Monday in the studio: Location

Here’s another inbox entry, this one from John Tallman, former Philadelphia artist and blogger who recently moved to Tennessee to teach. He and his family live on “Lookout Mountain which overlooks the city of Chattanooga. We’re about two hours from Atlanta and two hours from Nashville,” he said in an email.

I did a studio visit with John last January (more pictures here.) Studios are very important spaces for artists. And John just wrote that he’d installed himself in a new studio in Chattanooga. The place is in a bank building and the ambiance is world’s apart from the relatively rough space he had in Philadelphia. Here’s his rumination on artists’ studios.

John’s work, by the way, will be included in the Sept. 2007 Drawings Selections show at the Drawing Center in New York. The title for the show is Non-Declarative Drawing. Here’s a little behind the scenes about that show, from another email from John: “I’m excited by the Drawing Center gig, and my meetings with the drawing curator, Luis Camnitzer, were really interesting. The working title for the show [had the word dumb in it] but was changed to “Non-Declarative Drawing.” Camnitzer said it takes a really smart person to make art that looks really “Dumb.” It was a nice compliment.”

Note from John Tallman about “nesting” in a new studio

John Tallman, new studio
John Tallman’s new studio space in a bank building in Chatanooga, TN.


After getting settled in here, I’ve found a studio. It’s in what’s called the Chattanooga Bank Building (the bank has long since vanished), and in the strangeness of a small city going through urban change, it’s “mixed use.” On the ground floor there is a nail shop [Ed. note: nail grooming, not carpentry nails I presume], two jewelry stores, two gross sandwich take-out places and a 1950’s interior. I share my third floor with a clock repair shop, two lawyer’s offices and an artist who paints dog portraits. The other rooms appear to be un-occupied.

John Tallman
John’s studio space over a machine shop in the North Philly neighborhood, Frankford.

I’m intrigued by the spaces artists end up inhabiting. Artists are kind of like these birds that take over nests other birds have left behind. I’m intrigued by the history of the spaces and how the artist ends up there. My studios have been in a Seattle warehouse on the EPA superfund list, a Williamsburg factory owned by Hasidic Jews, a former silkworm larvae factory in Jeonju, Korea, above a machine shop in Frankford, Pa and now a half-vacant downtown office building in Chattanooga, TN.

John Tallman
Inside hallway of the Chatanooga bank building. Feels almost like a hospital.

It will be a great place to do some artwork. It almost feels like an artist in residence project, the space is so loaded with meaning (akin to the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh). You know how my work becomes part of the space it inhabits. It’s something I can either work with or against.
Best, John

PS—Did you notice Chattanooga featured in the NYT last week? For an East Coast snob like myself, it was pretty good. Like, now Chattanooga sort of exists.