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Storm damage, Germantown and North Nashville

Early Tuesday morning, March 3, 2020, a powerful tornado touched down at the John C. Thune Airport and the tore through North Nashville, going parallel to Jefferson Street but a little north, then ripped through the southern part of Germantown, jumped the river and tore down Main Street and through Lockeland Springs and beyond. In “What we lost in the storm” I chronicled as best I could what outdoor art had been lost and damaged in East Nashville. On Thursday I had an opportunity to explore Germantown and North Nashville, including the Jefferson and Buchanan Street corridors.

I was deeply concerned that these art rich neighborhoods would also have seen many losses, as I knew from reporting that the general destruction was similar to Main Street and Five Points, where much of the damaged art in East Nashville is found. I am very happy to report that this is not the case. With a couple of minor and one serious exception, all concerning pieces I have never blogged about before, the outdoor art of Gernamntown and North Nashville escaped the ravages of the tornado.

Above, you can see a blue tarp on the wall of the Christie Cookie Company building at Third Ave North and Madison Street. It covers an area where the bricks peeled off the wall. When I saw it on Thursday, there were already workers repairing the building (hence the Port-a-Pottie). I don’t know what it will take to repair the wall, but I have little doubt that Christie Cookie will replace the sign if repairs require it to be destroyed. I know that both Seth Prestwood and Eastside Murals have done versions (scroll down) of this sign, but Christie only shows a couple of tiny pictures of the artist who did this one. Failure to credit sign makers is a common error of companies large and small.

At Green Fleet Bikes, located at 934 Jefferson Street, their mural by Dough Joe is fine, but the tornado smashed the welded sculpture of junk bikes the graces the yard. To my, surprise, I never photographed it when it was intact. These two clips from Google Street View give you a sense of what it looked like in April 2019, though I believe it had been added to since and was larger than what you see here.

When I talked to Green Fleet’s owner as he and staff cleaned up the debris from the storm, he told me passers-by thought the smashed up version of the sculpture was all their good bikes mangled up and crushed together by the storm! The original was done by an artist who the owner could only describe as “an artist from Wedgewood-Houston” and had been added on to by staff overtime. The bus in the background, painted by  Andee Rudloff, survived the storm unscathed.

Bike Sculpture street art Nashville tornado

The greatest loss in outdoor art on the west side of the river is the loss of the R&R Liquor Store sign. R & R Liquor, located a little over a block from Green Fleet at 1034 Jefferson Street, had a decades-old three-dimensional sign not unlike the one at  Weiss Liquor on Main Street that was also lost. Nashville’s inventory of this style of sign continues to shrink. No doubt they are expensive to make and replace. Again, I never took a picture of it intact, so I include here a picture clipped from Google Street View.

We can be grateful that the art-rich neighborhoods of Germantown and North Nashville did not lose more, but of course, the damage to people’s homes and businesses was still tremendous. Nashville has a long way to go to rebuild. I know this town, and I know art and artists will play a key role in that rebuilding.

 

 

 

What we lost in the storm

 

In Nashville, and communities to the east, homes and businesses have been shattered and destroyed, lives lost. Much of what has been broken will take months to rebuild, if ever. Families without homes, employees without paychecks. In the face of that, what’s a little art?

In the last few years, there has been a mural renaissance in Nashville, and it’s been my honor to chronicle it. Arguably, it really started in East Nashville over four years ago, with Chamber East doing much to cajole eastside businesses to take a chance on art. And many ultimately did, so many that the east side, from Fifth and Main to well up Gallatin Road, became the most art dense neighborhood in Nashville. Art is part of this neighborhood’s identity. So when a tornado plowed down Main and through Five Points and beyond very early Tuesday morning, it inevitably took a lot of art with it.

One image more than any other has been the symbol of the tornado damage, Basement’s East’s fallen wall of concert murals with its still intact version of the I Believe in Nashville mural (based on a design by Adrien Saporiti of DCXV Industries). A simple image that speaks to the neighborhood’s musical heritage and its enduring strength.

Basement East mural street art Nashville tornado

Other losses attracted fewer news cameras, but were still quite devastating. This pile of painted concrete blocks is all that’s left of the murals that once wrapped around Hunt Supply Co., a skateboard gear supplier whose building completely collapsed.

Hunt Supply mural rubble

Before the storm, it looked like this:

Hunt Supply Mural street art Nashville

Hunt Supply and Gold Electric Tattoo across the alley are something of neighborhood secrets. You need to know to walk up the alley behind Beyond the Edge to find them, or what’s left of them now. The front side of Gold Electric once had a really fun mural, now shattered in the wake of the storm.

I never blogged about it, nor learned the artist, because I was waiting to get a “clean” picture of the other Gold Electric mural, a memorial to founder Mike Fite. Employee cars were always parked in front of it. Sadly, on the night of the tornado, one was still there and was seriously damaged.

Fite memorial mural street art Nashville tornado

Not so secret was the “Do the Dew” mural by Eastside Murals on the old Family Dollar, just steps away from Gold Electric Tattoo. The building was probably slated for demolition and “mixed-use” development, but it was still a shock to see such a bright and colorful wall collapse, along with the rest of the building. Look close at the rubble and you can see a section of the mural. 

Eastside Murals also created the largest mural that was lost to the tornado. Molly Green at McFerrin was a total loss, the building left in ruins, the ice-cream-colored walls painted by Eastside reduced to rubble.

The alley between Main and Woodland has also been for some time a place filled with art. Almost all of it is by the UH graffiti crew. It included well-made graffiti tags, trippy caricatures, and even a surreal sky. The surreal sky, which I dubbed “Panda Sky,” had already been damaged by construction, but now just a slip of it is left. The hypnotic “Under Hypnosis,” of which the word “under” has collapsed, is by the artist Sterbo.

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One of the most devastating losses is a work that first appeared on this blog in a piece called “A True Survivor.” No, it’s not a mural, but it’s still a work of art that has been part of the eastside’s image for decades. The Weiss Liquor sign crumbled in the storm and with it a lot of history.

Right behind this building is another piece I never got around to blogging about, in part because it had been partially painted over by another piece I’ve only tangentially blogged about, the giant concert mural by Jason Galaz on the back of Crying Wolf. A fence painted by someone who’s signature I never figured out was partially painted over with a list of concert performers by Galaz. Regardless, the fence collapsed.

A more total loss was a large piece of art about art. The facade of Jerry’s Aratama had been covered in art by Hannah Holgate and Marshall Hall, right down to the parking lot itself. The parking lot art is fine, including the signs, but the facade of the building collapsed, largely destroying the mural.

Two more total losses are found in the alley behind Smith and Lentz Brewing. There was a lovely, bizarre fence by Andee Rudloff and Max Grimm that belonged to the house behind Smith and Lentz. Only a single post remained when I checked on it Wednesday. And on the backside of Smith and Lentz was another Eastside Murals piece I never blogged about, I think because it didn’t seem too public behind the bar’s fence, now ripped down by the storm. You can see what it looked like intact on Eastside’s Instagram page.

The featured mural of the eagle at the start of this post is by  Kim Radford and lies on the east wall of Elite Bonding. I never got around to writing about it because I was saving it for a patriotic holiday. (While it’s relatively intact, the work Radford did on the other side of the building is largely gone, the wall having collapsed. Here’s what the eagle looked like undamaged.) I suppose there’s a lesson to be learned about impermanence and not assuming everything will always be what you expect. Another example of this is the East Nashville “EN” murals, which are sponsored by Chamber East. I’ve never put one on the blog for some reason. The one by Troy Duff at Burger Up is intact, but given the state of the building, it’s hard to say if it will last.

East Nashville Burger Up

Tuesday, after the storm, I had more visitors to this site than I’m used to. People wanted to know what it all used to look like, to see what had been lost, to remember what things that had been broken looked like when they were intact. If you want to help artists who have been hurt by the storm, start here. Here is a page with more general information about volunteering and donating for tornado relief.

East Nashville will rebuild, it will prosper, thought scars will remain. And I predict that Nashville’s artists will be in the thick of it.

A return to the alley

Almost a year ago (I took these pictures last March) a set of UH crew tags replaced the UH crew tags that once been on the backside of Main Street Liquors and Main Street Market, and which I featured in Back in the alley. The style of these new tags is distinct from the earlier ones, but UH is a versatile crew. This alley and nearby spaces feature several examples of their work. Sadly, one of their best, a trippy mural which I featured in Panda sky, which was on the back of what used to be Make Nashville and is just steps from the tags above, has recently been largely destroyed in a renovation project to its building, 947 Woodland. Change is a constant, and that’s certainly true for outdoor art in Nashville. One change – the building these tags are on used to also include a repair shop called Transmission Exchange. Now it’s been replaced with Crazy Gnome Brewery. The Five Points area used to be the place in Nashville you got your car repaired. That legacy is almost gone.

UPDATE: This mural was damaged by the March 3, 2020 tornado. Its fate is uncertain. See What we lost in the storm.

Main Street Tags graffiti street art Nashville

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Located at 944 Main Street. The installation is in fact in the alley, which can be accessed from 10th Street or McFerrin Avenue. There is some parking in this alley if you are just visiting.

 

George Jones rides a lawnmower

One of the great legends of country music was George Jones, and one of the best legends about George Jones was the story about the lawnmower. See, Jones went through a long period where he had a serious drinking problem. When he wasn’t allowed to drive himself to the liquor store, he used his driver. And when he lost that option, he took the lawnmower all the way to the liquor store, which was a few miles from where he lived at the time. As he later recalled:

I imagine the top speed for that old mower was five miles per hour. It might have taken an hour and a half or more for me to get to the liquor store, but get there I did.

The New Channel 5 story linked above claims his destination was Colonial Liquor Store, where the new mural is found. Or did this actually happen in Texas? There is a conflict in the sources, but Jones himself said it happened, so Texas or Nashville, it’s still a good story. Colonial Liquors has embraced the legend. Inspired by an episode of Mike Judge’s Tales from the Tourbus (you can catch a glimpse of Jones on the lawnmower in this short trailer), Colonial worked with local artist Shawn Catz, who got permission from Judge and Cinemax (who produced the series) to use Judge’s design on the mural. Jones’s widow was apparently not pleased. But then, the George Jones Museum does have the lawnmower in question on display (just scroll down a bit).

Jones Quote mural street art Nashville

This mural, by the way, covers the mural featured in Mystery of the Spheres.

Located at 2401 Franklin Pike. The mural is on the north side of the building, facing Hillview Heights Road. There is parking at Colonial and across Hillview Heights.

Weiss Murals, Part 2 – Tomato Arts Fest

It’s tomato time! Since 2004, East Nashville has hosted the Tomato Arts Fest, one of the best neighborhood festivals in the country – but you already knew that. Why tomatoes? Wy not tomatoes is a better question. People get dressed up like tomatoes, there is, of course, a lot of tomato-themed art, and plenty of Bloody Marys to be had. An art fest should certainly get a mural. In fact, there’s more than one. There’s the one featured in Robots don’t care about veggies, and there’s this newer one by Michael Cooper of  Murals and More. I would have never guessed it was his because of the style, had I not seen on his website a series of photos showing the process by which Cooper and his team made the murals. In the background, you can also see a Jason Galaz piece in the which will be on the blog as soon as I get around to writing part two of Crying Wolf, Part 1. And hey, I just realized the banner behind the tomato is a rainbow flag!

Go to the Tomato Arts Fest! You won’t be sorry!

Part 1

Weiss Tomato mural street art Nashville

The two murals together.

Weiss Murals street art Nashville

Located at 824 Main Street. The mural faces the alley on the back of the building. There is of course parking at Weiss, and at the storage center next door, which is a pay lot. The Weiss parking lot can be tricky on weekend evenings.

Weiss Murals, Part 1 – East Nashville

There are two quite distinct murals on the backside of Weiss Liquors. The first one, featured above, is very obviously in the style of Michael Cooper of Murals and More. I have to say a couple of times I passed by and thought people were standing in front of it, but of course, that’s Cooper’s usual trompe-l’oeil style. A banner reading “East Nashville” is being put up on the wall by a couple of Weiss employees, while a dog and a couple of musicians hang out. The other mural, which I will feature in a later post, is in a very different style, and at first, I did not know who did it. But it turns out it’s also by Cooper, as you can see on his website with a series of photos showing the process by which Cooper and his team made the murals. You can also see a Jason Galaz piece in the background which will be on the blog as soon as I get around to writing part two of Crying Wolf, Part 1. And below, you can also see the Weiss sign which I featured in A true Nashville survivor. For that matter you can see above mural number two – I didn’t crop it out completely in order that the featured photo would work right with Facebook shares. It references the Tomato Arts Fest next week, and I’ll feature it then.

Part 2

East Nashville mural street art Nashville

East Nashville mural street art Nashville

East Nashville mural street art Nashville

Located at 824 Main Street. The mural faces the alley on the back of the building. There is of course parking at Weiss, and at the storage center next door, which is a pay lot. The Weiss parking lot can be tricky on weekend evenings.

First One

Sign mural street art Nashville

Who doesn’t love a great sign? First One Market on East Old Hickory Boulevard has a wonderfully chaotic sign, welcoming friends, extolling revolution, letting you know who’s boss (well, someone is boss, it’s not really clear) and assuring you that this is the place you can get your phone charged. Is the fist raised in protest holding a cup with a straw, or a walkie-talkie? I’m not sure, but I am sure it qualifies as art. I discovered this, by the way, when I decided to drive the entirety of Old Hickory Boulevard, minus of course the part that lies beneath the waters of Percy Priest Lake. Take a day and give it a try. It’s a great way to really get a grasp on the diversity of Nashville and Davidson County.

Located at 660 East Old Hickory Boulevard. The mural/sign is on the east side of the building. There is plenty of parking. Load up on cheap tobacco and beer and enjoy the art!

Bud’s Liquors and Wines

BudsLiquors

I was going to call this post “a bottle of red, a bottle of white,”  but I already did that before. This Micheal Cooper mural, he of Murals and More, doesn’t show up in a lot of tourists’ selfies. Not many of them go to Bud’s Liquors and Wines, the liquor store on the back side of the Green Hills Kroger. But placed right at a key intersection where a major commercial district intersects with a wealthy residential area, it gets seen by a lot of people. The date on the mural is “6.09 (redux).” That implies it was remade in 2009. That makes sense. I’m not sure when I first saw it, but “before 2009” feels right. It’s certainly one of the survivors, an early mural that predates the current boom.

Located at 2139 Abbott Martin Rd. The mural faces Hillsboro Circle. Bud’s has parking, and in a pinch, you could park at the Kroger next door. Grab a bottle of your favorite and enjoy the art!

Jammers Market

JammersMain

Normally, I’m a purist about cars parked in front of murals. But I have never seen this mural without a car parked in that spot, usually pulled more far forward and blocking a good chunk of the left half of the mural. It’s apparently the official employee parking space. And as such, cars are really part of the art, ultimately. Jammers Market has no internet presence, not even so much as Yelp review. But it does have a colorful if to me largely indecipherable graffiti mural. A smaller tag on the right seems to read “”DBNER,” which might be what the brown and yellow letters say. Other tags include “IPCTW” and what might be “Kaos Ink” and “Fdc.” Kaos Ink leads to some tattoo parlors in other countries, but I doubt that has anything to do with this.

JammerLeftJammersRight

Located at 1519 Jones Avenue, at the corner with Chickasaw Avenue. There is parking at the market, and there is street parking across the street on Chickasaw.

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