Buckingham Foundation’s partnering in the fight against hunger thanks to Gleaners Food Bank! During the 2018-2019 school year, Gleaners Food Bank will support and distribute nutrient-dense food to 55 School-Based Pantry locations, including George Buck Elementary School.
“Off the Wall on Charlotte Avenue”
Featuring the work of 14 artists, Off the Wall brings a new wave of creativity and inspiration to Nashville.
OCTOBER 8, 2018
It all started after Tinsley Dempsey heard the phrase “creative place-making” at a Nashville convention.
The phrase can be described as “being creative about how you’re utilizing a space,” whether it’s a patio on which vendors can set up spaces or creating more outdoor walkways and areas. The Georgia native, who has a background in art and murals, marks that as the moment her wheels began turning. Four years later, Off the Wall, a 1,200-foot wall made up of 14 murals, stretches down Charlotte Avenue for thousands of passersby to enjoy each day.
Dempsey says Off the Wall’s mission is to promote creative place-making, public art, and development.
“I feel like revitalization and using the built environment that’s already there is an important message, and the art can be really impactful,” Dempsey says. She also explains the domino effect of beautifying a community, saying, “If an area attracts people in a community, it’ll attract businesses and people walking around, so that creates a thriving community in and of itself.”
Off the Wall is located near the new ONEC1TY center and could certainly play a role in the area’s growth.
“It was important to me, for the integrity of curating all the different murals that are on there, to involve contemporary artists because I didn’t really see a lot of that here,” Dempsey says.
The first mural was completed in 2014 by artist Seth Prestwood. The last mural, finished on Labor Day, is by Nashville artist Tess Erlenborn, who plays with the idea of dualities in her art: order and chaos; growth and decay. Her mural consists not of bold, punchy colors but, instead, a softer, muted range of pastel pinks and cool blues balanced out with grays and golden yellows.
“My work is taking ownership over and claiming these feminine symbols and colors and various patterns I find in biology books that represent diseases and decay and making them colorful and light,” Erlenborn says.
The hazy, dream-like mural by another Nashvillian, Julia Martin, can be placed on the other end of the color spectrum with its mix of aqua blue faces and purple legs.
“The majority of my thinking while working on [the mural] was community, community, community—but I still wanted to have a little edge and be a little abstract,” Martin says.
In today’s world of social media saturation, Dempsey acknowledges the exposure a platform like Instagram can give to Off the Wall.
“With Instagram, it goes across the world, and people will come to a place to seek something out, to take a picture in front of, and it’s just amazing.”
She hopes the walls become “a revolving gallery of contemporary mural art.” Dempsey wishes for Off the Wall to inspire future projects in Nashville.
“I hope it puts a thought in people’s minds when they are developing. Maybe developers, maybe commercial owners around here take notice. That’s my real hope, and that green space and public art is included with every project that begins here in Nashville.”
Charlotte Ave; offthewallnashville.com
SEP 20, 2018 5 AM
The Writing on the Wall
The completion of Off the Wall, an inspiring 1,200-foot mural on Charlotte Avenue
by Erica Ciccarone
In 2014, Tinsley Dempsey started pounding the pavement. All she had was a bold idea. She had just moved to Nashville from Atlanta, and a 1,200-foot wall that separated Charlotte Avenue from a lot full of storage units looked to her like a blank canvas.
Dempsey made some business cards and got moving. Calling her project Off the Wall, she approached the lot’s owner. She told everyone her idea — from government agencies to Lyft drivers — and slowly but surely got local sponsors and partnered with nonprofits to make the project a joint effort. Dempsey got local outreach organizations including Room In The Inn, Oasis Center and TN Donates Life involved, and she welcomed businesses on board — as varied as local coffee empire Bongo Java and presenting sponsor Buckingham Foundation, the philanthropic arm of developers Buckingham Companies.
Four years later, the wall is full, with 14 murals painted almost exclusively by locals, among them Brandon Donahue, Tess Erlenborn and Sarah Liz Tate. This week, Off the Wall will celebrate the wall’s completion with a party that will feature food trucks, drinks, music and live painting, plus reps from a bevy of nonprofits and local neighborhood businesses.
It’s notable that not all the artists on the wall typically work on a large scale. A standout piece by Julia Martin features a surrealist park scene with a woman’s face in the foreground. It’s vibrant and sad, like she’s melting into the wind. Omari Booker’s piece shows a young boy and girl sitting cross-legged and exuding a sense of closeness. According to the artist, he and his sister spent every summer at the Hadley Park Community Center down the street. She died in 2002, but you don’t need to know that to appreciate Booker’s deeply felt tribute.
Just as moving is a painting of activist, artist and Those Darlins frontwoman Jessi Zazu. Zazu died in September 2017 at age 28, and she left a massive hole in Nashville’s arts and culture ecosystem — as well as in the lives of those who knew her. According to Dempsey, Zazu lived blocks from the wall, and on her way to the hospital for cancer treatment, she’d tell her mother that she’d love to contribute to it. So when Jessi Zazu Inc., a foundation that memorializes her legacy and work, reached out to Dempsey, she knew it was meant to be. Designed by artist Billy Lilly and painted by Duncan Shea and Jessi’s brother Emmett Wariner, the mural shows Nashville’s own darlin’ with a fearless expression on her face, a curl of hair falling across her forehead, red lips pursed in a smirk. It’s larger than life — just like Jessi was. The foundation is printing T-shirts emblazoned with the image, and they’ll be for sale to benefit the foundation at Off the Wall’s launch.
Some murals in the city signal a kind of status — a New Nashville that’s out to get the attention of cities with a more iconic visual art presence. Dempsey’s commitment to local artists and her partnership with neighborhood organizations, businesses and nonprofits feels homegrown in a way that both elevates the arts and stays connected to the city’s roots.
“I’m not working for Instagram here,” says Dempsey. “I’m looking for community.”
Buckingham Foundation recently granted $15K to OFF THE WALL Nashville to fund the completion of the gallery wall off Charlotte Ave in Nashville. Our team partnered with Tinsley Anne Dempsey after meeting her through Aertson Midtown and learning more about her initiatives with art, culture and the city of Nashville.
The fifth annual Art & Home Tours hosted by ArtMix continued this week with a tour of Buckingham Companies’ corporate office. CEO and President, Bradley Chambers, has an extensive art collection on display at 941 North Meridian Street and was thrilled to welcome Indianapolis art enthusiasts to our creative space to appreciate works from Walter Knabe, Salvador Dali, Picaso, and Robert Delaney, just to name a few.