June 2018

Customs House Museum | June 1–July 1

WORDS Peter Chawaga

City Surfing, Acrylic on canvas, 36” x 48”

Through her new exhibition City Surfing, local artist Brenda Buffett has demonstrated the power to capture the spirit and energy of an entire cityscape and transfer it to canvas.

Buffett’s show is the latest in a yearlong series curated by Nashville Arts Magazine at the Customs House Museum in Clarksville. Her work captures the moveable feast available in Music City through bright, overlapping pastels that create the sense of dynamism one gets from embracing all that Nashville has to offer.

“A day or night in Nashville is all about surfing from one fun place to another, a ball game, a new restaurant, an art crawl show, a concert,” Buffett says. “In my abstract paintings, I seek to express the feeling of this vibrant and many-layered community with densely textured, bold, yet nuanced compositions.”

Buffett has distilled the energy of the city itself into a series of large-scale (mostly 36” or 40” square) paintings for the show. Using a credit card, potato masher, eye patches, or chopsticks, she spreads color and applies multimedia around a canvas to illustrate the feeling that she gets from her bluff-side studio overlooking downtown.

“The acrylic-on-canvas work is all about textures, nuances, patterns, geometric shapes, movement, feelings, and optimism,” she says. “Most hint at a cityscape and are large and vibrant like Nashville. The selection of art features paintings of cityscapes with abstract shapes of buildings.”

Honeysuckle Hill, Mixed media on canvas, 36” x 36”

This being a June show, Buffett has also incorporated some works that apply the same use of palette and geometry to capture the warmth and tropical ambiences of summer. As a lifelong Nashvillian, Buffett has a style that seems particularly honed to capture what has become one of the quicker-changing cities in the country.

“The signature of this community is action and change,” she explains. “The vibrations cannot be captured in static painting. I hope my paintings capture a constant movement, like the energy of the turnaround in SoBro . . . I want visitors to have a sense of place, time, structure—of random form and an urge to reach out and touch the canvas and feel the texture of the art. If they feel a little happier, more alive, and more optimistic about the world, that would please me.”

Buffett’s City Surfing is on view at Customs House Museum’s Peg Harvill Gallery, 200 S. 2nd Street in Clarksville from June 1 through July 1. For more information, visit www.customshousemuseum.org.

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