A Linwood home to musicians has opened its doors — and its walls — to artists of a different kind.
The result is one of the area’s newest visual art galleries, one that shares its space with a recording studio.
Artist Judy Saylor Allison has long displayed her paintings on the walls of Nashville North Studios, the recording space she co-owns with her husband, Jim Allison.
When Saylor was offered a show at Shore Medical Center in Somers Point, she didn’t want the walls of the studio to remain bare. So, to replace the 40 pieces she removed for the show in January, she invited fellow South Jersey artists to display their work and opened the gallery to the public.
The merging of visual arts and music turned out to be a natural fit.
“Everybody loves it,” said Jim Allison. “Whether you are into music or into art, you love artful things. There is no doubt that there is cross fertilization.”
The recording artists who come through Nashville North Studios have always complemented Saylor’s work.
“When they come in now, they see my work and other people’s work,” Saylor said.
“Artists come from all different kinds of backgrounds,” Saylor continued. “Very often, it is not usual to have a visual artist and an audio guy get together,” as she and Allison did, she said.
As an example, she mentioned painter Nancy Palermo of Linwood and her musician and entertainer husband, Nick Palermo.
Allison compared the project to music videos, which also combine visuals and music.
“The marriage of art and music has been done,” he said. “Music videos have been around for a long time now.”
The public has found it novel and refreshing to walk into a recording studio and see a variety of art on the walls, Saylor said.
“There aren’t a lot of art galleries in the area, certainly not in Linwood itself — and no art and music places,” she said.
And when the studio holds a public art show, it also has the potential to introduce what Nashville North does to area recording artists, Saylor said.
“It’s fun to have the two linked, the audio and the visual,” Allison said.
Nashville North Studios has been open for four years. It grew out of a recording studio in Nashville, Tennessee, that Allison still co-owns.
Over the course of 25 years, Allison built up a client base in Tennessee that helps him make a go of the Linwood studio.
Allison produced the Billy Ray Cyrus project that led to the country singer’s first major label deal with Mercury Records. He also was the first to record Hillary Scott, the future lead singer of the superstar country act Lady Antebellum. Allison’s Nashville operation produced a No. 1 Billboard single for Reba McEntire and a 10-million seller by LeAnn Rimes.
“These days, you can do things through the mail. You can just shoot a disc back and forth,” Allison said. “You can import tracks, add to them, work on them and send them back.
“I still have here a number of clients that I had in Nashville,” he said. “We can do the tracks down there with the session players. He shoots me the tracks. Then, I can record whoever it is up here.”
Southern New Jesey has been a surprisingly strong area for country music, Allison said.
“I was really amazed. There is one huge country radio station. Cat Country is a big station. In Atlantic City, their summer shows are almost all country acts. Dave Hangley, one of the guys I produced early on here, opened for quite a few of the big name acts. It’s a stronger market than you might imagine,” he said.
Allison, who also records commercials at his studio, can spend 12 hour days working as a producer if there is a project that he is working on.
Neil Miranda, 43, of Little Egg Harbor Township, recorded his latest CD at Nashville North Studios. “Runaway Angel” was released June 24 on Allison’s label, NNS Records. The album’s release coincided with the opening reception for the visual artists participating in an art exhibit at the studio called “American Made.”
Miranda, who has recorded at studios in California, said the artwork adds an “awesome” vibe to Nashville North.
“As an artist, musician ... it’s such a great space to create,” he said. He cited Saylor’s flower paintings, woodworking pieces and black-and-white photography that was part of the exhibit. “This one is very unique. Usually recording studios are sterile.”
“Iconic images of the Jersey Shore”
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and by appointment through Aug. 20
Where: Linwood Greene, Suite 8, 210 New Road, Linwood
How much: Free and open to the public
More info: 609-504-5044 or nashvillenorthstudios.com