Unveiling Downtown

Artists pair with Downtown businesses to display works

By Andy Meek

Twenty makeshift art galleries have just popped up in Downtown Memphis.

Elisha Gold displays one of his creations being shown as part of the Downtown Memphis Commission’s “Unveil Downtown,” a 20-day showcase of local artists’ work in restaurants and retail businesses. 

(Photo Courtesy of Live From Memphis)

It’s part of “Unveil Downtown,” an event that has created 20 different spaces within the neighborhood’s restaurants and retail spaces to showcase the work of area artists. The works will be displayed for 20 days, and each artist will not only get to exhibit and sell eight to 10 pieces of artwork, but they’ll keep 100 percent of the proceeds of any sales.

The initiative also has a charitable purpose. Artists also are donating one piece of their work for an online auction that will raise money for the Downtown Neighborhood Association.

Images of the works to be auctioned, as well as gallery information and artist profiles, can be found at unveildowntown.com. Bids also can be placed at that website.

A launch party for the event was held Friday, June 1, at Felicia Suzanne’s Restaurant and Courtyard. After the party, artists fanned out to their assigned spaces – which range from Thai Bistro, at 148 Madison Ave., to Automatic Slim’s, at 83 S. Second St., among others – and held what amounted to their opening receptions.

The exhibits will be up through June 20.

“Unveil Downtown is a quadruple win,” said Paul Morris, president of the Downtown Memphis Commission. “The artists, the host businesses, the Downtown Neighborhood Association and Downtown in general all benefit.

The list of participating artists and Downtown businesses include:

Alexander Paulus, LOCAL Gastropub
Antzee Magruder, Bangkok Alley
April Ford Beasley, City Market
Carl Moore, Dream Berry
Carly Dahl, Revive Boutique
Daniel Tacker, Bluefin
David Lynch, Cockadoos
Debbie Pacheco, eighty3
Denise Rose, Life is Good
Elisha Gold, Lansky 126
Fidencio Martinez, Kooky Canuck
Jimpsie Ayres, Thai Bistro
Kerry Peeples, Felicia Suzanne’s
Louise Palazola, Shelton’s Clothiers
Rebecca Coleman, Silly Goose Lounge
Rebekah Laurenzi, Art Under a Hot Tin Roof
DJ Ron Olson, Automatic Slim’s
Shawn Mathews, Blind Bear Speakeasy
Terry Kenney, The Brass Door
Wally Dyke, APG Office Furnishings

“It’s attracting people from all over the region to Downtown Memphis. People who haven’t been Downtown in years are saying how much fun they are having walking around to the various restaurants and shops to see the art and experience the unique vibrancy of Downtown.”

Leslie Gower, vice president of marketing and communications for the DMC, said she got the idea from seeing a similar program in Thomasville, Ga., at the Thomasville Center for the Arts.

She said the Thomasville group essentially gave Downtown officials a guidebook showing how the process worked there. An “artwalk” there last fall unfolded in a similar way – by connecting artists in the community with various retailers around the area. Also, the program there raised thousands of dollars, according to Gower.

“We’re just getting our feet wet with this project this year, and then we’ll tweak it for the next year, and hopefully it’ll just keep growing,” Gower said.