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nashville public art

No art left behind

Basquiat on West End

Basquiat mural street art Nashville JamersonSGC

West End is not the kind of territory you find a lot of outdoor art in – too much Vanderbilt, too many chains and high-end businesses. But on the backside of the West End Rite Aid next to the spot that Joy’s Flowers recently vacated (and is now labeled “Gyros Kitchen,” though the restaurant doesn’t seem to have opened yet), there is now this exuberant tribute to Jean-Michael Basquait. Basquait was an American artist of Puerto Rican and Haitian descent who died in 1988. He has been deeply influential in American art, graffiti, and hip hop culture. Ironically for a highly political artist who critiqued American power structures and inequality, one of his works became the most expensive work by an American artist ever sold at auction. “Untitled” (1982) sold for $110.5 million in a 2017 Sotheby’s auction. This portrait by the artist JamersonSGC may be based on an Andy Warhol photo held by the J. Paul Getty Museum. A lot of Jamerson’s work is in the Lafayette/Napier Homes neighborhood, but recently his work has also appeared here on West End, on Jefferson Stree, and on Charlotte Avenue.

Located at 2416 West End Avenue. That’s the address of the Rite Aid. The mural is on the east side of the building. This is not an easy neighborhood to park in, though there are a number of nearby businesses whose lots you can use for a short period of time.

A few words and then who knows

This is an old graffiti mural on Main Street in East Nashville I have passed many times thinking, “I should put that on the blog,” but I never got around to. It was an old reliable I could always do some other day. Well, not anymore. RECORD SCRATCH! Stop! I got this building confused with the one next door, that hosts Holleman Transmission. THAT building is soon to be replaced with a new boutique hotel. But not apparently this one. So the blog post I wrote and have now rewritten about this mural about to be gone, along with the others on the building, was wrong. For the moment. Those murals, by the way, are one by Eastside Murals featured in The cats are loose that is on the back of the building, and an Andee Rudloff piece featured in Or could just watch the video on the opposite side from this graffiti mural. I wrote originally that all would be lost, but not so fast. That said, I wouldn’t count on this property staying quiet for too long in go-go Nashville. This piece has tags for the UH crew, and there are others, such as ICR, Tier, Rasmo, Saeph, and Left, but as usual, some of the tags are a mystery to me. So I’d go ahead and get your photos because you never know.

Graffiti mural street art Nashville

graffiti mural street art Nashville

Rasmo graffiti mural street art Nashville

Pink Graffiti mural street art Nashville

Located at 916 Main Street. The mural is on the east side of the building, facing an alley. For now, you can park for free in front of the building. Once construction starts next door, that might be complicated.

“One day I will rescue your brother, too.”

Sometimes I present brand new art on this blog, or things very few people have seen, and sometimes it’s something everyone has long known about. The dog and children mural near 6th and Church downtown is definitely one of those. There are reasons. When I first started this blog (around the time this mural was created in 2016) I found the big murals downtown a little intimidating to write about. Eventually, I got over that, but the dog mural remained an issue. It’s impossible to photograph the entire mural head-on unless you are ten feet tall (I am not) or you own a drone (I don’t), and I was never satisfied with my photos.  Even the artists’ photo of it on their Instagram account, clearly taken on a ladder, clips a bit of it off. Who are the artists? Well, there is only one signature on this mural – “Herakut.” That, however, turns out to be a team of two German artists, Hera (Jasmin Siddiqui) and Akut (Falk Lehmann). Animals and children populate a lot of their work, certainly in their murals, often with some kind of commentary. Here in their Nashville mural, a giant dog has rescued a little girl from an addiction to her phone, one that still grips her brother – but the dog will take care of that too in time. Not surprisingly for a giant mural by international artists in Nashville, this mural was sponsored by the Nashville Walls Project. On their site, you can see some images detailing the production of this mural, and even a dog that might have helped inspire it.

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Located at 204 Sixth Avenue North. This is downtown, so lots of parking, little of it free. There is, in fact, some free street parking on this block of Sixth – maybe you’ll get lucky!

A door of many symbols (Joy’s Flowers)

Recently, Joy’s Flowers, a local florist with a history that goes back to 1877, moved from its long-time location on West End near Vanderbilt University to new digs on Gallatin, in a building that once held Wayne’s Unisex, a beauty salon. To liven up their stone facade, Floral Designer Lori Warren painted the five doors that punctuate that wall, notably the one above. It’s not just a pretty collection of plants and animals, but also a catalogue of sorts of a number of Tennessee state symbols. Naturally, the mural includes the two state flowers, the iris, the state’s cultivated flower (really a group of related flowers) and the state wildflower, the purple passionflower. An eastern box turtle, the state reptile is seen near the bottom, as well as the state amphibian, the Tennessee cave salamander. Along the border of the door, we find the state tree, the tulip poplar (a tree with many other names), in which sits a mockingbird, the state bird. Warren has also included a couple other species that are not state symbols but are found in Tennessee: the blue-tailed slink and the tiger lily (that name is used for a lot of different flowers, but I could not find one specific to Tennesee – however, there are orange and red lilies native to Tennesee, such as this one).

Joy's Door murals street art Nashville

The other doors are decorated more simply. Right to the left of the door above is an abstractly colored door with “East Nashville” emblazoned on the bottom, while the main entrance of the building there are hand painted letters spelling out “JOYS.” (Look close at that door, and you’ll see the mail slot still reads “Wayne’s Unisex.”) The remaining two doors have similar abstract coloring. In the slide show below, the doors go left to right, or west to east.

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Located at 400 Gallatin Avenue, between East Nashville Magnet High School and a Firestone. Parking is a little complex – it’s plausible to park in the little alley between Joy’s and the school. Also, you can park on Ordway Place across Gallatin.

Nation’s Wall – Part 10

Elephant mural street art Nashville

This is the tenth and last in the series on The Nations Wall, a massive set of murals on the west-facing wall of Music City Tents and Events, organized by the Nashville Walls Project. It’s the tenth piece going from left to right (roughly north to south), and thus also the one the far right. This last one is by Emily Elizabeth Miller, an artist known for doing mixed-media murals, where part of the mural is painted, generally the background, while another part, often the central and main theme, is a paper drawing plastered on to the painted backdrop. She also does installations that are just the paper drawing. Naturally, this leads to a gradual decay of the paper as it is exposed to the weather and sunlight, meaning the mural is also inherently dynamic. The picture above was taken when the installation was about a year old. This picture from Miller’s Instagram feed gives you a sense of what it looked like new. While it seems to be fairly resilient, if you want to get your photo with the elephant, you might want to go soon!

Again, this is the last in this series, as there are no more murals to chronicle from this project. Images of the entire wall with all the murals together can be found in Part 1.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9

Located at 5901 California Ave, Nashville, TN 37209. The murals actually face the 1300 and 1400 block of 60th Avenue North, across from the intersection with Pennsylvania Avenue. Street parking is possible nearby.

A new anthem

One of Nashville’s newest murals is not 100% new, as it incorporates traces of a previous mural. Which makes sense, as this is a new mural to celebrate a company’s rebranding and reorganization. ole media Management (no, that’s not a typo, they used lower-case letters in their name) recently became Anthem Entertainment. The new name is that of a company ole recently bought, which had been founded by Rush’s manager Ray Danniels. If you look below, you’ll see what the old mural looked like, and you can see that Tara Marie Aversa, who did the new mural, cleverly incorporated the central part of that earlier, more austere mural in her much more exuberant new work. (I have not been able to determine who made the original.) Like her work for Walden, this piece is overflowing with flowers, but here the flowers are background, with the stars of the Tennesee state flag given pride of place, as in the previous mural. As befitting Anthem’s role in the music business, there are also instruments and a microphone, and a silhouetted man who looks a lot like a young Johnny Cash to me.  (Image taken from this article.) Check out Aversa’s Instagram page, where you’ll find a series of posts detailing the process of creating this mural.

Ole mural street art Nashville

There was also an ole sign on the front of the building that is also now gone.

ole sign street art Nashville

Located at 462 Humphreys Street. The mural is on the east side of the building and actually faces Martin Sreet, Street parking and parking at the business is available.

Three years and counting

Because I’ve been doing a lot of travelling lately, I was out of town for the third-year anniversary of this blog, which happened on June 30. Much has happened since the second anniversary of this blog. For one, the outdoor art scene continues to blossom here in Nashville. New murals appear seemingly every day, and at my usual three-posts-a-week pace I’ll never catch up! And the world has noticed. Do a quick Google search for “Nashville street art” or “Nashville murals” or related searches, and you will find dozens and dozens of articles, blog posts, and various guides to whatever the author considers to be the best, the prettiest. or most “Instagramable” murals. And while this blog doesn’t show up very high in those searches, traffic has been steadily improving. The first year, the blog got a few hundred views a month. In the second, 1000-1500 views a month. In the third year, that number hovers in the low 2000s. Still small fry, but the moving in the right direction. And unlike any of those articles or “guides,” I really am trying to chronicle it all!

Kind mural street art Nashville
As it was last year, the subject of the most popular post on this blog.  Read about it in The Kind Way.

Many of the observations I made in the post I wrote about the second year anniversary remain true. The relationship between art, tourism, and gentrification remains strong. It’s still true that most art, particularly murals, is found on local businesses, not chains. Nashville business owners are getting the message – murals generate foot traffic, and they encourage people to take a picture and “check in” at the business, which amounts to free advertising. And art very much still breeds art. Businesses and building owners are encouraged to seek out artists for their site when they see their neighbors doing the same thing.

Cash mural street art Nashville
Despite, or perhaps because it no longer exists, the subject of the second most popular post on this blog. See The Johnny Cash Mural

Having recently traveled to New Orleans and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I can say that our mural/outdoor art scene compares well to those areas. One mistake we did not make, which until recently New Orleans had, was to put onerous permitting limitations on art. I would also say that while there are definitive art districts, in particular 12 South and Downtown, we do a good job of spreading art out – just look at my map.

I continue to be concerned about the impact of gentrification, notably on the less celebrated artists who have decorated Hispanic and Black-owned business. In particular, the work of the artist I have dubbed the “Unknown Buchanan Street Artist(s)” is endangered. That’s one reason I do this blog, to archive what is an inherently ephemeral form of art.

Restaurant mural street art Nashville
One of the “Unkown Buchan Street Artist(s)” murals that may be threatened by gentrification. See Catered Art.

For now, this will continue to be a Davidson County-only blog. When I think of some of the massive collections of work I have yet to chronicle, notably the Elliston Place garage and the dozens of musician portraits in Berry Hill, it’s hard to think about expanding. For that matter, I have dozens of files under the heading “Future Blog Posts,” most of which I need to do more research for or reshoot photos (I have gotten very picky about the pictures I use.) But visiting the Metroplex (as Dallas-Ft. Worth is known), I realized if I lived there I would have to do an area-wide blog, and I think I will have to do so here as well in time. The surrounding counties have developing outdoor art scenes of their own, often by the same artists who work in Davidson County. It’s really the same scene, and singling out Davidson County is somewhat artificial.

Bird Mural street art Nashville
Still my answer when people ask me about my favorite mural in Nashville. In part, because you are very unlikely to find it on Instagram. See A bird in the bush

The header photo is the mural at Chromatics. The artist who made it, TACKZ, recently contacted me, which reminded me that, to my knowledge, only the refurbished Painter Man at the Hard Rock Cafe on Lower Broad is older. The Chromatics mural is a true survivor, dating back to 1993. We definitely have a very different outdoor art scene than we did in 1993. We actually have one now! I intend to continue to chronicle it as best I can.

Nations Wall – Part 9

Mobe Oner mural street art Nashville

This is the ninth in the series on The Nations Wall, a massive set of murals on the west-facing wall of Music City Tents and Events, organized by the Nashville Walls Project. It’s the ninth piece going from left to right (roughly north to south). This one is by Mobe Oner, aka Eric Bass, a prolific Nashville muralist. I first saw this image not as a giant mural, but as an oil painting at the Rymer Gallery, when they did a show of Nashville muralists. That painting, called “Fireflies,” can be yours for $3000 (scroll down a bit).

Images of the entire wall with all the murals together can be found in Part 1.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 10

Located at 5901 California Ave, Nashville, TN 37209. The murals actually face the 1300 and 1400 block of 60th Avenue North, across from the intersection with Pennsylvania Avenue. Street parking is possible nearby.

Warner Elementary, Part 1

What better place than an art school for a mural! In fact, Warner Arts Magnet Elementary has two new murals, courtesy of Andee Rudloff. The long thin one above is found on retaining wall around the cul-de-sac in front of the school. As is her usual technique, Rudloff worked with the clients, that is the students, to develop ideas, then painted the outlines. Later, students pitched in to help color the mural. Rudloff has worked with a number of other schools, and her colorful, playful style has an obvious appeal to kids (of all ages!). Themes found in this mural include playgrounds, cityscapes, theater, school buses, and friends. There is also a giant pencil with the school’s name on top of the wall (see the second slide show below). It certainly brightens up the wait to pick up or drop off a child!

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Located at 628 Russell Street, between the school and East Park. Street parking and parking at the park are available. It might be best to visit on the weekends or after school hours.

 

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