Photography by Patrick Sheehan
As an alumna of the University School of Nashville, designer McLean Barbieri knows firsthand the quality of the education it provides. The private school’s mission of diversity, creativity, environmentalism and inclusive learning is why she sends her children there.
And as the owner and principal designer of Annali Interiors, Barbieri is a fan of Artclectic, USN’s annual fundraiser that features a diverse assortment of about 50 juried exhibitors. Over the years, the annual fundraiser has evolved into a nationally respected and accessible art show with a wide mix of mediums, styles and price points.
This year Barbieri is co-chair of the 22nd annual event, which is Oct. 18-20. Along with Erica Jacobs and Michelle Rosen, she is committed to assembling a varied selection of artists and pieces.
“Art tastes are personal, and so what one person thinks is really great, someone else may think is really not,” she says. “We obviously look at what has sold well in the past and try to get a balance of medium and style so that we can appeal to as many people’s art tastes as possible — while still offering high-quality, mostly regional, art,” she says.
Barbieri has bought at least seven pieces at Artclectic, starting even before her children were even enrolled at USN.
“When you purchase a piece of art you expect to want to live with it for a long time in your home,” she says. “It’s not a light decision for people.
“We really try to provide the tools for people coming to Artclectic to be able to shop how they like: If they’re impulsive. If they want to look at all of the artists online beforehand. If they want to commission a piece after the show. All of that is within the boundaries of Artclectic.”
Attracting thousands of visitors, the show provides valuable art education for USN students and the Nashville community through demonstrations, class tours and hands-on workshops. Proceeds from the event are earmarked for the Artclectic Endowment Fund for Innovative Teaching, which supports curriculum innovation and classroom excellence.
“The money goes to teacher development; it allows them to have the opportunities to push the envelope on what kinds of ideas they want to bring to the classroom,” Barbieri says.
Because all the artists are on hand to talk about their pieces, Artclectic is an ideal place to shop for art. People can discuss multiple items that catch their eye with artists who are ready to engage and answer questions.
“You really end up having a very personal feeling with the art itself,” Barbieri says.
Of course, if there is a specific empty wall or corner you are looking to finally fill, it’s okay to come with measurements, paint swatches and hopefully an open mind. If you are lucky, the artist might have just the right thing stashed nearby.
“I think people come with one set notion and then allow it to be a little bit fluid,” Barbieri says. “I do have the philosophy that you have to react, and you have to love it. Artclectic gives such a vast selection of art at one place that it allows you to see what you like, to see what draws you in.
“It’s all about the personal experience with the piece.”