Wait, Nashville has a flourishing art scene?

Clerence Edward laughing with guests during the Nashville Art Walk

Believe it, Clarence Edward’s newest gallery reflects a city in cultural transition

Friday 28 January 2022    By Abigail Hirsch

It may be known as Music City, but Nashville’s is in an artistic hot streak, too, thanks to a roll call of exciting artists who are breathing new life into the creative scene. Just ask Nashville native, Clarence Edward, who moved back to the city after a decade of working in New York. With a wealth of knowledge from fine-art galleries across Brooklyn and Manhattan, the gallerist and event curator opened Cë Gallery last winter. Just short of a year later, Edward is back with his next space, Cëcret. For this next venture, he is focused on ‘artists who tell stories with their work,’ and ‘tap into their imagination and defy all limitations.’

Check out the works on display by Kevan Joseph O'Connor and Lance Scruggs at Cëcret by Cë Gallery, and read on for more from Edward. 

Clerence Edward from the back with his hand up explaining something to a guest during the Nashville Art Walk

Tell us about the Nashville art scene. How does it compare to New York? 
‘Since I opened Cë Gallery, the Nashville community has shown me a lot of love and support. To be honest, it’s difficult to compare these two art scenes. New York is more progressive in terms of accepting unconventional works of art, especially from underground artists. However, the cultural shift in Nashville is making it possible for a variety of artists to become well-known in the community. I’m enjoying how receptive everyone in Nashville is to me curating experiences inspired by the six years I spent in New York.’  

You just opened your second Nashville project, Cëcret, last week. How is it different to your Cë Gallery space? 
‘Exhibits at Cë Gallery focus on large-scale, immersive art installations that become the centre for all our programmes. As an extension of Cë, Cëcret will host contemporary art exhibits that appeal to boutique hotels, commercial real-estate properties, and interior designers. Cëcret will also hold networking events for creatives, art enthusiasts, and companies throughout Nashville.’

Clerence Edward stood against a black window and brick wall looking to his right and smiling. He is wearing an orange hat, brown trousers and a grey checkered suit jacket with a matching waistcoat and green shirt underneath
Three guests having a chat during the Nashville Art Walk

Tell us about your first resident artist, Lance Scruggs. 
‘Lance Scruggs is also a Nashville native and a fearless, self-taught visual artist – we attended high school together back in 2007. I’ve followed his work over the years and always encouraged him to participate in exhibits around town. He uses group photographs of his best friends as a reference in his work and elements of van Gogh’s paintings, specifically “Starry Night”, as a backdrop. I always knew we’d work together someday, but wasn’t expecting his first show to be at Cëcret for a Soho House art walk.’ 

What other artists are exciting you right now? 
‘Artists who tell stories with their work always stand out to me the most. Two that come to mind immediately: LA-based artist, Brandon Deener (@brandon_deener), does an otherworldly job dramatising African American bodies, specifically their necks and noses, to illustrate the underlying discrimination and pressure they face from society. Another artist, Alabama-based, Bryson Thurston (@brysonsbrains), has created a host of characters that show up on canvas and clothing. I absolutely adore working with artists who tap into their imagination and defy all limitations.’

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Read more

Twenty-four hours in Nashville: Your guide to Music City
Artist Hayley Mitchell on transforming a utilitarian space
Art walk: an exclusive peek inside Nashville’s booming art scene

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