By Judith Dierkes
With Memphis College of Art closing next summer and Memphis Brooks Museum of Art moving in 2024, the big question is: what will happen to these two anchor buildings in Overton Park? Initial proposals were made (two for each building have since been made public), but ultimately in the fall of 2018 the city hired U3, a nationally recognized consulting firm, to facilitate two public meetings discussing the possibility of creating a connection between the two buildings. On March 25, 2019, the city launched a second “Create Your Space” open call, presumably to gather ideas for connecting the two spaces. Mayor Jim Strickland’s proposal choice, slated to happen in May, must be approved by the City Council, so we may know more by the next publication of Number (or perhaps the city will delay the decision in pursuit of an out-of-town entity big enough to develop the 186,000 square feet of space in Overton Park).
Tuesdays Together and Memphis Fashion Institute, two organizations that have been activating the fashion and crafts art scene in Memphis for the last several years, have spearheaded one of the early proposals for the Memphis College of Art building and actively invited public participation and support. Their Arrow at Overton proposal is intended to be a 501c3 nonprofit organization under the Memphis Fashion Institute; efforts thus far have included marketing plans as well as logo and website development (arrowcreative.org). They envision a creative district under one roof that includes studio, co-work, gallery, micro-retail, community education, retail, office and event spaces.
Cooper Young Gallery and Gift Shop is a relatively new gallery in Midtown. Joel Rose and Jenean Morrison converted the former residence into a gift shop and gallery space. Jenean’s wildly colorful fabric and coloring books are my favorite reason to visit the shop. In addition to selling art and gifts, they recently began screening films; at their debut event in March, they presented short films by Memphian Ben Siler. According to Joel, future shows are planned to be outside in the parking lot behind the shop.
The Creatives-in-Research program is a collaborative effort between Wonder/Cowork/Create and the Memphis Medical District Collaborative. Their goal is to initiate paid, collaborative research in order to give creatives insight into potential assets and opportunities in neighborhoods or sites before proposing a piece of artwork. Over the summer of 2019, Wonder/Cowork/Create will collaborate with several creatives as they develop temporary/pop-up projects in Madison Heights, an area whose epicenter is located at the intersection of Cleveland and Madison. They may take the form of a performance, gallery show, art installation, service, billboard and more and are meant to serve primarily as prototypes and experiments. Creatives will have a combined budget of $3000 for up to three temporary projects.
Two exhibits at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art feature printmaking. Painted Words: Poets and Painters in Print, 1870-1970 showcases three volumes that combine literary and visual art through printmaking. The show is curated by Donal Harris, Assistant Professor, English Department, University of Memphis and Julian Rome, Senior, University of Memphis. Natural Curiosity: Beth Van Hoesen displays the artist’s process, from initial sketch to polished print. Van Hoesen specialized in the intaglio processes of etching, drypoint, and aquatint.
Judith Dierkes is an artist working in Memphis and riding her bike with an art trailer protesting Monsanto’s involvement in our food.