I have to thank whoever runs Music City Modified’sFacebook page for actually crediting the artist who made these murals. It’s not unusual for a business to post something celebrating their new mural or other art without so much as a peep as to who the artist is. And in this case, the signature of Folek Kelof was hard for me to decipher. Besides a large rendering of the Music City Modified logo, Kelof has also produced a mural obviously inspired by the art on Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” album. Here, the empty hand from the album holds a wrench, the blank t-shirt gets an MCM logo, and the belt gets MCM’s black-and-red colors, but there’s no mistaking the iconic image.
Located at 105 Rains Avenue at the corner with Zimerlee Street. The murals face Zimerlee. As you can see, there’s parking.
Housed in what for many years was a Sunbeam Bread factory, Lane Motor Museum on Murfreesboro is a privately-owned museum that prides itself on being one of the few motor museums in America primarily focused on European automobiles. Back in 2014, it acquired a Michael Cooper mural, whose professional home is Murals and More. The gentleman pictured is Jeff Lane, founder of the museum. The only blue car in the online version of the museum’s collection that resembles the car in the mural is the 1938 Georges Irat. However, while it’s the wrong color, the details in the mural car seem closer to the green 1955 MG TF 1500, which would make sense, as, according to a video on the museum’s history, that was the first car Lane restored himself. No word on the dog! There is also a set of car-themed stamps above the main entrance that were also painted by Cooper. They are partially blocked from view unless you go out to the road. There are better pictures than mine of the stamps on Cooper’s website.
Located at 702 Murfreesboro Pike. The museum has parking. The museum is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which might be the best time to visit if you only want to see the murals.
Once upon a time, there was a muffler shop at 935 4th Avenue South called Tiger Muffler Center. It is no more. It would appear there is now an auto repair store at that address called Los Partners, though they don’t have much of an online presence. Why they or whoever owns the building decided to erase “muffler center” but leave the rest of the sign is unknown to me – maybe they just like tigers. It does change the meaning of the sign. Instead of telling us “This is the name of the muffler store,” it now says to us “Yes, that’s a tiger. The individual holding a muffler is indeed a tiger.” Ghost signs from lost businesses are of course nothing new, such as the Dutch Maid sign. “Los Partners” is an odd name, given that in Spanish the word for “partner” (as in “business partner”) is “socio.” Signs of an emerging hybrid culture, I suppose. The tiger image, however, must be considered endangered, like its natural counterpart, given that the store it supported is long gone. Check it out while you can.
Located at 935 4th Avenue South. This is a tricky place to park, particularly on a weekday when the businesses on this stretch are all open. The nearest street parking appears to be on 3rd Avenue South.
I don’t usually do new work, but this is fairly new. The building appears to be part of Hunt’s Garage in The Nations. That’s what the gentleman working there seemed to indicate when he came out and joked that taking pictures of the mural would cost me $20. While the mural is unsigned, the same man told me that the artist who did this also painted an old trailer (of the big rig kind) for him. Well, that trailer (see below) has the “Rasmo” tag on it, which is a tag commonly found on UH crew installations. So call this a UH crew project, or at least UH adjacent. That’s where I’ll put it on the Artists page until I hear otherwise.
Located on 52nd Avenue, between Lousiana and Pennsylvania Avenue. The trailer sits at the three-way corner of 52nd, Centinneal Blvd, and Pennsylvania. Street parking is available.
I don’t usually take photos from this far away, but I would have a very stretched out photo if I’d gotten closer. This Murals and More work by Michael Cooper is kind of gargantuan. And of course with murals, there’s not a lot you can do to adjust the canvas. The canvas here is the south-facing wall of Camel Express Car Wash. This is, of course, the long tunnel that the cars pass through, and if the client wants the whole wall done, this is the shape of the mural you will get. And it’s no doubt a good investment. Anyone headed north on Dickerson Pike is going to get a clear view from a good ways off, just after they pass under I-65 and Briley Parkway. Cooper deploys his usual trompe l’oeil technique in a particularly colorful way here. I’m not sure I’d want my car to actually go through the process displayed, however! Camel Express features some “making of” photos (dated in mid-March, 2018) on their Facebookphotopage (there are more than the ones I linked). One thing you can see is that while Cooper’s name is on the mural, he had other people working with him.
Located at 3430 Doverside Drive. This is off the southern entrance road that leads to the Lowes and Wallmart that are just north of Briley Parkway on Dickerson Pike. Your best bet for parking is probably the Murphy Express next door. There is a sidewalk on Doverside, so you could walk from the Wallmart parking lot, or just scramble down the hill. Get your car spiffed up and enjoy the art!
It’s been two years since the first post went up on this blog. In that time, I’ve built a small following and learned a fair amount about the outdoor art scene in Nashville/Davidson County. The most obvious thing I’ve learned about is the relationship between local independent businesses and outdoor art. Corporate businesses, with very few exceptions, do not support local artists or allow their branding to be altered with local art. That’s why the area around Rivergate Mall has very little outdoor art, and Nolensville Pike has so much. If your neighborhood has a Panda Express, you won’t find much art. If it has a lot of immigrant grocery stores and local auto repair centers, you’re likely to get art.
Another observation is that art breeds art. You see this in the distinction between Nolensville and Murfreesboro Pikes. Both have a similar mix of independent businesses with a good sized immigrant community, but outdoor art just hasn’t quite caught on on Murfreesboro.
And of course, there is a relationship between tourism and art. A Buzzfeed article by Anne Helen Petersen did a good job of linking the bachelorette phenomenon with the growth in murals. All those folks posting pictures of themselves in front of murals, tagging the location on Instagram and Facebook, well, it’s a lot of free advertising. The explosion of murals in the 12 South neighborhood is in part a response to this phenomenon. And certainly, theartfoundthereandelsewhereintownhasgottenalotofattention, including promotions to tourists and homebuyers. Most of the attention is focused on tourist-heavy areas like 12 South, Downtown, the Gulch, while work in the outer boroughs and non-mural art doesn’t get as much love, art that doesn’t drive as much tourism and isn’t as well known but is very much part of our local art scene.
Most of those articles probably get more traffic than this blog, but traffic is moving in the right direction – up. I have more than double the number of monthly page views than I had in 2017, at about 1200 to 1600 a month, though for this month, June 2018, the number is almost 2300. Small, but growing. Google Analytics tells me that my largest readership group is women aged eighteen to thirty-four, which is the principle demographic making up the bachelorette parties, so perhaps I’m part of the problem! (Or the blessing, if your job depends on them.)
So yes go to 12 South and Five Points and The Gulch, but take a look at my map and explore a little (just check the link for each point to see if I’ve updated it as being “lost art”). There’s a lot out there, and more all the time. I’ll keep working to document it all.
Someday I will finish the Norf Wall gallery project. I had thought to just do one big post on everything that’s left, but I think I’ll save that for the ones I don’t know the artist and which have things stacked in front so the pictures aren’t great. This is not one of those. It’s signed “TA” and is obviously the work of Thaxton Waters, who first appeared in this blog in A Soul Break. The main panel includes images of Mahatma Gandhi, the Dali Lama, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. The last one really looks like Etta James to me, who would not be out of place given her role in bridging white and black culture.
Located about half about half a block south of where 18th Ave North dead ends into Herman Street, and under Dr. D.B. Todd Jr. Boulevard. Parking is very easy here. The tire company that occupies this space seems to be fine with people exploring to view the art. See the map post for Part 1.
This is post number 300. For this post, I’m updating on the art I know is now gone. The photo above is an Emily Miller piece once found at the corner of Main and McFerrin. Much of Miller’s work is deliberately temporary, drawn on paper and glued to outdoor walls. Her pieces are more durable than you might think, however, and in fact, this one was deliberately removed when the building was repainted. That’s the fate of most of the works listed here – they have been painted over. Others are gone because the building they stood on is gone.
The blog itself is getting a little better all the time. Statistics wise, since I started it in July 2016, 5450 people have visited the blog for a total of 11,006 page views. Modest, but it has been growing. From a couple hundred views a month when I got started, 800 and 900 has become common, it looks like the blog is about to close in on the second month in a row and third overall for more than 1000 views. The empire grows slowly.
All art is temporary, outdoor art in particular. A list, probably incomplete, of art I have chronicled that is gone or substantially erased. (I will be updating these posts in the coming weeks):
North Nashville is changing, as is the entire city. This particular mural, with its records of parts of Nashville already long gone, may not be around much longer itself. Northside Auto Clean Up, located at the north end of DB Todd Jr Blvd, is for sale, and the business appears to be shut down, which means this mural goes in the endangered art category. The artist seems to be the same one who did the murals just down the street that I featured in Down at the corner. The style is quite similar, and like one of those murals, this mural references itself! You can see it in the upper right, where the car wash itself is included in the street scene. There are references to bygone North Nashville history. Center left is a sign that reads El Dorado Motel. All that’s left of the El Dorado today is the sign. And the factories are probably supposed to be the old Werthan Mills, which have long since been converted to condos. For more recent history, check out this Nashville Scene video in which Northside proprietor Pinky talks about the time when Snoop Dogg and Young Buck visited the shop.
Located at 1914 Dr DB Todd Jr Blvd. The mural is on the south side of the building, which is located just south of where DB Todd curves to the northwest and becomes Clarksville Highway. There is for the moment plenty of parking at Northside Auto Clean Up, as it seems the business is closed.