Cory Basil is making an impression on Franklin’s thriving art scene.
As an artist poet, author and actor, Cory Basil is a ‘jack of all trades’ who defies labels.
If you aren’t familiar with his work, you might recognize his larger-than-life sculpture, Fishboy’s Perilous Putt, on display at the Nashville Sounds’ First Tennessee Park. A collaboration between Basil and local sculptor Brian Somerville, ‘Fishboy’ sits in full view at the eighth hole of the miniature golf course down the right field line
“I had created the temporary sculpture of Fishboy for a retrospective exhibit of my career back in 2014,” says Basil. “I had grandiose dreams of making a giant Fishboy sculpture for the event, but we had very little time and very little budget. Brian and I built a massive sculpture out of Styrofoam and wood and canvas and paint and we were up all night, many nights. I had ambitions to find someone to fund finishing him so he could live somewhere permanently in Nashville. I knew it would take $10,000-$15,000 to finish him so he could live outside.
Somerville had some space in the woods behind his house where Fishboy was stored. Basil tried for two years to secure funding to finish the project but he was unsuccessful until February last year. “It was a ‘who-would-have-thought?’ moment,” says Basil. “I’m very excited that he’s there and he can inspire and make kids smile. It’s cool to see kids walk up to him and climb on him.”
Basil made the move to the Nashville area from his hometown of Phoenix in 2007 to pursue his dream of becoming a singer/songwriter. “I was in a band as a teenager and just wanted to be the cool rock star,” he says.
He had transitioned out of an insular life of a stifling, cult-like religion, survived a divorce and found Nashville to be a liberating place where his creative side could blossom. He subsequently fell into a publishing deal, and didn’t really think about pursuing his art until encouraged to do so by a friend in 2011.
“She’d seen me post my work on various social media over the years and she challenged me to show publically,” he says. “She set me up with a show at Ugly Mugs in East Nashville and I accepted the challenge.”
Basil put together a 35-piece collection of framed illustrations. Much to his surprise, he sold more than half the images when the show opened on a snowy winter night and it inspired him to do more shows. He went from coffee shops and restaurants, to galleries and pop-up nights to opening his own gallery, Imaginebox Emporium, in downtown Franklin.
The 39-year-old finds his inspiration everywhere and by just about everything he encounters – be it a simple moment in time, the beauty of a view, an old romance, history, music, etc.
He doesn’t discriminate about what lights his creative soul on fire. He found his inspiration for Eternal Embrace from the ‘Lovers of Valdaro,’ a pair of human skeletons dating back almost 6,000 years, which were discovered by archaeologists in Italy in 2007. The two skeletons appear to have died facing each other with their arms around each other, bringing to mind a lovers embrace.
“This was very inspirational to me,” says Basil. “We put so much effort here on Earth with love, with our families, with relationships, marriage, significant others. Essentially, we build everything on love. For me, I’ve always questioned what becomes of us after this. And right alongside that is what becomes of love after this? All the time, effort and energy and spiritual emphasis on connection – what happens to that as soon as we expire?
“And those questions just dove off the page at me when I saw this photograph of the couple embracing. So with that, I created an entire series based around that question – ‘what is love and what happens to it when our time here on Earth is up?’”
You can check out Basil’s extensive scope of work by visiting his gallery and studio, at 311 North Margin Street in Franklin. Or you can visit the studio online at CoryBasilArt.com.