American Artisan Festival CROWD

Arts and Culture Flourish at Nashville’s Centennial Park

Nashville’s Parthenon sits in all her glory in Centennial Park, presiding over the heart of the city. Hidden inside stands the colossal 42 foot gold leaf statue of the goddess Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, war and the liberal arts.

Once known as the Athens of the South due to its abundance of colleges and universities, Nashville was chosen as the site of the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition, and in an outrageously audacious move, decided to build the world’s only life-sized replica of the Greek Parthenon. The accolades received for the original building of plaster, wood and brick led to Nashville’s Parthenon becoming a permanent historic monument when it was rebuilt in 1925 on the same concrete foundations.

Today its museum, exhibits, permanent art collection, and rotating shows are open to the public Tues – Sat 9:00-4:30, and Sun 12:30-4:30.

(photo credit: Gary Layda)

Occasionally on a summer evening you may happen upon a wedding inside, with guests dancing around the feet of the glowing goddess while lilting melodies from a chamber music ensemble spill out into the warm night air.

On many a weekend, under the watchful guardianship of Athena and her Parthenon temple, Centennial Park hosts fairs and festivals that showcase artistic talent in its various forms. This past weekend the American Artisan Festival set up camp for three days, drawing artists from across the country. The quality of their work was outstanding, and half the fun was hearing their stories while musicians took to the stage to entertain the crowds.

The Artisan Festival was founded 42 years ago by local arts pioneer, Nancy Saturn, who died from breast cancer in 2010 but leaves a legacy that will live on as art and culture is celebrated in Music City.

A fifth generation Tennessee native from Chattanooga, Brent Sanders has been an artist all his life. His bold, post impressionist art interprets energy through the use of color and linework. “My signature mark,” he says, “is the way I redraw fine, crisp lines with a calligraphy pen over the finished painting.” His background in video game graphics has given him an eye for capturing city skylines and icons in dramatic acrylics on three and four foot canvases. His latest commission is to celebrate SunTrust Bank’s 100 year anniversary.

Crafting exotic hardwoods into ingenious creative designs, Californian John DeVeer matched his engineering training to his friend’s artistic talent to form Hardwood Creations and produce high quality woodcrafted furniture, games and pieces for the home. This gaming table is crafted from African mahogany, padauk, Peruvian walnut, maple and oak. The top is flipped to create a silky smooth mahogany table, with the game pieces hidden.

Texan Paul Uhl blends a modern, oriental style with southwestern influence, adding numerous layers of color to white, earthenware clay to create dramatic, individual works of art.


Twin Oaks hammocks are handmade by a self-sustainable, income sharing artists’ community in Virginia. Made from scratch, the group spins the thread for rope, mills the logs and cuts, drills, dries and cures the wood from local Virginian white oak, to create colorful and weather-resistant hammocks.


Nashville native Tim Hooper was drawn to caricature art after his early beginnings as an underground comix artist. Historical subjects depicted on exposed wood have become his trademark. He can be found in his studio in East Nashville’s art district, but he mostly exhibits at shows and art fairs around the country.

If you missed the Artisan Festival, mark your calendars for upcoming festivals and activities in Centennial Park. Two major events include Shakespeare in the Park, Aug 16-Sept 16, and Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival, Oct 6, 2012. Tell us your favorites!

Hi! I’m Dayle Fergusson. As a transplanted Aussie living in Middle Tennessee since 1986, I have been a freelance travel...Read on



    Claude Reese

    Another great one!!

  1. Pingback: Fall Is Festival Season in Middle Tennessee | Tennessee Triptales

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