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Get to know Duncan McDaniel...

Welcome back to our continued series, ONLINE | IN HOME.  This week, we feature East Nashville based Artist, Duncan McDaniel.  We asked Duncan some questions to learn more about him, and how the last few weeks have affected his life.  Duncan is an Artist, the Owner of Art Up Nashville, Husband to Lauren & Father to his one-year old daughter, Moxie. Red Arrow:  Please elaborate on the day after the tornado and how you and your family faired and then helped in the aftermath... Duncan: It shames me to say I slept through the whole thing. Growing up in this area one gets used to the sirens. At 5am that morning I got up and headed to the studio thinking it was like any other Wednesday, half wondering why I had so many texts asking if I was ok. Of course I’m ok!  Just another storm, right? Once I was in the car driving through our neighborhood I quickly realized this was not normal. It took 2 hours to navigate what usually takes 10 minutes. In hindsight turning around would have been the sensible thing to do but instead I spent hours avoiding fallen trees, exposed power lines, police brigades and collapsed buildings. I guess I needed to know if our building had collapsed and if all my art was strewn about Buchanan Street . Everything was fortunately still intact.   During the drive, I noticed the Asphalt Beach building, a roller blade shop, was pretty much decimated. Several of my close friends and colleagues used the basement for art studios. I called them up to see if they were alright and one thing led to another and my wife and I took turns for the next 3 days both staying home to look after our 1 year old and helping them clear out what was salvageable. Some of them had been there 20 years or so and It was surreal clearing all of that stuff from what looked like a war zone. I felt so bad for them. It reminded me of when someone close to you dies and you need to sort all the items left behind deciding what is worth keeping. All these belongings represent the momentum of someone’s life that is suddenly frozen by death or in this instance a Tornado. That was over a month ago now and that morning was a very clear divide from normal life to the situation we are in now.  Red Arrow:  How has the quarantine affected you personally?  As an Artist? As a Father/Husband? As a business owner? Duncan:  Oddly enough, about 4 days before everything shut down Lauren broke her wrist in a rollerblading accident. Do you see a theme here? It seemed like such a negligible fall. The whole thing was filmed on my phone. I haven't had the guts to rewatch it yet. I think you can hear me chuckling on the video. Poor girl. A few days later she was in surgery and now she is under strict instructions from the doctor to not pick up anything that weighs more than a cup of tea, which includes our daughter. Yikes! I had an installation job in Myrtle Beach lined up that I was very much looking forward to. Two weeks with accommodation on the ocean installing a fiber optic light exhibition in a botanical garden and the perfect amount of time away from the family. Bliss!  Little did I realize that the trajectory of life that I was so sure of a month ago was to come crashing down. It all seems so trivial now, 5 weeks later and still homebound. Don’t get me wrong, I have actually loved the time spent with my family over this period. To be given a chance to pause and just exist with them exclusively is a rare and special occasion that I will look back on fondly. I've certainly enjoyed getting to know my daughter as she becomes a little person. She is hilarious and strong willed just like her mother. As a business owner of an art installation company this time is a bit concerning obviously. Our calendar has pretty much cleared out for the foreseeable future. We have good steady clients that will pick back up when the time comes but for now Art Up is silent. I have a great social media guy, Andres Bustemante, who is pushing us to expand our online presence. If we cant be out there installing work then at least we can be a platform for promoting artists and collectors. Hopefully at the end of all of this Art Up is remembered and our brand maintained. That is basically all we can do now.  I’m making lots of art at the moment. Painting as much as possible for a show that was rescheduled from April to October. I’m lucky to have time to experiment and push ideas for a few more months. I’m trying to keep up the momentum I had previously. Additionally I’m teaching myself to learn new 3d software and working towards designing and applying for public art calls. Creating visual art is such a solitary act that social distancing and lack of work has allowed for the time to create. I am grateful for this. Red Arrow:  What is the first thing you want to do or place you want to go when the country opens back up again? Duncan: First thing will be to take Lauren out on the town while Moxie stays with my mother who I know is craving time with her granddaughter. Who knows, we might even get to sleep in. At the moment we are in the middle of having a porch addition built off the back of the house. I’m dreaming of having friends over for a BBQ once it's complete.   Red Arrow:  What shows have you been binge watching? Duncan: Schitt's Creek! A show about a wealthy and superficial family of NY socialites who lose it all and are forced to move into the town of Schitt’s Creek. (which they apparently own)  They struggle to fit in with these simple small-town types. But after a few episodes you realize that the main characters are just as ridiculous as the people of the Schitts creek and they find happiness setting up lives in the town. It's comedy gold and loosely feels relevant to the slowing down of life we are all going through now. Red Arrow:  What Virtual shows or events have you viewed or taken part in? Duncan:  I haven’t really delved into the virtual shows yet. Just the occasional scroll session. I’ve definitely noticed the online shift with galleries and such. Usually I’m pretty slow to adapt to those things.  Red Arrow:  What is one word or phrase that you would like folks to know or reflect on to feel better, during this time? Duncan:  One of the greatest things that I've noticed around this whole thing is that my neighborhood has blossomed with people. The nice weather combined with the fact that everyone is at home has people sitting on front porches, taking walks and kids are playing ball and learning to bike on the streets. This is what I imagine the neighborhood felt like 80 years ago, when Nashville was a small town and there were far less cars. I know there will be an end to the social distancing and at that time I hope we all walk away a little kinder and more patient than before.