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Bryan Deese

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery

Around the corner from one of the more spectacular murals in town is the façade of Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. Nelson’s is a revival of a family business first founded in Nashville after the Civil War by Charles Nelson. It became one of the only high-volume distilleries in Tennessee, and was distributed widely until the state of Tennessee instituted prohibition in 1909. A hundred years later, two of Nelson’s grandsons restarted the business in Marathon Village. You can read about its history here.

The central logo is based on a logo found on bottles from the original business, reading “Green Brier Tennessee” instead of “Nelson’s Green Brier.” (The name comes from the location of the original distillery in Greenbrier, TN). The sign, or really collection of signs, is by Bryan Deese, a prolific Nashville muralist. Like a lot of signs, it has no signature, but Nelson’s credits him on their Instagram page, and includes a couple of shots of him working on it, one which makes clear he had an assistant. Not every business does that, credit sign makers (and sometime not even muralists) so good for Nelson’s.

An odd aside – as I was leaving from shooting (and buying a bottle!) a truck pulling a large flat-bed trailer festooned with flags pulled up. On the trailer was a preacher, railing into his phone (shooting a video) against the evils of alcohol and the audacity of Nelson’s having its doors wide open (not the ones in the picture). They were open for COVID safety, presumably. The spirit of Prohibition than fist shut down Nelson’s is still around.

Located at 1414 Clinton Street, at the corner with 16th Avenue North. There is some street parking on Clinton, and some nearby paid lots.

Dolly Parton in The Nations

Dolly Parton mural Nashville street art

One of the most prolific mural artists in town is Bryan Deese. For some time, he has been maintaining a wall at the Stop-N-Shop on 51st Avenue, putting up a series of murals, primarily ones promoting concerts. By definition, they are temporary. Back in March, Deese put up a new mural on the wall that may turn out to be a little more permanent, not the least because not many bands have concerts to promote these days. It is of course of Dolly Parton, and it is sponsored by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. It seems to have been based on a 1977 promotional photo, seen here on her song-list page on Wikipedia. Parton frequently uses flower motifs and is often seen with one in her hair, which may have inspired the halo of flowers. It’s a popular mural, and I’ve seen it many places on social media. Hopefully, it has some staying power.

Located at 5100 Indiana Avenue, at the corner with 51st Avenue North. The mural faces east towards 51st. Street parking and parking at the Stop-N-Shop are readily available.

Out into the open

The March 3 tornado that tore through Nashville did a lot of damage to art on the east side. But temporarily at least, it has brought one work out into the open. The building that housed the Nashville Urban Winery was heavily damaged in the storm, and recently it has been demolished. When the winery was intact, it had a large covered patio at the front. From the street, this mural by Bryan Deese was visible inside the patio, but it was also shrouded, and usually had lots of tables in front of it. I debated putting it on the blog, but each time I thought about it I wound up going with something else. Then suddenly it was fully in the light. It survived the destruction of the building because it sits on a wall shared with Jerry’s Artarama, currently closed due to tornado damage.

The mural’s themes make sense for a Nashville winery, evoking the great wine nations of France and Italy. The trellis shape is the base of the Eiffel Tower. It frames a row of vines from a vineyard, the facade of Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Roman Colosseum. In the center of course is Nashville’s own Eiffel Tower, the Batman Building.

Urban Winery mural Nashville street art
The Nashville Urban Winery mural when the building was intact.

Soon, the cleared lot this mural looks out on will become a construction site. For that matter, the building it sits on is in need of serious repair. So the fate of this mural is highly uncertain. Let’s call it endangered art. I should note it’s also currently inside an area sealed off by a locked fence, but there is a gap between the building and the fence, right at the edge of the mural. You didn’t hear that from me.

Located at 715 Main Street, an address that currently has no building. More accurately, it’s on the east side of 713 Main, the Jerry’s Artarama building. For now, you can park in Jerry’s Artarama’s parking lot.

Stay independent

JohnPrine

Back in June of this year, I was contacted by Eileen Tilson, Director of Marketing and Promotions at Oh Boy Records, who was looking for help finding muralists. It seemed that John Prine wanted to do a mural as part of the promotion for his latest album, The Tree of Forgiveness. In particular, she was looking for something that would emphasize Prine’s independence. So I sent her a list of many of the professional muralists I knew. The last I heard about it, Tilson was planning on contacting Bryan Deese. A seemingly completely different story was  Grimey’s New and Preloved Music announced move to Trinity Lane from their Eighth Avenue South location. A few days ago I was driving down Trinity and I saw this new Bryan Deese mural on the side of what used to be the home of Point of Mercy Church. I realized it had to be the result of those June e-mails. It was an article in this week’s Scene that tipped me off that the building, still under renovation when I saw it, was to be the new home for Grimey’s. An appropriate image for an appropriate home. Glad I can say I had a tiny part in making it happen.

Located at 1060 East Trinity Lane. There is plenty of parking. Once Grimey’s is open, you can get some music with your art!

The Johnny Cash Mural

Johnny Cash Mural street art Nashville

Sure, there’s more than one mural featuring Johnny Cash in this town. But this was one of the first, if not the very first. Or at least, the original one on this spot was. Bryan Deese, Audie Adams and Ryan Shrader of Thoughts Manifested produced a Cash mural on this spot not long after Cash’s death in 2003. However, by late 2012 it was in very bad shape, so the same three artists painted a new Cash mural to replace the original (and I do not know how close the second version is to the first). There is a video of them making the second mural. Now six years on, the second mural is somewhat worse for wear, and it faces more threats than just the weather and traffic smog. The little building it’s on is surrounded by some very expensive real estate, and it’s hard to imagine no developer has any interest in it. If you want your picture taken in front of it, you might want to do so soon.

UPDATE: This building has been slated for demolition. Get your selfie immediately!

UPDATE 2: This building and this mural no longer exist.

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Located at 300 4th Avenue South at the corner of 4th and Molloy Street. The mural faces Molloy. This is downtown, so lots of parking, almost none of it free.

300

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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):

Ask not who the wrecking ball calls for (one building destroyed, another painted over)

The Vape USA Gallery (painted over)

The doomed graffiti wars of Madison Mills (painted over)

Unsafe at any speed (painted over)

Ch-ch-ch-changes! (removed – the Miller piece above)

The Carquest Gallery, Part 1The Carquest Gallery, Part 2 (partially painted over)

Where you at?! (painted over)

Color me gone – soon (building destroyed)

The ghost of craft beers past (painted over)

A flower grows in East Nashville (painted over; replaced with new mural)

Going, going gone (painted over)

Sorry you missed the show (painted over)

Children’s Art on Jefferson Street (removed)

Super visible, very temporary, hard to reach (replaced with a billboard)

Woodland creatures, Part 1 (severely deteriorated, and then removed)

The Zoop Gallery on 8th South (removed and/or deteriorated, replaced)

The ruins of 21st and Linden (lost to construction)

Oz Arts Inside/Out, Part 2 (removed)

On imagined seas (painted over, replaced with new mural)

Big Blue (painted over, replaced with new sign)

Frutas! (partially painted over, replaced with new mural)

Wanda (painted over, replaced with new mural)

Bottoms up!

JakalopeMural

Jackalope Brewing Company got its start in Nashville in 2011. It got its mural in 2013. And a few weeks ago I got a picture of the mural without cars in front of it! It turns out the secret to getting car-free pictures of murals associated with bars and breweries is to show up early in the morning. I have seen this mural many times, as I am a regular at meetings of Science Club Nashville, which meets at Jackalope’s every second Tuesday (usually) at 6:00 to hear local scientists talk about their work. It’s a lot of fun – I recommend the talks and the beer. The mural is a Bryan Deese project. I didn’t realize that at first and had to do some research to figure it out because the mural is unlike a lot of his other work. Check out his other projects I’ve blogged about – you can find him on the categories tab.

Located at 701 8th Avenue South. The mural is on the north side of the building. There is very limited parking at the brewery, but some of the last remaining free parking downtown is on the nearby streets – good luck! There’s also a paid lot nearby on 9th Avenue. Come enjoy a beer, and on certain nights some science, and enjoy the art!

Exit In at 45

ExitInCentralDetail

I wouldn’t ordinarily use a detail shot like this as the header photo, but this Bryan Deese piece at Exit/In is so badly hemmed in by a porch at Hurry Back next door that the only way to take a shot of the full mural is at an extreme angle. (See below) This is the central part of the mural, the rest is in a slideshow at the end of this post. The mural honors the 45th anniversary of Exit/In, featuring images of just a handful of the luminaries who have played there over the decades, many of whom were still working to make a name for themselves when they took the stage at Elliston Place. Some of them are also name-checked on a wordy mural on the front side of the venue (See the slideshow). This is a neighborhood that I have largely neglected on this blog, in part because of the difficulty of finding any of the art without cars parked in front of it. 12th Ave South and Hillsboro Village present similar problems. I need to hit all these places bright and early in the morning!

ExitInFullSideways

Located at 2808 Elliston Place. The mural is on the west side of the building. Parking in this neighborhood is hard. Most street parking anywhere nearby is metered, and the venues and shops themselves have limited parking. Grab a ride share and make it part of your pub crawl!

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East Nashville History

People and Places

I love it when other people do my research. The East Nashvillian pretty much has it covered in this article concerning the murals at Stacks on Main. Seriously, just read the article. Three murals by Bryan Deese depict some famous people and landmarks from the east side. They are spread out enough that I’m using only one, “People and Places,” for the header photo. (See below for the rest.) That, of course, is Oprah Winfrey and fellow East Nashville High alum Mayor Bill Boner floating above their alma mater, while Edwin Warner, a prominent East Nashville businessman for whom the park is named, takes center stage. “Music on Main” honors musicians who have recorded at Woodland Studios, while “Trains & Trolleys” honors the old L&N lines that ran through East Nashville. I mean it, read the article.

Trains and TrolleysMusic on MainStacks Full

Located at 535 Main Street. The murals are on the east side of the building, facing the small road (Yeaman Place) that comes off of Main St. and separates Stacks from Fifth and Main. There is visitor parking for Stacks on that road.

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