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

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Hold Nothing Back

The north wall of what is now Bowie’s (and before that, Piranha’s), seems to be developing as a goto spot for murals sponsored by international brands. About three years ago, Stella Artois commissioned Eastside Murals to do a promotional piece I featured in Drink responsibly!. Last September, it was Audi’s turn. They commissioned No King’s Collective, aka Brandon Hill and Peter Chang, two Washington, D.C. artists, to use their bright, colorful style to promote the Audi Q3. That link is about the 2020 model, while the mural features the 2019. (If you’re reading this in 2021 or later, no guarantee on the link.) Hill and Chang not only painted the mural, but they also painted one of the cars, in a pattern very similar to the mural itself. The phrase “Hold nothing back” shows up a lot in Audi’s marketing campaigns.

The Audi mural is part of what seems to be a growing phenomenon – corporate firms promoting mural campaigns across the country. Just recently I featured one sponsored by Pandora that produced a mural in Germantown. All this is great – it certainly gets work for artists, possibly at somewhat higher rates than some local businesses can afford. And I think it’s good that this sometimes brings in out-of-town artists, but within limits. For the most part, I think these firms should reach out to local artists first. We need the mix, but we also need to keep our own community going.

This is something of a pandemic post. It’s not often a downtown parking lot right off 3rd Avenue is clear! I shot the mural a little off-center because there is a pole in the middle of the lot blocking a direct shot.

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Located at 174 Third Avenue North. The mural faces north, away from Lower Broad. This is downtown, so lots of parking, almost none of it free, notably not the lot the mural faces.

Pandora at Saint Stephen

This is Nashville, and mural and sculptures inspired by music are part of our community identity. So it is no surprise that Nashville was chosen by the music streaming service Pandora as one of the eight American cities to participate in its “Sound Walls” project. Artists were commissioned to produce both a mural and a playlist of the music that inspired their mural. In Nashville, the artist Pandora selected was Alexandria Hall. As she says in this video, “This mural kind of represents the connective power that music has on all kinds of people.” On her Instagram page, there are a series of posts depicting the making of the mural. You can listen to the playlist of the music that inspired her if you have a Pandora account. Passers-by can get it from a QR code (look for the word “Pandora”). The playlist includes artists such as Kevin Ayers, Bonny Doon, and Weyes Blood.

Pandora mural Nashville street art

Fortunately, Nashville-based Mundane put together a showcase of all the murals in the series, along with links to their playlists. I couldn’t seem to find one from Pandora. The mural, of course, sits on the outer wall of Saint Stephen, which sports another mural in their semi-public patio. Oh, and this is not a pandemic post. Parking is illegal in front of this mural!

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Located at 1300 Third Avenue North. The mural faces Monroe Street. There is limited street parking on Third, and a pay lot a little past Sant Stephens, north on Third.

 

Soundbox

Soundbox mural street art Nashville

The little building on 8th Avenue South that once housed Edison Vacuum Company and has apparently recently become the home of XGTEES has long been a target for taggers. Graffiti tags would go up, and the owner would paint them over. Graffiti tags would go up again, and the owner would paint over them again. Rinse, cycle, repeat. Taggers are generally respectful of murals, though not always, so maybe this new piece by Eastside Murals will tamp down on that cycle a little. It is however probably a temporary mural, as it advertises an exhibit at the nearby Adventure Science Center, Soundbox. The interactive exhibit looks like a lot of fun, giving visitors the opportunity to play with all kinds of sound technology. And it’s the Science Center’s first new permanent exhibit in many years, so perhaps this mural will have some staying power. Also, don’t confuse Adventure Science Center’s Soundbox with Metro’s mobile park installation of the same name, which also looks like a lot of fun. It’s not surprising Adventure Science Center asked Eastside Murals to do this mural, as Eastside has done work for them before.

Located at 862 Eighth Avenue South. Street parking is available, and there is parking at the rear of the building. The mural is on the north side of the building facing downtown.

500 Pink Elephants

Well, actually there is only one pink elephant, at least on Charlotte Avenue. But this is the 500th post on this blog, and I thought it was a good moment to post something different! And a good time to take a little vacation of sorts, because this time, WPLN did all my research for me. To be more precise, Sara Ernst, a former multimedia reporting intern at Nashville Public Radio did the research for the podcast Curious Nashville. You can read her story about the elephant, or listen to a podcast episode about various Nashville animal stories, including the pink elephant. Pinkie is currently the mascot of University Motors – you’ll find her on their website, and emblazoned on the shirts of their staff. She’s not the first elephant to reside here. Back when this spot was McPherson Motors, an even larger pink elephant greeted drivers on Charlotte. Even though the original elephant and McPherson Motors were gone for years, there was enough local nostalgia for the old one that when University Motors moved to the site, it seemed inevitable that they too had to have an elephant. But seriously, read Ernst’s story!

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Located at 6005 Charlotte Pike. Perhaps the best place to park is the Dollar General next door.

Nashville Spring Service

Spring Sign mural street art Nashville

Since 1943, Nashville Spring Service has been meeting all your vehicle and trailer spring needs, including, like the sign says, products from Monroe Shocks and Struts. They also provide a lot of other services, like cabinets and shelving. For most of those years, they’ve been in a red-brick building with the official address of 621 Eight Avenue South, but which lies on the corner of 9th Avenue South and “Litte” Division Street (Just one block north of Eight and Division there is a block-long stretch of road also called Division Street.) They have moved, however, to 216 Omohundro Place, an industrial area more in keeping with their work, unlike the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood they leave behind. The old building is for sale. That puts this sign in danger. This type of sign used to be common in Nashville, and you can still find a few of them around, but by and large, they disappear when the business does (or when the building is torn down.) Some new businesses save the old signs, but that’s rare.  So as this blog is meant in part as an archive, I want to document it while it still exists. I found a picture on Google Maps of a three-dimensional sign that used to be here as well (see below) but I don’t believe it made the move to Omohundro. Keep an eye out for these fossils. They are disappearing.

Spring sign street art Nashville
Photo credit: Kenny Holloway

Located, officially, at 621 Eight Avenue South. It actually faces Ninth, at the corner with “Little” Division Street. Around that corner is some of the only free street parking left in downtown Nashville. Grab it while you still can.

Smashville (Jackalopes)

Jackalope Predator

The Preds are playing tonight, so it’s as good a time as any to feature one of the at least three Predator murals found in town. This one is at the downtown Jackalope Brewing Company, another is at Yazoo Brewery, and another is at Bridgestone Arena where the Predators play. All are by Audie Adams who also goes by Audroc. He’s also part of the Thoughts Manifested collective, responsible for a number of murals in town. By the way, do you know why the Predators have that name? The Tennessean does!

Located at 701 Eight Ave South. The mural is on the north side of the building, facing a short street labeled Division Street (not to be confused with the other Division Street one block south). There is some limited free street parking as well as metered and pay parking nearby, and just a few spaces at Jackalope’s.

Fading beauty

Beauty sign mural street art Nashville

Handpainted signs like this one are found all around Nashville. They are particularly a feature of North Nashville, in the area of the Jefferson St. and Buchanan St. corridors, long a predominantly African American neighborhood. Steady gentrification has begun to encroach on the area, and some of these signs have disappeared as a result. The stately red brick building at the corner of Monroe and 9th Avenue is a survivor, dating back at least to 1900. JC Beauty Collection has not been so resilient. The building seems to have been empty for several years. One would hope it will be renovated and repurposed. Perhaps the new tenants, should that come to pass, will preserve this old sign, as Lockeland Table did when it moved into the old Boutique Coiffures building. Interestingly, there is a JC Beauty Mart in Clarksville, so perhaps the business simply moved. In any event, this piece of the North Nashville fabric must be considered endangered art.

Located at 817 Monroe Avenue, at the corner with 9th Ave North. This is across from the Kroger on Rosa Parks Blvd. There is parking at the Kroger, and street parking on 9th.

Do the Dew

Tennessee mural street art Nashville

It’s not often I post about a brand new mural, but this one was finished within the last few days. I know it was largely complete last weekend, lacking mainly the barn sign and the billboard. So one of the dry days last week, the last touches must have gone up. It’s an Eastside Murals project, who’ve taken to signing their work “Out East Boys.” The Mountian Dew theme explains the “It’ll tickle your innards” on the billboard, as that comes from a 1960s Mountain Dew ad campaign. While internet research shows that there are other Mountain Dew murals out there, it doesn’t seem to be a major campaign. “Born in Tennessee” is right, as Mountain Dew was invented in the 1940s by Tennesseans Barney and Ally Hartman as a mixer for whiskey. As this lies on the side of a shuttered Family Dollar store, it’s anybody’s guess how long it will last, depending on the owners’ plans for development. Get your selfie now. I should note when I went to photograph this, I had to wait my turn, as a father-daughter pair were doing their own impromptu shoot.

UPDATE: This building was destroyed by the March 3, 2020 tornado.

Located at 1000 Woodland Street. The mural lies on the east side of the building, facing 10th Street South. The old Family Dollar parking lot is now a paid lot, but if you are willing to walk a block or two, you can usually find free street parking nearby.

CBD, Street art style

CBD mural street art Nashville

Many shops selling cannabidiol, often called CBD, have popped up recently in Nashville. The legality of these stores has been complex, though the expansive legalization of hemp in the new Federal farm bill seems to put these stores on firmer ground. So why not a little art advertising their wares? LabCanna is actually a chain with several branches in Tennesee and neighboring states. Their outpost on Gallatin Road contracted the artist who goes by Mobe Oner to produce this advertisement of their main product line. Seriously, there are a lot of CBD stores in Nashville – including one barely a block away from this one!

Located at 1006 Gallatin Ave. There is parking in front and behind, as well as on side streets. The mural is just about 15 feet from the next building over, which, houses Pearl Diver, so shooting your portrait can get a little cramped!

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