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New Dickerson Pike bus shelter captures changes and rich history of area

Residents living near Dickerson Pike in the Northwest area of Madison, will soon have another reason to utilize WeGo’s public transportation system thanks to a new bus shelter. The shelter will be draped with colorful artwork documenting the area’s rich past and its resurgence as one of Nashville’s quickest changing corridors. Located on Dickerson Pike, near the newly constructed Buffalo Trail Apartments, the structure will also double as a pick-up location for school buses and provide a dry place for students and transit riders waiting for bus service.

Stein Public Leadership for the Arts recipient and Councilmember, Nancy VanReece said, “I really appreciate LDG working with Metro Arts and Culture to secure an equitable review process of local Madisonian artists who recently participated in the Madison on My Mind project through a grant from the National Endowment of Arts. The results are fantastic, and I couldn’t be more proud of the process.”

Commissioned by the LDG Development with help from the Metro Arts Commission, the bus shelter mural was designed and painted by Madison-based artist, Miriam Speyer. The mural contains three distinct segments. The first contains images of grazing buffalos and harkens back to time when Dickerson Pike was used by herders to take buffalo to market in downtown Nashville. The pathway used was created by the buffalo and Native Americans who lived in the area long before early settlers moved in.

The second panel pays tribute to Madison’s roots in the music industry and the Historic Starday-King Sound Studios—a legendary recording studio located on Dickerson Pike approximately half a mile south of the bus shelter that grew to national and international prominence in the 1950s and 60s when James Brown recorded “Get Up” at the studio. Jimi Hendricks was also a regular session player at the studio when he travelled to the area. Other artists that recorded at the studio include Willie Nelson, Minnie Pearl and George Jones.

The final panel includes a flurry of colorful magnolia tree flowers and a resting buffalo framing a transparent view of Buffalo Trail Apartments in the background. This panel symbolizes the revitalization taking place along this busy corridor. Speyer says that when considering what images to include in the mural, given the diverse history of the area, she had an abundance of material to consider.

“When I started my proposal for this project, the first question on my mind was—if Dickerson Pike used to be a buffalo trail, what happened to all the buffalo?” said Speyer. “I learned that these majestic creatures, who once roamed this country freely by the millions, were commodified and over-hunted by European settlers, practically to the point of extinction. Buffalo were also slaughtered in an attempt to control and displace the Native Americans, who were heavily dependent on these animals to sustain all areas of their lives. After a while, efforts were made to preserve the buffalo population, and in 2016 the buffalo was even named the official mammal of the United States. I find the arc of this story fascinating. It gives me hope that other animals, plants, and people who have been disregarded or carelessly killed off can also be given protection and honor.”

The final panel symbolizes the present. “It is a representation of new life and hope for the future,” said Speyer. “The majority of the panel was left intentionally clear and transparent as it is my hope that people will not only see the current day surroundings through the glass, but perhaps also catch a glimpse of their own reflection and be reminded that we are creating history every day. What legacy will we leave? What future would we like to help create?”

The total cost for developing the stop was approximately $30,000 and was paid for by LDG Development—the developer for neighboring Buffalo Trail Apartments. The final structure is expected to be complete in Summer 2021, and the original paintings will be housed in Buffalo Trail’s onsite clubhouse. Joshua Haston, development manager for LDG’s Nashville office, says that LDG’s support of this effort demonstrates the company’s commitment to investing in the communities it serves.

“With every project LDG builds, we strive to build up the community beyond just our site,” said Haston. “That means improving the infrastructure to make communities more walkable, encouraging transit ridership, and supporting local artists who make our communities beautiful. We are so grateful to everyone that helped make this a reality. We hope to see more colorful bus shelters popping up along this burgeoning corridor.”

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