Last month I went with my 19 year old son to Nashville so he could meet with a mentor I had arranged. We had never been to Nashville before, nor Tennessee, but I had heard it was a great place to visit so I looked forward to going. I always photograph when I travel, I photograph every day pretty much as it is, and I thought the Country Music aspect of the city would be interesting and that I could find things to photograph. We landed somewhat late and my son Yelped us to a Mexican restaurant down named Bakersfield. Here I found my first surprise about Nashville, they had a place to get good tacos.
I had done some research before the trip and knew about the Frist Museum , which I am going to cover in a separate blog post, but I had no idea what the rest of the art scene was like there. I was more than impressed by what I found there. There were a number of small galleries with interesting work, but I ddin’t see a whole lot of photography. While in one gallery I asked the owner about photography galleries and which galleries we should check out. She told us about 21c Museum Hotel and how close it was. We were so glad she did because it was one of the coolest and most unique spaces I have seen.
The 21c Museum Hotel Nashville is located in the historic Gray & Dudley Building and is exactly as it is billed, a hotel as well as a museum. The bottom two floors of the hotel are the gallery spaces, even tying in the bar to the gallery space, while the rooms are on the higher floors. Glass floors in the second floor hallway that reflect the skylights and the space below are interesting in their own right but the exhibition we saw was also fantastic.
The current exhibition Super Natural , was curated by Alice Gray Stites who is the Museum Director & Chief Curator, and runs until September. In the simplest of terms the exhibition basically addresses numerous environmental and technology issues of today. Various artists are included and I was told all work is part of the hotel owners’ private collection (Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson). The exhibition includes Chris Doyle’s “Waste Generation” video, photographs, mixed media, sculpture, and paintings which all work so well together. The most concise way to describe this exhibition here is to direct you to 21c’s own exhibition statement. The gallery below showcases the works I found most interesting:
Other takes on Nashville:
We saw a show at the Grand ole Opry and it was great. I found the history of a seeing a live radio show being performed to be very interesting and the music was good. I was surprised to find out how far away from downtown the Opry was and that it is connected to the The Opryland resort and shopping mall.
The history inside the Ernest Tubb record shop on Broadway is awesome. I had no idea about the history of the Midnite Jamboree and was incredible to think of all the icons of American music who have played in this small space over the last 72 years. It’s not that I am Country Music fan, I appreciate it, but I just love American History. If you visit Nashville you have to at least spend ten minutes walking around in here.
People there are very nice there and I mean all over town. Its not cheap to stay downtown. People party on Broadway every night of the week and I was impressed by a couple of folks I saw and how hard they went after it on a Tuesday night.
One final thing I learned is there are 8 other 21c Museum Hotels with three more coming which is fantastic if they are anything like the one in Nashville.