Nashville Family's American Dream Is Launching Dreams of Others

Oz Arts Nashville
Drive down Cockrill Bend Circle in west Nashville's industrial area, and you'll land in a land far away--at Oz Arts Nashville. The former cigar warehouse-turned-arts-center is where live performances, art exhibits, fashion shows and fundraisers are opening minds and creating conversation in Music City. "Presenting artists that are making commentary on those things (current events) is powerful," said Tim Ozgener, president and CEO of Oz Arts Nashville. "It's the audience seeing it, and then letting themselves think about things. And I find that a lot of times, it's more powerful than watching talking heads on a cable network, for example."

Nashville without Oz would be a blander Music City. And Oz without immigrants would be no Oz at all. The Ozgener family, who created Oz Arts Nashville, are some of 140-thousand immigrants who call metro Nashville home. Cano, an Ivy League-educated chemical engineer and Esen, a full-bright scholar--immigrants who came to America for an elite education and decided to stay.

WSMV Channel 4 My father is an Armenian from Istanbul and my mother is Turkish," Ozgener added. "They came to Nashville because of Vanderbilt's Peabody University. The American Dream is something that my mother and father kind of achieved."

Their family grew, as did their premium cigar business, which started out of their Hillwood home and moved to a behemoth building on 6172 Cockrill Bend Circle. But when Cano was in his 70's, he got cancer. He picked up a paint brush for the first time to help him heal, and a vision for the family's next act began to chrystalize. They turned the cigar warehouse into a contemporary arts and performance venue. Tim Ozgener runs the non-profit.

"If you're successful in this country, if you're hardworking and educated, and you're successful, you should want to give back to this country via your community," added Ozgener.

"We're not Rockefellers, so we planted this as a seed kind-of initiative for the city to get behind and support." Oz Arts Nashville is an ever-evolving space, like the immigrants who founded it--adding more than a little splash of color to nashville.

Another goal of Oz Arts Nashville is to give local artists a launching pad. Last week Nashville designer Amanda Valentine, who was featured on the show Project Runway, showcased her new clothing line in the debut of Nashville Fashion Week. The event sold-out.

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Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07