I ran across an online mention that Nashville-based artist David Arms had started his own line of ties, handmade by Otis James. The ties are made from fabric that David collects, which led me to the happy discovery of a gallery he opened in Leiper’s Fork called The Barn, which is the only place you can buy his ties, as well as the full line of products inspired by his paintings. Then I saw this tweet from David, “The Barn won a Preservation Award presented by the Heritage Foundation of Franklin. Pretty awesome!” and I knew I HAD to check this place out.
Images, unless noted, are by Liza Graves (© 2012 StyleBlueprint, LLC ).
There are days I like my job. And then, there are those special days when I really LOVE my job. My visit to The Barn, and the ensuing conversation with David and his wife Michelle, proved the latter. I love my job most when it leads me to places that allow me fall further in love with Middle Tennessee, and this gallery is precisely one of those places. (Don’t stop reading if you’re out-of-state; you will enjoy the artwork that follows!)
David began painting 20 years ago because he and Michelle had a large empty wall and an equally empty frame. Little did he know that the thought, “I can paint something for that,” would result in a career change in his mid-30’s from event planner extraordinaire to highly sought-after painter. His friends saw his first painting, started asking for him to paint for them and suddenly, a new career path emerged.
David starting looking for a place to open a gallery and fell in love with the idea of Leiper’s Fork. (It’s true that your blood pressure seems to drop the closer you get to the town center, by the way.) Having always loved barns, he found this one being renovated by Charlie and Shannon Martin, he knew immediately it was the right space. Meticulously restored, this building provided an ideal ideal backdrop for all of his art, and it’s location on a main street was an added bonus.
While here, I must have said five times that I could not get over how much I was taken by the smell of the gallery. It reminded me of a favorite old church, St. Mary’s in Daytona Beach, Florida, to be exact. I found out that the smell in the gallery is actually a bottled concoction made to replicate what David’s painting studio smells like. Visitors kept remarking that they wanted to bring that scent home with them, so he recreated it as a room spray and candle collection. I have the spray now in my own house, and believe me, every day I’m spritzing away!
The gallery invites visitors to linger, with chairs and conversation aplenty. There are places to sit inside and out. Books to pick up throughout. And, I so appreciate David’s awareness that not everyone can afford his original art. The note cards, mugs, prints and giclees he has created, all for sale at different price points, make it possible for anyone to add his aesthetic to their home.
Give yourself a gift and visit Leiper’s Fork. You don’t need a special reason to go. It’s only 20 minutes from Green Hills (okay, maybe 25), but it feels like it’s a lifetime away from the city’s relentless, fast pace. Go eat, shop and soak in the joy that is Leiper’s Fork. And while you’re there stop by The Barn. Take a seat, inside or out, and enjoy a moment. This is exactly what David and Michelle invite you to do.
To read more about Fire Pit Art, see our article from this past January. It’s the time of year to add one to your “want” list: .
There are even chairs overlooking the meadow.
By all means, go, and be surrounded by nature’s beauty and the beauty of the David’s art. The fact that it is housed in the most amazing restoration of a barn I have ever seen simply makes the destination that much more special.
The Barn at Leiper’s Fork
Hours Wed-Sat 10-5, Sun 1-5.