Friday, March 1, 2013


Welcome to the “Tennessee Fox Trot Carousel” blog site.  We invite you to share photos, stories, and click on the tabs above to learn more about the purpose of this site.  There is also a tab with copies of stationery you can use to write letters to Tennessee government leaders. Our goal is to provide a place and action steps to support the renewed public interest of the Tennessee Fox Trot Carousel by the artist Red Grooms. 

Freeman Ramsey / The Tennessean

Famous artist Red Grooms and his wife Lysiane take the first ride on the new 44-foot carousel 


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Student Letters from Lockeland Design Center

This is a general sampling of letters written by Lockeland Design Center's 3rd and 4th graders.  The names of the students have been removed for their privacy but the words are fully their own. There was typically one student from each class (of 20) who was not in favor of restoring the carousel.  I included one of the best written "not in favor" ones here.  These letters opened up a great debate and gave all students a chance to analyze their thinking and support their decision with specific arguments.

I think the carousel should be brought back because it brings joy and joy is better than money. 

We have a "Ghost Ballet", and "Musica" but we need that center piece 

(the "Fox Trot" as he explained in class) to put it all together. 

People might rush to libraries to learn more about the things 

on the "Fox Trot Carousel."  

We've been fine without it for the last few years. 

Since people don't know their history the Fox Trot Carousel could teach them a lot about their history. 

This is the picture on the back of the letter below - and what a great idea! The characters could be "sold" to donors and the donors names could be listed on a chart posted at the new site for the carousel. 

New York has a sculpture by Red Grooms and they've taken care of theirs.  Chicago has a unique sculpture by Red Grooms and they've taken care of theirs,  but we have not. 

I never got to enjoy it because it was taken down two years before I was born. 

We built a stadium, a convention center and have our own t.v. show 

(and she explained in class since we can do these things - we should also have the "Fox Trot Carousel" restored.) 

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Red Grooms Carousel Stories Come to Life with Lois Riggins-Ezzell

Ms. Lois telling us stories about taking art lessons with Red Grooms
at the former Nashville Children's Museum

Lois Riggins-Ezzell is simply an amazingly, radiantly gorgeous woman filled with joy, enthusiasm and a gift for telling stories.  Not only is she fabulous in every imaginable way possible, she is also the Executive Director for the Tennessee State Museum and an expert on the "Tennessee Fox Trot Carousel."  Thanks to the help of Lockeland parent Sarah Bell Earley, Ms. Lois (as she asked to be called) paid a visit to Lockeland Design Center to help us launch our "Tennessee Fox Trot Carousel Shared Writing Campaign."

Acting upon the advice and the wisdom of Lockeland's innovative principal, Christie Lewis, students were presented with varied opinions in regards to restoring the carousel and returning it to public use. The students had some great ideas and questions for Ms. Lois who clearly energized her pursuit to advocate for the carousel's return to public use.

One of our favorite stories was of how Ms. Lois and Red Grooms were both students in an art class at the former Nashville Children's Museum which is now the Adventure Science Center.  Ms. Lois said that even at that young age you could tell there was something special and exciting about Red Grooms. I loved it when she showed the students the photo of her and her handsome husband and Red Grooms and his lovely wife on their trip to New York to present the idea for Red creating public art for Nashville.

It was interesting to hear the history and the reasons why the carousel closed down.  We learned that is was a blessing in disguise that the carousel wasn't in place during the flood of May 2010 or it would have been destroyed.  It really got the students thinking about the importance of having a long term plan.  You could also see their minds growing as they began to develop an understanding of the long and complex process of bringing the piece of public art back to life.

Here are just a few things that were discussed:
Raising Awareness 
Raising Funds
Creating a Long Term Plan
Restoring the Carousel
Creating Design Plans
Public Support
Finding a Location 

Most importantly, the visit engaged the students in the democratic process of:
Seeing something you want to change (or not) 
Creating awareness in your community through communication 
Working with the proper authorties
Providing multiple solutions 
Gaining support from others

On the next visit to art class students learned WHY this lesson is so important:
Becoming active in your local government is crucial to being a good citizen in a democracy 
Understanding the polices that regulate our public art and the process for how it comes to be
Using your voice to express your opinion for a REAL LIFE occurrence that will effect the future of our city 
Being involved in the larger art community as a way of understanding the world better 

A Red Grooms "Taxi" from the personal collection of Ms. Lois
Just for the record, the students were overwhelmingly in support of restoring the carousel to public use.  They were chomping at the bit to fundraise and had ideas for everything from yard sales, to art sales, to going door to door. They want to start petitions and tell everyone they know about the "Tennessee Fox Trot Carousel."

You can read a sampling of their letters in the post below this one and find writing forms to download and print using the tabs at the top of this site.

Ms. Lois and Lockeland parent Sarah Bell Earley show us the "Ruckus Rodeo" 3-D book and tell us about other Red Grooms installations in the U.S.  It got us wondering, why we don't have ours already back in operation? 

On a personal note - I've had this pinned to the bulletin board in the art room since Oct.  2008 with the hope that one day we can entice Red Grooms to pay a visit to Lockeland Design Center as a Resident Artist and work with one of my classes on a special Red-Grooms-inspired art project...  :)