Student-operated gallery OPEN debuts Sept. 1 in the Arcade with sculptor Joel Parsons

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Situations from an Unfinished Romantic Ballet
Installation View

The Lipscomb University Department of Art announces the opening of the student-operated art gallery OPEN, in the Arcade downtown. The gallery will debut Sept. 1, the night of the next downtown/Fifth Avenue Art Crawl, featuring sculptor Joel Parsons (

OPEN, in suite 57 of the Arcade, will be open on the first Saturday evening of each month (from 6-10 p.m. during each Fifth Avenue Art Crawl event) and by appointment. It is the only local university-owned gallery space currently in the Arcade, part of the well-known Fifth Avenue of the Arts visual arts district in downtown Nashville.

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Pas de Deux and Variation
Partnering Rehearsals (8 of 24); archival inkjet print
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Open Rehearsal 2

The gallery will debut with works by Parsons, an interdisciplinary artist whose work incorporates photography, sculpture, installation and performance.

“Our goal is to bring artists working with many different kinds of media into Nashville’s art scene, so Joel was a great fit,” said Savannah Lampley, a Lipscomb senior art major who serves on the seven-member student board operating the gallery.

“Parsons is originally from Tennessee, so he has an obvious connection to the South, but he also attended graduate school in Chicago (at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago), giving his work a new dimension as he has shown in an even larger city that incorporates art as part of its identity,” she said.

Parsons’ work has shown in the Sullivan Galleries, Defibrillator Gallery, Maes Gallery and the Co-Prosperity Sphere, all in Chicago. He earned his BA from Rhodes College in Memphis before moving on to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and has shown his works at The Power House, 546 S Main, and the Odessa Art Space in Memphis.

OPEN will allow Lipscomb art students to gain valuable experience in the business side of the art world, said Rocky Horton, associate professor of art at Lipscomb. “Students want to do more than show their work at the gallery. OPEN will allow students to gain experience curating exhibits, selecting artists and acting as managers and operators,” he said.

“Some of the most important things for working artists to learn is how to conceive a successful idea for a show, how to execute that show and how to interact with the community,” he said.

While OPEN will sometimes be a venue for Lipscomb student work, the student board also wants to use the gallery to feature student work from all the art programs in Nashville, works by Lipscomb alumni, and works by professional artists that integrate styles and disciplines, such as performance art and arts and technology, said Lampley, who was also Lipscomb’s first summer artist-in-residence this year. 

For instance, according to Lampley, video installations and other technological art can sometimes be difficult for a for-profit gallery to feature because of the electronics needed and the works’ often experiential nature. The Lipscomb students running OPEN hope they can draw on the university’s resources to bring a new option to see experimental technological and performance art in Nashville’s Fifth Avenue art district, she said.

OPEN will open for the Sept. 1 Art Crawl from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Nashville Downtown Partnership provides two free shuttles traveling among the galleries.  For more information on the Art Crawl, go to

For more information on OPEN contact Horton at 615-966-6282.