Not that many years ago, Broad Street (as we called it then) was largely vacant, except for a bar or two and the venerable Broadway Pizza Company. It had once been the downtown of a separate town called Binghampton, but in 1915, Binghampton voted to give up its separate identity and become part of the city of Memphis. Not long afterwards,a city ordinance changed Broad Street to Broad Avenue, because Memphis had determined that all east-west streets must be avenues and all north-south streets would be streets. (This ordinance also tripped up the legendary “Beale Street”, and getting Beale back to “street” status took almost 30 years). But the remarkable transformation of the Broad Avenue area to Memphis’ second arts district has only taken about two years, and periodically now the district celebrates its new boom with Friday night art walks, similar to the Trolley Nights in the other South Main Arts District. On Friday, November 7, a large crowd was in the Water Tower Pavilion, listening to a great band of students from the School of Rock performing on the stage, with food trucks and clothing vendors nearby. Up on Broad, crowds were making their way to the different galleries and shops, new restaurants like Bounty on Broad, and temporary exhibits highlighting local products like Relevant Coffee Roasters, and some of the best handmade caramel candies I have ever eaten. Broad Avenue is definitely worth a visit as the Christmas season approaches, for unique gifts that cannot be found elsewhere.
Memphis artist Frank D. Robinson is the artist-in-residence at Caritas Village in Binghampton, and has done much to promote the arts in Memphis,both his own and others, so it is entirely fitting that he organized an exhibition called “One Village One City” that brings together the work of several different Memphis artists at Caritas Village. Friday night February 7, the works were unveiled to the public at a reception, and several of the artists (including Robinson) were present.
Art as celebration (at Caritas Village)
Art as empowerment (at Caritas Village)
Memphis artist Frank D. Robinson (at Caritas Village)
Checking out live jazz at The Cove in the Broad Street Arts District in Binghampton, Memphis, May 26, 2011
Binghampton’s Caritas Village is an amazing coffee bar, art space, community center, housing co-op and a lot more, and on Friday, they sponsored an art exhibit of works by students in some of Memphis’ public schools. The noted Memphis artist Frank D had invited me, and I was really impressed with the quality of the works displayed.