Learn About the Carousel

The Making of the Carousel/ About the Artist Red Grooms/ A list of the 36 Carousel Figures/ Resources

The Making of the Tennessee Fox Trot Carousel

Nashville native and world-famous artist Red Grooms had made large-scale, site-specific sculptures for other cities, among them Chicago ("City of Chicago," 1967),  New York ("Ruckus Manhattan," 1976), and Philadelphia ("Philadelphia Cornucopia," 1983),  before he agreed to create a work of art, his largest ever, for his home town. He had, however, been toying with the idea for many years. For Nashville he envisioned a functional, interactive work that would bring together history, art, entertainment, and the down home "funkiness" of the Nashville Grooms knew growing up. A carousel was the perfect form.

After much planning and research into the history and culture of Nashville and Tennessee, Grooms had a model of the carousel ready in June 1994 when the campaign to raise interest and funding began. The first three carousel figures (Wilma Rudolph, Davy Crockett, and Mr. Fox Trot) were completed and presented in Nashville in July 1996. It took 2 1/2 years to finish the remaining 33 figures and 28 painted panels, construct the carousel, and install it. It was open for operation on the banks of the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville in November of 1998.

The figures on the carousel were first carved out of styrofoam, then constructed of fiberglass over aluminum frames (armatures), and finally coated with an aviation-grade epoxy. The mechanical structure was made by Carousel Works of Mansfield, Ohio. The price for the creation, construction and installation of the carousel was approximately $1.75 million. Money for the project came largely from private and corporate donors who sponsored individual carousel characters.

The name of the carousel was coined by Mr. Grooms and his wife Lysiane and comes from both the ballroom dance popular in the 1940's and the gait of a trotting horse, and is perhaps also a reference to the red foxes found in Tennessee. "Mr. Fox Trot" is one of the ridable characters on the carousel.

Source: Red Grooms: The Graphic Work, by Walter Knestrick; Harry N. Abrams, Inc., NY,  2001.

The Artist- Red Grooms

Charles Rogers "Red" Grooms was born in 1937 in Nashville, Tennessee and attended schools there including Burton Grammar School and Hillsboro High School. He also studied with various art teachers in the city and had early support, recognition and appreciation from the Nashville community, such as a two-man exhibit (with friend and classmate Walter Knestrick) during his senior year in high school. After high school he studied briefly at the Art Institute of Chicago, the New School for Social Research in NY, and George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville.
While he has spent most of his adult life living and working as an artist in New York City, he has travelled the world to create art, to install exhibitions of his work, and to be inspired by other countries and cultures. He has created art works in many media including film and animation, theatrical sets, posters, paintings, prints, sculptures, lithographs, and of course the large-scale, colorful, interactive multi-media "sculpto-pictoramas" which have gained him great acclaim. His work has a playful, humorous, sometimes absurd flavor, but also offers a keen perspective on social, political, or common human conditions.
In 1986 Red Grooms received the Tennessee Governor's Award for Outstanding Artist, and in 2003 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Academy of Design.
Red Grooms has one daughter, Saskia, with his former wife Mimi Gross, and is married to Lysiane Luong. He live in New York City.

Sources: Red Grooms: the Graphic Work, by Walter Knestrick, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., NY, 2001 and <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red Grooms>, accessed 3/2/13.

The 36 Carousel Figures (in alphabetical order)

Adelicia Acklen (1817-1887)
Chet Atkins
The Bell Witch
Dr. R.H. Boyd (1843-1922)
Rod Brasfield, Lonzo and Oscar, Speck Rhodes, & Cousin Jody
Leroy Carr (1905-1935)
Davy Crockett (1786-1836)
Anne Dallas Dudley (1876-1955)
William Edmondson (1870-19510
Everly Brothers, Phil & Don
Cornelia Fort (1919-1943)
Mr. Fox Trot
GooGoo Boy
Horace Greeley Hill (1873-1942)
Andrew Jackson (1767-1845)
Reverend Samuel Jones (1847-1906)
Rabbi Isadore Lewinthal (1849-1922)
Wild Fang
Belle Kinney & Phidias (1896-1959)
Eugene Lewis (1845-1917)
Uncle Dave Macon (1870-1951)
Dan May (1898-1982)
Moses & Calvin McKissack (1879-1952 and 1896-1968)
Lula Naff (1875-1960)
Purity Milk Truck
Grantland Rice (1880-1954)
Charlotte Robertson (1751-1843)
Wilma Rudolph (1940-1994)
Captain Thomas Ryman (1841-1904)
Sequoyah (1776-1843)
Charlie Soong (1866-1918)
William Strickland (1788-1854)
Vanderbilt Life Flight
Kitty Wells (1919-

The 28 Painted Panels

To Learn More:

NPT documentary "Carousel of Time," 

Knestrick, Walter. Red Grooms: The Graphic Work, introduction and catalogue by Walter G. Knestrick; essay by Vincent Katz; Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 2001.

1 comment:

  1. I am co-owner of The Carousel Works, Inc of Mansfield, Ohio and we are NOT the makers of the fox trout carousel frame, any questions, call me. The number is on our web site, carouseworks.com. Daniel Jones