jess mcfadden

Nationale for ALL the senses! by Jess Mcfadden

When you’re looking at art, is the experience all in your head? Thoughts, memories, questions and analysis are often associated with the mind rather than the body. However, the experience of standing in front of a painting has a unique way of reminding us that the body and mind are not separate.

Nationale may be a small place, but it has something for all the senses. When you first walk in, Marseille soaps and Olo fragrances offer a gentle scented welcome. Most people navigate the gallery counterclockwise, and the first thing they want to do in Nationale is flip through some of our books. The activity of flipping through books is a sensory treat for the hands, allowing us to touch and physically play with information as we read it. Plus, books make really nice sounds if you’ll listen. Even if you bring a friend to Nationale who doesn’t like socially relevant poetry, fiction and essays, they can enjoy the sound of paper’s friction.

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This month, we’ve been exhibiting Soft Shades by Lilian Martinez. In addition to the show’s ideological and formal strengths, it is a visceral delight. The paintings’ sunny pastel colors are delicious, transporting us like a weekend getaway to LA, where Martinez resides. Something about her style of painting sends ASMR-style tingles down my back. The soft, luxurious texture of her acrylic on linen is amplified by large, blocky color fields and harmonious compositions. Delicately painted lines and the intimate, reverent depiction of strong women at rest induce a physical sensation of ease. In a weird way, the experience of looking at these paintings feels like having my hair brushed by my mother or friend. Did you have this type of experience with Soft Shades, too? If you haven’t been able to see the exhibition it will be up one more day: through March 11.

Lilian Martinez,  Woman Reclined , 2018, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 24 inches

Lilian Martinez, Woman Reclined, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 24 inches

In the hallway near Martinez’s paintings, there are stacks of woven blankets and pillows from her line of everyday objects, BFGF.  Due to the variety of blankets, we get to unfold them one at a time to see what’s inside, then refold. They bring out the softness in her paintings and transform it into something you can snuggle.

Double Figure  throw, courtesy of BFGF

Double Figure throw, courtesy of BFGF

To conclude a sensory tour of Nationale, you can find two kinds of French lozenge candies at the desk. “Sève de Pin” and “Anise” may be unfamiliar flavors, but don’t worry. They are both delicious!

If you work in an environment that requires a lot of brain power, it can be easy to forget about the five senses. Especially during winter, it sometimes feels like the mind and body are two separate entities. As our clocks turn forward and the sun comes out, now is a great time to bring them back together. So come see us at Nationale! We even have floor-to-ceiling windows, for maximum sunshine and minimum pre-spring chills.


HOT TAKE ON HOOPS by Jess Mcfadden

Curiosity lives in the artist, who walks through life asking questions. The artist cultivates sensitivity and patience, turning curiosity into projects. A gallery presents the projects of artists, for anyone who is willing to come spend some time with the art. What happens next? The art lives in those who have considered it, and enriches their curiosity as they walk through life.

Kate Towers brings curiosity full circle in her current show Hoops, a pop-up at Nationale. What used to be basketball hoops are now explosive woven sculptures. Wild combinations of fabric, cords, synthetic plants, yarn, and natural materials transform a commonly overlooked public fixture into something new.

Glucose , 2018, mixed media, 23.5 (h) x 12 x 1 15 inches

Glucose, 2018, mixed media, 23.5 (h) x 12 x 1 15 inches

Each hoop puts a unique spin on Towers' concept and materials. Glucose, with its fluorescent yellow and pink knit body, entices viewers' playful inner child. It appears next to Paleo, whose aesthetic is more somber: a single black cord tangled up in itself. Both are deliberate yet expressive. Glucose has a looser body, while Paleo's stiffness resists gravity.

Paleo , 2018, mixed media, 26 (h) x 9 x 12 inches

Paleo, 2018, mixed media, 26 (h) x 9 x 12 inches

Collagen Peptide, with a refined color palette and seductive textural details, speaks to Towers' background as a fashion designer. Her clothing sometimes incorporates elements of sportswear into modern, flowy garments. In her fashion design as well as hoop design, traditionally feminine aesthetics play with rougher athletic vibes. She seems to question the expectations of three worlds: fashion, sport and art.

Collagen Peptide , 2018, mixed media, 25 (h) x 12 x 15 inches

Collagen Peptide, 2018, mixed media, 25 (h) x 12 x 15 inches

Two hoops, Plant Based and Gluten Free weave plant shapes for a more organic vibe. Speaking of organic, did Towers use food and diet-related titles to fortify the corporeal connection between art, sport and fashion? Either way, this body of work is inspiring. It feeds our imagination and invites us to see new possibilities in everyday fixtures. Towers reconsiders something we may normally pass without seeing: the iconic metal rim. She honors creativity in its purest form. She explores a wide variety of materials, abstractly and conceptually, while carefully honoring the desires of each material.

Plant Based , 2018, mixed media, 22 (h) x 17 x 19 inches

Plant Based, 2018, mixed media, 22 (h) x 17 x 19 inches

Hoops has been extended to January 29, so if you haven't made it in yet, now's your chance! The work photographs well, but it's a slam dunk IRL.

In Celebration of the Magazine

By Jess Mcfadden

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Remember when smartphones were invented? We feared the death of print.
Some people believe that reading from a screen is best, because it is efficient. 
For the rest of us, magazines are a magical treasure. They are not curated by an algorithm, but by people who poured their time into a periodical-- something that will not live forever. Each page is like a love letter, hoping to inspire us. It defies the logic of urban culture, instead encouraging us to linger awhile. To explore with curiosity, instead of rushing from point A to point B.

The soft pages of a magazine like Apartamento combine art and enriching interviews with the unintimidating welcome of a phonebook. $20 to $26, depending on the issue, permits you a rainy afternoon or few to share space with creatives across the world, and hear their stories. Watercolor, photography, drawing and interior design are neighbors in Apartamento, living beside each other with varied degrees of comfort. Their conversations are always worthwhile.

If a magazine inspires you enough, might you break out scissors and cut it up, transforming the work into something else? Collages from an art magazine will naturally turn out better than from those with retouched bodies and flashy advertisements.

If you're shopping for holiday gifts, magazines are good for any budget. Use one magazine to make stacks of greeting cards, or give stacks of magazines to one beloved!