Murfree Gallery officially opens in Property Assessor’s Office

WGNS Radio, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, November 22, 2013

Art by John Smith

Art by John Smith

The Murfree Art Gallery was dedicated around 4:00 o’clock Friday afternoon (11/22/2013) in the Rutherford County Property Assessor’s Office at 319 N. Maple Street. Property Assessor Rob Mitchell hosted the event.

Working alongside local businesses, the MTSU Department of Art, through the Todd Art Gallery, collaborated with county Property Assessor Rob Mitchell to feature ongoing exhibits in the new Murfree Gallery.

The new Murfree Gallery, named for the family of Revolutionary War hero Col. Hardy Murfree for whom the city of Murfreesboro was renamed in 1811.  It is a unique first-time partnership between Rutherford County and Middle Tennessee State University.

The Dean of MTSU’s College of Liberal Arts Mark Byrnes shared a story of how Bob Murfree used to be his coach during his childhood days.  Murfree commented . . .

L-R Photo ID:  Dr. Mark Byrnes, dean of MTSU's College of Liberal Arts and community leader Bob Murfree shared memories during the celebration.

L-R Photo ID: Dr. Mark Byrnes, dean of MTSU’s College of Liberal Arts and community leader Bob Murfree shared memories during the celebration.

The new gallery is displaying a mix of art by members of our local community as well as students from MTSU. Dr. Byrnes said . . .

Fourth District U.S. Congressman Scott DesJarlais commented that it would be great to extend the Murfree Art Gallery to the halls of congress and expose beltway residents to MTSU’s talent.

County Historian Greg Tucker shared fascinating stories about the Murfree family and our city as well. He noted that the first city named after this klan was in North Carolina, and it was called Murfreesborough. The one near the Outer Banks was founded in 1787, whereas its Tennessee namesake came along in 1811.  By the way, that city of 2,835 residents has changed the spelling of it name to “boro”.

County Historian Greg Tucker (right) enthralls the gathering with fascinating stories about the Murfree family and the early days of this community. Watching in the background are (left) Congressman DesJarlais and (middle) Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess.

County Historian Greg Tucker (right) enthralls the gathering with fascinating stories about the Murfree family and the early days of this community. Watching in the background are (left) Congressman DesJarlais and (middle) Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess.

Mitchell said, “Rutherford County has a rich cultural history.  I can think of no better way to celebrate it than through a partnership with Tennessee’s finest University, Middle Tennessee State University.  I also believe we should strive to make better use of our public buildings for the benefit of our community.  Hopefully this will be just one small step towards that goal.”

The featured community artists include local favorites Mary Watkins, Diane Stockard and John Smith, who recently began to paint iconic and nostalgic scenes of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County while he also served as a funeral director at Nashville’s Mount Olivet Cemetery.

Other community artists in the inaugural Murfree Gallery exhibit include Bobbie Bittner, Jack Freeman and Suzanne LeBeau of the Murfreesboro Art League and the Attic School of Art’s Pamela Mack and Carol Moliterno.

Another familiar face at the Friday afternoon opening was retired Property Assessor Tommy Sanford. He retired in 2004 after serving for 22-years.  Sanford was even sporting a handle-bar moustouche.  As you recall, Sanford received more than 40 awards, including the 1989-90 Tennessee’s Outstanding County Official.

“The benefit that the Murfree Gallery brings to MTSU and the Department of Art is the expressed interconnectedness and benefits that exist between the university and our surrounding municipalities and county,” said MTSU’s Snyder, who also chairs the Murfreesboro City Hall Art Committee.

“For our students, this collaboration offers opportunity for real-world experience, particularly in the area of the growing trend of public facilities functioning as art spaces and limited public forums. For these MTSU students and those to follow, this type of opportunity is invaluable,” he added.

Former Sheriff and now WGNS' Talk Show Host Truman Jones, County Historian Greg Tucker, community leaders Bob Murfree and Bill Patterson.

Former Sheriff and now WGNS’ Talk Show Host Truman Jones, County Historian Greg Tucker, community leaders Bob Murfree and Bill Patterson.

Longtime Property Assessor Tommy Sanford retired in 2004 after serving for 22-years. Sanford was even sporting a handle-bar moustouche!

Longtime Property Assessor Tommy Sanford retired in 2004 after serving for 22-years. Sanford was even sporting a handle-bar moustouche!

It was noted that the show will be changed regularly, and if someone has suggestions for artists to be featured, contact Eric Snyder at MTSU’s Todd Gallery or Property Assessor Mitchell.

The Murfree Gallery will be open to the public during the regular County Office Building hours — weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. — as well as the first Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to noon. Special event hours will be announced when new exhibits get underway.

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