Dragon Soup.

Nashville’s Fannie Mae Dees park is a local curiosity. Created in the 1970‘s as part of the urban renewal craze it’s named, ironically, after a woman who opposed its development and other changes to the neighborhood around it. Its real attraction is the sculpture at its heart which has earned it the nickname “Dragon Park”, although the sculptor originally called the work a sea serpent. It was built by Pedro Silva, a Chilean-born New York artist who earned national attention for his whimsical benches around Grant’s Tomb. Meant to revitalize the area he employed local graffiti artists and when Silva came to Nashville he enlisted the help of local volunteers, using a few rough sketches but mostly improvising. Near the Vanderbilt hospital complex it’s attracted a lot of visitors over the years, including R.E.M. who took pictures in the park for the cover of their 1987 album Document, so I guess it’s not just a local curiosity.

Anyway right now the dragon is in trouble, in need of repair and closed off to the public while funds are being raised for restoration. And a curious thing has happened: the walls put up to block off public access have become canvases for local graffiti artists. A lot of graffiti now covers the walls, and most of it is…not very good.

In fact most of it might be unintentionally contributing to the fundraising because people will want to get rid of it. I’d like to see the dragon come back too. It’s an important piece of Nashville history. And yet, while it’s good that most of the graffiti is temporary, some of it is pretty good.

It may even be good enough that it deserves to be recognized as part of Nashville’s history too.

 

8 Comments

  1. Ann Koplow

    I want to see your skills as an artist and they’re always on display here. Keep doing your thing, Chris.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I look forward to you doing your own thing as well, and it’s always a joy to see one of your comments and think, “Ann strikes again!”

      Reply
  2. giac mcley

    thanks for the views of fannie dees. i have just been sending folks piero di cosimo’s 1510 perseo libera andromeda, with the detail of the cetus

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s an interesting choice. I’ve always been more partial to the Perseus series by Edward Burne-Jones myself.

      Reply
  3. ALLISON EVERETT

    I love Dragon Park. We used to take out of towners. There is a disabilties friendly playground there. Back in the early 2000’s a little girl named Lily spear-headed it. My husband was working at FOX17 and covered the ribbon-cutting.

    I need to donate to that dragon rehab.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I didn’t realize there’s a disabilities-friendly playground there. That just makes it even more amazing. I’m donating to the dragon rehab too. We really need to save that dragon.

      Reply
  4. Kat

    I loved reading about this, it was all completely new to me!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m so glad. My mission here is to educate and entertain. Well, mostly entertain. If I educate it’s purely accidental.

      Reply

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