If you moved to Fort Worth after 2011, I may need to explain something to you: Massey’s Restaurant and Chicken Fried Steaks.
It was a holy phrase, spoken with reverence of the restaurant at 1805 8th Ave., within walking distance of my house.
The restaurant – opened by Charles “Herb” Massey Sr. in 1947 – closed for good in 2011.
Chicken fried steak aficionados far and wide mourned.
Visitors would often demand I take them there, including one diabetic relative who shot up on insulin sitting at the table to prepare for his feast.
If you were from Fort Worth and read the late Dan Jenkins’ novel Baja Oklahoma or saw the HBO movie of the same name, you recognized what he called Herb’s Café.
He and other writers hung out there in the 1950s, he told Star-Telegram reporter Bill Hanna when the building was demolished in July 2014, leaving only the iconic sign standing.
“It was our Left Bank,” Jenkins said.
So, Massey’s is gone but not forgotten, and Near Southside Fort Worth is going to make sure that it is remembered, if only in art.
The Near Southside’s Art South program, in partnership with property developer Saigebrook Development and O-SDA Industries, is seeking an artist to create a signature artwork for the new Everly Plaza community art space by repurposing an iconic piece of the site’s history — the former landmark sign of Massey’s Restaurant.
Everly Plaza – under construction on the former restaurant site – is an 88-unit mixed income property for seniors 62 and older.
The development also includes the Everly Plaza Art Space, with a planned opening in spring 2021, a 2,400 square foot community gallery with west-facing windows fronting the 8th Avenue corridor at the edge of the Fairmount and Berkley neighborhoods.
The Massey’s sign was removed from the pole and Near Southside Arts is seeking an artist to transform the front corrugated plastic panel with raised lettering — reading “Massey’s Restaurant” with the subtext “Chicken Fried Steaks” — and surrounding green metal framing into an artwork that will become iconic for the space.
The finished piece will hang inside the gallery’s community room on the south wall where artist talks, demonstrations and other events will take place, Near Southside said in a news release.
Near Southside Arts will manage the galley for local artists to exhibit work, as well as engage the community in artistic practice, art education and interactive art experiences.
Near Southside Arts says the artists selected as finalists will be offered a stipend to create a project concept and rendering for the selection committee’s review.
Artists may propose modifying the sign as much or as little as they wish, based on their concept and the limits of the budget. The project budget is $2,500.
Saigebrook Development and O-SDA Industries are both Women-Owned Businesses that focus on developing quality, affordable housing, focusing on the North Texas and Austin areas. They own Mistletoe Station, completed this year in the Near Southside, and have two other Fort Worth properties under construction, Sunset at Fash Place in West Meadowbrook and Cielo Place, which is a historic adaptive reuse of the old Riverside Baptist Church on Race Street.
If you are an interested artist, the deadline for submission of proposals is Jan. 7, 2021.
Here’s how to apply:
Submit the following via an online application at https://portal.nearsouthsidefw.org
Once logged in, press the EVERLY PLAZA COMMISSION button to get started.
1. Artist Statement providing information about your personal practice and approach – submitted in a text field 2. Brief Project Approach (no more than 500 words) – submitted in a text field 3. Artist’s Contact Information 4. CV/Resume – .doc or .pdf is preferred (Optional attachment, not required) 5. Two professional references 6. Ten (10) Images of previous work samples (File name: Lastname_worktitle.jpg) – .jpeg files are preferred.
Includes material from Near Southside news releases and website, Fort Worth Business Press archives and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.