All over the world, Nashville is known as “Music City”, but what most people may not realize is that Nashville has a prominent visual arts scene too. And that makes sense. The music industry, throughout its storied history, has always relied on visual art. From the album artwork to Rolling Stone covers to music videos and live performances, visuals and music have always gone hand in hand. The two are inextricably connected.
Below are some of the best ways to enjoy art, music, and more, in a city built on great (read: really great) music. Some of the Nashville-based companies and organizations found in this article are even working to bridge the gap between music and visual arts and combine the two in new and exciting ways.
This gallery and museum is first-class, and a must see. Founded in 2001, and located just blocks away from the famous Broadway strip where all the honky tonk bars are blasting live music just about 24/7, the Frist Center has hosted exhibits from all over the world. New exhibits come through the Center on a rolling basis every six to eight weeks.
The Frist Center is more than just a gallery and museum – it’s a center for art learning. The Martin ArtQuest Gallery is “a colorful space alive with the sounds of learning through making art!”
“Presenting local and world-renowned artists and artwork, the galleries offer rare opportunities to view diverse exhibitions featuring every genre of art. Admission free, First Saturday Art Crawl is a festive atmosphere with participating venues located along Fifth Avenue of the Arts and upstairs in the Historic Arcade – all welcoming the community to experience downtown Nashville as a center for art.”
Over 1,000 people are drawn to this event each month, and it is a great way to spend a Saturday night. Just like the next one on our list, we highly recommend attending the First Saturday Art Crawl in downtown Nashville.
While the First Saturday Art Crawl happens right in the heart of downtown Nashville, the East Side Art Stumble is a monthly event (the second Saturday of each month) on the other side of the Cumberland River, which is “produced through a partnership of galleries, businesses and artists to bring people to East Nashville and showcase the neighborhood’s remarkable pool of creative talent. The galleries, businesses, and studios stretch across the neighborhoods of East Nashville and Inglewood. ESAS is a great way to meet local artists, buy and support their work, and be part of the art scene in East Nashville.”
ESAS is growing rapidly and was started by people who are deeply passionate about the art scene in Nashville. There is a definite vibe in East Nashville unlike anywhere else in town. We are excited for the direction this is going.
The next ESAS is on July 9 and is sure to be an event not to be missed!
MIXING MUSIC AND VISUALS
At the start of this piece, we mentioned that there are a couple of Nashville companies who are combining music and visual arts in new and exciting ways.
Snapwave is one of the startups that came out of the second, and most recent, class of Project Music, which, for those of you who don’t know, was the nation’s first ever tech startup accelerator focused specifically on the music industry. Snapwave is a global online community that combines photos and music to create a visually engaging music streaming experience. The company gives music fans and photo enthusiasts, and especially those with a passion for both, the opportunity to be creative in curating photos to accompany music and vice versa. Having seen the demo, we are so eager for Snapwave to launch. It’s unlike anything we’ve experienced.
The other is Radial Conservatory, a live performance group which is best described as “an immersive world of light and sound.”
We saw this group perform at WELD (an artistic co-working space in Nashville and Austin) on June 2, and it blew us away. The live music and engaging visuals play off each other in a way that really draws you into the experience.
As highlighted by TEDx Nashville, “The Radial Conservatory is artists and composers who seek not to perform or display their own art but rather assemble into an entirely different space – a space where people can step out of the everyday to engage their imaginations and connect with something deeper, something quieter within them.”
Check out their list of upcoming performances and be sure to catch one.
So, as you can see, Nashville is more than just country music, and more than just music, for that matter. Nashville has a vibrant and growing art scene, with new visual arts events and experiences happening all the time.
Y’all head on down to Nashville and see for yourselves!