Local artist Thaxton Abshalom Waters is a man on a mission—to bring culture and historical study through discussions and art on historic Jefferson Street. He and his wife Deyonna have plans for reawakening historic Jefferson Street, and they are opening a unique art school and gallery facility with studio space that serves snacks and coffees at 1305 Jefferson Street near the NAACP office and near Matthew Walker Health Center. They are having a soft opening on Saturday, February 1, with the public invited, so please stop by.
“We are just trying to reawaken the sleeping giant over here. Jefferson Street is a sleeping giant. The elders I have spoken with have been saying that it has been at a standstill over the past 40 years. This place was a booming, booming, booming place, so we just want to recapture that spirit. That’s why you see a lot of the decor, the wallpaper motifs. We want to reawaken that spirit in a modern way.”
According to Waters, the Art History Class Lifestyle Lounge & Gallery is “a place for me to exhibit my work, exhibit the antiques I pulled from all across the Southeast region, put them in, and stage them into installations that can relate to a painting so we can have a 3-D moment. So we can have not only a painting, we can have an antique that goes along with it, and we can have a lecture that goes along with everything that’s happening.”
He uses the terms ‘art, history, and class’ for specific reasons. He said: “Art encompasses sculpture, painting, drawing, dance, clothing, style (just the way we move)—all of that is art. History—we want to retell these narratives in a modern context, so if we get the history of a J.C. Napier or a Preston Taylor, and retell it in a modern context we can bring light to those great giants. The class part is to focus on these social structures, but we want to do it in a scholastic academic way since we’re around Meharry, Fisk, TSU, so we want to build on being in this cluster. We will have movies on Fridays; we will be having guest lecturers coming in; we have a small cafe located in here, a small library where people can just come and just read, there’s a seating section.” There is also a studio space for private lessons, his workshop where Thaxton will do his work, painting, and framing, mostly.
“Some items will be a pleasant surprise,” Deyonna said. “We want to stay with something that embodies the essence of what we’re trying to communicate historically, culturally, and artistically. We will have some very warm and soothing beverages. We will have some warm comforting food items, not a full service menu but definitely some things that will complement each other well and balance out. The nostalgic things that we feel when we read these historic books that we have in here, when we look at this art—those feelings will be connected with the food that you eat and the drink that you’re drinking, so it will all tie in together. Everything is co-related.”