Bob Dylan’s Whiskey Distillery Is Opening a New Arts Center in a Deconsecrated Nashville Church

A folk singer, a whiskey distillery, and an old church. It sounds like a lyric from an old Bob Dylan song—and, in a sense, it is.

Yesterday, Heavens Door Spirits, the whiskey distillery that Bob Dylan helped open last year, announced plans to build out a new arts center in Nashville. Set to open in the fall of 2020, the Heaven’s Door Distillery and Center for the Arts will occupy a 160-year-old church in downtown Nashville. It will feature a whiskey library, a restaurant, a 360-seat performance venue, and plenty of Dylan’s own paintings and metal sculptures.

A rendering of the Heaven’s Door Distillery and Center for the Arts. Courtesy of Heaven’s Door Distillery.

“Nashville is the natural home for the Heaven’s Door distillery and the Elm Street Church is a fitting home for Dylan’s visual artwork,” the CEO of Heaven’s Door Spirits, Marc Bushala, said in a statement. “We spent years looking for a property that truly captures the essence of the Heaven’s Door brand, and when we finally found the deconsecrated church in SoBro, we immediately knew that it would be the perfect physical and spiritual center for the brand, and Bob’s art.”

The musician has been making paintings since the 1960s, a number of which have graced the covers of albums by both him and others. Late in his career Dylan turned to ironwork sculpture, and in 2016, he debuted his first public work: a 26-by-15-foot iron archway that acts as an entrance to the $1.3 billion resort and casino MGM National Harbor on the Potomac River.

Bob Dylan at work in his studio. Photo courtesy of MGM National Habor.

However, not everyone in Tennessee is a fan of Dylan’s art. Upset that the US State Department purchased an $84,000 iron sculpture by Dylan for the US Embassy in Mozambique during this year’s government shutdown, Tennessee congressman Tim Burchett introduced a bill last week that would prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used to install or display art in any US Embassy.

“Eighty-four thousand dollars is a heck of a lot of money for somebody in East Tennessee,” Burchett told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “Dad gum it, we need to get out of that mentality. We are in debt, and we’re just running towards socialism. We can’t continue at this rate if we’re to survive.”

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