Growing up in Manhattan, you can bet that Carol Stein probably didn’t foresee the title of “art gallery owner” on her future resume.

That said, art was always a passion for Stein. After getting a master’s degree in psychology, she found herself moving to Nashville in 1980 with her husband, who was in the medical field and had been offered a job at Vanderbilt. As they came to Music City, Stein decided to make her passion a reality and she opened the Cumberland Gallery and began her career as an art dealer and gallery owner.

In keeping with its original vision of bringing in talent from Tennessee and around the Southeast, the Cumberland Gallery is now an outlet for around 45 artists, and the collection has grown over time to include works from all over the country that Stein and her staff select to bring a rich, unique tapestry to the Nashville art scene.

Coming from New York and accustomed to the art community in various major cities, however, Nashville was not exactly at the top of her list in terms of cities that best feature contemporary art when she first set up shop, Stein said.

“Upon opening the gallery,” Stein admitted, “I certainly didn’t expect the level of talent that existed in our region. As a matter of fact, when we first started doing art shows, gallery owners and customers alike were surprised that there was art in Nashville at all.”

But as the gallery has grown, and begun to mount two major art shows a year in Los Angeles and Chicago, the country has come to know contemporary art from the Southeast. The gallery’s most recent traveling showcase was Art Chicago, which ran from April 29 through May 3. While there, the Cumberland’s staff continued their efforts to showcase several popular Southeastern artists that Chicago vendors have come to know and expect. The Cumberland has also been active in local art-related events as well, including its role as a longtime supporter of the annual Artrageous gallery tour benefiting Nashville CARES.

As for the gallery itself, Stein and her staff strive to create a space that is unlike others nearby while also focusing their time and energy on creating and nurturing new talent. And while the artwork may be serious, the venue itself is warm and friendly, and even has its own canine greeter, Sasha, to make guests feel at home.

“Other places seem stiff,” Stein said. But as her vision of creating a showcase of Southeastern paintings, sculptures, photography, and works on paper has come to fruition, the Cumberland Gallery is anything but that.


“Art After Hours”
As a program of the Nashville Association of Art Dealers, local galleries are opening their doors after hours the first Thursday of every month from 5-8 p.m. In an effort to interface with the community in more positive ways and provide more opportunities for the people of Nashville to become more aware of the art scene, these evenings are devoted to various guest speakers or special fundraising events. They are open to the public and a great way to get to know the art galleries of Music City. Visit for more information.

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Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville

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