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nashville public art

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

Arcade Animals

Across the street from the Hillsboro Village dragon mural is a whole cast of animals, thirty one to be exact. No, I didn’t count them, the artists did. This is another of the many Eastside Murals works around town. The playful animals fit the location well, as the mural sits on the side of Arcade, a children’s store that sells clothes and toys aimed primarily at the under-six set.

Arcade Mural Nashville street art

In contrast to giant, fleshed-out dragon across the street, the Arcade animals are much more simple, built out of abstract digital lines and a poppy but limited color palette. It doesn’t look like anything else Eastside has done, but besides having a certain preschool aesthetic, its fits the style of the company that designed the mural, Fuzzco. (You can get a better idea of their work from their Instagram page.) They are a branding company with offices in Charleston, SC and Seattle, WA. This is hardly the only example of local artists being hired to execute a design by an out-of-town firm. Indeed, on the other side of 21st Avenue is another mural by Eastside that was designed by Donald Robertson, a New York-based artist who has recently moved to Santa Barbara.

Arcade Mural Nashville street art

The mural went up in the summer of 2019 when Arcade opened in this location. Genie Lockwood, the owner, has noted that “the magical and mysterious childhood world” was an inspiration for the store, and the animals seem designed with that spirit. The mural is also practical. The ruler attached to the tall giraffe on the right of the mural (see below) is intended to be used as a growth chart.

Arcade Mural Nashville street art

Located at 1721 21st Avenue South, at the corner with Belcourt Avenue. It’s right next to Belcourt Theatre. This is Hillsboro Village, so lots of parking, very little of it free.

Arcade Mural Nashville street art

Wooden at 1767

For a couple of years, one of the most popular posts on this blog in terms of page views was “Beto Forever,” about a large mural on Gallatin memorializing the graffiti artist Ronald “Ronnie” Bobal, who used the name “Beto” in his work. But no mural lasts forever, and perhaps it was simply time, or the new building owner wanted to go in a new direction, and now that mural has been replaced by this riotous image by Brian Wooden.

Wooden is also known for his images of headless, sharp-dressed men, but here he has given 1767 Designs (a company that makes art and furniture from material recovered from demolished homes) a much more colorful and cartoony work, with a tightly-packed mish-mash of machinery, faces and flowers. If you look on his blog, linked above, or his Instagram page, you’ll see that while he’s worked in this style for a long time, lately he’s been focused on it more.

If you want to know more about how this mural was made, there are a couple of videos on Wooden’s IG page that show him working on it.

Located at 2611 Gallatin Pike. The mural is on the south side of the building. Parking is readily available.

The lost murals of the AT&T 2nd Avenue Art Wall

At 6:30 in the morning on Christmas Day, 2020, an RV packed with explosives blew up on 2nd Avenue in downtown Nashville. The target was a building owned and operated by AT&T that houses important telecommunications equipment for much of the Southeast. While it is extraordinarily unlikely that the bomber knew or cared, the RV was also parked in front a major art installation that was completely destroyed in the bombing.

I have documented the eight murals that adorned the AT&T building, and you’ll find links for all of those pieces at the bottom of this post. The murals first went up in 2018. The project was curated and organized by Ashley Bergeron, owner of  The Studio 208, a gallery that lies a block-and-half from the bombing site and which was damaged in the explosion. The murals were all done by women artists, and were printed on vinyl and pasted onto the building’s first-floor windows.

According to Bergeron, the idea was to bring “life, light and positivity” to a drab building out of character with the richly detailed historic buildings around it. The artists involved were Beth Inglish,  Erin Elise LaughlinCassidy Cole, Emily Leonard, Tess Davies, Jade Carter, Catron Wallace, and Elise R. Kendrick. According to Inglish, it took Bergeron years to implement her vision, but she persisted. Ultimately many partners made the murals possible. They were sponsored by AT&T, the Nashville Downtown PartnershipThe DISTRICTNashville Metro Arts Commission, and The Studio 208.

Back when the project went in, Bergeron had this to say about the murals:

The abstract artwork flows from one set of windows to the next using color, texture, and shape so that you are continually surprised while walking down the block. I want art to be accessible to all, and I get overwhelmed with joy when I see beautification in a public space.

From a press release

Now of course, all of that is gone. A video taken from the body cam of one of the police officers who responded in the minutes before the bombing shows the RV parked in front of the murals. At about the one-minute mark, you can begin to see the murals begin to come in to view on the left. As the officer gets closer to the murals, it’s possible to see exactly where the RV was parked – in front of the murals by Davies and Carter (see Part 5 and Part 6 below). All the murals were destroyed by the explosion, with small pieces of them scattered in the street.

Because they were vinyl murals glued to the windows, they weren’t pulverized, but rather shattered. One observer said what was left looked like colored glass on the ground. John Partipilo, a photographer who was on the scene before it was cleaned up, was able to recognize pieces of Inglish’s mural (which was farthest from the blast) because he’s familiar with the colors she uses. Bergeron herself thought she saw one the murals intact from a distance, but now knows that was impossible, a trick of the mind. Carter told me she has found it hard to put into words what the loss of the murals means.

In this picture by Partipilo, you can see scraps of color that I believe are from Inglish’s mural. (See Part 1 below). The red stripes on the ground appear to be a grid, probably put in place by investigators.

Murals remnants Nashville street art
Photo credit John Partipilo

This second shot by Partipilo looks down the face of the AT&T building. It was probably taken right in front of where Inglish’s mural was, and down the sidewalk you can see more colored scraps. Some years ago the AT&T building was reinforced to strengthen it against bombings, and the black area behind the window frames appears to be a reinforced concrete wall.

Bomb shattered murals Nashville street art
Photo credit John Partipilo

This is the second time in less than a year I’ve had to report on a large amount of art suddenly and violently destroyed. After the March 3 tornado of 2020, I wrote about the art that was lost and damaged in both East and North Nashville. Now we are here again, this time because of the work of man, not the forces of nature. But the same resilience of the post-tornado era is also visible here. Bergeron would like to replace the murals with new work, with the original artists if possible. That of course depends on many things, including the future of the AT&T building. Inglish told me that the art wall will be missed, but she believes that Bergeron’s determination will “bring beauty to the streets of downtown again soon.”

Because to the constraints of creating a collage, the murals in the picture at the top of the post are not in the original order. From left-to-right, top to bottom, they are by Inglish, Kendrick, Cole, Leonard, Laughlin, Carter, Wallace, and Davies. On the wall, the original order, left-to-right, was Inglish, Laughlin, Cole, Leonard, Davies, Carter, Wallace, Kendrick.

Located (formerly) at 185 2nd Avenue North. It seems superfluous to talk about parking, but when this site can be visited again, remember that this is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

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

2nd Avenue AT&T Art Wall – Elise Kendrick

Note: All of the murals in this series were destroyed in the Christmas Day Bombing in Nashville. I will be doing a write up on the whole series and its loss soon. First, I want to complete the series. This is the final of eight.

Working left to right on what used to be the wall of window murals at the AT&T Central Office on 2nd Avenue (not to be confused with the more famous AT&T building in Nashville, the Batman Building on Commerce Street) the eighth work was by Elise R. Kendrick. This was the right-most window mural, right next to the entranceway.

It was part of series of murals on the building sponsored by AT&T, the Nashville Downtown PartnershipThe DISTRICTNashville Metro Arts Commission, and The Studio 208. All were done by women, and the project was curated by Ashley Segroves of The Studio 208. They were are all on vinyl, and went up in the summer of 2018.

Kendrick is a graduate of Tennessee State University with a degree in Art (where I work as a History professor) and originally focused on jewelry and metals, before moving on to painting. Much of her work is portraiture, particularly of African-Americans. Abstract art is not a common theme, at least based on her Instagram page, and to my knowledge this was her first mural. She described the experience as “pushing me outside my comfort zone.” It’s a beautiful piece and a shame it’s been lost. She also made at least one studio version, but I do not know if it is available. Many of her recent works involve surrounding the portraits she does with a field of words and ideas.

You can see the other murals in this series using the links below. There’s a bit more information about the project in Part 1. Later this week I plan to write a retrospective of the project and its destruction.

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

This image gives you an idea of the setting, as it was seen with the other two murals at the right (north) end of the series.

AT&T Murals Nashville street art

Located (formerly) at 185 2nd Avenue North. It seems superfluous to talk about parking, but when this site can be visited again, remember that this is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

2nd Avenue AT&T Art Wall – Catron Wallace

Note: All of the murals in this series were destroyed in the Christmas Day Bombing in Nashville. I will be doing a write up on the whole series and its loss soon. First, I want to complete the series. This is the seventh of eight.

Working left to right on what used to be the wall of window murals at the AT&T Central Office on 2nd Avenue (not to be confused with the more famous AT&T building in Nashville, the Batman Building on Commerce Street) the seventh work was by Catron Wallace. This is the one that wrapped around a door.

It was part of series of murals on the building sponsored by AT&T, the Nashville Downtown PartnershipThe DISTRICTNashville Metro Arts Commission, and The Studio 208. All were done by women, and the project was curated by Ashley Segroves of The Studio 208. They were are all on vinyl, and went up in the summer of 2018.

Wallace is a successful and prolific Nashville abstract artist and art instructor. Nashville Lifestyles named her Art Creator of the Year for 2020. If you look through her Instagram page, you’ll see that the lost AT&T mural was very much a part of her style. To my knowledge, it was her only mural. Because it was under a large overhang, photographing it was a little difficult. The colors came out a little differently on the picture she has on her website of it, but that is also what it looked like two years ago. (I took the photo above just a couple of weeks ago, unhappy with something I shot several moths ago.)

You can see the other murals in this series (once I’ve posted them all, there were a total of 8) using the links below. There’s a bit more information about the project in Part 1.

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

This image gives you an idea of the setting, as it was seen with the other two murals at the right (north) end of the series.

AT&T Murals Nashville street art

Located (formerly) at 185 2nd Avenue North. It seems superfluous to talk about parking, but when this site can be visited again, remember that this is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

One Little Dream at Night

Art is made to be experienced, not necessarily to be photographed, and this colorful, delicate, bold mural in Printer’s Alley is very hard to photograph. Most of it is in a dark tunnel with lights, but while the lighting makes it hard to shoot, it also helps to give it an otherworldly character.

Butterfly Mural
I managed to shoot the north facing butterflies before the dumpster went in.

A mural like this doesn’t happen without collaboration. The Nashville Walls Project brought internationally renowned Los Angeles graffiti and studio artist RISK (Kelly Graval) to Nashville to bring life to an otherwise drab throughway along Printer’s Alley in October, 2019. On such a massive project, it helps to have many hands, and local artists Chris Zidek, Mobe Oner, and Jon Buko all pitched in.

Alley butterflies mural Nashville Street art

A project like this also doesn’t get done without sponsors. This part of the alley runs through and under the One Nashville Place complex, owned by Unico Properties, which was the primary sponsor of the mural. (Nashville Walls Project also credits Costigan Integrated, but that is a former name of Unico.) The Bobby Hotel, a couple blocks north along the alley, provided food and lodging for the project, and also displayed some of RISK’s studio work in its lobby.

Butterflies Mural Nashville street art

On the Nashville Walls Project Facebook page there are several videos showing some of the steps that brought this mural together. This one shows RISK and Zidek stenciling a butterfly, while this one shows how you get perfect curved lines with spray paint. There are handful of others, so here’s the link to explore.

The title of this blog post comes from the words stenciled on to the mural at both entrances to the tunnel.

One little dream at night /
and I can dream all day

It’s from the Johnny Cash song, “All over Again,” which was released in 1958. It’s not the only mural in town with Cash lyrics on it. The mural featured in As long as the grass shall grow is also based on a Cash song.

One reason I’m only getting around to writing about this mural now is that for several months the tunnel was a construction site. You could walk through it, but you couldn’t really step back and get a good view of the mural. Now that the tunnel is clear, the views are better, particularly in the south section, where there’s an entrance area for One Nashville Place’s parking garage.

Butterflies Mural Nashville street art

Of course, you can’t see the words in that shot, so here’s one with the lyrics.

Butterflies Mural Nashville street art

When standing on that platform, you’ll notice an image of a cyclist, as this is the bike entrance. I do not know who did it.

Bike sign mural Nashville street art

Finally, a couple of shots of the south entrance, or exit if you are coming from the north.

Located at 158 4th Avenue North. That’s the address of One Nashville Place’s parking garage. The mural of course is in Printer’s Alley, which lies between and is parallel to 4th and 3rd Avenue. Enter the alley from Church Street going south, or Commerce street going north. The north end of the mural is right next to Alley Taps. This is downtown. Lots of parking, almost none of it free.

Gone but not forgotten

A little over a year ago, this mural appeared on the Citgo at Fifth and Main. It generated some discussion, mostly not favorable. That Citgo does sit on what amounts to the main entrance to East Nashville from downtown. (The other one would be Woodland and Fifth, near where the giant EAST mural is found.)

I don’t think it was the technical execution so much as the color palate that bothered some people. The Titans and Predators symbols are done well, as is the sleeping yet playing cowboy. But the green, yellow, black, blue and red clash, and it fells incomplete. Still, I had every intention of putting it on the blog. The motto here is “No art left behind,” after all. But I was unable to determine who the artist or artists were. It’s signed Yung King and ALRW, but I’m not even sure if those are one or two people.

I’m putting it up today because it’s gone. I saw yesterday that a new mural is going up in its place. I’m memorializing it both because I do try to keep a record of lost art, but also out of respect to the artist(s). It takes courage to put your art out there, particularly in such a well-trafficked spot where thousands of drivers pass by every day. Art doesn’t happen if someone doesn’t take chance. So remember East’s loud-and-proud greeter, even if it was only around for a year.

Formerly located at 500 Main Street. The mural was on the west wall, facing towards Fifth Street and downtown. A new mural is in preparation on that wall and I will report on it in the next few weeks. There is parking at the Citgo.

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