Friday, September 25, 2009

New Thank You gift

Here's the linoleum block print that the new t-shirts and tote bags are based on. As a special thank you to anyone wishing to make a larger donation, a hand pulled print (ink mixed and rolled out by hand and printed by rubbing a wooden spoon on the back of the paper, one at a time) will be given to everyone who gives a membership donation of $250 or above. I did this print from a drawing of an oak tree in Overton Park, so it's truly appropriate for park lovers.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Two Free Festivals Saturday!

Don't forget to come on out to Overton Park on Saturday. The new family festival, Nuts! Over Art is happening in and around the Shell from 11-6. There will be concerts, children's art projects, demonstrating artists, exhibits inside MCA and Brooks, and a Park Friends table. Stop by and say hello and check out our new t-shirts and tote bags.
That same day, Woofstock will be returning to the Greensward -- bring your dog out and join the fun with yet more live music, pet themed vendors, rescue groups, and more. (Dogs on leashes are also welcome in the art festival, so you don't have to choose one or the other if you bring your four-legged friend.)

The Nuts! Over Art organizers could still use volunteers. Drop by to help set up from 8-10 am or visit to sign up to help man an information table during the day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Park-themed Music

Elmore and I heard a fun concert at the Shell yesterday -- we went over for Farmer Jason's children's show. Jason Ringenberg (formerly of Jason and the Scorchers, which is why we were there) did a great show. He talked about the Old Forest, he talked about different animals (skunks, toads, possums -- kids learned words like "amphibian" and "marsupial"), and he sang an awesome song about old oak trees after pointing out several of his favorite trees in the park to the kids.

We talked to him afterwards, and he said he loves the Old Forest and tries to go every time he's in Memphis. I loved having a performer with such an appreciation of the park play the Shell. We got his new album "Rockin' in the Forest" for our nieces and nephews, but we previewed it ourselves later that night. It's a winner if you've got kids who love the forest, or kids you would like to involve more in loving the forest, and the songs are appealing for adults as well. I esp. like "Ode to a Toad" and "The Old Oak Tree." Check out for more information.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Jim Dickinson Tribute Monday night at the Shell

The Shell is hosting the "Jim Dickinson Memorial Folk Festival" this Monday night with a host of Memphis's best musicians paying tribute to the local legend, musician and producer.

Jim's son Luther Dickinson, his old bandmates Sid Selvidge and Jimmy Croswaith, Amy Lavere, Paul Taylor, Reba Russell, Keith Sykes, and others will be taking part. Check out this great photo of Crosthwait with his own intstrument/sculpture creation, and read more about the concert in the Flyer.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Acres of Parks

The Memphis city General Services division is in the process of building a new building for ADA offices (American Disabilities Act) in the maintenance area in Overton Park. It's that area off East Parkway where greenhouses and repair shops were built some years ago where forest had been, next to the fire station (which was moved into the park when the previous building across East Parkway was torn down to make room for the expressway that thankfully never came).

I just got an interesting study in the mail. It compares cities across America and their park systems -- how many parks they have, how many acres, what they spend on them, etc. Memphis is toward the bottom of the heap in total acres of parks. We have only 5.1% of our city area set aside as public parks, where Albuquerque has 30%, New York has 19.6%, Minneapolis has 16.7%, San Diego has 21.9%, etc. It is difficult to add park land to an already established city, so that scarcity makes the space we have set aside even more precious in Memphis than in other places. Periodically there is a move to sell off park land to save money, but I believe that is short-sighted and to the detriment of the city as a whole.

I was sad to see the ADA building go up with no chance for public comment. Even though that part of the park is not open to the public, using space within the footprint of Overton Park for basic office space seems less than its highest use, esp. when so much office space is open downtown. I understand that budgets are tight, but once we give that land away, it's hard to reclaim it. There seems to be an automatic urge to use park land as "free land" for city projects instead of looking outside our scarce park resources, whether the "free land" is for a senior center, office space, or major flood control measures. I hope city officials across the board will set a high priority on preserving the land within our parks for public use and that they will also engage the citizens in conversation about the use of this land when projects are first proposed.

(I will take this chance to praise Parks Director Cindy Buchanan for coming to the rescue of a strip of Old Forest. The original ADA building plan ran the sewer line straight through the Old Forest and out to Poplar, but when I saw the construction sign, I contacted Cindy, and she immediately got with General Services and got the plan changed. Now the sewer line stays within the maintenance compound instead of bringing back-hoes out into the park proper.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bottle Bill

I got this from our former board member Don Richardson. We do have a litter problem in Memphis (we're now far from our days of winning prizes for being the cleanest city in the country), and a good bit of the trash I see both in the Old Forest and the Harbor downtown is bottles and cans. I'm curious to learn more about this new proposal:

Keeping Memphis Green means keeping
Memphis CLEAN! We can't keep using our
parks, streets, streams & landscape as a
garbage can...
Return the Returnables
A Public Forum on Tennessee's Bottle Bill
Thursday evening, Sept. 17
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Agricenter - Expo building Amphitheater
(Look for the red dome on the roof)
A public forum on the proposed "Bottle Bill", the
litter-and-recycling measure based on a 5-cent
deposit on beverage containers.
In addition to several national authorities and local
perspectives, the panel-style event includes time for
questions and comments from the audience.
Please attend and share your views.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Horn Island 25 TONIGHT!

Woops -- got it wrong. The opening is tonight, Saturday, from 6-9 pm. I'm on autopilot, thinking openings are always on Fridays. Too much time in the regular gallery world. MCA is bucking the trend, so come on out tonight.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Horn Island 25 art opening this Friday

Memphis College of Art leads a group of students to camp an d paint on Horn Island every year. It's off the Gulf Coast in Mississippi, and it's the island where Walter Anderson spent so much time painting. Some day I'm going to go paint there myself. In the meantime, the exhibit of work from this year's trip is up at MCA, and the opening is from 6-9 pm Friday, Sept. 10th. It's always an interesting exhibition -- I love seeing what different artists do with the same landscape. These works are by Jason William Cole, one of this year's students, and they really caught my eye when I ran across them on facebook. He's nicely allowed me to share them with you here.

Come on out to one of the coolest parties of the year tomorrow night and see all the work in person.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Birds and Bees extended

The weather is lovely, warm enough for the budgies still, so the excellent Birds and Bees exhibit has been extended for a bit. Take advantage of this opportunity to get over and feed the birds one more time before fall nips the air.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Families in the Park

I love holidays in the park. Merlin and I saw several families out at 8:30 am already setting up their cook outs --- claiming their favorite picnic tables, spreading the table cloths, firing up the grill, setting up the games. It's great to see several generations together out enjoying the park and making a day of it.

On our way home we ran into friends, also out with the whole family and new dog to go explore the Old Forest and look for spider webs. It's so festive on the days when everyone is home and can come and hang out and enjoy the park the way its planners hoped it would be enjoyed.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Green Space Benefits

Elmore and I were walking home from Golden India last night and took Cooper into Overton Park. We crossed Poplar, stepped on to the golf course, and immediately felt the temperature drop several degrees, just entering the fringe of the golf course. It was like we stepped through an invisible curtain into a different ecosystem. It's amazing how different it is walking in the park than walking on the city streets.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wedding Vine

A neighbor just told me this vine is called Autumn Clematis, but I always think of it as wedding vine. It blooms in the park (and around Midtown) in the late summer. It was blooming in the month leading up to my wedding, when my planning was kicked into high gear, and it felt like the park was celebrating with me. Now every year it reminds me of that time and heralds my coming anniversary.

The great thing about walking in the park every day is that you become so tuned into the minor signals of seasons, the constantly changing quilt of nature. What is happening in the natural world becomes entwined with your everyday life. How lucky we are, in the heart of the city, to have a forest to walk in every day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Shell kicks off Thursday

It's the Raul Wallenberg concert Thursday night at the Shell, its kick-off for the fall season. Should be both a fun and meaningful night with "Tear Down the Walls", a Jewish contemporary music group as well as an interfaith gathering of synagogues, churches, and clergy of numerous stripes.