Elevating preservation of wooded hillsides surrounding Nashville
January 2024, Partnering with The Alliance to Conserve Nashville’s Highland Rim Forest
Several of the parks in which we paint are located on the slopes of what is one of the largest,
continuous expanses of urban forest of any city in the US. These woods cover the slopes that
form a ridge of hills known as the “Highland Rim” which wrap either side of the “Central Basin” in
which Nashville is situated. Warner Parks and Radnor are in these hills, plus two other parks
(Beaman and Bells Bend) that we hope to partner with for art shows in the near future. The goal
is connecting a name to these hills and branding the forest as something Nashville needs to
identify with and protect against the pressures of development.
For more information check out https://nashvillehighlandrimforest.org/
Preserving Parks… only this time in Downtown Nashville
October 24, 2022, Partnering with the Nashville Downtown Partnership
We typically think about elevating the importance of green spaces on the edges of Nashville, but a recent, last-minute notice from the Nashville Downtown Partnership (NDP) pushed a couple of Chestnuts to drop their plans one morning in October and head down to Church Street Park – right in the center of downtown across from the Downtown Public Library.
Knowing this tiny park had been under threat of getting covered by a building – and also being on the lookout for an organization TCG might partner with on future painting ventures in downtown, when I saw the posting about the NDP sponsoring painting in the park during lunch that day, I sent board members the notice. Two of us were able to make it last minute.
By participating in the painting program we forged a solid network to build upon in the future should TCG want to stage paint outs in Nashville’s bustling downtown. We met a wonderful woman who “animates the downtown spaces” as part of her role at the NDP. We also got solid support for the potential to host a show and sale in conjunction with the right type of event in a downtown venue.
Generating activity in these public spaces is the key to their success and protection from being encroached upon by development. We firmly established with the Nashville Downtown Partnership that The Chestnut Group is one local resource they can count on to help Nashville in its quest to protect trees and public green space.
For more background on Church Street Park:
ART SHOW: Speaking for the Trees & Lockeland Springs Park
April 6-10, 2022 at Shelby Bottoms Nature Center
On April 6 Mayor John Cooper gave introductory remarks to open our art show to celebrate the success of the coalition of neighborhood volunteers, local nonprofits, the TennGreen Land Conservancy, and the Trust for Public Land, who all came together to meet the fundraising challenge to acquire the 4-acre property and convey it to Metro Parks. Our efforts elevated the public’s awareness of this opportunity and helped privately raise $800Kwhich tripped Metro to donate matching funds to ensure that it stays green and moves under Nashville’s ownership.
This green space was unlike any of the spaces that we typically paint. A tornado in March of 2020 devastated the large trees for which it was known. Daylight allowed undergrowth to take over the ground plane. This setting challenged our creative vision to find forms and lighting that capture a traumatized ecosystem in transition. The homes perched along the edges of the rocky basin add to the surreal effect of the place.
The newly acquired land is adjacent to Shelby Park. The Friends of Shelby Park & Bottoms generously agreed to host this art show in their Nature Center to support Lockeland Spring Park’s newly organizing Friends.The show hosted 193 pieces for sale, 51 participating artists, and 23 donations. For a show with a new, first-time partner on a new side of town, these numbers exceed expectations. Total sales were $32,144 from 62 paintings, with $15,291 (45% + the proceeds from donation paintings) going to the friends’ groups, $13,446 (45%) to artists, and $2,568 (10%) going to support the Chestnuts’ overhead.
Nashville Tree Conservation Corps
The Chestnut Group continues to partner with the Nashville Tree Conservation Corps https://www.nashvilletreeconservationcorps.org in our efforts to elevate the awareness of the importance of saving our local tree canopy and in advocating for more effective tree codes. In September of 2020, we staged a “Speaking for the Trees” exhibit with the Gordon Jewish Community Center https://www.nashvillejcc.org/ that featured Chestnut paintings of local trees.