As the Nashville skyline continues to be peppered with cranes huddled over raised buildings, it’s a refreshing sign when someone sets out to educate and help preserve this city’s rich history.
The exhibit “Hiding in Plain Sight: Portraits of Nashville’s Elusive Past” is a unique collaboration between artist Anna Jaap and writer Robert K. Oermann. “Hiding in Plain Sight” combines Jaap’s art photos with Oermann’s vivid stories, highlighting some of Nashville’s hidden treasures, places that helped shape Nashville’s rise to prominence as Music City.
Not only does the exhibit showcase photos of places that have unique stories of Nashville’s history, it goes one step further and teaches us that some of these places of significance are right under our nose.
The exhibit will run on the second floor of the Main Nashville Public Library until June 18. The Main Library is located at 615 Church Street in Nashville.
The gallery includes homes once occupied by Patsy Cline, Hank Williams and The Allman Brothers. It includes churches where gospel quartet singing was developed, where the Civil Rights movement was born and where Music City’s first superstars are memorialized. And it features businesses that manufactured Motown’s records, recorded Johnny Cash’s hits and first fried Lay’s Potato Chips.
Nashville’s oldest residence, its most spectacular cemetery, its first record store and its only automobile factory are among the subjects of “Hiding in Plain Sight.” The accompanying stories touch on figures as varied as Oprah Winfrey, James Brown, Adelicia Acklen, Elvis Presley, Minnesota Fats, Roy Acuff, Al Capone, Dolly Parton, Jesse James, Kris Kristofferson and Jimi Hendrix.
Nashville artist Anna Jaap’s work has been acclaimed for its compositional balance, color sensibility and affinity for nature. These also characterize her photography in “Hiding in Plain Sight.” Jaap’s works are collected internationally. Corporate clients have included Avon, Caesar’s Palace, NYU Langone Medical Center, Paramount Pictures, Primus, Ralph Lauren Home, Agricultural Bank of China, Vanderbilt Medical Center and Tiffany. She serves on the board of Watkins College of Art.
Robert K. Oermann is known as “the dean of Nashville’s entertainment journalists.” He has authored eight books about the city’s music history, been published in more than 100 periodicals, has scripted more than 50 TV specials and has written 129 record-album liner-note essays. He is the vice president of the Recording Academy in Music City and serves on the board of the Nashville Public Library. “Hiding in Plain Sight” was inspired by his ongoing research of local history.
There are many reasons to visit the gallery and experience first-hand the thought-provoking items in this exhibit.
Here are five.
1. PATSY CLINE’S DREAM HOME
Located at 815 Nella Drive, this was often referred to by Patsy Cline as her dream home. Her coffin was brought here following her tragic demise in a 1963 plane crash.
2. DOLLY PARTON TRAILER PARK
Dolly lived here while working as a waitress in a nearby restaurant. The trailer park is located off Murfreesboro Pike.
3. HONKY TONK HOUSE
This house, located at the corner of Westwood & Natchez Trace, is where Hank Williams and Ray Price roomed together. Ray worried that Hank would pass out with a lit cigarette and set them on fire. Hank was hauled off from here to dry out at the Sanitarium in Neely’s Bend.
4. THE QUONSET HUT
Music Row’s first music business and first recording studio is still there on Music Square East, hidden behind the facades of the old Sony building. It has been restored by music mogul Mike Curb and retains its priceless collection of vintage microphones. Marty Robbins, Brenda Lee, Bob Dylan, Patsy Cline, Conway Twitty, Tanya Tucker, Flatt & Scruggs, Johnny Cash, Simon & Garfunkel, George Jones, Elvis Costello and The Byrds made music history here. Kris Kristofferson was once its janitor.
5. THE WALL OF FAME
The Acklen Post Office, located at Acklen Avenue in Hillsboro Village, is the closest post office to Music Row. During the 1980s, the postal workers started asking for autographed photos and framed them for display. The headshot of MusicRow‘s own distinguished Robert K. Oermann is among others hanging on that wall.
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