STREETSEEN  | Calvin Farrar

Photo by Steve Roberts

Calvin Farrar: Windows Are His Canvas 

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger

For more than half his life, artist Calvin Farrar, 60, has been bringing colorful scenes to windows around town. Born and raised in Monroe, Arkansas, he moved to North Memphis with his family when his mother decided she wanted to leave the rural life behind. Farrar took his first art classes while a student at Georgian Hills.

“I think I was in fifth grade when I realized that I really liked drawing,” said Farrar. “I tried painting with water paint (Tempera). I tried charcoal drawings, worked with crayons, and dabbled in watercolors, too. But mostly, I painted with house paint, because that was what was readily available to me.”

Farrar continued, “After Georgian Hills, I took art classes at Manassas High School and I started thinking about a career as an artist. After graduation, I went to Shelby State where I took a few painting classes. That’s when I started going around town asking business owners if I could paint their windows.”

Farrar started his window painting career on Madison Avenue. His first client was Ed’s Camera Store, which was soon followed by The Bar-B-Q Shop and Huey’s.

As Farrar’s artwork gained more acclaim, his client base expanded to include other Madison Avenue establishments like Molly’s La Casita, Blue Monkey, Murphey’s, Neil’s, Bosco’s, Bayou Bar & Grill and Memphis Pizza Cafe. Over the years, his talent has expanded his territory across Midtown and Downtown. Along Beale Street, Farrar’s seasonal displays have become as iconic as the eateries they adorn; Blues City Cafe, Miss Polly’s, and Silky O’Sullivan’s. Farrar has also added a festive flair to the windows of Soul Fish Cafe and Young Avenue Deli in Cooper-Young, CashSaver on Madison Avenue, Pappy’s Coffee Service on East Street, Huey’s in East Memphis and Collierville, and Superlo Foods on Covington Pike.

 “What started at Pancho’s on Second Street in Downtown Memphis led to me working for the owner, Brenda O’Brien, at her location in West Memphis, too,” recalled Farrar. “At Pancho’s I painted murals inside their restaurants, as well as created window paintings on the outside.”

The Children's Museum of Memphis is another place that Farrar’s painting are on display, both inside and out, for various holidays. And for their eyes only, employees of Raymond James in East Memphis have enjoyed an indoor holiday mural in the company’s board room.

Farrar is proud that he can support himself with his art. He said that his most popular subjects are seasonal (like autumn) and holiday-oriented, like Halloween and Christmas. His process begins with his own imagination. He makes original sketches, then presents them to business owners for their approval, often tying in support for local sports teams like the University of Memphis Tigers, The Memphis Redbirds and The Grizzlies. Using exterior latex paint, he creates window displays that can last for several months.

When asked what he likes about his art, Farrar replied, “The response from the public really motivates me. People see me around town and ask when I’m going to be doing my next windows. And when I am painting, people often stop and give me tips to show their appreciation for my work. Also, a couple of years ago, the City of Memphis, showed its appreciation by awarding me a certificate for Outstanding Achievement for 25 years of working Downtown.”

Nowadays, Farrar doesn’t do much cold-calling to market himself. He simply signs his name and adds his phone number to each of his window paintings. He said that he sees himself continuing with what he is doing for the foreseeable future and is already looking forward to showcasing his talent this holiday season on the windows of the Downtown Memphis Commission on Main Street.

“I’m happy my art is well-received and contributes to the beautification of our community,” concluded Farrar.  


STREETSEEN  |  Chef Ryan Trimm

Photo by Steve Roberts

Chef Ryan Trimm: On the Cutting Edge of the Local Food Scene

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger

Chef Ryan Trimm, 39, is a key player in the local culinary scene. Although not a native Memphian, he has definitely made his mark in our community.

“I was born in Pittsburgh, PA and moved to Pasadena, CA with my family when I was 2 years old,” recalled Trimm. “When I was 12, we moved to Memphis. I attended St. Benedict, then Christian Brothers High School.”

After graduating from CBHS, Trimm went to the University of Mississippi where he majored in English, with a minor in business.

“I had every intention of going to law school,” explained Trimm. “But that all changed when I took a job, during college, in a restaurant in Oxford, 208 S. Lamar. I found out that I really loved cooking.”

Trimm continued, “I grew up in a family where everyone cooked, parents and grandparents alike, and I always helped out. I discovered that for me, I enjoyed more than just the cooking, I liked to entertain. I loved to show people new things.”

After Trimm completed his undergraduate degree at Ole Miss, Sous Chef Christian Gaines and Chef John Myrick, both of 208 S. Lamar, talked him into going to Charleston, SC. 

“I enrolled in Johnson and Wales’ one-year associates program in Charleston and earned an associate degree in culinary arts,” recalled Trimm. “There I met Chef Frank Lee, who turned out to be the biggest mentor of my career. He owned Slightly North of Broad (SNOB) and dealt with a lot of locally farmed foods, fish and forage products. He introduced me to Low Country cuisine.”

Trimm continued, “I loved Charleston and I loved what I was doing there, but I came to a crossroads when I became engaged to my high school sweetheart, Sarah. I wanted her to move to Charleston. But after spending Christmas break and a whole summer in Charleston, she realized that I was working about 80 hours a week and wouldn’t be home very much. So, she wanted us to live in Memphis where she could be around family and friends.”

In 2006, Trimm returned to Memphis and ever since has been on the culinary cutting edge of our city. He began as a line cook at Grove Grill and within a few short months moved up to sous chef. He left that position in 2010 to open Sweet Grass with Glenn Hayes, who had been a regular at Grove Grill.  A year later the duo went on to open Sweet Grass Next Door. Both restaurants showcased new things that Trimm was bringing to the forefront of the Memphis food scene.

“When I first returned to Memphis, the influence outside of traditional Southern cooking was more of a New Orleans or Cajun style. I really wanted to bring in Low Country dishes. Additionally, at Sweet Grass we offered the first true oyster bar, with different varieties and an “oyster guy” who could tell you the differences. When Next Door opened, it was the first bar where you could eat elevated cuisine and watch a game at the same time.”

Trimm’s quest to stand apart continued when he entered a partnership with Roger Sapp and Craig Blondis to form Across The Board Hospitality Group. In November 2017, the group opened Sunrise Memphis, a breakfast place, proving, as Trimm said, “that breakfast doesn’t have to be just eggs anymore.” Next up was the opening of 117 Prime in May 2018, to fill the void of a steakhouse in Downtown Memphis. This summer, the group opened a diner, 3rd & Court, and this month they plan to open a bar offering a unique cocktail program in a “late night, juke joint” atmosphere.

“It’s been impressive to watch some of the food pioneers here, like José Gutierrez, Felicia Suzanne Willett, Erling Jensen and Ben Smith, expand the Memphis food scene,” said Trimm. “But even more impressive than the growth of different styles of food is the way everyone supports each other.” 

RSVP Magazine Memphis

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