Thursday, October 9, 2014

Getting Cheeky

We all agreed from day 1 of our planning session that we wanted to check out the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Art Museum. Located on the western edge of Nashville, it seemed like the perfect place to spend a relaxing Saturday morning, away from the bustle of Broadway. As it just so happens, they are also in the middle of their fall festival right now. That meant pumpkins, mums and loads of scarecrows. Naturally, we hit the scarecrows first.

I mostly took this picture for Blue, who has taken to wandering around the house, making owl sounds. At first, I had no idea it was him...which is a little creepy when you consider how spot on your 2-year old's owl imitation is.

There were all of the usual suspects...

plus some rather unexpected ones
This one was titled "Who Will Scare the Corn?" I think that's a pretty valid question.
In this representation of Frida Kahlo by Montessori students, her skirt is made from bottlecaps.
Perhaps my favorite, Marie Antoinette loses her head over pie. I lose my head over pie, too. 

The Girl Scouts were heavily represented, which makes my cookie-lovin' heart so very happy. 

As well as technology...

At the heart of it all truly is the motherboard.
and Hollywood...

 Jack Sparecrow, of course.
 I'm deducting 30 points for shear creepiness factor of such a realistic face. Forget the crows, this scared the crap out of me. Back to Hogwarts with you, Harry Potter!

 Annnndddd this was only 2 of the nearly half dozen Frozen characters on display. Do you want to build a scarecrow? Yes, apparently. 

In addition to Harry Potter, there was also this creepy dude...
This is St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. He was constructed by one of the local veterinary clinics. Awesome idea, eerie as hell execution. I don't even know where they found the face but if someone at the clinic ever needs to fake a body, I think they've got their man.

And zombies, of course. Because it's 2014 and why wouldn't you have zombies? My question is, why was there only one? Overdone? Or no one else brave enough to whip out a zombie for the children's garden?

But all of this leads up to the 3 I've saved for last.
King Kong, baby! There is so much right with this and yet I'm not sure it would scare a single crow. 
Louisville Bats represent! Complete with a mini-Slugger bat, which they give you at the end of the Slugger Museum tour in downtown Louisville. But as they warn at the beginning of the tour, bats are not allowed in carry-on baggage. You may stab someone with your No. 2 pencil but thou shalt not beat anyone senseless with a mini Slugger.
Upon further review, I think y'all need to see the crazy bat eyes on this thing. This is the stuff from which my nightmares are made.
I know, right? 
And last, but definitely not least...
I bring you...Scaredypants.

I would like to especially direct your attention to
Barney with fangs, masked Elmo, Mickey with one center eye, evil-eyebrowed Cabbage Patch doll...
annnnnddddd Elmo eating a baby. Again, I'm not entirely sure it's appropriate for the viewing pleasure of many young children, but perhaps it will open a dialogue about cannibalism and why it's generally frowned upon in polite societies. Or maybe just talk about how lots of mothers in the wild carry their children between their gigantic True Blood fangs. Whatever.

There were others, all very worthy of mention but I need to move on. Obviously, if you are in the Nashville area and want to get some autumn on your agenda, the path of scarecrows is a great addition!

Cheekwood was originally the private residence of Nashville's Cheek Family. It's a 30,000 square foot Georgian-style mansion that has been converted into a museum. The first floor rooms are all decorated in period-style furnishings, offering a glimpse into the daily life of Leslie and Mabel Cheek. The second floor houses an extensive art collection, including traveling exhibits (currently they are showing the limestone sculptures of a former slave). According to our docent (who was quite knowledgeable but a bit of a put it nicely), the Cheekwood Art Museum is home to Nashville's largest permanent art collection, which is surprising, considering the Frist Art Museum is right down the street. Apparently, the Frist only shows traveling exhibits. The house itself is also considered part of the art collection. You can't take pictures inside, but there are plenty of opportunities for picturesque shots on the balcony and in the surrounding gardens.

Wisteria vines provide a welcome respite from the Tennessee sun in the summer and a delightful canopy of scents in the spring. These 100-year old vines have grown thicker than my wrist, twisting and tangling all the way up.
And if you go, don't miss the magnificent view of the Nashville skyline from the 2nd floor art gallery. I realize that to classify Nashville's skyline as magnificent could be a bit of a stretch, but there aren't many places outside the city where you can view it from up high. Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Nashville has the Batman building...
at least it's unique. Even if it is AT&T. Bleh.
But wait...let's go back to Cheekwood for a moment...
Perhaps the most interesting story told about Mr. and Mrs. Cheek involves Mr. Cheek's cousin, Joel Cheek. Joel had created an acclaimed blend of coffee which was served only at Nashville's grandest accommodations, the Maxwell House Hotel. The Cheeks and their extended family invested heavily in the product, which paid off when it was sold to Postum Cereals Company (now General Foods) for $40 million. It's rumored that upon having a cup of Maxwell House coffee, FDR exclaimed, "It's good to the last drop!" And thus, the popular and everlasting slogan.

After the family coffee business sold, Mr. Leslie Cheek used his money to buy the land and build the house where Cheekwood now sits. By the way, Cheekwood is a combination of Leslie and Mabel's last names. I think it's a brilliant idea and I've already decided that when Neal and I purchase our land on which to build a country estate, I'm calling it Milrake.

There are numerous gardens surrounding the house, as well as a puppet stage where they were holding a show as we started our home tour. We sort of skipped past all of them as our crepes ran out and pangs of hunger kicked in. Something to do on the next visit, perhaps...

 (Temporary art with a sign that says "Please do not remove the sticks"...because if every person took a stick...)
(Can you spot the selfie of a selfie?)

We were all getting dangerously close to being hangry so off in search of Nashville noshes we went...


  1. Aw man... when were you in Nashville? (As in how recently?) Wish I had know it's only 2 hours from our home. We were just there weekend before last for a quick day visit :) This mansion looks amazing I need to go there, I had no idea it existed! Leave it to you to show me historical awesomeness!

  2. Looks like loads of fun! The Cheeks' son Leslie, Jr. was director of the Va. Museum of Fine Arts for like a million years, and was very popular in Richmond. And JFG coffee - which you might get in Ky - was "created" in Knoxville. Am thinking they were big rivals? Did I ever tell you that we moved to Knoxville when I was five? and, so I got the 4.5 day Tennessee history tour in middle school! Didn't include Cheekwood, tho.

    Hope all is well with the entire family. Miss you!

  3. A gigantic display of scarecrows made by various people in the community--why isn't that done EVERYWHERE? I totally love it; thanks for all the photos!


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