For its new exhibit, MUSIC CITY PICKS: CHOICES FROM THE CHEEKWOOD COLLECTION, Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Art Museum invited fifty Nashville residents from the worlds of sports, politics, music, television and more to browse through its permanent collection and choose their favorite work of art. Among those residents was NPT President and CEO Beth Curley.
Under the guidance of Jochen Wierich Ph. D., Cheekwood Curator of Art, Curley and the other “guest curators” delved into the museum’s expansive collection to choose from familiar images by Andy Warhol and Red Grooms to lesser known works like an early American portrait or modern photograph.
The resulting exhibit, on display until September 16, is an engaging and enjoyable foray into both the museum’s historic collection — Cheekwood began collecting art around 1960, when it acquired the holdings of the Nashville Museum of Art — and the hearts and minds of a diverse group of some of Nashville’s most recognizable cultural, civic and entertainment leaders.
“Over the last fifty years Cheekwood has added to its collection through acquisitions and gifts from members of the community, making it a piece of Nashville and a reflection of changing artistic taste in this community,” says Wierich. “To invite members of the larger Nashville community to choose their favorite pieces from Cheekwood is really a way to honor that historic relationship. By making the collection accessible to these guest curators, we are presenting a slice of Nashville’s artistic taste today. We recognize that Cheekwood has always been a part of Nashville and that it continues to be an institution whose collection grows with and around the community.”
For her selection, Boston-bred Curley chose “Cowboys Day Off,” by American painter Theodore Van Soelen (1890-1964) for its evocation of a time when her innocent imagination often took her places the real world never could.
“As a little girl growing up in crowded, noisy Boston, I dreamt of visiting the exotic cowboy west,” Curley writes in her statement accompanying the painting in the exhibit. “Early television shows captured my imagination and fueled many daydreams about life on the open range. On a cross-country trip, I begged my boyfriend to drive almost a day out of our way so I could get see Dodge City. When we finally arrived, it was just a series of face storefronts — nothing authentic at all. I was deeply disillusioned.
“This painting evokes my early yearnings, and reminds me how pure and generous love was on that long ago adventure. And I can still imagine being the smiling woman standing on the balcony in this painting…breathing the fresh air, looking into the boundless future.”
Those joining Curley as “guest curators” for MUSIC CITY PICKS: CHOICES FROM THE CHEEKWOOD COLLECTION include Tennessee First Lady Andrea Conte, legendary artist Red Grooms, Vanderbilt University Chancellor Gordon Gee, musicians Marty Stuart and John Prine, as well as Butch Spyridon, Demetria Kalodimos, Daron Hall, Nancy Peterson and many more. Look for an upcoming episode of NPT Arts Break to highlight the exhibit.
Cheekwood is located approximately 8 1/2 miles southwest of downtown Nashville and adjacent to the Percy Warner Park and Golf Course on Forrest Park Drive.