There's a special little place tucked into the hip, urban environs of Nashville's 12th South district. For many, it's too well-kept of a secret. Yet, magic happens there. Art & Soul is not your typical art studio. Take a hint from the third word in the center's name. Art & Soul is more than how-to art making. It's about going beyond the visual and taking a deep dive within. Classes, mentoring programs and co-op membership include all art forms: poetry and other creative writing, authentic voice and movement and a plethora of visual art play. And the maven of Nashville spiritual art: Art & Soul owner/founder Arunima Orr.
And, lucky me, I am a graduate of the 2003-2004 Year-long Intensive. A superb investment as I left my marriage and entered the next phase of my Life's Journey. I entered dead-sure I would reconnect with my visual art. Instead I wrote a book. And not this one, but a yet-published autism momoir.
Early December, Art & Soul, ever expanding the boundaries of its unique vision, hosted it's first art show featuring just two of its students: Toni Swarthout and Pam (PJ) Haile. The two artists' work blended well and provided a lush visual backdrop to a warm, comfortable open, unpretentious energy not commonly found at art shows elsewhere. Here are some views from the evening:
Artist Toni Swarthout, above left, and artist PJ Haile, above right. Swarthout's paintings and Haile's sculpture with onlooker, below left. Haile's painting and sculpture, below right.