by Tim Ozgener/ May 2016

In my role as CEO of a contemporary arts center, I have been asked: What is contemporary art? Many people have not had the opportunity to experience it. They have not been part of Ann Hamilton’s installation, where attendees swing on 42 swings that are connected to a gigantic curtain that undulates like ocean waves. Nor had they witnessed Ernesto Neto’s anthropodino, which is like a giant indoor park with stalactite-like, spice-filled Lycra arms hanging from the ceiling, creating a cave-like labyrinth of bazaar smells. They haven’t taken in Art Basel Miami, a kaleidoscope of different types of visual arts from Picassos to strange French graffiti artists using stencils. They have not yet enjoyed the spectacle of Miami’s Wynwood, a converted warehouse area with industrial buildings and walls adorned by different graffiti and murals.

New Dialect performing Fight_Flight at OZ (2)

New Dialect at OZ

I tell them that contemporary artists are living artists creating or adapting work that reflects their own creative voices or experiences.

Most nights, I watch a bit of CNN for political insights. The talking heads are entertaining, but never alter my outlook in a significant way. However, contemporary art has the ability to do that.

As a trained actor, I have done Shakespeare many times. When Tim Robbins brought The Actors’ Gang to OZ Arts Nashville from L.A., a lot of people said, Oh my, there’s only so much I can take of Shakespeare. I was sympathetic. But when I went to see the show, it was vibrant, fresh, and outright hilarious. I could relate the interpretation to our culture now and its satire on love.

The importance of contemporary art is that it allows you to see things in a different way. It encourages empathy and tolerance. It stimulates you to be enlightened in unpredictable ways. It can make you a better person.

Tim Ozgener
President and Chief Executive Officer
OZ Arts Nashville


Tim Ozgener

Tim Ozgener began his career in Nashville working with his family building CAO Cigars, one of the world’s foremost cigar companies founded by his father, Cano Ozgener. He served as President through the end of 2010, when he led the renovation of CAO’s former corporate headquarters into a contemporary performance and installation space and event center.
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