July 2017

WORDS Peter Chawaga

Mark Cowden, Scene from Oktoberfest; Photography by Kats Barry

Germantown’s iconic Little’s Fish Company became even more so last month as five Nashville artists each adorned the building with an original mural. Each mural takes up a 4-foot by 8-foot blocked-in window on the building. They depict scenes that illustrate the history of the neighborhood, from prominent residents and architecture to Germantown’s ever-popular Oktoberfest.

The project was spearheaded by Historic Germantown Nashville (HGN), which received a $5,100 Creative Placemaking award from the Tennessee Arts Commission. HGN chose Little’s because of its 50-year history of operation in the neighborhood and its prominent location.

“The building, which started life as a Salvation Army Church in the 1930s, sits at the heart of Germantown, and the blocked-in windows face Monroe Street, a major corridor through the neighborhood,” a spokesperson for HGN’s public art committee explains.

HGN selected the five participating artists from a batch of applicants, with the goal of featuring a range of experience, unique points of view, and varying styles. They were Audie Adams, a local muralist with 20 years of experience in Nashville’s art scene; Jake and Hana Elliott, public artists whose work can be seen around the city; Mark and Yvette Cowden, who specialize in large-scale, neighborhood-themed artwork incorporating mixed media; Michelle Faro, a classically trained observational painter; and Shea Moore, a professional makeup artist.

“The diversity of styles provides something for everyone,” the spokesperson says. “Each artist’s style is unique and appeals to a different audience. By bringing various styles together, we were able to serve up a little something for everyone in the neighborhood.”

Audie Adams, Little Fish Market Scene

The murals will serve as another reason for outsiders to visit Germantown and as inspiration for those residents who come across them almost every day. By celebrating the history that shaped Germantown, the project may be able to rekindle some of the spirit that helped form it.

“One hope is that the murals spark interest and conversations between residents and visitors and add to the welcoming feel of the neighborhood,” says the spokesperson. “Even more important is the hope that the murals create connections between longtime and newer residents and help foster the sense of neighborhood that has been diminished by the rapid growth which has occurred.”

In addition to paying the artists for their mural work, the Creative Placemaking award was used to provide arts activities for Buena Vista Elementary, a local school serving predominately low-income children. Moore visited the school to talk about the importance of art and lead a drawing session.

The murals can be seen at Little’s Fish Company, 1234 6th Avenue North.

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