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Burns artist’s work blooms 12 feet high in Germantown garden




A drawing of the soon-to-be-completed artwork for the Germantown Neighborhood Association’s Assumption Sculpture Garden.SUBMITTED/mainstreet-nashville

A drawing of the soon-to-be-completed artwork for the Germantown Neighborhood Association’s Assumption Sculpture Garden.SUBMITTED/mainstreet-nashville

Nashville’s historic Germantown neighborhood is known for its many recognizable homes, shops and restaurants. While it has an iconic mix of posh residences and repurposed industrial buildings, the neighborhood has lacked a playful sense of creativity.

Artist Brian Somerville is working to change that. This summer, the sculptural artist and fabricator will be installing a colorful piece of public art, “To Tame A Beast”, at the Historic Germantown Neighborhood Association’s Assumption Sculpture Garden (1213 Seventh Ave.) for two years.

The sculpture is a whimsical four-piece statue made from metal, foam, fiberglass, epoxy and concrete. Standing at an imposing 12 feet tall, each statue piece is a visual metaphor.

“The statue symbolizes the arc of an artist’s life,” said Somerville, a resident of Burns in Dickson County. “The rhino is the innocence of childhood, roaming without concern. The ship is the adventurous beginnings of an art career. It’s intentional, focused, and prepared for conflict. The ship gives way to the tree, which is a middle-aged person’s quest for stability. The tree’s lesson of ‘staying planted firmly’ carries over to the lighthouse. For me, that’s the final destination of an artist. Every artist should be a beacon of light, guiding others and giving hope.”

Somerville

Somerville

Somerville said he will be adding additional touches to the statue, including symbolic carvings, themed sculpting and LED lights.

The Public Art Committee of the Historic Germantown Neighborhood Association in Nashville approached Somerville in late 2021 about an art piece. Art collector and Germantown resident Linden Leask encouraged the committee to fund Somerville’s work.

Somerville’s career includes two decades as a professional artist, preferred vendor status with OZ Arts Nashville, four years teaching sculpture art at Kentucky’s Governor’s School for the Arts, over 50 public exhibitions, a portfolio of projects as a commercial sculptor and the honor of running a clay studio in a Franciscan friary. He’s held both live sculpting performances and hands on ceramic workshops around the country.

The frame of the rhinoceros part of the ‘To Tame a Beast’ artwork for the Germantown neighborhood garden.SUBMITTED/mainstreet-nashville

The frame of the rhinoceros part of the ‘To Tame a Beast’ artwork for the Germantown neighborhood garden.SUBMITTED/mainstreet-nashville

He and his wife and three sons enjoy a huge treehouse castle and a pirate ship outside of the studio at his home in Burns.

After receiving encouraging feedback from the community, Somerville and his wife, Molly, founded artistic fabrication company The Grit Shop in 2018.

“It’s been quite the journey,” Somerville said. “I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the most creative artists, designers, and companies in the region to bring their ideas to life.”

Somerville’s fanciful ideas, dedication to his work and obsessive level of detail have made him an ideal collaborator for many local artists. “To Tame A Beast” is a departure from these collaborations, representing the first time in his artistic career that he’s completed a large-scale project that was exclusively his composition.

The frame of the ship part of the ‘To Tame a Beast’ artwork for the Germantown neighborhood garden.SUBMITTED/mainstreet-nashville

The frame of the ship part of the ‘To Tame a Beast’ artwork for the Germantown neighborhood garden.SUBMITTED/mainstreet-nashville

He said his primary goal with “To Tame A Beast” is to create a sculpture that provides an equal measure of visual sensation and engaging narrative. The title of the sculpture comes from an accompanying poem Somerville penned about the difficulties of life as an artist. Both the poem and the sculpture express the untamed creative energy within everyone.

“I want the sculpture to be interesting for adults and kids. I also want this to be a piece of art that is memorable to residents of the Germantown neighborhood and visitors that pass through. This is intended to be a piece of art that starts a conversation and warrants multiple visits,” he said.

Somerville said that the sculpture is part of an immersive dream project entitled “Epiclog Island.”

“Nashville is a city full of exciting artistic opportunities,” Somerville said. “Corporate headquarters are frequently setting up shop in Nashville. We’re now home to film studios, theme parks, and a cornucopia of entertainment options. I want ‘To Tame A Beast’ to put me on the public radar as a creator of dynamic, well-crafted artwork.”

Part of the frame of the ship for the ‘To Tame a Beast’ artwork for the Germantown neighborhood garden.SUBMITTED/mainstreet-nashville

Part of the frame of the ship for the ‘To Tame a Beast’ artwork for the Germantown neighborhood garden.SUBMITTED/mainstreet-nashville

Richard Audet, the president of the Historic Germantown Neighborhood Public Art Committee, said. “HGN is excited to share Brian’s exciting new sculpture with both Germantown residents and visitors to our neighborhood. We think that people will delight in how they’ll be able to discover something new in Brian’s piece each time they see it. We’re working hard to make the Assumption Germantown Sculpture Garden a place that’s worthy of this uniquely beautiful piece of public art.”

The in-progress pieces of the ‘To Tame a Beast’ artwork for the Germantown neighborhood garden.SUBMITTED/mainstreet-nashville

The in-progress pieces of the ‘To Tame a Beast’ artwork for the Germantown neighborhood garden.SUBMITTED/mainstreet-nashville

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