For 22 years, the First Saturday Art Crawl has given locals a reason to head downtown on a Saturday night. And today, a handful of art crawls continue to attract Nashvillians to the many hubs of the city’s art scene. From Fort Houston to Jefferson Street, a creative class is enjoying Nashville’s upward cultural trajectory by showcasing the city’s talents.
The first weekend of the month remains the largest for crawls, but there is an opportunity to enjoy art every weekend. Culturati converse while moving from gallery to gallery, discussing art and much more during Nashville’s monthly crawls. Artfully executed, these events blur the lines of art and entertainment while offering a glimpse into Nashville’s neighborhoods.
As the weather gets warmer, it’s the perfect time to get out and explore the energy tied to this creative side of Nashville. Learn about six community art crawls you should check out this month!
When: First Saturday of the month; Saturday, May 5 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Participating galleries: See full list here.
“We see this art crawl as part of the bigger picture of Nashville as an art city,” Anna Zeitlin of Zeitgeist Gallery explains. “This neighborhood is traditionally home to more artist-run studios, making it a little funkier of an art crawl.” The crawl started in 2014 when a few galleries teamed up to showcase the neighborhood’s art scene, which has been brewing for decades. This month at Julia Martin Gallery, Olivia Leigh Martin’s show will be on display during the crawl; Zeitgeist is opening Simon Roberts’ Public Performance, photography works that explore photography in relation to landscape and modern culture; and abrasiveMedia will feature a collection of work from Omari Booker. Two additional spots not to miss include Fort Houston, where younger artists are often on display, and the Packing Plant, a former meat-packing plant that is home to five galleries.
“Start at the beginning,” Anna suggests. “At the core, the crawl is walkable. Follow the map through this area, then get in your car to visit the other spots before hopping over to Downtown’s art crawl. Along the way, you will be exposed to artists working at different levels — locals starting out and people like Simon Roberts, who has shown in museums.” Anna also reminds us that the event is family-friendly. “As long as kids are respectful, we don’t mind having children’s laughter throughout the spaces!”
When: Second Saturday of the month; Saturday, May 12 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Neighborhood: East Nashville and Inglewood
Participating galleries: Follow East Side Art Stumble on Facebook for updates.
East Side Art Stumble is a popular East Nashville art crawl. Crawlers can explore the creative talent in this growing Nashville neighborhood by visiting galleries and businesses during the monthly event. “The stumble was started by two former gallery owners in 2015 to galvanize the community around East Nashville’s art galleries,” Katie Shaw, owner of The Red Arrow Gallery, East Nashville’s first contemporary art gallery, tells us. On the second Saturday of each month, the East Side Art Stumble invites you to stumble around the neighborhood to explore everything from new exhibits by local and national artists at The Red Arrow Gallery to works crafted with reused material at Turnip Green’s Green Gallery.
This month at The Red Arrow Gallery, fan-favorite Daniel Holland returns to the gallery with his show The Silent World. Daniel attended Watkins College of Art and Design and has shown exhibitions around the state (locally at Oz Arts Nashville and The Red Arrow Gallery).
When: First Saturday of the month; Saturday, May 5 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Participating galleries: See the list of galleries and shuttle route here.
“First Saturday is the original Art Crawl in Nashville, identifying downtown Nashville as an arts neighborhood: a premier and established visual arts destination,” Lon Bouldin, publicist and an integral player in the art crawl, tells us. The crawl started in 2006, as a way to get locals downtown after 5 p.m. “The only weekend missed since August 2006 was May 2010 — because of the Great Nashville Flood,” Lon shares. Each month, more than 20 galleries open their doors.
“If you want to explore downtown, it is a great way to do so,” Anne Brown, owner of The Arts Company on Fifth Avenue says.
Start your crawl at Frist Art Museum with the Architecture Tours, which are offered every Saturday at 4:30 p.m (no advance reservation required). From there, head to 5th Avenue of the Arts, where you will find The Arts Company, Tinney Contemporary and The Rymer Gallery. During May’s crawl, The Arts Company will host the opening reception for Leonard Piha: Piha at Work. Near these galleries, you will find two performance platforms. The Plaza Art Community Art Station will have a “paint-by-number” cityscape of Nashville where visitors can paint a portion of the canvas. The second platform will host Larysa Jaye, a Nashville-based acoustic soul artist. Continue your downtown tour of the arts by visiting Arts at the Arcade, Downtown Presbyterian Church’s Browsing Room Gallery, Hatch Show Print’s Haley Gallery, 21C Museum Hotel Nashville and The Studio 208.
“The city has grown around us,” Anne adds. “People can get together and amble down the street. And the more interest the street offers, the more reason for them to come.” Two insider tips Brown gave us: subscribe to Downtown Details (Downtown Partnership’s weekly newsletter) and 5th Avenue of the Arts Parking (between Church Street and Commerce Street) is the cheapest parking in downtown Nashville.
RELATED: Anne Brown: FACES of Nashville
When: First Friday of the month; Friday, May 4 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Neighborhood: Downtown Franklin
Participating galleries: See the full map here.
Each month, Downtown Franklin Association presents the Franklin Art Scene, which takes you on a tour through downtown Franklin’s historic buildings to showcase the artistic talent flourishing in Williamson County. “The downtown Franklin Art Scene is celebrating its seventh year and welcomes artists of all genres, experience and ages. We have proudly hosted hundreds of artists and are looking forward to continuing to welcome new artists to our town,” Linda Childs, Franklin Art Scene Manager, tells us. More than 25 galleries, merchants and restaurants participate in the Franklin Art Scene. Be sure to stop by the Center for Sustainable Stewardship, a new site on Main Street. Another stop not to miss is O’More College of Design, “The May Art Scene at O’More will be a celebration of our graduating seniors,” Linda shares. “All buildings will be open to tour and see student work. Also, there will be an art installation celebrating the legacy of Eloise Pitts O’More, as this will be the last art scene before O’More moves to the campus of Belmont University.”
When: Third Saturday of the month; Saturday, May 19 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Participating galleries: Follow Germantown Art Crawl on Facebook for updates.
On the second Saturday of each month, crawlers are invited to stroll the historic streets of Germantown while seeing the new offerings in the neighborhood. The crawl started in the summer of 2016 thanks to a small group of artists, with Anthony Billups at the helm. The hub of the crawl is 100 Taylor Arts Collective, an artisan studio space and community in the neighborhood. Last month, local businesses Abednego, Wilder, Bits & Pieces, Alexis + Bolt and Little Harpeth Brewery also participated in the crawl. Local is the focus of the Germantown Art Crawl: local art, local artists, local music, local businesses and local beer. We look forward to seeing what they have to offer during the month of May!
When: Fourth Saturday of the month; Saturday, May 26 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Neighborhood: North Nashville/Jefferson Street
Participating galleries: One Drop Ink Tattoo Parlour, The Art History Class, Woodcuts Gallery and Framing and The Garden Brunch Café
“The Jefferson Street Crawl is unique in that it is the only African-American-led art crawl in the city, and 75% of our galleries feature only local artists,” Joseph Bazelais tells us. Joseph was a founding coordinator of the crawl, which started in 2016. Norf Wall Fest brought street art to North Nashville and was the catalyst for the crawl. “There is not a lot of support for African-American artists — outside the month of February. We want to be pioneers for young black artists in our corridor. We wanted to start a crawl that supports the young black artists out of Fisk and TSU.” During May, Woodcuts Gallery will showcase works commemorating the 50-year assassination of MLK, curated by Omari Booker with the following participating artists: Elisheba Mrozik, Mike Mitchell, Michael McBride, Ashley Nicole Seay, twins Terry and Jerry Lynn, Frank Frazier, doughjoe and Thaxton Waters.
Not only is the crawl reviving the heritage of art in the area, it is celebrating businesses in North Nashville. “The crawl is an opportunity to bring art and beauty into the district — not just visual art but music and culinary. There is a lot going on here, and we are happy to be a beacon that attracts people to the neighborhood and encourages them to patronize with cornerstones of the neighborhood,” Joseph tells us. “We highly encourage attendees to patronize and support our artists with their dollars and not just social media likes. A crawl can be an incredible social experience for all who attend, but our artists put a lot of effort into their shows, and nothing says ‘we love your work’ more than an artist selling all of their pieces at a show.”
Get ready to crawl!
Looking for more monthly events? Check out our list of May Happenings!