When you travel to Berry Hill in Tennessee, you may walk away unsure if you had visited a city or a neighborhood.
In truth, it’s both, as Berry Hill is an independently-chartered city in Davidson County which is also part of Nashville’s consolidated metro government. They maintain their own police and solid waste management departments for a population between five and six hundred residents, with a busy and varied commercial sector that includes two of Metro Nashville’s most prominent recording studios.
Within the one square mile of its official borders sits a point of interest to anyone in the bluegrass business, the new offices of the International Bluegrass Music Association. But it’s merely a matter of happenstance that murals of prominent bluegrass artists are being painted on fences nearby.
That’s the work of Scott Guion, a free lance artist from New Orleans who had moved to Music City in the wake of Hurricane Katrina about eight years ago. He was commissioned to decorate fencing surrounding commercial properties owned by the House of Blues studios, including a studio they purchased in Memphis and moved back to Berry Hill.
At the start of this project about two years ago, most of these murals were of rock and roll and country artists, like Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Hank Williams and Dolly Parton. More recently, bluegrass icons like Ralph Stanley, Flatt & Scruggs, and Bill Monroe have gone up.
Guion’s art is colorful and bright, seeking to both honor the legacy of these musical icons, and enliven the walkway in the general vicinity. When I caught up with him yesterday, he was painting on site, and had to put down his brushes to talk a bit about this venture, and how he and his patron decided which artists to feature.
“We had a conversation about both being fans, and who we would like to see represented. He is a fan of the art, and is spreading the love throughout the neighborhood.
The idea is to draw attention to, and pay homage to these great artists. Nobody would care much about Nashville without these people. They are my heroes as an artist, and a music lover.
While working I’ve had several people stop and say that they drive out of their way to see these murals. Most folks who notice just blow the horn and wave.
One of the police officers who rides by regularly stopped to say that we really needed to have Earl Scruggs and George Jones up there.”
And so they do.
Guion’s murals now cover nearly a full block in Berry Hill. He says that off and on, his patron will call when he gets a new idea for a subject, and each time Scott thinks he’s put the last brushstroke on, he gets a ring about someone else.
Here are some photos Scott shared of his finished murals, and a couple of the works in progress.
With this bit of fence nearly finished, Scott says that his biggest fear is the elements, and what they could do to the mural.
“I use the best exterior paint I can get, and cover with a clear, UV protector. As long as I’m alive and well, I can come out here and touch it up.”
When he’s not doing his Tom Sawyer impression, Guion paints at his studio in Nashville. He says that this project has meant a great deal to him.
“I’m beyond pleased and proud to be part of this. These people are my heroes. I consider it one of the great honors of my work as an artist.”
You can find out more about Scott Guion online.