European touches in Nashville!
Updated: Jun 7, 2022
The Musée national Picasso-Paris from Paris, France, a world-class collection by the Spanish master artist Pablo Picasso, windmills and tulips of the Netherlands, and the Parthenon of Athens, Greece can ALL be experienced in NASHVILLE. Yes, you read that right. I spent the past weekend in Nashville, Tennessee and experienced all that and more. While the Picasso and the tulip exhibitions are both temporary, the Parthenon has been a permanent fixture in Nashville since 1897.
The Spaniard, Pablo Picasso, in Paris, France
The Musée national Picasso-Paris is a museum located in Paris, France that houses a permanent collection of, the Spaniard, Pablo Picasso's works.
Picasso, a painter in the early 20th century pioneered the Cubist style and his works are typically classified as Neo-classical, Surreal, and Expressionist. The current exhibition in Nashville, titled 'Picasso. Figures', on loan from the Musée national Picasso-Paris, is displayed in Nashville's Frist Art Museum. This exhibition is its SOLE appearance in the entire U.S.A. and can be viewed until May 2, 2021. Non-refundable, advanced, timed tickets are required.
The works of Picasso, on display, aim to showcase his career-long fascination with human figures and their expressions of emotion. The exhibition features approximately 75 pieces of paintings, drawings, etchings, and sculptures. Picasso notoriously deconstructed and then reconstructed bodies with his unique, creative vision, throughout his long career. His faces are often 1/2 frontal-and-1/2 profile, his limbs often articulated at seemingly non-anatomical angles, and his body proportions either overtly diminished or exaggerated. His figures range from more recognizable depictions of family, friends, and lovers to less recognizable geometrically abstract forms. Interestingly his figures are influenced not only by his own psychological impressions of humanity but also by his witness of the destructive forces on humanity that were present during the early 20th century. Picasso's creativity, as well as his varying styles and 'periods', are showcased in this world-class exhibition.
Tulips and Windmills of Holland
Now pack your bags and hop aboard a small 'puddle-jumper' northeastward to the Netherlands. Mid-late April is THE TIME to view Holland's beautiful fields of tulips in full bloom. As I previously described in my Tiptoe through the Tulips blog, the radiant palettes of color can be seen in the countryside north of Amsterdam and in the landscape around Leiden.
But Nashville, too, abounds with color right now as the Cheekwood Estate and Gardens presented their Dutch-inspired 'Cheekwood In Bloom' display. Over 150,000 blooming bulbs and several creative and whimsical windmills were on view throughout the gardens this past month. In addition to tulips, the displays also featured daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, and violas. The bulb season in Nashville is slightly earlier than that in the Netherlands and is SHORT. The early bulbs featured hyacinths and daffodils, followed later by countless, colorful tulips. By April 11th the bulbs were already taking their final gasp, BUT a plethora of perennials, rosebud trees, and dogwoods still colored the estate. Cheekwood's blooms were on display from March 6 - April 11, thereafter making room for summer plantings. (Photos #1 & 2, below, were shared from Cheekwood's Instagram site taken during its peak tulip and daffodil days.)
The Parthenon of Athens
Finally, it's time to fly south and feel some Mediterranean sun on your skin. Arrive in the bustle of Athens and experience the rich history of the city. You may have even noticed the majestic Parthenon, atop the rocky Acropolis, as your plane was approaching the Eleftherios International Airport. Begun in 447 BC, the famous temple was built and dedicated to the goddess Athena. Today, it is always a fun activity to hike the winding footpath to the top of the Acropolis, albeit a steady uphill walk.
You won't have to work THAT hard to get to view the Parthenon in Nashville's Centennial Park. Since 1897, this popular urban park is home to a FULL-SCALE replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. It was built to celebrate Tennessee's Centennial Exposition and has remained a centerpiece of that park ever since. It consists of 46 Doric-styled columns and has two rooms in its interior. One room, called the Naos, houses a re-created 42-foot gilded statue of Athena with a 6.5-foot statue of Nike perched on her right hand, similar to what once stood in the original Parthenon of Ancient Greece. Elegant bronze doors tower at the entrance of the Naos.
The second room is called the Treasury, where the Elgin casts (shown below) and the pediment models are on display. Even the East and West pediment figures are replicas of the Parthenon Marbles, as they were made from direct casts of the originals, which are currently housed in the British Museum in London. The West Pediment depicts the contest between Athena and Poseidon to determine who would become the Patron of Athens. The East Pediment depicts the crowning of the triumphant Athena by Nike, who is the personification of victory.
Having seen the REAL Parthenon in Athens several times, experiencing the REPLICA in Nashville was uniquely and unexpectedly exhilarating for several reasons. First, as already stated, the size, columns, architecture, and details are a TRUE replica of the original. Second, you can walk inside of the Nashville Parthenon and get an actual feel of its immense size, grandeur, and interior layout, which you cannot do in Athens. Third, the Nashville replica is a complete structure, including the pediments, whereas the Parthenon in Athens is a ruin, with MANY missing pieces. Fourth, the Nashville Parthenon houses a full-sized statue of the goddess Athena as would have been seen in the Athenian original, whereas the Parthenon in Athens lacks that statue, for it was destroyed. For these reasons viewing the replica-Parthenon was a truly enjoyable experience, as it makes me appreciate the original in Athens, all the more! The Parthenon in Nashville is the WORLD'S ONLY accurate and exact replica of the original details and architecture of the Ancient Greek temple. The Nashville Parthenon now functions as an art gallery for temporary exhibits that serve to educate the public about the legacy of the ancient Greeks and their impact on Amerian civilization.
Time to Fly Home
Sadly, all great trips come to an end. Whether returning from Europe or Nashville, I ALWAYS return home with considerably more knowledge than when I left; as well as a cherished experience. Luckily it is through art, nature, and history that we can appreciate the beauties and contributions of past and present civilizations, including those from the other ends of the earth. Despite this cultural excursion having had a very European flavor, all it took was a taste of southern American BBQ to quickly remind me that I was still in Nashville! LOL!!