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

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Unfinished, Unknown

The exuberant, graffiti-style sign for A&B Towing has been up for well over a year, possibly much longer. But it is also distinctly unfinished. It’s hard to see in this picture, but the artist sketched out more of both the hook and the chain, but never completed them. For that matter, the rest of the word “truck” is stenciled in but was never painted, and that letting seems to in the midst of an unfinished editing process. I say “artist” because I don’t know who did this. There is an interesting dot, like a period at the end of the “Towing” banner, which is exactly where a signature would go. It otherwise doesn’t make much sense in the context of the rest of the mural.

Not all muralists sign their work, but the ones that do, don’t sign them until the work is done. So it would seem when the artist was about 90% done, they walked away. Why? It could be something mundane, or it could have been some sort of disagreement with the business owners. A and B Towing does seem to be active, but it also has no internet presence at all, so I don’t know much about it. And as it’s been at least a year-and-half, I really don’t think the artist is coming back. Not all art is completed, and some of the great masterpieces are unfinished works. This one is likely to remain a bit of a mystery.

Located at 707 East Trinity Lane, at the corner with Pittway Drive. The mural faces east, towards Pittway. There is parking at the building, and some street parking on Pittway.

The many manifestations of 5th and Lea

There’s quite a history to this wall on an unassuming building at 5th and Lea downtown. A few weeks ago, a set of murals by Thoughts Manifested and others went in. Before that, there was a set of murals primarily by Marty Riet McEwen, who signs his work “Riet.” Of course, some of Riet’s work was painted over by Abstract Dissent (aka Shane Pierce) for a Johnny Cash mural. And if you look closely at some of the pictures of Riet’s work below, you’ll see he clearly had painted over work that had been there before. Such is the way with outdoor art. I have my map with all its pins, but some spots you’ll see two or three pins, denoting a series of works on that particular wall.

The new set of murals starts on the left with a set by Pako and Audie Adams that includes a promotion of the Red Wolves Coalition, an organization dedicated to the restoration of the red wolf.

Red Wolves mural Nashville Street art

Going down the wall, we see a piece by Jon Ragoe Judkins and a new one for Riet, from what I would call his “cute horror” series. (Check out his Instagram page above, you’ll see what I mean.) And at the end, there’s an abstract piece of unknown authorship.

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Why I never put the previous murals on the blog I don’t know, but this is what was there before.

Graffiti Cash mural Nashville Street art

Johnny Cash Mural Nashville Street art

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Located at 526 5th Avenue South, which is the home of Enchanting Limousines (or was, their website has been suspended). The mural faces north, away from from Lea Avenue. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free. There’s a paid lot in front of the murals.

Melrose Forever

Sitting near the busy intersection of Kirkwood Avenue and Franklin Pike on the backside of Melrose Mini Mart sits this tribute to three Tennesse R&B greats: Clifford Curry, Dobie Gray, and Bobby Hebb. Curry lived in Knoxville, and he recorded in Nashville, while Ray was born in Texas and lived in Nashville as an adult, and Hebb was a life-long Nashvillian. Curry was a master of Carolina Beach Music and was inducted into the Beach Music Hall of Fame, and is perhaps best known for “I Can’t Get Hold of Myself.” Gray and Hebb had bigger, iconic hits you all know but may not know who was behind them. While Gray had other hits, it’s “Drift Away” he’s best known for, though younger audiences may know the 2002 duet/remake with Uncle Kracker better than the original 1973 edition. Hebb is the guy behind “Sunny.” That link, by the way, is to a stripped-down live version, since y’all already know what the studio version sounds like. You can hear it in your head right now, yes? All three men have passed in recent years; Hebb in 2010, Gray in 2011, and Curry in 2016. The mural is by Steve Ford, a Nashville artist who sells his work at Lazy Lane Graphics, and specializes in “Southeastern Sports Art,” i.e., art about your favorite college football teams from the South. As far as I know, this is his first mural in town.

Located at 2609 Eighth Avenue South (Franklin Pike). The mural is on the north side of the building, facing towards downtown and the Dollar General at 2605. You can usually park in the parking lot between the two stores, but any day but Sunday, cars from the auto repair place attached to Melrose Mini Mart are likely to be parked in front of the mural.

September 11

It’s the 11th of September, and I doubt I have to remind anyone what memorial this is. On Murfreesboro Road, Michael Cooper of Murals and More produced this 9/11 mural honoring first responders earlier this summer. Many of those responders lost their lives that day, and others have faced long-term health effects. After much prodding (notably from Jon Stewart), Congress recently passed into law a 70-year extension to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, which includes money to help first responders with their health care. Cooper’s mural, which he did with a team of assistants, includes imagery of the Tribute in Light, two shafts of light that are part of the annual commemoration in New York City. It also includes One World Trade Center, the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center. The memorial also fits into its neighborhood as well. Catty-corner across Cleaveland Street is the backside of the Metro Fire Department Engine Company #12 (located at 101 Polk Street). On the other side of Murfreesboro Pike is the recently completed Metro Nashville Police Department Headquarters at 600 Murfreesboro Pike. There is a large, simple plaque honoring police officers killed in the line of duty on the front of the police headquarters. The mural itself lies above Pierre’s Customs (which has no internet presence I can find) and on the side of Labor Smart.

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Located at 571 Murfreesboro Pike, at the corner with Cleaveland Street. The mural faces Cleaveland. Parking is available on this block, but it’s haphazard.

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.

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

UPDATE: When Holloman Transmission was torn down, this mural became much more visible. Presumably, it will soon be hidden by new construction.

Graffiti tags mural street art Nashville

Located at 914 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.

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.

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