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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Find Fresh Art in Memphis

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3. What to Do

Begin a tour through the burgeoning Memphis art scene at alterna-space Marshall Arts.  

Gallery-hop Memphis’s midtown. Start at Marshall Arts, the working studio and alternative art space run by painter Pinkney Herbert and his wife, Janice, out of a former garage (periodically, the couple will roll open the doors so guests can drive through). The colorful geometric mural outside is by Anthony Lee, who paints large abstract canvases in the basement of the gallery. Across the street, check out the billboard on the west side of Greely Myatt’s studio, currently featuring a swath of Virginia Overton’s “Untitled (juniperus virginiana).” Zip downtown for one standout: the new subterranean TOPS Gallery. Use the side entrance of the 19th century industrial building and pick your way through the working basement to find the tiny gallery housed in what used to be a coal storage room. There, Matt Ducklo curates exhibits like Protoplastic, a study in biodegradable and acrylic plastics sculpted by Croatia-born architect and artist Igor Siddiqui.

Visit Crosstown Arts, a retro strip-mall now filled with creative spaces of varying purposes. Artist and organizer Christopher Miner oversees the whole operation, including the anchor gallery, which puts on ten contemporary exhibits per year (like the group show Inspired Resistance) as a pilot program for his plan to repopulate the abandoned 1927 Sears distribution center across the street with artists’ studios. Pop your head into the performance space next door to the main gallery, where the acts range from bluegrass bands to all-drag dance shows. Drop in on Jamie Harmon’s vintage wallpaper-lined studio and snap a selfie in the 1950 Daniel Boone teardrop trailer photo booth that serves as the centerpiece of his Amurica project. Outside, look up at the whimsical Beacon, a 30-foot pole topped by 51 bicycle wheels that spin and glisten in the sun.

Treasure-hunt for the dozens of renegade murals around town. When the city of Memphis painted a simple I Love Memphis mural in 2011, it set off a rash of street art all over town. French artist Guillaume Alby (a.k.a. REMED) was brought in to paint "This Is We" on Broad Street and "You Are the Universe" in Overton Square. Now Memphis even has its own Bansky in Brandon Marshall, who creates under-the-radar mural masterpieces, like an animal skeleton painted on the wall of a drainage canal. Use social media to pick and track down favorites—just search "Memphis Murals" and you’ll find images, addresses, and intersections.

Published on Apr 10, 2014 as a web exclusive.

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