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Martin Cadieux

The Artist

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Many Nashvillians know Martin Cadieux’s work, even if they don’t know his name.

(Incidentally, it’s pronounced “Kah-DYUH,” but “Kah-DOO” is close enough.)

The rustic wood surfaces at chic East Nashville cafe Barista Parlor? Those are all held together by custom-spec metal frames that Cadieux cut, shaped and welded by hand behind his house off Trinity Lane. He also made the awnings and gates outside. He’s built shelves and racks for leather man Emil Erwin and tie peddler Otis James. He’s made furniture for Bagel Face — first in Riverside Village, then its current Main Street location. He still hasn’t exhibited at the Porter Flea Artisan Market, but several vendors tapped him to build their displays.

For two full months last year, with a rotating cast of assistants, Cadieux took the wood of two entire trees — sliced into inch-thick planks and stacked under a makeshift tent in his driveway — and transformed them into the German-inspired bar, tables and benches for Fat Bottom Brewery. In the front room of his house, he’s currently assembling a 7-foot countertop — made from hundreds of pieces of scrap wood that he’ll glue together, plane flat and sand smooth — destined to be installed in a new East Side yoga studio.

The son of a carpenter and a native of upstate New York, where he starred as a pitcher and gap-power hitter on the Binghamton College baseball team, Cadieux fell in love with Nashville after visiting his musician sister, and moved here in 2001. Quick to smile, with a contagiously positive energy, Cadieux has done everything from pouring and engraving concrete (“playing in functional-art land,” as he calls it) to advising new immigrants on how to navigate the necessary paperwork to buy their own homes.

“I build during the day, I draw at night,” Cadieux says. He sometimes transforms those drawings into woodblock prints. “I do a lot of portraits,” he says, before showing off a custom wedding invitation he designed for a friend. When he taught English to students who spoke a dozen other languages, he would draw cartoons to illustrate vocabulary words. Now, he’ll sketch out desks, tables, chairs — anything a client wants.

“If I can draw it, I can build it,” he says.


The People:

The Model Citizen: Karen Elson
The Advocate: Paul Kuhn
The Cook: Tallu Schuyler Quinn
The Busker: Mike Slusser
The Cleaner: Sharon Reynolds
The Mobilizer: Remziya Suleyman
The Believer: Theron Denson
The Maker: Zoe Schlacter
The Animators: Magnetic Dreams
The Buyer: Kelly Anne Ross
The Arthouse Ambassador: Sarah Finklea
The Picker: Rory Hoffman
The Singer: Ruby Amanfu
The Educator: Ellen Gilbert
The Air Drummer: Steve Gorman
The Chef: Yayo Jiménez
The Futurist: Ken Gay
The Commissioner: Many-Bears Grinder

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