A local artist has started working on the first of two new building murals planned in downtown Gallatin highlighting community history.
The initial mural, which focuses on transportation by train and trolley in the city, will be located on the side of Old Soul Tattoo Company on West Franklin Street. It is being hand-painted by Gallatin resident Bryan Deese, who is also the official mural artist of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“It’s important for my artwork to kind of honor the history of wherever it’s placed,” Deese said about the project. “I hope it kind of pulls the viewer’s attention away from kind of just the everyday moments in life and impacts them a little bit the way that art can.”
The left side of the mural focuses on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, which allowed residents to board a train at Depot Square in Gallatin and travel anywhere in the United States beginning in 1858. It includes a portrait of Milton Hannibul Smith, who later took over as president of the company, as well as the Gallatin L&N Depot tower and a steam engine.
As for shorter local trips, the right side of the mural focuses on the Nashville Light and Railway Company’s trolley system in Nashville and middle Tennessee, which included service to Gallatin as part of the company’s Bluegrass Line from 1912 until 1932. The section of the artwork includes a portrait of conductor TJ Cato and the trolley he drove.
Both sections of the mural are separated by a picture of a young boy holding the ceremonial last spike during a celebration of the railroad’s completion.
“Public art celebrates our community history and will no doubt spark something positive here,” Mayor Paige Brown said. “I hope this will translate into a collective sense of place, a source of pride and that community feeling becomes contagious.”
The mural is expected to take between 60 and 80 hours to complete and should be finished later this month, according to Deese.
The second mural planned in downtown will be on the side of Chubb’s and will focus on the 1970 championship basketball game between Union and Gallatin High schools and the players who helped unite the segregated city. Work on it is expected to start in April.
The cost of the project is $5,750 and is being funded by a Creative Placement Grant the city received from the Tennessee Arts Commission last year.
“I hope it makes them think,” Deese said about the artwork. “That’s why I love murals. They directly interact with people kind of on their own terms. Even if they don’t have any of the answers, it just makes them question why it might be placed there. That question… helps tell the story of Gallatin.”