What I Learned When I Crawled

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Not this past weekend but the weekend before (sorry…I’m a bit behind. Must be the cold weather? Anyway…) Matt and I decided to go to the First Saturday Art Crawl in Nashville. We had no clue what to expect, never having talked to anyone who’d been, but by the end of the night, both of us were so very glad we went. My only regret of the evening was that I didn’t bring my camera. There are some things (lots of things, actually) to which an iPhone camera cannot do justice. For that reason, I apologize for the photos in this post; they are not what they should be, and next time I’ll know better.

The concept for the art crawl is really simple: local art galleries open their doors to folks interested in local art culture. There’s a little bit of everything to see, from photography to oil-on-canvas to abstract to sculpture. You name it. The best part about the whole evening: it’s free.

Yep. We were able to spend time downtown touring some beautiful galleries, and the whole night cost us only ten dollars (typically that’s what you’d spend in parking downtown, but the meter fairies were on our side that night, and we lucked out and didn’t have to pay anything). We started out in the convention center. Neither of us had ever been there, and since that’s where we parked, we figured we’d check out Hatch Show Print first. The museum looks like an authentic production studio (maybe it really is? I should have asked), and some of the wood blocks were cut back in the thirties. There’s something nostalgic about seeing today exactly what someone would have seen back then. Matt and I particularly liked a Purity Dairy cow print for our kitchen. We love anything that comes with its own story. The original design for the print was intended to teach art students about the art of woodblock cutting.

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From there we took the (free) trolley over the to Arcade, which is where most of the action took place. The energy was almost overwhelming, so many people, so many galleries, so much to see. I didn’t know where to look first. So I didn’t. I smelled instead.

Matt and I didn’t spend our money that night on art (although we did see several pieces, like that cow, that we’d like to get pretty soon if they’re still available). No, we spent our ten dollars on the food. The Arcade is full of yummy local places to eat, and there’s a little bit of everything, like Greek food, pizza, doughnuts, and this place.

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I don’t know much about Sophie Isabella’s the Royal Wedding Cakes, never having been in need of a wedding cake in Nashville before, and typically they close at four on Saturdays. But they stayed open the night of the art crawl, and I was more than happy to indulge my cupcake habit there. Let me tell you: if you ever have the chance, you should check them out.

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I am a self-confessed lover of cupcakes (read more about that here), and I like to try new places every chance I get. So far Matt and I have developed quite a taste for The Cupcake Collection, but the cupcakes we had from Sophie Isabella’s were top-notch as well. They weren’t as sweet as the cupcakes at The Cupcake Collection, so if subtle is your favorite kind of sweet, these are awesome. Now, no more cupcake talk. I promise that’s not the only thing I think about.

Some people would probably say that I’m easily overwhelmed, that it doesn’t take a lot to Wow! me. Maybe that’s true to a certain extent. But the truth is that I’ve lived in places where culture and expression aren’t valued, at least not as much as they ought to be. I know what it’s like to crave a night of entertainment, interaction, and exploration, and those of us who live in (or near) Nashville have the opportunity, at least once a month, to realize that kind of night.

Being a member of the community means knowing what’s going on, not just politically and economically but culturally as well, and Nashville’s art scene is very much alive and kickin’. When stuff like the Art Crawl is made available to us, we owe it not just to ourselves but to our city as well to get out there and find out what’s happening and to support our neighbors in their attempts to put something beautiful into the world.

Have you ever art crawled? Do you have any tips for our next one (because we will DEFINITELY head back