WEB EXTRA: Pop-up Art Museum Tells Stories of Blues Music

Local News

Art enthusiasts can check out a preview of Mid-South painter George Hunt’s latest idea for a National Blues Music Art Museum in Memphis.

Hunt, LongRiver Entertainment Group, and the Downtown Memphis Commission opened an installation at Peabody Place and Main Street July 3rd, that will stay open through the month. 

According to the DMC’s website, the National Blues Music Art Museum is intended to educate and entertain music fans and tourists with images and stories of the history of blues music over the past 150 years. 

“There’s museums dedicated to music itself but not visual arts music. I thought that Memphis, being the home of the blues, this would be a good place to start,” said Hunt.

Hunt created more than 35 colorful paintings over the last 5 years for the museum. 

“I try to capture the soul of what it is, my soul, and what I think and what I’ve been witnessed to over this long amount of years that I’ve been doing this particular kind of art. A lot of the individuals that I’ve come in contact with that hopefully you can see and think in terms of what they were like too as well,” said Hunt.

According to a press release from the Downtown Memphis Commission, David Simmons, head of LongRiver Entertainment Group, and Hunt have been creating and collecting images of blues music and culture for years. Some of that collection can be seen at the museum.

Many of Hunt’s works have not been shown to the public before.

Hunt’s favorite painting on display can be found just past the front door. Painted on the canvas is a man smoking a cigarette and playing guitar. A glass of gin, cotton stems, and a Highway 61 road sign are also shown. Hunt said it reminds him of being a little boy and going to juke joints with his grandfather and uncles.

“I would see an old man like the one you see in this picture there. He’s playing music. The music is called the blues. The old men are getting excited and they’re drinking beer. It was an exciting environment to be so that’s what I tried to capture,” said Hunt.

Other works of art that are featured include hydrostone castings of bluesmen from the 1900s by Stephen Hudson and David Simmons’ personal collection of blues photography, folk, and African art.

Admission is free. Visitors may also meet Hunt.

The National Blues Music Art Museum will be open through July Monday-Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Hours are subject to change.

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