Art & Invention Gallery Photo: Chuck Allen

Tomato Friends & Tomato Futures

Just a few months ago, the very idea of a Tomato Art Fest without Meg and Bret MacFadyen and the Art & Invention Gallery seemed inconceivable. The funky neighborhood festival that the MacFadyen’s conceived and birthed at 1106 Woodland St. has been a precocious and boisterous child. It’s grown much larger than they ever imagined when the idea for an art show based on the beauty and personality of the tomato first occurred to them 15
years ago.

But time marches on, and as with every variety of tomato, there is a season. There comes a time to move on, and the art, business, or community that you’ve helped to create will hopefully be nurtured and continue to thrive by others. Of course it helps if you can choose the person you pass your creations to, and the MacFadyens have that luxury.

While the Art & Invention Gallery is now a closed chapter in the history of East Nashville, the property that hosted it, along with the Idea Hatchery, will continue to play an important part in the community. That future was assured when the MacFadyen’s chose to sell their property to Christian Paro.

A longtime East Sider (Paro moved to East Nashville in 2005, just in time for the second Tomato Art Fest) known for his co-working spaces Center 615, Studio 615, and Main Street Gallery, Paro’s business philosophy is right in line with the MacFadyens’. His current properties nurture the growth of small, local businesses and acknowledge the importance of giving back to the community through public-meeting space and support of local music and the arts. While no plans have been announced for the Art & Invention building yet, the Idea Hatchery is expected to continue on, business as usual.

For the MacFadyens’ other creation, the Tomato Art Festival, no better steward could be found than Jack Davis and his Good Neighbor Festivals event management company. As a partner in the Tomato Art Fest, Davis has been getting the ripe ones in a row since 2011, and his Good Neighbor Festivals has spread the concept of fun and efficiently run festivals that unite communities to many other events, including Sevier Park Fest, Light the Nations, and Nashville Pride.

Although the MacFadyens’ may have left their East Side businesses, don’t be surprised if you see them around at this Tomato Art Fest or perhaps a future one. Checking in on your children from time to time is what good parents do. And be sure to say, “Hello,” because that’s what good neighbors do.