Vanderbilt Divinity School Presents Art from the Collection of Robert Hicks

Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture at Vanderbilt Divinity School proudly presents SHORTEST ANSWER--UP OR DOWN: Southern Folk and Outsider Art From the Collection of Robert Hicks.

So long before I was known as a writer, I was a collector. In truth, I can't remember ever not collecting something -- rocks, shells, baseball cards...

Some how all that led to me being included for six years as the first Tennessean among the Top 100 Collectors in America by Art & Antiques. Yea, it was me, Madonna, The Forbes family, Steve Martin, Richard Gere and a whole lot of rich folks across the country. Let's face it, it was more like the 99 Top Collectors in America and this guy who lives in a log cabin in the hills of Tennessee.

I won't complain because while the other 99 Top Collectors never invited me over for lunch or ever seemed to want to hang with me, it did send the Frist Center of Visual Arts knocking on my cabin door, asking if I had any ideas for future exhibitions. Not sure what they had been hearing from other collectors, but I had been envisioning a major exhibition for several years and was willing to share. The next thing I know, I'm curating Art of Tennessee, their award winning, critically-acclaimed exhibition spanning a thousand years or so of art in Tennessee. Even got to pick our co-curator, my good friend, Ben Caldwell. What a fantastic time in my life that was as we spent years putting it together. Kinda makes up for never having been invited to have drinks with Madonna.

My collecting covers things like Southern material culture, to 'Fugitive' imprints to Tennesseana but I guess I'm mostly known for my Southern Outsider Art collection. Its hard for me to believe I've been collecting for over twenty years now.

I'm telling you all this as there is this exhibition from my collection, at the Divinity School at Vanderbilt University, that opens today running from September 8 through September 18 in the Art Room (G-20) on the ground floor of the Divinity School. The gallery hours are 10 AM to 1 PM or by appointment.  The exhibition is free and open to the public. This exhibition features important works from artists such as Rev. Howard Finster, Jimmie Lee Sudduth, Mose T, and B.F. Perkins.

Then on Tuesday September 15 from 4-6 PM there will be a wine and cheese reception in the Art Room.  At that time I will give a short gallery talk. And as if that's not enough, and they obviously think it isn't, there will be the added attraction of dulcimer artist, Linda Jane Sack providing 'special music.' They tell me that all are warmly invited.