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Nashville murals, street art, graffiti, signs, sculptures and more

East Nashville Rising

Lockeland Phoenix mural Nashville street art

Life has been turned upside for everyone since March 2020, but East Nashville started this strange period even bumpier than most. The March 3, 2020 tornado hit the neighborhood hard, and since then there have been many tributes to the rebuilding and the resilience of this side of town, notably the “Nashville Strong” mural at Boston Commons. More recently, a bright, multi-colored tribute to East Nashville’s comeback appeared at Lockeland Table.

About a year ago, Cara Graham, co-owner of Lockeland table, asked Emily Harper Beard (who works under the name e.f. harper) to do a mural that represented East Nashville’s strength and resilience. Beard hesitated at first because she didn’t want to compete with the mural that was already on Lockeland Table’s main wall (a painted sign from when the building housed a hair salon). Also, she was reluctant to paint on the building’s brick wall.

An answer came from Andee Rudloff (who has been featured on this blog many times) – aluminum panels from the local branch of Jerry’s Artarama (who has their own post-tornado comeback mural I need to feature). From there it was a question of design, and Beard settled on a phoenix image she had created in college. The phoenix, of course, is an ancient and potent symbol of rebirth and renewal. The hashtag on the mural gives this blog post its title.

On August 15, 2021, Lockeland Table’s ninth anniversary, Beard, her brother, and Rudloff, as well as many people from the neighborhood, gathered to paint and mount the mural, which has become an eyecatcher at a busy intersection. Here’s a video and slideshow from Lockeland Table depicting the creation of the mural. The restaurant has had tables along that wall since the pandemic began, and if you show up early (maybe you need a reservation?) you can get a table right at the mural.

Located at 1520 Woodland Street, at the corner with 16th Street. The mural faces east, away from downtown and Five Points. There is street parking available, but you might wind up walking a block or two.

One Drop Ink

I had already planned to write my next blog post about this giant mural at One Drop Ink when the Tennessean decided to feature one of the artists who created it, Elisheba Israel Mrozik, earlier this week. That was of course about yet another mural she’s produced (along with the help of a number of young artists) – I need to post more to keep up!

(I have been having some trouble with featured photos. If you don’t see a photo at the top of the blog post, scroll to the bottom where I repeat it.)

Mrozik is the owner and an artist at One Drop Ink, and this particular piece is a collaboration with another of the artists there, Michael “Ol Skool” Mucker. Mucker unfortunately was the victim of a hack, and the Instagram signature on the mural no longer works – you’ll find his new account here.

ODI Mural Nashville street art

Talking about the more recent mural, Mrozik told the Tennessean (you can hear her talk about it in the video on this link):

“I feel like my place in all of this is to bring the Black form and Black art and the North Nashville communitty to the world and to the rest of Nashville.”

The art that she has done in Nashville certainly follows those themes. A mural that sadly has been recently painted over that she did a few years ago has some similarities to this one, featuring a regal black figure with bright white eyes and surrounded by the images of space, sky, math, and the sciences. Here in this mural that she did with Mucker, we again see the regal figures with the mysteries of space, but also symbols of wealth, power, and the African heritage of Black Americans.

ODI Mural Nashville street art

The mural went up last summer, and you can see here that it was painted in stages, with the two portraits done first, and the space imagery and the masks added later.

ODI Mural Nashville street art

This mural is part of several that have gone up in the Jefferson Street and Buchanan Street neighborhoods during the pandemic months that depict Black themes and issues, and Mrozik participated in some of those others as well. This region of North Nashville is one of the most vibrant areas for outdoor art, forming a critical part of the visual fabric of our community.

Located at 1511 Jefferson Street. The mural is on the east side of the building, facing towards downtown. There is a large parking lot in front of the mural.

Mystic mural Nashville street art

Urban Roots

Uban Roots Mural Nashville street art

One casualty of the pandemic is that I don’t spend as much time driving around town as I did before, and so I didn’t discover this mural from February 2020, created at the tail end of the “before times,” until quite recently. That it’s somewhat hidden away in a less-trafficked part of Germantown didn’t help, but in a recent drive around the neighborhood, it’s one of a few new works of art I found there that have appeared during the months of the pandemic.

This particular mural is a production by the Murfreesboro artists Travis and Alicia Maynard, who work under the moniker Murfreesboro Murals. This is the second of their works featured on this blog, the other being a mural at Beaut Creations on Jefferson Street, which went up back in 2019.

While that mural also features flowers, that’s a coincidence and not a real theme for Murfreesboro Murals. Here it’s a nod to the sponsor, Urban Roots Market. Urban Roots bills itself as a purveyor of natural and CBD products and uses an image of roots in its logo. So a deeply rooted tree festooned with a wild abundance of flowers and symbols of Nashville makes sense.

Crowning the tree is the Nashville skyline, recognizable by its signature Batman Building. The seal from the Tennesse flag, a guitar and sax, and a musical score round out the Nashville symbolism. I tried playing the tune, but it’s not one I recognize.

The odd crop? I do like to show art in context, but really, it’s about not wanting Facebook to murder the crop when this article gets shared there.

Located at 1307 2nd Avenue North, near the corner with Monroe Street. The mural is on the south side of the building, facing towards downtown. Street parking is available on 2nd, and there is a small parking lot in front of the building.

All aboard! The Sylvan Supply Train Mural

Train Mural Nashville Street art

After Madison Mill closed its factory off Charlotte Avenue and moved to Ashville, NC in 2015, the dilapidated campus of buildings it left behind remained empty for several years. With its abundant walls and concealed spaces, it became a favorite target for graffiti taggers.

In 2016, Stonehenge Realty Group proposed turning it into a mixed-use project with retail and 400 apartments, but this stalled after significant objection from residents of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, where the old factory is located. The following year, Stonehenge proposed a new project to be called The Millworks on Charlotte that would only be offices and commercial space, minus the apartments. This project also failed to come to fruition, and it seemed the site might simply be torn down.

However, in 2018, Third and Urban, a real estate development company out of Atlanta, took over the site with their own plans for a retail and office complex. Before serious construction took place, the soil itself needed to be rehabilitated after sixty years of industrial production. But this time the efforts to develop the site finally bore fruit, and in August 2020, it opened as Sylvan Supply.

Which finally brings us to our mural. This dynamic portrait of an L&N Railroad engine barreling down on us is by the prolific local mural team Eastside Murals, who lately have been signing their work “Out East Boys.” According to the artists, the design was inspired by the rail lines that run alongside the complex and even go inside the buildings, no doubt put there to ease the delivery of wood and the shipping out of products when Madison Mill was churning out dowels for 60 years. The mural sits on the wall of a parking garage which faces down a long corridor in the middle of the complex. The effect is very much like a train hurtling down a tunnel, coming straight for the viewer.

This isn’t the only mural at Sylvan Supply. Indeed, this retail/office complex is something of an outdoor art gallery, much as it was when it was covered with graffiti art. I’ll be writing about the other pieces later, but just explore a bit and you’ll find the other art.

Located at 4101 Charlotte Avenue, at the corner with 42nd Avenue. The parking garage lies at the back end (south) of the complex, the part farthest from Charlotte Avenue. The corridor splits the main part of the Sylvan Supply down the middle. If you are coming from 42nd, just walk away from 42nd into the complex, and you will find it.

The Big Grey Bird of Elegy Coffee

Elegy Bird mural Nashville street art

I call this the Big Grey Bird because I own a copy of Birds of Tennesee and this screaming bird at Elegy Coffee doesn’t seem to quite fit with any of them. Maybe it’s a bird from somewhere else and maybe it’s a bird from the mind of the artist. To me, it looks a lot like a small parrot, but parrots generally have hooked beaks. But it doesn’t really matter, it’s still a great mural.

It’s the work of Nashville artist Brian Wooden. You may have seen some of his images of headless, sharp-dressed men around town, but he works in many styles, including a wild, cartoony style found on a mural further south on Gallatin Road at 1767 Designs

The choice to put a bird flying through a golden triangle doesn’t have much to do with the Elegy Coffee brand. Their logo is an all-seeing eye. But if you step inside, you’ll definitely see many touches of black, grey, and gold in their interior decor, so it fits with the cool, subdued color style of the restaurant.

This mural went up almost a year ago, and I confess I only noticed it a couple of months ago even though I live not too far away. That’s a feature of the pandemic. The pandemic blahs is also why haven’t been posting much lately, but there’s a lot of new work that came out this last year, and I’m going to try to get back in the swing of things and get it all on the blog.

Located at 2909A Gallatin Pike, right next to Walden Bar. The mural is on the south side of the building (that’s in the direction of downtown) and faces an alley that goes to the back parking lots. Free parking is hard to come by in this area, but there are plenty of paid lots along the alley that runs behind Elegy and Walden.

68 Years (An Off the Wall Project)

BLK.JHN Mural Nashville Street art

Back in April, 2019, I thought I had completed a series on the fourteen (and only fourteen) murals of the Off the Wall project. Well, while there was a hiatus in new murals for about a year, Tinsley Dempsey, the person behind this large outdoor gallery, has since managed to get more walls for the project, more artists, and apparently more funding. Three new murals have appeared since the end of what I will now call the first phase of the project, including one by Nino C. Flores that went in at the end of 2020 and and one from Tarabella Aversa that went in the previous April. Dempsey has said that she wants to run murals all the way down the 2900 block of Felicia Street, which would have murals wrapping all the way around the block.

This is presumably the first of a series of murals that will go on a long low wall that runs along Felica Street, and it went up back in March. It’s by the artist BLK.JHN. Like much of his work, it’s done in a vivid, pop-art style. I call the post “68 Years” because that’s how BLK.JHN titled the painting that he made that this mural is based on. The painting and the mural are in honor of his grandparents, who would have celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary on March 31. Sadly, his grandmother passed the day before he finished this mural. This isn’t the only memorial mural in the Off the Wall series. There’s a mural honoring Jessi Zazu, as well as a work by Omari Booker honoring his sister.

BLK.JHN seems to have only done a few murals, and this appears to be his first in Nashville. I would hope we see more, as his style is bold and works well in mural form.

Located at 2901 Felicia Street. That’s an imaginary address, as this is a back wall of the Abbot West Self Storage complex at 3020 Charlotte Avenue. It lies about 150 feet west of the corner of 28th Avenue and Felicia Street. There’s a small gravel parking lot right next to the mural.

The Gulch Dog Park, Part 6 – Allison Paoli

Paoli Gulch Mural Nashville street art

This is the sixth and last in the series I’ve been doing covering the murals in the dog park in The Gulch. In the summer of 2019, MarketStreet Enterprises, the city-appointed master developer of The Gulch, opened a contest for new murals for a dog park that was then still under development. The new dog park lies at the top of a hill on the west side of The Gulch, overlooking I-40, just uphill from the Turnip Truck. The artists who won the contest are largely new names in the Nashville mural world, expanding the roster of our local muralists.

This mural is the sixth from the right and one of two in this series that’s found in the part of the park set aside for large dogs. It’s all the way on the far left end of the dog park. It’s the work of Nashville artist Allison Paoli. Paoli is a difficult artist to research. That blog I linked to hasn’t been updated in four years, and her Twitter account has been dormant almost as long. I think she had an Instagram account at one point, but if so it’s been deactivated. I do know that besides being a visual artist she is also a published poet.

What this abstract piece is meant to be I’m not sure. It might be three very abstract dogs or something else entirely. Since Paoli stopped publishing on social media well before she did this mural, I can’t tell you what she might have to say about it. Nevertheless, it’s a bright, lively mural that brings some color and fun to the dog park.

Located at 1216 Pine Street, at the top of the hill. That’s the address of the dog park. There’s an alley that lies between Pine and Laurel Street that leads to the dog park entrance, and this mural is off to the left if you are coming up the hill from 12th Ave South. It’s the closest mural to Pine Street (though you’ll need good shoes to come from that way, given the steep hill). This is The Gulch, so plenty of parking, none of it free. Well, that’s only true if you stay too long. Most Gulch parking is free for the first hour or even longer. Check the signage at each lot and garage.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

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