The Arts Company presents The Storied Mouth

Featuring work of three distinct Southern artists Johnny Nelson, Charles Keiger, and Ke Francis.

Opening during FirstBank First Saturday Art Crawl - October 5. 6-9pm

Continuing through October 24, Tuesday-Saturday, 11-5pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn.The Arts Company presents an exhibition celebrating art and literature – with a distinctly Southern narrative. Opening during FirstBank First Saturday Art Crawl on October 5 from 6-9 p.m., The Storied South exhibition will continue through October 24 during regular gallery hours, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday, at The Arts Company, 215 5th Avenue of the Arts, North.

About the Exhibition – The Storied South

The Storied South exhibition highlights the visual splendor of the region – as seen through the eyes and imagination of three southern artists – Johnny Nelson, Charles Keiger and Ke Francis.  The exhibition is anchored by the large-scale, colorful and fanciful paintings of Johnny Nelson.  In this newest series of work, the artist explores the written works and personal myths of one of the South’s most recognized storytellers – Flannery O’Connor.  Nelson captures the likeness of the writer in playful scenarios that may or may not have been her reality.  This is truly his interpretation of her life through his own distinctive, artistic approach.  Charles Keiger’s paintings explore the blend of southern gothic and magical realism.  The dreamlike imagery holds the viewer’s attention as they create their own unique narrative in their mind.  The cast of characters in Keiger’s works look like they were captured in a specific moment of whimsical exploration.  Keiger uses oil and mixed media on wood and canvas to present a fresh take on how precision in gesture, design, color, and sparse details can reveal the tremendous depth of anxiety and emotion.  Master printmaker, painter and sculptor Ke Francis evokes the tragic effects of disaster, while simultaneously celebrating the resiliency of the human spirit, all within imagery which bears the artist's marks of their creation.  Imagery of tragedy and cataclysms such as tornadoes, animal traps, and wounded soldiers are juxtaposed with ancient symbols of victory and icons of harmony in order to express the interdependency of and delicate balance between pleasure and pain, rejoicing and mourning; and all acting as a stage for individual human will and determination.

About the Artists

Johnny Nelson

Johnny Nelson received a MFA in sculpture in the late 70’s and spent the next thirty-odd years "muddling about" the construction, film and museum business. He began painting oils on canvas on a (relatively) small scale in 2003 after years of painting and designing large backdrops and scenery for stage, theater and film. Presently he maintains a painting studio in Nashville, Tennessee and is an exhibit specialist for the local arts industry.

Charles Keiger

Charles Keiger is an Atlanta-based artist known for his work representing southern gothic and magical realism. He holds a BFA from the University of South Carolina, and an MFA from the University of Georgia.  Featured in Art & Antiques magazine as an artist emerging on the national scene, Keiger has shown his work in a series of one-man and group shows presented throughout the southeast and New York City. His work has been collected in 200 private and corporate collections, including the MGM Grand Las Vegas, Joel Katz, and Halle Berry.

Ke Francis

Ke Francis is a narrative multi-media artist who has an extensive national and international exhibition record. During an active forty-year career he has exhibited with, collaborated with, and curated exhibits with some of the most influential artists of this century, including Sam Francis, William T. Wiley, William Christenberry, Terry Allen, Kenneth Noland, Robert Rauschenberg, Wendell Castle, Albert Paley, and Robert Stackhouse. His creative works in book arts, painting, printmaking and sculpture have won grants and awards from the Rockefeller Bellagio Study Center, The Southern Arts Federation, The Susan B. Herron Award (Mississippi Arts Commission), the Beck Foundation, the Polaroid Foundation and the Deep South Humanities Council.

For more information, please visit

The Arts Company has become a cornerstone on 5th Avenue of the Arts in Downtown Nashville since 1996.  The gallery’s mission is to maintain a presence of distinctively fresh, original, and contemporary artwork in the middle of the downtown marketplace, welcoming individuals, businesses, and guests from around the world.  Known as a prime destination for photography, painting, and sculpture, The Arts Company offers an eclectic mix beyond the typical gallery model.  Our welcoming environment of over 6,000 square feet in a historic building provides customers with a distinctive Nashville experience.  The Arts Company maintains a series of partnerships with commercial and non-profit businesses and presents 12 inventive exhibitions a year that premiere during FirstBank First Saturday Art Crawl every month.

FirstBank First Saturday Art Crawl, under the management of the Nashville Downtown Partnership, is a free event that occurs every first Saturday, 6—9 p.m., with approximately 20 galleries opening their doors to approximately 2,000 Art Crawlers. For 12 years, Art Crawl has featured art galleries on and around 5th Avenue of the Arts — founded by The Arts Company, The Rymer Gallery and Tinney Contemporary in 2006. The appeal is generated by the chance to meet and converse with artists; view artwork in a welcoming environment with a variety of entertainment options and complimentary refreshments; as well as ride the free Gray Line Art Crawl Trolley—hopping on and off at other art stops such as Art at the Arcade, the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Hatch Show Print and Haley Gallery, Music City Marketplace, 21c Museum Hotel and other boutique destinations, including  Studio 308 and the Downtown Presbyterian Church.  

215 5th Avenue of the Arts, North • Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-5pm


The Arts Company
(615) 254-2040,
Images for press available upon request