A Spring 2021 guide to Nashville’s art scene

More than just Music City, Nashville has a number of fun art events and exhibitions to enjoy when venues reopen this spring.


Commodore artists at Fall for the Arts in September 2019 (Hustler Multimedia/Emily Goncalves)

Sahanya Bhaktaram and Julia Tilton

In a city with exciting nightlife, live music and an endless supply of places to eat, Nashville’s art scene often goes unnoticed. While Chihuly at Cheekwood certainly got its fair share of Instagram posts, Music City has a number of other galleries and exhibitions to enjoy—especially in the spring. We’ve compiled a list of art activities to check out below if you want a break from staring at your computer screen, and want to have a look at stunning chef-d’oeuvres instead.


The Frist Museum 

The Frist Art Museum in Nashville provides free admission to college students. Screenshot from @fristartmuseum Instagram March 18 (Hustler Staff/Eva Pace)

Going to the Frist might sound obvious, but the museum really is worth checking out, especially since college students get free admission. The Picasso exhibit is the most publicly eye-catching, but there are also a number of other unique exhibitions to check out on your day trip. 


Picasso Exhibit at Frist

The Frist Art Museum is featuring Pablo Picasso’s work in a limited exhibition called “Picasso Figures” until May 2. The exhibition features 75 paintings, sculptures and works on paper from the collection of the Museé National Picasso-Paris. The works featured highlight Picasso’s interest in the human figure as a vehicle of emotional expression and a means of grappling with the complex questions of humanity. Artistic styles, from surrealism to neoclassicism to expressionism, can be observed throughout the exhibition, which includes works from throughout Picasso’s career. Nashville will be the only location in the United States to host this exhibition, which has been ongoing since Feb. 5. Visit Frist’s Ingram Gallery to view Picasso’s work up close before it is gone. Make sure to reserve tickets as student discounts are not applicable for this exhibit. 


N2020: Community Reflections

This is an online exhibition available for viewing here. Guest curator Woke3 has partnered with the Frist to create a collection of images, videos and music representative of 2020 (think: this year in pictures). 


Liliana Porter: Man with Axe and Other Stories

On display until May 2, Argentina-born artist Lilian Porter has created an eerie and chaotic arrangement of toys to represent “the entropic effects of time and the collapse of historical progress that can be caused by a single agent of chaos,” per the Frist website. Her work titled “Man with Axe” is the centerpiece of the exhibition.


The Frist features spoken word poet Karima Hariel in its N2020 online exhibition. Screenshot from @fristartmuseum Instagram March 10 (Hustler Staff/Eva Pace)

A Landmark Repurposed: From Post Office to Art Museum

In celebration of the Frist’s 20th anniversary, this exhibition will focus on the history of the museum which was once a post office. There will be old architecture drawings, newspaper clippings, photographs and reconstructed prototypes to visually walk viewers through the history of the building. This is a great exhibit for history lovers and those who want to understand Nashville’s transformation. Available until Jan. 9, 2022. 


Creating the American West in Art

This exhibit is partnered with the Denver Art Museum. We’ve learned about the importance of the American West in our history classes as central to American identity and ideology. In exploration of new territories and the groups of people affected by expansion, this collection gives a visual representation of American history related to the West with a span of portrait and landscape paintings and sculpture from 1822 to 1946. On display until Jun. 27. 


21 C Museum Hotel

This museum/hotel hybrid is a great place to get a bite to eat before or after checking out the current exhibitions it has to offer. Currently, the space houses two collections— “Elevate” and “Fragile Figures: Being and Time”—which are free for admission. The 21 C collections are markedly centered around 21st century art relevant to modern culture.


Art Crawls

Many art galleries participate in art crawls, where they collaborate to open their doors to the public for onlookers to walk from gallery to gallery while sipping on wine and, of course, appreciating art. We recommend staying up-to-date with their Facebook pages and websites for updates as scheduling might be adjusted due to COVID restrictions. 


5th Avenue Art Crawl

On the first Saturday of every month, First Bank hosts an evening downtown art crawl with the galleries along 5th Avenue and Arcade Ally. Admission is free and with over twenty galleries participating, this crawl is one of the most popular art events in Nashville. Moreover, the sheer number and range of galleries allow for exposure to a diverse collection of pieces. 



An artwork featured at East Nashville Art Stumble by Jason Brueck. Screenshot from @artstumble Instagram Feb. 8 (Hustler Staff/Eva Pace)

WeHo Art Crawl

This art crawl involves galleries that are within walking distance of the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood. It takes place on the first Saturday of every month during the day in accordance with gallery times. 


East Nashville Art Stumble

On the second Saturday of every month, galleries, small businesses and studios in East Nashville open their doors from 6-9 p.m. This art crawl is a great opportunity to meet local artists and support small businesses and the Nashville art community. 



On the third Saturday of every month, local artists, musicians and businesses host a “community crawl” from 6-9 p.m. Local beer is provided and small artists are welcome to come participate.


Jefferson Street

On the fourth Saturday of every month, the Jefferson art crawl brings in guest artists and speakers to display their work and give lectures. This crawl is unique in that it is directly connected with the Jefferson Street community and connects guests to the rich history of the area. 

Image from inside the East Nashville Art Show. Screenshot from @eastnashartshow Instagram March 4 (Hustler Staff/Eva Pace)

Art in Motion

Since March 18, curator Ashley Bergeron has invited local artists to create live paintings on every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the new Fifth + Broadway location. Four original paintings will be revealed for exhibition April 17 during an artist meet-and-greet event. 


East Nashville Art Show

Dinner and a show! Every third Friday from 5-9 p.m., musicians and food trucks line Davidson Street for the East Nashville Art Show. For those of age, cocktails, beer and hard seltzers will be available for purchase to enjoy while perusing the different art on display. The next art show will take place April 16.