Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chihuly At Cheekwood.

As if we hadn't had enough fun yet for one day, the Zzzadigs led us to Cheekwood in Nashville. First, what is Cheekwood? Cheekwood is 55 acres of beautiful gardens, nationally acclaimed art, and rich history. The origin and history of Cheekwood is blended intimately with the growth of Nashville, Tennessee, Maxwell House coffee, and the Cheek family, one of Nashville's earliest entrepreneurial families. In the 1880's, Christopher Cheek moved to Nashville and founded a wholesale grocery business. In 1890, Leslie Cheek, Christopher's son, moved with his family from Kentucky to join his father as partner in Cummins Station. Soon after joining his father's firm, Leslie met and married (in 1896) Mabel Wood of Clarksville, Tennessee. In 1908, Leslie Jr. was born, followed by Huldah Warfield Cheek in 1915. By then, Leslie Cheek was president of the family firm. While Leslie worked with his father in the family grocery business, his cousin Joel Cheek developed a superior blend of coffee - Cheek-Neal Coffee - which members of the Cheek family (namely Leslie and Mabel) invested in. Joel convinced the Maxwell House Hotel, the best in Nashville, to carry his coffee and market it. In 1928, Joel sold his brand to Postum, now General Foods, for more than $40 million. Leslie's investment in the coffee paid him well. He traded his Postum shares for IBM stock, thus securing his fortune. Leslie and Mabel purchased 100 acres of what was then woodland in West Nashville for a country estate. The couple hired New York residential and landscape architect, Bryant Fleming, and gave him control over every detail - from landscaping to interior furnishings - to create the 30,000 square foot Georgian-style mansion with formal gardens. The result was Fleming's masterpiece - Cheekwood - completed in 1932. Fleming designed a limestone mansion, which appears to rise out of the hill, and extensive formal gardens inspired by the grand English houses of the 18th century. Fleming also orchestrated the placement of windows, rooms, and doors to accentuate the views of gardens and landscape, thus completely tying the house to the grounds in every aspect. Leslie and Mabel traveled with Fleming to England to buy furniture and antiques for the great mansion. Four railroad cars were required to ship these treasures back to Cheekwood. Construction on the mansion began in 1929 and ended in 1932. The Cheeks were one of the largest employers in Nashville during the Depression. Leslie and Mabel moved into Cheekwood in January 1933. Leslie lived there for only two years before his death at 61. The mansion was deeded to Huldah Cheek Sharp and her husband Walter in 1943. The Sharps lived there until the 1950's when they offered the mansion and 55 acres of land for the establishment of a botanical garden and art museum. The development of the property was controlled by the Exchange Club of Nashville, the Horticultural Society of Middle Tennessee, along with many other civic groups. The Nashville Museum of Art donated its permanent collections to the effort and renovations were made to transform the home into a true museum. Cheekwood's Fine Art Center opened to the public on May 22, 1960 with a dedication given by Senator Albert Gore, Sr. Major renovations were made in the late 1990's to elevate the museum's standards and improve visitors' experiences. Today, Cheekwood exists "to celebrate and preserve its landscape, buildings, art, and botanical collections and, through these unique means, provide an inspiring place for visitors to explore their connections with art, nature, and the environment." Cheekwood's mission is to "inspire and educate by making art, horticulture, and nature accessible to a diverse community." I found out the Zzzadig used to play at Cheekwood when he was a child. Now, enter Dale Chihuly ... (Photo NOT by Rosie.)
... and his craft and art. Glass. Glass which becomes organic. A living thing. It's sheer magic. I won't talk anymore. You can google Chihuly. Just enjoy the pictures. Chihuly at Cheekwood. Exquisite.
Click on the urn. Weird. And a big ouch.
Wind vane.
Too bad I missed this at night time when it's ALL LIT UP!!! Once again, I am indebted to the Zzzadigs for sharing this with the Hawthornes. Thank you.


Marilyn said...

Wow. Beautiful. Do they take these in or protect them in the wintertime? Because those glass sculptures are worth a pretty penny.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

The Chihuly exhibit is running from May 25 to October 31, so the glass will be gone before the weather gets really cold. I was wondering about violent thunderstorms damaging the glass. I don't know how they protect them. I'd be more than happy to offer a sheltered area in my garden for a few pieces. There's another Chihuly exhibit at the Frist in Nashville, running until January 2, 2011. Didn't have time to see that.

Anonymous said...

WOW, WOW, WOW...Simply beautiful. Have never seen anything quite like that. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

How long did it take you to see all the pieces? We are going Friday evening.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Hi Anony.
It took us about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to go through everything. We toured the grounds and went inside Cheekwood. I could have stayed a lot longer, but it was in the 90's that day and some members of our party were wilting.
You're going at night?
Now I'm jealous!
Have a wonderful time and enjoy.