By PAUL LASTER, October 10, 2023
A three-day visual arts festival in Nashville, Artville highlighted the city’s creative culture by turning the burgeoning Wedgewood Houston and Chestnut Hill neighborhoods into a lively realm for art, talks, music, food and crafts last week, September 29 – October 1, 2023.
“As a native Nashvillian I had always wondered why we didn’t have some kind of an art week or art festival that celebrated our creative culture,” Artville co-founder Samantha Saturn told Whitehot Magazine on opening day. “My mom was an art dealer and I grew up with artists and there were a few galleries but always more artists. I had been organizing a craft festival, which my family founded 50 years ago, and when I moved back from New York I thought it would be great to build it into a public art festival. It was also an opportunity to show the world that while Nashville will always be known as a music city—and one that’s dear to my heart—we are also a very beautiful visual arts city.”
Working with Soho House Nashville, which opened last year in a stylish renovation of the May Hosiery Factory in the center of the Wedgewood Houston area, and real estate developers, galleries, art and music organizations, local businesses and food vendors, Artville created a Community Art Show and held talks with artists, curators, designers and dealers in the Nashville Warehouse Co. and exhibited newly commissioned public artworks in and around Soho House and the nearby Merritt Mansion, an architectural gem overlooking the area.
Artville also situated a variety of food trucks and 70 artists and craftsmen from the integrated American Artisans Festival across several vacant lots in the two neighborhoods and hosted 21 regional musicians, bands and songwriters on a stage under a giant guitar, which had once been the Nashville Sounds baseball team’s scoreboard at a stadium that was recently demolished, in a public area outside of the Nashville Warehouse Co. A preview party kicked off the Community Art Show on Thursday night and the Merritt Mansion came to life on Friday and Saturday evenings with the Afterdark party with DJs, light shows and night-time events.
The not-to-be-missed Artville Talks conversation was between artist Derrick Adams and Frist Art Museum Senior Curator Katie Delmez, who organized the museum's recently opened “Multiplicity: Blackness in Contemporary American Collage” exhibition, which features Adams’ work among 51 other talented Black artists. And another talk of note was the Soho House's Art Collection Manager Anakena Paddon tour of the Soho House Nashville collection, which includes the work of 41 artists born, based or trained in Tennessee, with the vast majority local to the city.
Popularly known by the nicknames Athens of the South, Buckle of the Bible Belt and Music City, USA, if Samantha Saturn gets her way, Nashville may soon be recognized as Artville, too. Mark your calendars and come back next year to see if the new name sticks. WM
Paul Laster is a writer, editor, curator, artist and lecturer. He’s a contributing editor at ArtAsiaPacific and Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art and writer for Time Out New York, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Galerie Magazine, Sculpture, Art & Object, Cultured, Architectural Digest, Garage, Surface, Ocula, Observer, ArtPulse, Conceptual Fine Arts and Glasstire. He was the founding editor of Artkrush, started The Daily Beast’s art section, and was art editor of Russell Simmons’ OneWorld Magazine, as well as a curator at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, now MoMA PS1.
view all articles from this author