethel Floon
Abbie Lakey
Katie Maish

Distilled: The Narrative Transformed

Crosstown Arts is pleased to present Distilled: The Narrative Transformed, a retrospective from artist Pinkney Herbert,from May 26 through July 4. The opening reception is scheduled for Saturday, May 26 from 6-9 pm at Crosstown Arts in Crosstown Concourse, and Herbert will present an artist talk on Wednesday, June 13 at 6 pm.

This exhibition features 30 years of work by Herbert, tracking his transition from narrative beginnings through the development of a personal abstract vocabulary that both thrills and seduces the viewer.

Herbert’s work will be on display in Crosstown Arts’ East and West Galleries in their new space at Crosstown Concourse (1350 Concourse Ave., Suite 280).

Since 2008, Herbert has divided his time between Memphis and New York, which has inspired what he describes as “a sense of exploration and a certain amount of nervous energy in my paintings and drawings.”

“My intent is to allow for the funky, raw history of Memphis to collide with the frenetic energy of New York City. This dichotomy fires my intuitive impulses, allowing them to surface and meet head​-on in an ever-changing conflict​ between the emotional and the cerebral,” Herbert says.

A Charlotte, North Carolina, native, Herbert moved to Memphis for college, receiving his BA from Rhodes College and his MFA from the University of Memphis. Herbert’s work has been displayed in numerous national and international collections and in the permanent collections of the New Orleans Museum of Art, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, and the Arkansas Arts Center, among others.

Herbert is the president of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts-France (a residency program in Auvillar, France) and has served on that board since 2009. He is also the founding director of Marshall Arts, an alternative gallery, performance, and studio space he established in Memphis in 1992.

He has taught painting and drawing at Rhodes College, the University of Memphis, and the Memphis College of Art locally, as well as the University of Georgia Study Abroad Program in Cortona, Italy, and also at the Penland School of Crafts, the Arrowmont School, the Telluride School of Painting.

In addition to Herbert’s Distilled exhibition at Crosstown Arts, he’ll also present Arcadia, a new body of work focused on the energetic velocity of New York City, at David Lusk Gallery (97 Tillman) in an opening reception on Friday, May 25 from 6-8 pm. Herbert will present an artist talk for that exhibition at David Lusk on Saturday, June 2 at 11 am.

Crosstown Arts is a contemporary arts organization dedicated to further cultivating the creative community in Memphis. We provide resources and create opportunities and experiences to inspire, support, and connect a diverse range of creative people, projects, and audiences.


The 39th Annual Blues Music Awards: Winners Both Global & Local
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Everyone was dressed to the nines last night as the 39th Annual Blues Music Awards paid honors to the world's greatest blues artists. It's a tradition that would doubtless make W.C. Handy smile, just steps away from where he brought global recognition to the music. Now just over a century after he published “Memphis Blues,” the genre is thriving and always evolving.

Master of Ceremonies Steven Van Zandt acknowledged that the power of the blues goes beyond aesthetics. “At a time when our country is more segregated than at any time in the past hundred years, music holds us together and touches all our souls,” he reflected from the podium. Award presenters included Van Zandt, Tony Joe White, Joe Louis Walker, Janiva Magness, Ruthie Foster, Candi Staton, and David Porter. The latter two, presenting together, offered some amusing banter, seemingly making plans to collaborate while onstage.

 
Among the award winners' acceptance speeches, the most moving appearance was by Rev. Charles Hodges and Archie Turner, accepting the award for Best Soul Blues Album, Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm (as David Porter quipped, “Robert must be off somewhere making money”), and reminding us of all that Willie Mitchell and crew have accomplished over the decades. While Memphis native Vaneese Thomas (daughter of Rufus, sister of Carla) lost out to Mavis Staples as Best Soul Blues Female Artist, newcomers and local heroes Southern Avenue snagged Best Emerging Artist Album. Grammy winners Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’ won Best Contemporary Blues Album with their TajMo
Performances were inspired all around. The North Mississippi Allstars lit up the room with their dynamic set, and one could feel the emotions of the room rise as they sang their funky “Prayer for Peace.” At one point, Cody Dickinson played drums and keyboard riffs simultaneously; later, he moved to a synth- or pedal-treated washboard for a psychedelic down-home front-porch finale.

Another galvanizing performance was turned in by Harrison Kennedy, whose a cappella opening number brought the room to a hush, as he kept time on a shaker and moaned out his soul, moving many to give him a standing ovation.

Blues Foundation President and CEO Barbara Newman noted, “We are watching the trends closely, and the blues, as a genre, is definitely on an uptick, with younger musicians being drawn to create and play this style of music and a continually growing following of the music on our social media outlets and beyond.”


Blues Music Award winners
1. Acoustic Album: Break the Chain – Doug MacLeod
2. Acoustic Artist: Taj Mahal
3. Album: TajMo – Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’
4. B.B. King Entertainer: Taj Mahal
5. Band: Rick Estrin & the Nightcats
6. Best Emerging Artist Album: Southern Avenue – Southern Avenue
7. Contemporary Blues Album: TajMo – Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’
8. Contemporary Blues Female Artist: Samantha Fish
9. Contemporary Blues Male Artist: Keb’ Mo'
10. Historical: A Legend Never Dies, Essential Recordings 1976-1997 – Luther Allison (Ruf Recordings)
11. Instrumentalist-Vocalist: Beth Hart
12. Instrumentalist-Bass: Michael “Mudcat” Ward
13. Instrumentalist-Drums: Tony Braunagel
14. Instrumentalist-Guitar: Ronnie Earl
15. Instrumentalist-Harmonica: Jason Ricci
16. Instrumentalist-Horn: Trombone Shorty
17. Pinetop Perkins Piano Player (Instrumentalist – Piano): Victor Wainwright
18. Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female): Ruthie Foster
19. Rock Blues Album: We’re All In This Together – Walter Trout
20. Rock Blues Artist: Mike Zito
21. Song: “The Blues Ain’t Going Nowhere” written by Rick Estrin and performed by Rick Estrin
22. Soul Blues Album: Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm - Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm
23. Soul Blues Female Artist: Mavis Staples
24. Soul Blues Male Artist: Curtis Salgado
25. Traditional Blues Album: Right Place, Right Time – Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter
26. Traditional Blues Male Artist: Rick Estrin
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