Nashville Taxpayers Funded Expensive Abstract Art Under Karl Dean

Karl Dean

Tennessee Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean has no comment about what some people call a taxpayer-funded boondoggle erected in downtown Nashville during his tenure as mayor.

At least no one from Dean’s campaign returned a request for comment Tuesday regarding the public art project known as Stix.

That project cost the city $750,000. Some people refer to it as art. Other people call it a waste of taxpayer money.

Either way, it’s nothing more than a bunch of sticks.

Oh, and the sticks have bright, shiny colors.

The Tennessee Star wanted to know if a possible Dean administration would force taxpayers at the state level to pay for public art projects such as this — or any public art period.

As for Stix itself, the artist, Christian Moeller, called it an homage to the Native Americans who first lived in Middle Tennessee. says it’s “the most expensive public art piece ever in Nashville.”

Dean and other city officials could have sent that $750,000 check to a local artist — where the money could have gone right back into Tennessee’s economy. Instead, they sent that money out to California, where Moeller resides.

Moeller, at the time he got that six-figure payout, was a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles.

If you’ve seen Stix in person then you know city officials placed this piece of abstract art upright and on display across from Nashville’s Music City Center.

As news outlets reported five years ago, the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission took a lot of pride in this project and seemed to think it was a real cultural achievement.

But, as Tennessee Watchdog reported at the time, no one in Dean’s office wanted to answer questions about whether the benefits outweighed the cost to taxpayers.

Former Metro Arts Executive Director Jennifer Cole, when approached, balked at talking to the press.

“Based on the publication that you are writing for I don’t really want to respond to that question,” Cole told the publication, which covered waste, fraud, and abuse in government.

She even refused to discuss the matter with Nashville NBC affiliate WSMV.

The Star hopes someone from Dean’s campaign will clarify whether public art projects are a priority of his or if he will focus his time and energies as governor elsewhere.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected].










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3 Thoughts to “Nashville Taxpayers Funded Expensive Abstract Art Under Karl Dean”

  1. […] “Stix,” erected outside the Music City Convention Center, cost the city $750,000. That project is nothing more than a bunch of sticks with bright, shiny colors. The artist, […]

  2. Randall

    If elected he’ll start removing Civil War statues.

  3. Wolf Woman

    Art! I think not. Let’s call it what it is. The Big Con.

    Progressive socialists like Karl Marx Dean have a special
    talent for spending money. And they hone this talent at our expense.

    Tennesseans, don’t be taken in like Nashvillians were with this leftist carpetbagger who didn’t want English to be our official language!