I also miss Ruby Green that closed about the time Fugitive did in 2005. Chris Campbell’s operation branched off from the untitled artist group in 1998 and originally hosted artist studios and informal critiques/art shows/performances at 514 5th Avenue South. Her outfit became a 501c not for profit that networked regionally, nationally, and internationally, moving the conversation of contemporary art forward at a critical time in the development of the scene here. Ruby Green went on to effectively fund raise and receive grants from the Warhol foundation. Named after one of Chris’ parrots (she lived with several including African Greys) the space’s presence continues to be felt in the shadow of the Music City Convention and SoBro Biz Centers.
Rule of Thirds
Another space operating around that time was Rule of Thirds. Founded in 2000 by Watkins College of Art students Ally Reeves and Shaun Slifer in a house adjacent to Belmont University, this artist-run space featured edgy work, performance, and a half-pipe skate ramp. It was a harbinger of a trend we are currently seeing today with galleries opening in residential neighborhoods where artists live and work. Both Shaun and Ally went on to become principals in the Pittsburgh contemporary art scene and beyond.
Secret Show never occupied a space for more than one night. Of course that was contingent on whether the show was shut down as it was a total guerrilla operation that you only heard about the day it happened. The brain-trust was an extremely focused group of younger artists that laid the foundation for many of the brick and mortar spaces we see today like Mild Climate. Interestingly, Secret Show picked up on preceding independent groups that severed as training ground for artists to learn how to organize and put their own shows on. This particular group spawned several other independent groups that hit and run in the Nashville area for years afterwards.