The Metro Nashville Arts Commission is bringing more public art work to the city’s green spaces at the newly established Kossie Gardner Sr. Park on 16th Avenue and Jefferson Street.
The park, which was named during a special ceremony in January, was designed as a space that will accommodate events and live music. The space was also set up to allow residents to showcase their artistic talent and take ownership of their creative aspirations through public art projects, in part through a “community canvas.”
“We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to have a wall that could be used as activation?’ Not only murals. I think it might also be sculptural, or it could be projection art,” said Caroline Vincent, the executive director of Metro Arts. “We’re working with a group of community advisors that include Nashville artists, specifically from the North Nashville community, and other community members, to advise on what it would look like.”
Metro Arts says the new initiative will bring a new opportunity for the city to invest in North Nashville artists and preserve the unique culture of the community. A community advisory group will help the city determine what gets displayed and for how long. Vincent is expecting to have a dedication of the first artwork in spring.
Jefferson Street is historically known for its musical buzz and being a present-day corridor for Black Nashville creators.
In the mid-1900s, North Nashville was seen as a hot spot for R&B and rock ‘n’ roll. The neighborhood’s music clubs attracted legendary singers, including Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard and Etta James.
Today, it’s home to a regular art crawl and several businesses that serve as part-time art galleries.
“Nashville needs Jefferson Street. Where else in America do you find three HBCUs and 77 churches?” said Nashville Mayor John Cooper, during a Monday morning press conference.
Cooper says that Nashville needs Jefferson Street to be the most “energetic part of Music City” as it was during the 1940s.
“We need Jefferson Street to sing again,” said Cooper. “And that will take all of us today, and all of the organizations today, to recommit to the next phase of our city.”