Cheekwood Gardens and Art is located southwest of Nashville in the upscale suburb of Belle Meade, which was once a single plantation of 5,400 acres. Cheekwood was the home of the Cheek family, who made their fortune with Maxwell House coffee. Incidentally, the Maxwell House was a hotel in Nashville where they served Cheek's unique coffee blend, which Teddy Roosevelt supposedly called "good the the last drop" - thus the well known slogan.
Cheekwood is now a botanical garden and art museum housing antiques and contemporary art. This summer and fall they were hosting an unusual kind of exhibit, LIGHT, by Bruce Munro. We arrived just before sunset, and parked very close to the Visitor's Center. On our way out, about two hours later, we saw cars parked much, much farther away, on either side of the entry driveway all the way to the road. Our early arrival was a great idea.
We strolled through the gardens, waiting for darkness and the illumination of the exhibit. This is what the section called "Field of Lights" looked like before dark.
We took the Carell Woodland Sculpture Trail through the woods and saw about eight permanent large sculptures before emerging at the Japanese Garden where we saw Munro's "Candelight" against a back drop of golden gingko trees...
..."Blue Moon" in the Japanese dry lake
...and "Fireflies" in the bamboo forest.
The path led us to "Light Reservation," a grouping of about ten blinking neon tipi-like structures,
just as the sun disappeared and the sliver of moon appeared. I thought the natural twilight outshone this one by a long shot.
As we approached the mansion, it was finally dark enough to appreciate the "Field of Lights."
We didn't even know that the museum was going to be open, but inside there were more surprises awaiting. It was a truly elegant building. Rick was completed enamored. It's architectural style was balanced and subtle, yet finely detailed. We walked through a few rooms filled with china and silver collectibles and then came upon two glorious creations by Munro that were part of the LIGHT exhibit. The first was "Light Shower." The effect was created by curtains of fiber optics ending in crystals. The reflections in the windows looked like brilliant stars.
Here's how it looked from outside.
And here's how it looked from below.
The second, and most breathtaking of the evening, was the "Bell Drop Chandelier"
hanging in the grand central staircase.
Each filament ended in a silver light emitting bell. Here's the view from below.
The three story staircase wound around it, allowing a 360 degree view from top to bottom. Here is the side view, looking through the shower of light at other traditional chandeliers down the hall.
After standing entranced by the "Bell Drop Chandelier" with our mouths hanging open for long enough, we exited the mansion to see yet another view of "Field of Lights."
We made our way back to the entrance of the park, to see the last segment of the exhibit, "Water-Towers." The towers were made with recycled one liter bottles filled with water and fiber optics.
The jewel colors of each tower changed very gradually, and on top of that, beautiful music was coming from inside each tower. As we walked through and around the towers, I found the experience completely enchanting.
It was such an unusual and inspiring evening. It felt like we had been in another world.
Well, that's the last of our reports from the world of Music City. We always end these extended visits saying to each other that one month is just right to get to know an place, and we felt that way again, about Nashville. It's quite a town, and we're ready to move on.