Market Spotlight: An eclectic artist finds a new home
We caught up with Anna Webb of HeArt of Nashville, who recently put her beloved art-laden trailer Ginger out to pasture as she transformed her new “silo” space inside the Market House into a beautiful gallery showcasing her eclectic style.
NFM: What do you most enjoy about retailing at the Nashville Farmers’ Market?
AW: The people — and their pets. I would never be happy being an artist hidden away alone in a studio with little to no contact with those who enjoy and purchase my work. The Market has a very diverse patronage. I meet people from all over the world as well as people who live right around the corner. They are having fun either way and they keep me laughing all day long. They will share their joys and concerns and I am constantly surprised at how often a particular piece of my art will speak to them in a very personal way. I get to watch the power of art every single day. As an artist, it really doesn’t get better than that.
The other vendors and staff are also a joy. These are good hard-working people with a passion for what they do — whether growing produce or producing a craft, or helping those of us who do.
What do you least enjoy about retailing at the Market?
Figuring out how to step away from my shop to get a delicious meal from the great restaurants! The Market management has been very supportive as I transition this former dining space and have installed a gate that I can easily pull closed.
Your new space in the Market House [one of the “silo” dining areas that used to hold a few tables and chairs] has been beautifully transformed. What advice do you have for others who are looking at a new retail space?
I have a degree in interior design, so for others this might be more of a struggle. I would start with suggesting that they let the “feel” of the space lead the way. This shouldn’t necessarily translate to spending more money and to be ready for applying a lot of elbow grease. It’s usually a choice of materials and color that make the biggest difference. I drove to Clarksville for inexpensive pallet wood I found online and ended up spending very little for my build-out. I would suggest making wise choices that don’t burden the dream with a deep deficit.
Although I love building things, I can assure you that nearly 10-foot-tall walls require help to move and install. Fortunately, my husband and other family members have been very supportive of my shop dreams and have pitched in as needed. Don’t be afraid to ask — people enjoy helping with dreams!
You’re here at the Market five days a week (Wednesdays through Sundays). When do you squeeze in your creative time?
I’ve struggled with this question ever since I became a business open to the public. My original goal in the trailer was to be able to work inside. I quickly found that, in a tiny 7x12-foot space, I really didn’t have room for that, but it’s something I hope to change very soon. I am already imagining how to set up my work area. Although I will not be able to do everything on site in the silo, I can do sketches and studies for future pieces and there is plenty of space to carve new linocuts. I can print linocuts and paint at my home studio in my evenings and off days. I am also hopeful that a new water-based painting medium I’m beginning to work with will be doable in my silo.
I always imagined this as a working shop/studio because customers always enjoy seeing a work in progress.
Speaking of your trailer… did you abandon her in the woods somewhere?
Her name is Ginger (red wheels and stripes) and I and my customers still love her! She is a vintage old gal (1955 Traveleze), so she’s going into semi-retirement, probably making an appearance at select festivals. I will be forever grateful for her service and for the opportunity we had in the artisan shed here at the Market for the past year and a half. She’s a real charmer with her own fan base and will be a great ambassador for my new round silo space inside the Market House. I do seem to have a strong affinity for little round spaces... but now I have LOTS of head room!
What’s your all-time favorite question from a customer?
There are so many! One customer I had never met before asked me earnestly if his girlfriend would like the skyline print he picked out or if she’d prefer the other one he was considering. Like I said, people keep me laughing.
Do you think Mr. van Gogh would be pleased with what you did with his whole Starry Night thing?
Oh, my, I hope so. I think about that a lot. I hope he would see it for the admiration it is (for the curious, this is perfectly legal as long as the original artist passed away at least 70 years ago). Poor Vincent; my derivative Starry Night in Nashville version has been exponentially financially kinder to me than his entire body of work was to him. I’m always surprised when people take a moment to realize that it’s not his but a Nashville version. I have done another van Gogh derivative piece for a local recording studio. My husband tells me I have a bizarre ability to mimic the work of a mentally unwell 19th-century man. Thanks … I think?
That brings up an interesting point. My artwork style is wide ranging, and I realize it can appear to be the curated work of several artists, which is why I post a sign stating “Yes, it’s all my artwork.” That’s exactly why you find me representing myself in my own space. This sort of eclectic body of work I have drives galleries crazy. They want your work to all look more or less the same in style, medium and subject matter. For the life of me I don’t understand why they would take one of life’s most creative endeavors and try to put limits on it, but they do.
My mother was right, I guess, when she used to tell me I was recalcitrant. Maybe I share that with Van Gogh as well.
Outside of the Market, what’s your favorite Nashville spot to take visitors?
Up until now, the Frist Art Museum would definitely have been high on that list. But now I think our brand new Tennessee State Museum [adjacent to the Market] is at the top. It really is fabulous ... and it’s free. I had no idea how much they had in their collection but were unable to exhibit in the old location. It has something of interest for anyone of any age, I mean there’s a covered wagon on display! Combined with the Nashville Farmers’ Market and the information-packed Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, that’s a full day with one park of the car or one stop on the trolley. I’ll proudly point out that this is all visible from my silo windows, so I am one lucky gal.
Vino from Natchez Hills or a brew from The Picnic Tap?
That depends on what food choice I’m looking at … but typically I’m a wine gal. Nick at Natchez Hills recently made a batch of magical holiday spice wine that will be my winter go-to!
Cats or dogs?
How about pigs? Even though we live inside Nashville city limits, we owned two for 18 years: Jimmy Dean and Pearl. For several years we had two pigs, two dogs and two cats. I used to kid that we were starting an ark.