If you’ve not been to Nashville, you may not know about our version of The Parthenon. A full-sized replica of the ancient Greek structure stands in the middle of Centennial Park near Vanderbilt University. It’s such an accustomed sight that I hardly notice it anymore, but Friday I had the opportunity to revisit the architectural gem. On the bottom floor of the building is a fine arts gallery that has changing exhibits. I was thrilled to see several collage and mixed-media pieces among the oil paintings.
The main level, though, is where the jaw-dropping piece of art resides. I is a 41 foot, 10 inch statue of the Greek Goddess Athena by Nashville uber-sculptor Alan Le Quire. I’ve seen Athena before, but each time I’m bowled over – at first by her massiveness, but ultimately by the uncanny grace and detail of LeQuire’s work. You can see an amazing slide show of the making of Athena at http://www.alanlequire.com/athena.shtml and visit LeQuire’s gallery at http://www.lequiregallery.com/home.html
We visited Athena in her temple to see a production of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. Three actors in traditional masks performed the tragic tale, and in place of the Greek chorus between scenes, each actor gave a brief recitation on the art of Greek tragic drama.
Their voices echoed eerily in the cavernous room where we sat in chairs at Athena’s feet. The masks magically transformed the actor and despite the stiffness of the ancient drama convention, the modern audience had no problem suspending disbelief in order to travel back in time. Theater has come a long way since Sophecles’ day, but it doesn’t get anymore dramatic that Oedipus at the golden-sandaled feet of Athena.