Two weeks ago, I made the few-hour road trip to Nashville, Tennessee to meet up with 19 other Speed Art Museum members, curators, and directors, ready to spend the next couple of days on a whirlwind tour in and around the city. Admittedly, I’ve been a lover of Nashville since my teens, making the drive down from WKU on weekends during my undergrad years, but only then with the intention of heading to the party scene on 2nd Avenue. I’d never taken the time to look into what history was there, and never once decided that an afternoon may be more wisely spent at the Frist Museum than happily boozing away on a patio…
When my trip itinerary arrived, I was thrilled to see that we’d be visiting the Frist to see Nick Cave’s Feat. exhibit as well as the famous Belle Meade plantation. Thursday morning, I pulled into town, checked into our hotel, and joined our group for the quick commute to Belle Meade for lunch on the property’s grounds before meeting up with Chief Historian Rob Cross for an in-depth look at the home, the grounds, and a history lesson on the Kentucky connection (hint: there are race horses involved). From the well-manicured drive to the Civil War- era bullet holes still in the front columns, this property was astounding. More on this incredible home in a couple of weeks.
** the entry drive at Belle Meade, Old Glory on the front porch **
After a quick stop back at the hotel to change clothes and freshen up, our group descended on Josephine on 12th for dinner. Bib lettuce salad, hot pretzels, and bowls of chilled asparagus soup floated out from the kitchen, followed by tender beef cheeks, seared scallops, and a whole, fried chicken, cut into pieces. The wine selection was incredible, and my gin martini was perfect and chilly after a long, humid day.
Friday morning, we arose for an early, hour drive to historic Franklin, Tennessee, ready to first view the incredible vintage silver collection of Hank and Mary Brockman. The Brockman’s home is a gorgeous Greek Revival farmhouse that the couple spotted and fell in love with, having it moved, piece by piece, to their beautiful property along the Harpeth River. We were told, during our introduction to the property, that while the staircase was moving slowly to the farm- tied to the top of a flatbed trailer- a gentleman was balanced on top, wielding a chainsaw that he used to cut tree branches along the way that were dangling in the way. Hank admitted to be very happy he wasn’t at home to watch.
** the home of Hank and Mary Brockman **
Now, the home sits, beautifully rebuilt, in a peaceful crook of the Harpeth, surrounded by green. Inside, a period-correct painted mural makes its way along the walls of the entry hall, while more modern touches- star burst pendants and checkerboard- finished hardwood- lend a comfortable, livable feel. In the same way, an incredible mix of art, from a massive 1885 Troye in the sunroom to multiple Hunt Slonem bunnies making their homes in the master bedroom and the butler’s pantry. The effect of it all was lovely- history mashing with modern comfort, centuries-old antiques and Restoration Hardware pieces residing together.
** Troye in the sunroom, Hunt Slonem in the butler’s pantry **
After a quick drive into downtown Franklin, we stopped to have lunch at Gray’s on Main (fried green tomato BLT’s! Yum!), before meeting up with Carnton Plantation Board member Robert Hicks for a look at this lovely property. Still blood-stained in some rooms, Carnton served as a hospital during the Civil War. While, like Belle Meade, photos were not allowed inside, they were allowed in the gorgeous gardens outside. The large hydrangea hedge was in full bloom and had me swooning.
** views in the garden at Carnton **
Afterwards, we joined Robert at his private home- an 18th century log cabin named Labor in Vain- for an insider look at his vast collection of Southern Decorative and Folk Art. From basket collections grouped on the floor of his living room, to the blue Skyy Vodka tree out back, and pieces covering every wall, his small home was almost overwhelming, and his passion for each piece was apparent.
** the bottle tree **
Running late, at this time, for a dinner reservation at Tin Angel back in Nashville, our bus driver put pedal to the floor. While his haste got us home on time, it also succeeded in giving me an awful case of carsickness, and I bowed out of dinner for the evening, opting instead for crackers and ginger ale in the comfort of my room. The next morning, however, I was back to feeling alive, and checked out of the Kimpton and drove the few blocks to the Frist.
Trained as a dancer, and the current Director of the graduate fashion program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Nick Cave sculpts in discarded objects, among other mediums, and his collection of the famed Soundsuits began in 1992, with the first suit built out of found sticks and twigs. Over 500 have been built since then, and these wearable suits have become a favorite of collectors. My favorite piece of the collection in Feat. is pictured below. A friend viewing the exhibit mentioned that from the front, it looked as if the suit had a target on its head… Interesting, given Cave’s African American heritage and his inspiration for the suits coming from the Rodney King beating, as well as the circumstances surrounding Trayvon Martin. However, when viewed from behind, this same piece looked to me as if “he” were abundantly vocal, as if the suit’s head were a megaphone.
** the entry, the button wall, an untitled piece, and a Soundsuit from Nick Cave **
My weekend ended here, at the Frist, before the 3 hour jaunt back to Louisville. Missing Nashville already, and filled with memories of my time there during college, as well as curiosities about what more the city has to offer, I’d love to return, soon.
** this post is not sponsored in any way **