Skip to Content
Parks and Recreation

Parthenon Exhibitions

East Gallery

Jacob Kainen.  Ulrich

  • Like Her Remembrance
  • From the Todd Greene Collection
  • September 29, 2019-January 5, 2020

In 2009 Nashville visual artist J. Todd Greene received a surprising telephone call. It was a lawyer informing him of the passing of his friend Dina Koston and her intention to bequeath to him her entire collection of art.

Koston was a noted composer from Washington, D.C., who over many years, acquired numerous twentieth century paintings, etchings, and works on paper. She and her husband Roger Shapiro connected with the artists whose works they collected, as evidenced by personal inscriptions on the pieces. After Shapiro’s death in 2002, Koston established the Roger Shapiro Fund for New Music, a foundation devoted to the creation of contemporary music, and continued her composing career with residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. It was there in 2004 that she met visiting artist J. Todd Greene and their friendship was established.Ten years after Todd Greene’s unexpected inheritance, Like Her Remembrance celebrates Dina Koston’s life and friendships and features 32 twentieth-century works collected by her. It is first time this collection has been publicly exhibited and it includes notable modernists such as Smithsonian curator Jacob Kainen, Formalist painter Harry Nadler, and Chicago Surrealist Gertrude Abercrombie.

West Gallery

  • Both Sides Now
  • Plein Air Paintings by Kymberlee Stanley and Ellen Parker Bibb
  • October 12, 2019-January 26, 2020

both Sides now

Both Sides Now features the art of Kymberlee Stanley and Ellen Parker Bibb, and explores the immediate creative process that is central to their work. Literally translated as “open air,” the French term “plein air” refers to a style of outdoor painting with roots in the Impressionist movement of the nineteenth century. As experienced artists and members of Nashville’s Chestnut Group​ alliance, Stanley and Parker Bibb engage in the plein air style, making spontaneous, paint-what-you-see art, all done in the great outdoors. 

A free public reception will be held on ​Thursday, October 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. ​in the West Gallery at the Parthenon​. ​Light hors d'oeuvre, beer, and wine will be served. This gallery opening is free to the public, but reservations are recommended. Please make your reservation at ​​

The Cowan Collection of American Art

Gifford Catskills

In 1897, James M. Cowan from Aurora, Illinois, visited the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. He visited as the director of a group of girls who made up the Armour Drill Corps of Chicago. Cowan already had ties to Tennessee. At the age of thirteen, he had moved with his family to Tullahoma, Tennessee, and remained there until he was in his twenties, when he moved to Cincinnati. He subsequently made his wealth in insurance, but his true passion was collecting art. As he neared the end of his life, Cowan had about seven hundred pieces in his collection. Aware that Nashville's Parthenon was being reconstructed as a permanent structure, he decided to donate anonymously a portion of his collection to be housed there. Between 1927 and 1929, the works were shipped to Nashville, to be moved into the Parthenon upon completion of the reconstruction.

In fact, he purchased many pieces specifically with this destination in mind, eventually giving sixty-three pieces to Nashville. These works, all oils on canvas, dating 1765-1923, are housed permanently in the Parthenon and bear the name of its generous donor—the Cowan Collection.

A distinguishing characteristic of this collection is that all of the work was done by American artists. Fifty-seven artists are represented in the collection, most of which dates late 19th and early 20th centuries. Almost all of the artists represented were also members of the National Academy of Design, a prestigious artists' league of the time. Within the collection, many connections occur among the artists as among their paintings.

A common theme found in most of the paintings is Impressionism. Impressionism was a school of painting introduced by the French in the first Impressionism Exhibition held in Paris in 1874. It was an attempt using pure color to imitate light. Many of the artists in this collection studied in Paris during their careers. Within the collection can be found many secondary artist alliances including the Hudson River School, the Luminists, the Symbolists, Barbizon School influences, and Nabis influences.

The primary concentration in the collection is fifty-one landscapes, including many plein air paintings (done on location) and four seascapes which emphasize an undulating ocean and coast, a difficult and unusual subject matter. There are eight portraits in the collection, in all of which the subject of the portrait is anonymous. Generally, there is one work by each artist in the collection. Therefore, in looking you can learn something of the man who formed this collection by his choices. These reflect a man who was taken with the landscape in its more unrefined form and had a diverse and unusual interest in figure paintings.