Wednesday, October 22, 2014


The word was out about Oz Arts, a new facility in west Nashville with an exciting schedule of performances from nationally known artists, dance troupes, film-makers and collectives. According to The Tennessean, Oz was "among Nashville's most intriguing - and inspiring - cultural venues."

It's also an excellent event space, and when Visitation Hospital Foundation hired The WannaBeatles to play their Fund Raiser on September 6, we got our first visit to Oz.

The place looks like a large warehouse, a metal building in an industrial neighborhood adjacent to the John C. Tune Airport on Cockrill Bend Circle.

Here's the artsy way they display
their street number on the building

Here's the patio out back, 
with a view of the John C. Tune Airport
Here's a view of the hallway, with sculpture,
paintings and light creating a distinctive look

Here are WannaBeatles David and Nathan 
as we set up onstage, 
with the logo projected behind us

One thing you notice inside is a great amount of art. There are art courses taught there, pottery classes, art projects in collaboration with local prisoners, and lots of paintings on the walls. Some of the paintings were direct tributes to famous pieces of art.
This tribute to Magritte caught my eye, not only for its humor and nod to modernism, but also because the founder of Oz got his start with pipes.

Here's the younger Cano Ozgener examining a carved pipe, from the pictures displayed in cabinets along the wall.

Oz is named for Cano Ozgener, a Turkish immigrant who showed enormous entrepreneurial energy by starting a company that built Meerschaum pipes, which led to another company that built custom cigar boxes and humidors. After that came the cigar company CAO (Ozgener's initials.) 

After selling the cigar company, the Ozgener family founded OZ as a non-profit art space and event center, using the space that formerly housed the cigar company.

Much of this fascinating story is told in glass display cabinets in the entrance hall, and also at their website,
Some carvings on display

Silent auction items on display
in what used to be a humidor
More distinctive shapes and lights, here in the lobby

The Visitation Hospital Foundation is a non-profit that sponsors a health clinic in Haiti. They were hosting a dinner, honoring a valuable board member, having a silent auction, and then enjoying Beatles music and dancing after dinner.

We were given the board room as a dressing room. It had a large table surrounded by chairs, and a large wooden sculpture in one corner. One wall was decorated with an elaborate color scheme, accompanied by a notice that explained the specific length and color of each piece on the wall. 

There was one classic moment when David asked Dennis about whether we'd be eating dinner, and Dennis immediately assumed the role of The Godfather, and in that famous raspy voice, gently reassured us how we could always depend on him to deliver.
Dennis doing "The Godfather"
David, Allan and Nathan in the dressing room. 
You can see from the smile that Dennis's act was getting across.

We had a professional crew doing lights, our good friend Allan doing sound, and it was a great evening in a fascinating place.

Nathan had an old friend who arrived in Nashville that night, and came to our gig.

He and Nathan had spent summers together in Vermont, enjoying the swimming holes and all the fun things kids do up there. John is now a banker in California, and had a conference to attend in Nashville, and used the opportunity to connect with an old friend.
WannaBeatles at Oz with Nathan's friend John after the show

There were many other people, names, and enjoyable sights in that creative place, so The WannaBeatles enjoyed our visit to Oz, and hope to return.

Bloggin' Bryan, 21October 2014

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