Outdoor studios provide space for art, music, writing

Photography by Sanford Myers

Wendy Silverman met her husband, Jack, when a friend finally convinced her in 2010, after years of trying, to go see his band play at the now-closed Flatrock Café. The two exchanged Facebook info, started messaging and scheduled a first date a week after that show — which turned out to be the day of the flood that inundated much of Nashville.

“I was in Franklin and had gone out to buy new shoes for the date. I’d never seen water like that,” she says. “I tried to cancel, and Jack was in Nashville where it really wasn’t bad yet. I think he thought I was just trying to get out of the date.”

So Jack decided to scrap their plans to hit the art crawl and come to her instead.

“We went to eat at the Red Pony, and it was starting to get bad,” he says. “The streets flooded in Franklin, but I made it home. The next day is when all hell broke loose.”

After that auspicious start, the couple connected and moved in together a few years later — after Wendy’s son went away to college. And while they loved the 1925 bungalow they bought on McKinney Avenue, it wasn’t right for all their needs. It lacked the good light and dedicated space they both needed to create.

“It was a great house, but it didn’t have quite the right space for her art and my music,” Jack says.

They spent two frustrating years going to open houses and decided to just add on to their existing space. They got on a waiting list to meet with architect Lynn Taylor, but they decided to go to one more open house.

“We walked in, and she went one direction, I went the other direction,” Jack says. “We met back at the middle of the house, and we just kind of looked at each other like, ‘hmm…’”

The home was built in 1960 and was a little more than 1,500 square feet before the previous owner, Brandon Vance of Design Build East, put on a 500-square-foot addition in the back that now houses the den and master bedroom.

“Both of them are just spacious rooms with tons of natural light, and that is huge to me,” Jack says. “I’ve always fantasized about those Frank Lloyd Wright, all-glass walls, and this gets close to that for me. This house, just everything was exactly right.”

Halloween will mark three years in their East Nashville home. It isn’t much bigger than their previous place, but the difference is the split studio space that is additional and separate from the main house.

“It’s a game changer,” Wendy says. “Something about it being outside, walking out into a separate building — it just feels like you can totally focus. We feel very fortunate. We know that we’re lucky to have that space.”

Jack uses his side for playing guitar and some home recording. And Wendy can hear him playing when she’s in her side working on her art and textile designs. Together, they love to entertain and host hybrid art shows and house concerts.

In the main house, Jack says, Wendy has carte blanche with design. But, he adds, she makes sure his personality is represented, including his “California corner” filled with succulents, sunshine and, most importantly, his red chair from his bachelor days.

“That chair has been a source of contention since the early days of our relationship, but it’s grown on me over the years,” she says. “And his favorite thing, when people come over, is that someone always walks in the door and immediately says, ‘That is a great chair.’”