Updated: 17 hours ago
My kids' school has an annual art show which is where I first saw the work of James Threalkilll. When I saw him talking to the lower school students who walked through the show, he had that way about him that knew how to get down on his knees and talk to an audience of children; if I remember correctly, that is precisely what he did.
The students raised their hands with questions, and James listened and responded thoughtfully. You could see by their faces and stillness that they were captivated by his art and heart. All ages feel the allure of Jame's art. It is soulful, playful, and welcoming, a mirror of the man who uses his palette knife on a canvas that he brings alive with his bright colors and texture.
When we decided to open Art Beat, James was the first artist we called. We were unsure if a larger-than-life artist like him would say yes. He continues saying yes by answering our texts or phone calls for help with this or that. His willingness gives us the boost we often need with the challenge of opening an art space.
We interviewed James a few weeks ago when preparing for his art installation at the Maxwell Clinic in Brentwood. He has many accomplishments, such as going to South Africa to meet Nelson Mandela and establishing several successful programs for youth in the Edgehill community, and what struck me the most was the continuous trajectory of his art since he was a child.
When I ask artists if they loved art growing up, most do, but often there is a period into adulthood with a career or two before they genuinely pursue art as a calling. Our path in life often gets interrupted by the voices or loud silence of others but not for James. With James, his mother received a phone call from his first-grade teacher about how much James loved art, and this was the beginning.
After this call, James saved up for colored pencil sets and sketchbooks, and then brushes, paints, and canvas after canvas, none of which stayed blank once in his hands. He started college with a paintbrush in one hand and a football in the other as the wide receiver for Vanderbilt's football team and the recipient of a Fine Arts Degree from Vanderbilt. Eventually, with only a palette knife and paint, James created his signature look.
It's important to help others believe in their dreams because they come from deep inside us, and the light of others helps bring them forth. James' mother saw her son's passion for art and encouraged him to follow it. This path led him to many places and leadership positions in Nashville that visibly make our city better and brighter. I know Nashville agrees with this sentiment, as you can see on the large billboard on the corner of Broadway & West End featuring him this week.
James Threalkill continues to pave his way in the art world, always leaving a colorful trail of kindness behind him, and we are honored to walk a bit of the way alongside him. Thank you, James.
James is our featured artist for the month of July. Visit us @ 311 12th Avenue South Wednesday - Saturdays 11 AM - 6 PM, and Sundays 11 Am - 5 PM, or call 615-498-1177 if you are interested in a private viewing.
To read more about James, click here.