postcards: rebekka seale's nashville, tennessee

by georgia frances king

It's the start of a fresh week, so what better time for a new online frankie feature? Postcards will be like a monthly photography essay that features a different spiffy international maker/doer/crafter/thinker and the town they live in. You'll not only get to see some pretty snaps from other creatives from all ends of the globe, but you might glean a little useful info if you're ever thinking of popping by their hood.

First up is Rebekka Seale, the super-talented illustrator who runs Dear Friend, a blog that showcases snippets of her life and artwork in Nashville, Tennesse. A few years ago she started drawing little portraits of the gorgeous architecture in her area, and now her 'house portraits' have become so popular that she has personalised waiting lists as long as the block she lives on.

Giddy up, Rebekka!

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Please tell us a little bit about the neighbourhood you live in. I live in East Nashville, which is an artsy and eclectic little neighbourhood right across the river from downtown. We East-Nashvillians are quite proud of our neighbourhood. It's old and flowery and has a colour pallette of its own: lots of brightly painted Victorian homes, craftsman-style bungalows and cottages. We also have a big, brilliant park that runs along the river, lovely restaurants and bakeries, and a famous tomato festival every summer. Living in East Nashville feels kind of like living in a city within a city.

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What kind of stereotype has Nashville earned? Most people think of Nashville as a country music lover's dream with a guitar player on every corner and whiskey-stocked honky tonks on every street... And downtown Nashville is precisely just that!

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What is different to Nashville than what people expect it to be? I think folks are surprised to see that Nashville isn’t just about country music. We have an incredible music scene here full of all types. Also, there are great universities, coffee shops, restaurants and farmer’s markets. And a massive city park with an exact replica of the Parthenon in Greece. Who woulda thought?

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You focus a lot on houses in your drawings – is there a typical style of Tennessee architecture? It's hard to say what sort of house is typical for Tennessee. Our state is hilly and mountainous in parts, and flat and farmland-y in others. But I think the big old plantation homes like The Hermitage here in Nashville are classic Tennessee. We live in a teeny 1930's cottage with a brick fireplace and old wooden floors. It's cozy and we love it.

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If you had a day to take an Australian around your town on a Sunday afternoon, what would you do? I would start by driving her out to the famous Loveless Café for breakfast where we would eat biscuits [scones] with blackberry jam. Then I'd take her to the 12th South neighborhood where we would shop for handmade denim at Imogene + Willie and grab lunch at Edley's BBQ. On our way to my neighbourhood, we'd drive through the Historic Downtown district and stop in to Robert's Western World for a quick song and dance. After we've crossed the river into East Nashville, I'd take her straight to Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream where we'd split a pint of goat cheese and black cherry ice cream. After that, we would walk down to the Five Points neighborhood to browse the vintage and record shops. For dinner, we'd go to Rumour's East, my favorite wine bar, where we'd sit in the most gorgeous fairylight-lit patio and sip wine until the stars came out. Oh dear, this all sounds so fun... I wish an Australian would come visit me right now!

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How has living in Nashville influenced your work? The seasons! I feel like we get them so perfectly here. The summers are hot and sultry and the winters are icy and dark, yet mild enough to still be nice. The springs are stormy and flowery and the autumns are best of all: fiery-hued and crisp. The cycle of the seasons here keeps me ever-motivated and ever-inspired.

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What is the local creative community like? There's a lovely community of makers and craftspeople, many of whom draw inspiration from Tennessee's rich country-made heritage. Some of my favorites are Emil Erwin who makes the most gorgeous leather goods and Otis James who stitches the dandiest bowties and hats. There are several wonderful artisan markets that pop up throughout the year like the Porter Flea, which showcases the best of the city's craftspeople and is delightfully fun to attend.

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What album do you think would be the best soundtrack for walking around? Oh, something really classic and awesome, like old George Jones and Tammy Wynette duets. 

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Where is the best place to have a picnic? Anywhere in Nashville is good for having a picnic, and that's no lie. But our favourite place to picnic is Arrington Vineyards, a gorgeous winery about 30 minutes south of town. It's like a dream.

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Where is the best place to see a gig? The Ryman Auditorium, historically the home of The Grand Ole Opry. There’s just nothing in the world like it.

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Where is the best place to get a drink? My vote is heading to The Holland House Bar and Refuge for the Tennessee Cobbler #3, shaken with cracked ice.  

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Where is the best place to buy some records? Grimey’s, for sure. And they have the best in-store performances too.

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Where is the best place to nab a vintage dress? I like Local Honey. Not only do they have the sweetest selection of vintage dresses in town (in my opinion!), but they carry lines from the best up-and-coming local designers too.

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