Works of Jaume Plensa at Cheekwood reflect influences of music and writing
Last month, we featured various opportunities to explore the arts and artful activities in our great city. This month, we return to Nashville’s Cheekwood, a major center for art in our city, for a look at the exhibit, Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape, an exhibit coordinated with the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.
Jaume Plensa, an internationally recognized Spanish artist whose works have appeared in such outdoor destinations as Chicago’s Millennium Park, New York City’s Madison Square Park, and Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park, has visited Nashville twice.
“Cheekwood has this duality of obviously a garden but also beautiful interior spaces. Even more for me, thinking that it was once a private home; it does not have the dimensions or concept of a museum. I’m extremely curious about the garden but also about the house.” To satisfy the curiosity of those who experience his exhibit, Plensa even has included two works—Thoughts and Silent Music—that people can crawl inside.
Plensa also is concerned with the transmission of language and culture. He often uses excerpts of texts from authors and poets whose writings are meaningful to him. The characters from many world alphabets are the physical elements that form a sculpture, making language as central to his work as human forms themselves.
Human Landscape—the largest exhibit of Plensa’s work to date in the United States—features nine outdoor and indoor installations including sculptures imagined specifically for Cheekwood. Those new works include a double sculpture entitled The Soul of Words, installed on the prominent color garden lawn. Laura with Bun, a 23-foot high cast iron portrait, graces the entrance of the grounds. At the Demonbreun Street entrance to the Frist Center, Isabella (2014) remains available for viewing until October 2016. That sculpture mirrors a “sister” cast iron sculpture at Cheekwood—“sister” particularly in the sense that each of Plensa’s works begins with an image of a particular individual, usually a young woman on the cusp of adulthood, someone Plensa knows.
Music and sound have been of particular influence to Plensa. He sometimes describes the sensation of seeing and feeling as “vibrations.” Of particular interest in the exhibit in Music City is Plensa’s 2013 seated stainless steel figure, Silent Music, entirely comprised of stainless steel musical notes. Also among the nine large-scale outdoor works is Plensa’s 2007 Heart of Trees, in which seven seated bronze figures, based on a self-portrait of the artist, are each covered with the names of the artist’s favorite composers. Each seated figure “embraces” a live tree; Cheekwood has planted a fast-growing species known as the Kentucky coffee tree to accompany Heart of Trees.
Cheekwood has planned special events that employ the creative use of words, music and visual arts so evident throughout Music City and apparent in Plensa’s work. Visitors can experience the sounds and culture of the Plensa’s native Spain through live performances occurring throughout Cheekwood at various times. Performers include Duo Sudeste (classical Spanish guitar), Southern Word (poetry inspired by and written exclusively for the exhibition), and Vanderbilt University’s Graduate Department of Spanish (trilingual poetry reading), as well as a flamenco performance in one of the gardens. Cheekwood will continue its “Plensa Nights” every Friday until 10:00 p.m. through October—with cash bars, live music stationed throughout the grounds and dinner specials in the Pineapple Room.
On September 17, Cheekwood offers lunch and a lecture, “Jaume Plensa: The Subtle and Tenacious, Local Roots of the Global Artist,” by Andres Zamora, associate professor of Spanish at Vanderbilt University. Additionally, the Plensa Learning Gallery provides provide an interactive and educational space designed to promote further engagement with the work of Jaume Plensa. Through selected works of literature and poetry, along with interactive displays, guests are encouraged to dig deeper into the text that inspires and informs Plensa’s work and explore their own response to the art. Additionally, Cheekwood offers guided tours of the exhibition every Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Reservations are not required for the tour, which is free of charge.
In Nashville, a place where songwriting, story telling, poetry reading and art crawling abound, Jaume Plensa offers inspiration and interesting viewing.
Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape continues through November 1.
Sports & Entertainment Nashville would like to note other current and upcoming art-filled events:
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Conexion Americas and NPT are hosting a screening and discussion of A Photographer’s Journey: Pedro E. Guerrero on September 17 at 6:00 p.m. at Casa Azafran. Guerrero, who was born and raised in a segregated Arizona town, achieved renown by photographing several of America’s greatest artists and architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright. The event is free of charge; however, RSVPs are appreciated. Artober will feature numerous events occurring every day in October. The events include collaborative presentations related to Nashville’s public art. The 27th Annual Southern Festival of Books, scheduled for the second weekend in October, features dozens of local writers and best-selling authors.
Keep creating and enjoying art, Nashville!