Thursday, March 04, 2010

one of many reasons why i LOVE the Nashville Scene

One thing you'll never find a shortage of in Nashville: someone with a story. Maybe it's how they got here, maybe it's what they did once they arrived. Maybe it's the reason they decided never to leave. In this issue — our second annual People Issue — you'll meet people whose stories will make you lean a little closer and listen. We found a professor who'd risked life and limb to embed overseas, a country singer-turned-baker, an overnight sensation and a guy who can fix damn near anything. In between, we uncovered experts, characters, and movers and shakers we'd heard about but never met (or stumbled upon without realizing it). Together, their stories form a road map to a city you can spend a lifetime getting to know. Whether you've been here six months or six decades, let us introduce you.

Nashville Scene
The People Issue 2010

Ke$ha - The Pop Sensation
Bobby John Henry - The Baker of Music Row
Chris Scruggs - The Duke of Music City
Brent Stewart, James Clauer, Michael Carter, Ryan Zacarias, Brooke Bernard - The Gang of Five
Beth Gilmore - The Southern Belle
Ed Amatrudo - The Foreclosure King
Katherine Carroll - The Battlefield Professor
Jared Miller - The Philanthropist
Sarah Chrosniak - The DJ
Max & Ben Goldberg - The Dynamic Duo
Kasar Abdulla - The Advocate
Nashville's Dead - The ‘Dead’ Beat Kids
Charlie Southgate - The Music City MacGyver
Nick Raskulinecz - The Producer
Bob O'Dell - The Star Salesman
Kent Marcus - The Rock Rainmaker
Ted Swindley - The Director
Zeneba Bowers - The Violinist
Chris Johnson - The Big Dog
Jeff Yarbro & Sen. Douglas Henry - The Opponents


Beth Gilmore - The Southern Belle

Published on March 03, 2010 at 4:13pm

It's getting harder to find a true native Nashvillian these days, but artist and Twist Gallery co-owner Beth Gilmore is the real deal. Actually, she represents the third generation of her immediate family to operate a business in downtown Music City, which might help to explain her strong sense of place and the historical awareness that informs her work and her life.

Other historically minded locals are likely to have met Gilmore, since she's led tours at the Belmont Mansion for 12 years now. On special occasions, she even dons period dress and assumes the role of the estate's original matriarch, Adelicia Acklen — to whom she actually bears an uncanny resemblance.

Even just chatting over coffee, she's effusive about the mansion's legacy. "They were out here in the middle of nowhere displaying classical art," Gilmore beams. In our media-saturated environment, she observes, we tend to neglect the decorative arts. "But if you're a visually oriented person living out in the middle of a deer park, you want those statues, you want those crazy wallpaper designs!"

Belmont supports present-day art, too — they've hosted a show of Gilmore's paintings and prints in one of the mansion's unrestored rooms. Her senior exhibit for Watkins, where she expects to graduate in May, will feature imaginative re-creations of artifacts lost from the mansion since its original sale in 1887. Delving into letters, diaries and old newspapers for information about Belmont's former contents, she hopes that bringing attention to the missing items might contribute to their eventual recovery.

Gilmore is also artist-in-residence at the Downtown Presbyterian Church, where she keeps a studio and curates shows. The role dovetails nicely with her gallery work, since the church is just up the block from Twist's home in The Arcade. A church residency may seem unusual for a visual artist, but Gilmore — as always — brings a historical perspective to bear. "Medieval artists worked for churches," she laughs. "Even if they didn't always get to sign their work."

Despite an eye on the rearview mirror, she's not one to pine for the good old days. Gilmore is optimistic about today's art world as well as Nashville's downtown revitalization, and not without reason. She founded the thriving Twist Gallery with cohort Caroline Carlisle in 2006, joining the cooperative-minded Art at The Arcade community and other area galleries for events like the monthly First Saturday Gallery Crawl.

Twist is making its mark with exhibits and installations by emerging artists, both from Nashville and from further afield, and with live music and a separate "boutique-style" selection of affordable artwork.

Threads have a way of crossing in Gilmore's life. A childhood home on Acklen Park Drive seems to resonate with playing the part of Adelicia Acklen as an adult, or with keeping a studio at Downtown Presbyterian, where the bell given by Mrs. Acklen still rings every Sunday. Perhaps it's like what Gilmore said about her senior show: Maybe these connections emerge when we just start paying attention. —RUSSELL JOHNSTON

Photographed by Eric England at the artist lofts in the Downtown Presbyterian Church.