Guitar Town Picturing Performance Today

It’s the duty of photojournalists to pay attention and create work that keeps these people, places, and feelings alive. In Nashville, that means music—the people making it, the people behind it, and the people supporting it.

—Lance Conzett

This exhibition features works by ten Nashville-based photographers showing guitarists performing in venues across the city and elsewhere. Highlighting a variety of musical styles and attitudes, these photographers invite viewers to vicariously enter these dramatic atmospheres of sound, color, light, energy, and emotion. As they distill the transitory nature of the performances, the photographs are also reminders of the ephemerality of the music scene itself, particularly with regard to venues like Drkmttr, Exit/In, Fond Object, and Mercy Lounge, some of which have closed or relocated in recent years. The lives of musicians can be similarly in flux—they are often itinerant, moving from place to place to pursue their careers. Several of those pictured here have passed away, among them Jessi Zazu and David Olney, to whose memories this exhibition is dedicated. Even with this constant change, this exhibition celebrates a community of photographers and musicians that continues to be dynamic and diverse, mutually supportive, and ever adaptable. Nashville—“Guitar Town”—remains a place where music of all types is played, enjoyed, and depicted. Presented in conjunction with Storied Strings: The Guitar in American Art, on view in the Ingram Gallery from May 26 through August 13, 2023, Guitar Town was organized by Frist Art Museum chief curator Mark Scala and curatorial intern Sydney Stewart. Special thanks to Elizabeth Jones, D. Patrick Rodgers, and Stephen Trageser of the Nashville Scene, as well as Frist colleagues Jenneh Kamara, Buddy Kite, Nicki Klepper, Meagan Rust, Christian Sinclair, and others who have provided advice regarding the curatorial selections.

Photographers: Angelina Castillo, Lance Conzett, Steven Cross, Emma Delevante, H. N. James, John Jo, Lauren E. Partain, John Partipilo, Jenni Starr, Diana Lee Zadlo

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