Downtown Clarksville is an increasingly popular local and Middle Tennessee destination to enjoy art, music, fine dining and other upbeat, exciting cultural happenings — as well as meet friends who enjoy the same. A widening variety of venues and downtown events lure both locals and visitors to our city center for the fresh dynamic entertainment available.
Customs House Museum and Roxy Regional Theatre are longtime cultural pillars of the downtown arts community, providing quality educational opportunities for decades. APSU is also an enduring rich source of choice and edifying activities.
Our community’s cultural taste is maturing as we seek and support varied, sophisticated amusement venues. Remembering the devastating 1999 tornado, we relish these forward thinkers, artists who saw art as key to our revitalization.
•Elke Allen used part of David Dabbs’ building to display artwork on the corner of Second and Strawberry Alley. With friend Christy Morris and husband, Jim, Elke spent months at restoration, opening La Petite Gallerie in September 2003.
•Susan Bryant and Beverly Parker, fine art photographers, envisioned art as vital to rebuilding downtown and gathered other local artists to form the Downtown Artists Co-op; it flourishes today at 96 Franklin St. DAC first opened in November 2003 above the Front Page Deli in a space generously donated by attorney Peter Olson.
•Art galleries, with Roxy stalwarts Tom Thayer and John McDonald, Hodgepodge guru Paige King, F&M Bank art patron Fred Landiss and others, organized early street festivals, including Pleinair (evolving into Rivers and Spires) and Frolic on Franklin.
•Popular First Thursday ArtWalk started when La Petite Gallerie’s Christie Morris returned from Atlanta with an idea. DAC, La Petite Gallerie, Hodgepodge and other early DCA entities collaborated to give it a try. Today’s ArtWalk is a treasured event pulling crowds downtown monthly — regardless of weather — to stroll, visit and enjoy local creativity and later shop hours.
•Today ArtWalk also includes Glenn Edgin at The Framemaker on North Second, Edward’s Steakhouse, Journey’s Eye, and Rogate’s on Franklin Street. Other regular sponsors of art efforts downtown are US and Planters banks and the Blackhorse Pub & Brewery.
•Recent partnering of DAC, First Presbyterian Church and AHDC (Arts and Heritage Development Council) empowers the Arts for Hearts program, brainchild of Rita Arancibia and Patricia Wilkinson. This heartfelt new venture provides weekly opportunities for at-risk clients to enjoy making art at Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen, assisted by local artist volunteers.
Time, vision, personal and public funding from dedicated groups, individuals and organizations are helping Downtown Clarksville evolve into an exciting “happening place,” attracting locals and visitors alike. It is a destination with purpose: to learn, have new experiences, meet friends in delightful venues — a source of pride for our community.
Current & Upcoming
DAC: T-Shirt designs through July. Annual Regional Juried Art Exposition in August, open to Tennessee and Kentucky artists age 18 or older. Prospectus available at DAC or online at www.downtownartistsco-op.com.
Roxy Regional Theatre: “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” opens July 22 (through August 20th).
Customs House Museum ART LAB: Art For All Ages: Picasso Portraits on July 20, Bubble Science on July 27, times 10:15-11:15 a.m. and 2-3:30 p.m. Carol LeBaron Art & Lunch, 12:15 p.m. July 28. Exhibitions continuing through July 31 are Carol LeBaron’s textiles, Larry Richardson’s “Cumberland River” paintings, Amy Chase’s “Rediscovered Relationships.”
The Framemaker: Roger Bushier’s photographs during August, opening Aug. 4 ArtWalk, 5-8 p.m.
College Coffee Company: Stuart Bonnington music during First Thursday ArtWalk, 6-8 p.m. Aug. 4.
Jammin’ in the Alley: Life in Technicolor and The Nightmasters on Strawberry Alley, 6-10 p.m. Aug. 12.
“Birds in Flight” exhibit (through Aug. 31) by local nature photographer David Magers, opening reception, 5:30-7 p.m. July 20, L&N Train Station, 10th and Commerce streets.
– Peggy Bonnington