Food Feature: Grand new offering

The Frist Center brings visual arts to a revitalized Nashville

A city that has long been known mostly for its musical offerings, Nashville has exploded into one of the South's more contemporary cultural cities south of the Mason-Dixon line. There's a renewed exuberance in the downtown area as Nashville forges a new skyline, but there's still a stiff hold on the roots of bygone years as landmarks such as Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry sit solidly at the base of the proliferation. After all, you don't erase the old, you add to it.
When I worked in Nashville I would go to the main post office to buy stamps and mail letters ... not anymore. The old post office at 919 Broadway, built in 1934, is being transformed into the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.
As I strolled through the Art Deco lobby I recalled the beautiful grill work that adorns sections of the building. Now, thanks to a labor-intensive cleaning job, the marvelous metal intricacies are revealed.
The first and second floors, 24,000 square feet, will be used to display major national and international exhibits. The opening exhibition is a collection of European masterworks from the Art Gallery of Ontario, which will feature about 95 works surveying nearly 500 years of painting by some of Europe's greatest masters including Rembrandt van Rijn, Tintoretto, Monet, Degas and Picasso. A diverse display of art from Nashville's most interesting private and public collections, a retrospective of the city's historic landmark buildings and an installation of work by nationally known local artist Michael Aurbach will also be on display.
The goal of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts is to open visual windows of culture to Nashvillians and visitors through a program of inspiring and thought-provoking exhibitions. Not to be left out will be the continuing focus on educational programming aimed at enriching the enjoyment, understanding and study of the visual arts.
With its transformation from an underused post office to a grand public arts facility, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts answers the question that George Jones first sang: "Whose Gonna Fill My Shoes?" Welcome to the new Nashville.
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, located at 919 Broadway, Nashville, Tenn., will open to the public April 8, 2001. Adult admission is $6.50, seniors $4.50, college students $4.50 and those 18 and under are free. For more information call 615-244-3340 or visit www.fristcenter.org.

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