Nashville, Picasso and… Bachelorette Parties?

By Tony Moorby May 04, 2021 646
Evening on Broadway street, Nashville Tennessee Evening on Broadway street, Nashville Tennessee

The Frist Art Museum in Nashville is one of my favorite buildings ever. Since the museum’s closure for nearly a year, members have been chomping at the bit for some new exhibitions this year and wow, have they ever come back with some humdingers. 

They had a J.M.W. Turner exhibit that, for me, was a blockbuster and much larger than I would have imagined. I’d done some studies of Turner at school and some of that limited knowledge was responsible for helping a colleague and me rent a house when I first came over in 1982 – but that’s fodder for another time.

Just recently the Frist put on the most wonderful Picasso exhibition of his figures throughout his lifetime. I know Picasso is not for everyone but I’ve had an abiding fascination for him and his work for many years. Not that I think he was a very likeable fellow – quite the contrary - in this day and age his misogyny and use of women would have got him in a world of trouble. But seeing his genius ‘in the flesh’ can bring me to my knees!

The Frist offered some classes during the shows to learn to observe some of Picasso’s techniques and how they changed over time. I was in like a long dog! The classes were on Saturday afternoons and the sessions included doing some paintings and collages of our own. Cool stuff!

The problem was going to Nashville on a Saturday afternoon. Once a tourist destination fueled by the national admiration of country music and Opryland, it was an otherwise relatively quiet backwater city with book and music publishing, financial services and a slowly growing health care center (with Vanderbilt as a hub). All quiet and unassuming industries that kept themselves to themselves.

As you may be now aware Nashville is a mecca for all-comers. With easy access from anywhere, being intersected by three major interstates, an international airport (and still growing new terminals like octopus tentacles) it’s growing like Topsy. The house market can’t keep pace with demand and prices are going through the roof – pun intended – and that’s alright if you’re selling and moving out but youngsters are finding it tough to get on the ladder. Even rents are costing an arm and a leg.

There was a time when a gentle stroll down Broadway would be rewarded with warm hospitable people doing likewise and bobbing into the occasional bar for some refreshment and some country food – catfish and hushpuppies or fried chicken and so on to go with some casual music.

It is now a seething mass of humanity with every kind of attraction and entertainment imaginable and the decibel levels rise as bars compete for attention and customers. The parking fees are keeping pace accordingly, that is if you can find a spot in the first place. Electric scooters are everywhere with riders who don’t know how to drive them and couldn’t care less anyway.

For some unfathomable reason, Nashville has become the “IT” place for bachelorette parties – those last-minute get-togethers before the realities of married life set in, so it’s all hell-for-leather, let your hair down hedonism. One ritual involves a pedal tavern – a mobile bar powered by pedaling passengers - while they go from shots to slurps of beer, careening through the traffic and pedestrians. Just to get customers in the mood, almost every accouterment, from glasses to straws, necklaces and coronets denote male phalluses! They tell me that a new pedal tavern itself is in the shape of one. It’s the only cheap thing in town and I think it’s a shame we’ve come to that. Perhaps Picasso would have his own rendition. 

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Last modified on Tuesday, 04 May 2021 12:03