Art & Invention Gallery, the birthplace of the Tomato Art Fest and considered by many to be the “Heart of Five Points” will permanently close its doors on May 31, 2019 after a 19 year run. Owners Bret and Meg MacFadyen will be retiring to their home in Woodbury, Tennessee, where they plan to pursue new projects.
“When we opened our doors there was maybe five retail shops and one or two restaurants [in the Five Points area],” Meg MacFadyen told The East Nashvillian in a telephone interview. “The people of East Nashville were so welcoming. They knocked themselves out to support us, and the love we received will be cherished in my heart forever. Our goal was to become part of the community and build a family of friends, and I don’t think we could have gotten any luckier. We had a lot of great times and lean times, but people have been there for us through it all, and it has been marvelous.”
In May 2000, the MacFadyens moved their film and television staging and scenery business, MacFadyen Art & Invention, to Five Points. Slightly over a year later, in fall 2001, the Art & Invention Gallery opened at 1106 Woodland St. With an open door policy, artists were encouraged to experiment and explore and the gallery quickly became a reflection of the unique community of creative individuals and urban pioneers that took root in East Nashville’s neighborhoods in the wake of the 1998 tornado.
In the summer of 2004, the Art & Invention Gallery sponsored the first Tomato Art Show with a theme that described the beloved “love apple” as “a uniter, not a divider; bringing together fruits and vegetables.” The show attracted approximately 1,500 attendees and soon grew into East Nashville’s premier annual event, the East Nashville Tomato Art Fest. Partnering with Jack Davis of Good Neighbor Festivals, the Tomato Art Fest was incorporated as a separate entity from Art & Invention and will continue under Davis’ supervision and ownership.
The MacFadyens also became drivers of new businesses in Five Points. In 2007 they partnered with Wayne Goodwyn of Wonders on Woodland to create the “I Dream of Weenie” hotdog stand, which was sold to Leslie Allen in 2011. That same year the MacFadyens launched the Idea Hatchery, Nashville’s first artisan retail business incubator. The eight small, retail spaces adjacent to the Art & Invention Gallery have provided a launching pad for a number of small, local businesses through reasonable rents and a supportive community.
The Art & Invention Gallery and the Idea Hatchery properties are being sold local business developer Christian Paro, owner of Center 615, Studio 615, and Main Street Gallery. Paro plans continue the Idea Hatchery as a small business incubator.
“We both feel like we’re leaving our creations in the best hands imaginable,” Meg MacFadyen says. “Both Christian Paro and Jack Davis care about what we created, they’re our friends, and we love and trust them. We feel like we’re leaving them our children. They both care about the neighborhood and want to see it thrive and grow.”
Art & Invention Gallery is currently open four days a week: Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Operating hours will be extended in May for the closure. Additional information is available by calling 615.226.2070, visiting ArtandInvention.com, or following Art & Invention Gallery on Facebook.