Hiram Van Gordon Gallery (Tennessee State University) / 3500 John A. Merritt Blvd. January 16, 2018 - February 26, 2018

Joel Batey

Where in the World is Joel Batey?: Artwork by Joel Lamar Batey from notable Nashville Collectors  

“I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.” - Muhammad Ali

Joel Lamar Batey created artwork straight from his vivid imagination, refusing to bend to others constraints. He is what some might consider hardheaded and moved at his own pace, a some what hurried easy to life, always with a warm smile and deep resounding voice.  

Nashville, Tennessee Native Batey began working with Micheal McBride and James Threalkill as a youth. Through the guidance and encouragement and Batey’s own desire to accomplish great things, he drew and painted nonstop when based in Nashville. His artistic accomplishments let him to attend TSU, Nossi College of Art and Watkins College of Art, Design and Film often on scholarships.

“If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.” - Muhammad Ali

Batey liked to make a mess in his work, to see what emerged, looking back over some if his earlier work he played it safe, mastering technique before he dove into exploration, the abyss of lines and movement, seeing what would emerge became part of his style. Batey could use lines and shapes to create a world all his own. He was working on a graphic novel the last time I saw him. He had been working on this graphic novel since boyhood. Bates grew up in J.C. Napier Homes and attended Glencliff High School in Nashville. He left to explore Florida four years ago and has not touched base with his family in two years.  

Where is Joel Batey, does he know he is missed?

Everyone was mesmerized by his production, he gained collectors while in Nashville, showing at Ruby Green and Ovvio Arte, notable galleries both now closed. I have heard esteemed art professors say he inspired them, spurring young artist to ask if Joel was a teacher of some sort. No, Joel just made work that was truly himself, which inspired many. 

“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” - Muhammad Ali

image: Nature Watcher, oil on canvas, from the Collection of Kelly Bonadies and Aron Wright