OutCentral art series continues with photography exhibit
This month, as part of OutCentral’s renewed focus on the arts, local photographer Chris Malone’s work will be featured in the community center’s space. The show will run through the end of the month, as part of programming director Steven Raimo's push to elevate the art, music, and cultural impact of OutCentral in the LGBT and broader communities.
Malone, who lived in New York City and worked on his photography there, moved back to Nashville five years ago. “My mom has multiple sclerosis, and I wanted to be closer to her. I now work out of Murfreesboro, where I help run Paul Vaughn's studio. He does portraits, a wide range of things. I shoot there as well.”
Even though his work has been featured for sale in other ways, such as in the Grizzlies’ calendar, the OutCentral show gave him the opportunity to publicly display and sell his work in a gallery setting for the first time. The works on display are purposefully eclectic. “This is the first show that I've put together, and I’ve been to a lot of shows focused on a theme. The downside of that is that, if the theme’s not something you’re interested in, there’s just a room full of pictures you aren’t interested in! This way, there’s something to catch everyone’s interest: nature, still life portraits, just twenty of the best images I’ve taken so far.”
Some of Malone's most widely known photos are those he took for the increasingly popular calendar that raises funds for Nashville's LGBT rugby team. "The Grizzlies have done calendars for a number of years. I've done it for the last two years, and they told me they're some of the best selling calendars they've produced," Malone said. He added with a laugh, "So unless they're blowing smoke...."
Perhaps the most interesting pieces currently on display, though, are his recreations of historic paintings of the founding fathers using drag queens. "It started about two years ago," Malone said. "I was talking with Sapphire Mylan back when they were doing Canvas Cover Girls. Because the show was being done at Canvas, I wanted to do something artsy with the girls. But the show didn't last long."
Malone, however, kept thinking about the idea. "If something like that was done in the 1910s, it would have been women founding fathers. In the 1960s, it would have been black men. In this day and time, it just seemed like drag queens. There's some camp value, yes, but there's some deep inner meaning for me now that we're on this threshhold that I think these portraits capture. I think they celebrate - though the founders could never have conceived of that - it celebrates their overarching vision of for this country and what it could be and become."
Seeing those works alone is worth the trip down to Church Street, and while you're there you can check out some of the updates going on at OutCentral.