VISUAL ART & MUSEUMS
Art Exhibit, Gallery Talks, Artists’ Demonstrations: McBride, Threalkill & Wagner
June 1-July 25, 2012
Three local artists – painters Michael J. McBride and James R. Threalkill and sculptor Joshua D. Wagner – will exhibit their works in Metro Parks’ Centennial Art Center’s gallery, June 1st through July 25th. An opening reception will be held in their honor on Friday, June 1st, between the hours of 5:00pm and 7:00pm. In July, each artist...
Three local artists – painters Michael J. McBride and James R. Threalkill and sculptor Joshua D. Wagner – will exhibit their works in Metro Parks’ Centennial Art Center’s gallery, June 1st through July 25th. An opening reception will be held in their honor on Friday, June 1st, between the hours of 5:00pm and 7:00pm. In July, each artist will present Gallery Talks and artists’ demonstrations. Michael McBride’s will be held on Tuesday, July 10th, 5:30pm-7:30pm, Joshua D. Wagner’s on Tuesday, July 17th, 5:30pm-7:30pm and James Threalkill’s on Tuesday, July 24th, 5:30pm-7:30pm.
A native Tennessean, painter Michael J. McBride is a long-time, prominent figure in Nashville’s visual arts scene. When asked about his upcoming Art Center exhibition, he says, “This body of work – that employs the style that I coined “Kaleidoscope Painting” – started over twenty years ago during graduate school. I tried to combine the idea of African art, of design and decoration with the Eurocentric idea of color, creating a look that makes you take a ‘museum stare’ at the art. Being able to share my work with viewers is always a pleasure and even more so at Centennial Art Center. That makes it very special. The Art Center has a great history as being a place for the community to engage in artistic expression. I feel honored to have been chosen to show with two very talented artists, James and Josh. I look forward to seeing everyone at the opening. Come and support the Art Center!”
After earning his undergraduate degree in art from Tennessee State University, Michael McBride received a Masters Degree in Painting from Illinois State University, and credits Illinois State’s Dr. Harold Gregor with providing a “world class artistic mentorship.” McBride has been an art instructor and Faculty Advisor at Tennessee State University for many years (and has served as an adjunct teacher at Watkins College of Art and Design and Film school). His commitment to the positive, continuing evolution of Nashville – as a place where art matters – is apparent in his close involvement with local arts organizations. He has been the central, leading artist for many community-based and public art projects in Nashville and served as curator of the Hiram V. Gordon Gallery at Tennessee State University (1995 – 2000). Currently, McBride is serving on the Frist Center for the Visual Arts Board of Trustees, the Arts in the Airport Board and the Family and Children Services Board of Trustees. He is a member of the Tennessee Art League, Nashville Artist Guild and South Arts - Southern Artists Registry.
A man of many noteworthy accomplishments, Michael McBride’s art was featured in “Visions of My People – Sixty Years of African American art in Tennessee,” an exhibit organized by the Tennessee State Museum. One of his pieces from that exhibit was purchased for the museum’s permanent collection. Among his many honors, is being chosen as one of twelve Nashville artists by The Tennessean newspaper for the “Millennium 2000 Collection” and being included in the “Side by Side” sister cities exhibition (Nashville and Belfast, Northern Ireland) that featured seventeen artists from Nashville and seventeen from Ireland. For ten weeks during the summer of 2005, he was an artist-in-residence in Bermuda’s prestigious “MasterWorks” program at the Museum of Bermuda Art. A current body of work of McBride’s – featuring African American jockeys and trainers – is part of a traveling exhibition titled “Too Black Too Fast.” McBride’s paintings are included in numerous private and corporate collections in the United States and abroad, and have been featured in television programs such as “Living Single,” “The Wayans Bros. Show” and "The Jamie Foxx Show.” McBride has also enjoyed success as an illustrator of book covers and children's books by various publishing groups.
Painter James R. Threalkill has remained a perennial, significant person in Nashville’s art community for over three decades. A native of Nashville, when he was thirteen years old, his mother purchased an oil painting set for him. He shares that she “…was the biggest supporter of my development as an artist.” Of his upcoming Art Center exhibition, Threalkill says, "Exhibiting at Centennial Art Center is like an exciting homecoming for me, as it represents the place where I was first hired as an artist over thirty years ago! I look forward to returning to such a cherished and creative part of my artistic development." In his Artist’s Statement, he states, “My blessing of art talent is enhanced by the sheer enjoyment I receive from the creative process and the emotional responses that it generates from the viewer. I am grateful to be able to share such a gift with those who appreciate the aesthetic qualities that art brings to our everyday lives.” Much of Threalkill’s artwork – painted in the expressive realism style – conveys an enthusiasm for the vibrancy of movement, color and the sheer beauty of life. Via his paintings, he says he “…strives to capture the essence of individuals and their various lifestyles.” His paintings of musicians – caught up in the spontaneity of playing jazz – are good examples of his talent for doing just that. He says that his textured abstract paintings – a newer direction for Threalkill – offer him a freedom that he “balances” with his other works.
After graduating from East Nashville High School, James Threalkill was offered an athletic scholarship to play football at Vanderbilt University by legendary football coach Bill Parcells. There, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Fine Arts. After college, he was hired by Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation’s Cultural Arts Division to teach art to youth, adults and senior citizens – returning to the public housing communities where he spent his childhood. He also taught batik to adults at Centennial Art Center. Later, Threalkill served for seven years as the Community Services Director and art instructor for the South Street Community Center (which later became the Edgehill Center, Inc.). During his tenure at Edgehill, he developed an award-winning mural program for the Edgehill public housing communities’ disadvantaged youth. Threalkill won an Emmy Award in 1994 for a mural produced with his students for the Viacom Cable Network. Additional projects include his and his students teaming up with fellow artist Michael McBride to create murals in downtown Nashville, Vanderbilt Pediatric Clinic and the Nashville International Airport. As the first executive director for the “100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee,” Threalkill developed programs for young African American boys in elementary school. Collaborating again with fellow artist Michael McBride and Metro Nashville schoolteachers Gracie Porter, Claudette Mitchell and Patricia Cousins, Threalkill developed the groundbreaking children’s book series, “Visions: African American Experiences,” which was featured on Sesame Street. Many private and corporate collections – locally and beyond – include his works.
Excelling in numerous other endeavors, James Threalkill’s diverse talents were apparent, and he was appointed by former Nashville Mayor, Phil Bredesen to serve in his cabinet as Community Affairs and Arts Liaison for Nashville. After his work with Bredesen, he was employed as an art instructor at Montgomery Bell Academy before accepting his current position at Skanska USA, Inc. (a global construction management firm) as the Senior Director of Diversity, where he promotes opportunities for minority-owned businesses and women. Integral and very active in Nashville arts organizations and institutions for many years, Threalkill was designated as a founding Board member of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, served as a commissioner for the Metro Nashville Arts Commission and as a panelist for several selection committees for the Tennessee Arts Commission.
Newer to Nashville’s art scene than McBride and Threalkill, Joshua D. Wagner is none-the-less making his mark here as a sculptor and educator. After earning a B.A. degree (with concentrations in Photography and Ceramics) from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, he moved to Nashville. His association with Metro Parks’ Centennial Art Center – like James Threalkill’s – goes back many years. He tells the story, "Ten years ago, I stumbled upon Centennial Art Center, accidentally, while walking in the Park and met Lena Lucas working there. Realizing it was a hidden gem, I signed up for a pottery class under Lena. Today, I'm an instructor there myself, teaching weekly pottery classes. There is something magical about the camaraderie there at the Art Center. It is special for me to have this opportunity to exhibit my work there (as my students will often inquire about my personal artwork outside of the ‘classroom’). My favorite thing about being an instructor at the Art Center is the exposure to many different perspectives as I engage with my students. Rubbing elbows with people from the community – from all walks of life – constantly stretches and sharpens my worldview, strengthening my artwork and aesthetic. Actually, I'm pretty confident my students have taught me just about as much as I have taught them." For the past nine years, Joshua has taught pottery and sculpture classes at local community centers both here in Nashville and in Wilmington, Delaware (where he was located for four years before returning to live in Nashville). In addition to teaching at the Art Center, he is now the Ceramics Professor at Lipscomb University, helping them build a strong Ceramics and Sculpture program.
Born and raised in a small town in southern New Jersey – the son of a landscaper – he enjoyed working with the family business and learned at a young age to appreciate the worth of working proficiently with one’s hands. Today, he still finds fulfillment working with his hands, as he says “…digging in the dirt.” Only now, the “dirt” is clay that he forms into primarily figurative sculptures that, he says, explore “…emotional intimacies of the human condition.” His textured ceramic sculptures have added depth and richness of surface via experimental glazing and firing techniques, Wagner says this “…accentuates their already desperate condition.” Of his sculpture, Wagner says, “Although my sculptural work is done primarily with clay, I also have an affinity for including ‘found objects’ (discarded items from construction sites, demolitions, etc.) in my sculptures. These accoutrements bring an industrialized element to the clay sculptures, adding a new layer to their conceptualization and meaning. The natural rust or aging on these discarded items is similar to the aged patina on the sculptures themselves, but the two have very different origins. I enjoy the visual conversation that is created when juxtaposing these objects with my work.” Wagner has titled the series of pieces for this exhibit, “In Search of Home.” He says these sculptures “…depict the emotional journey…” of his four years living away from Nashville and his “…desperate attempts to return ‘home.’” He shares that he hopes the audience will “…engage the pieces introspectively and perhaps draw parallels…” with him from their own lives “…as they explore their understanding of the word ‘home.’” As his local reputation as an artist has grown, his works are being sought after by collectors (and are available for sale at the Art Center on an on-going basis).
Centennial Art Center’s gallery manager, Lena Arice Lucas, says, “What a pleasure it is to be able to present Michael’s, James’ and Joshua’s works here at the Art Center! These men exemplify, to me, what it is to succeed in life as true artists. Their works all come from a need to communicate on a deeper level than simply ‘depicting’ something. Their art breaths, vibrating with life and meaning. Yet, beyond that, each artist has dedicated part of their life’s work to sharing their knowledge via teaching – a wonderful attribute! Michael and James have taught and mentored countless artists throughout the years, and Joshua has more recently come into his own, taking a similar journey.”
Brenda McSurley, the Art Center’s Director says, “We are especially excited to have these talented artists, Michael McBride, James Threalkill and Joshua Wagner sharing our gallery during June and July! James’ past and Joshua’s current history with the Art Center makes me proud that Metro Parks was able to play a part in their development. And, Michael has always been a great supporter of the Art Center. I know the public – the artists’ fans and those unfamiliar with their art – will enjoy the June 1st opening reception and the opportunity to meet the artists and see their works. The Gallery Talks in July will be a great opportunity to learn more and see these artists in action!” Tom Rice’s sculptures, bird-bath and garden benches are on display (located in the courtyard) near the Herb Society of Nashville‘s garden. Admission is free and refreshments – including Cabot Cheese (a co-sponsor of Centennial Art Center’s receptions) – will be served.
Centennial Art Center is located in the 25th Avenue North and Park Plaza Corner of Nashville’s Centennial Park. Regular hours are Monday through Thursday, 9:00am-5:00pm. The Art Center courtyard is available for rental for special events: (615) 862-8442. For information about Centennial Art Center’s gallery and art classes, go to: http://www.nashville.gov/parks/arts/cac.asp.
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