Project Overview

Soulsville Gateway - Railroad Underpass

The concept is a holistic one, which moves across all ethnic and gender lines, possessing a universal appeal.
— Arnold Thompson

An original artwork by Memphis-based artist Arnold Thompson, this project was commissioned by Soulsville USA with funding in part by ArtsMemphis, the Tennessee Arts Commission, First Horizon Foundation, Storage USA, and a City of Memphis Neighborhood Demonstration Grant, coordinated by the UrbanArt Commission in 2003. Soulsville USA selected Arnold Thompson to develop a 'gateway' project that marks a key entrance into the area of South Memphis known as Soulsville, home of the world renowned Stax recording studio, museum, and charter school. The gateway is a series of train trestles on Bellevue boulevard that are adorned with murals and improved lighting. Artist Arnold Thompson worked with students and neighborhood residents to create a concept that makes this mural a source of great community pride.


About the Artist

Arnold Thompson

His subjects include the great jazz and blues artists of his youth, whose music and images are indelible parts of our lives. After graduating from Xavier University in New Orleans with a degree in graphic design, Thompson immediately entered the world of fine arts, working with one of the famous New Orleans French Quarter galleries. In 1984, he returned to Memphis, Tennessee, a city which throughout American history and to this day is a wellspring of original American blues.

In Memphis, Thompson taught commercial art and since the mid-1980's has worked as a commercial designer but, several years ago, realized that he needed something more. He began painting, first with the subject matter he knew and loved best - the jazz and blues greats of the American South, and next his personal abstract interpretations, a mixture of form, color, texture, and space which stretches boundaries and pushes the limits of modern art. As Thompson puts it - "the concept is a holistic one, which moves across all ethnic and gender lines, possessing a universal appeal."