Five Points | August 12–13
by Catherine Randall
The tomato, botanically speaking, is a fruit. However, a bowl of tomatoes has never been the traditional still-life subject matter. Why, then, is the tomato the inspiration for an art festival?
Meg and Bret MacFadyen, owners of East Nashville’s Art & Invention Gallery, founded the Tomato Art Fest 13 years ago. The motivation for such an atypical art exhibit was pragmatic. “I knew I needed to do an art show in August. Tomatoes love the heat. So in a tongue-in-cheek way we decided to host the Tomato Art Fest,” Meg MacFadyen says.
This year the Fest will be held on Friday, August 12, and Saturday, August 13, in historic East Nashville’s Five Points.
Its popularity and roster continue to grow, comprising over two dozen events and activities. “Last year the festival drew upward of 55,000 visitors. This year we are expecting another 5,000,” Media Coordinator Kristyn Corder says.
Ideas for the Fest are community driven. The traditional parade began as a show of support. In August 2005 the city became home to Katrina survivors. To honor the new neighbors, organizers simulated the “Second Line” New Orleans-style parade, complete with brass band lead.
At the heart of the festival, of course, is the art. Artists range from the established to the novice, and the only requirement for entry is to stick with the tomato theme. Artists work within their own form to create a stylization like no other.
“I love how the artists adapt, and how they are inspired by the tomato theme,” MacFadyen says. Wan Marsh’s abstract painting titled The Tomato Fight is a perfect example of how theme gives rise to originality.
Marsh was unsure about the invite to participate. By her own assessment, she is not a realistic painter but decided to give it a try. “I started playing with the color red,” added other colors, “the oranges and blues, and bang it was there!” The play on the canvas of the swirls of umber and stretches of greens is interrupted by splats of red, which explode like the juice from an overripe tomato. This image captures the energy of the festival and the unspoken narrative of controlled chaos.
“Tomato Fest is a ‘kick up your heels and have a good time’ kind of event,” Corder says.
For more information and event schedule, please visit www.tomatoartfest.com.