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.
Happy Fourth of July everyone! Of course, this year, the 4th is a little different. 2020 has not been an easy year, and we are only halfway through it. Maybe this stern-faced eagle by the artist JamersonSGC (who often signs his work “Low Key Art”) is exactly what we need. Its gaze seems a little disapproving, reminding us of our civic duty, implying that we haven’t quite measured up. Or maybe I just read it that way in the face of – waves hand around – everything that’s been happening. Sometimes being a citizen is easy, and sometimes it is hard, and in 2020 it isn’t easy.
Jamerson has engulfed the whole building in art. The eagle is found on the back of Marley’s Market and Restaurant on Lafayette Street, roughly the south side of the building. On the east side, the left if you are standing at the entrance, is a brown-and-black American flag. And wrapping across the front and the west side of the building is an American flag with an African-American man’s portrait. I’ve seen convenience stores with flag murals before, but nothing on this scale.
Again, have a happy and safe holiday weekend. And think about what that eagle might be trying to tell you.
Located at 141 Lafayette Street. There is parking at the market.
I don’t often report on very new art, but this seems timely and relevant. The artist who goes by JamersonSGC and signs his work “Low Key Art” only put this up about a week ago. He writes, “You are my superhero.. be safe..#nurse #doctor.” Ironically, this corner on Lafayette Street, a corridor Jamerson has done a lot of work on, usually has people congregating, as it did when I went to photograph this mural. A lot of it comes down to the fact that social distancing is a matter of privilege. Some people because of their income or housing situation really can’t, and some people, like our medical personnel, like our grocery workers and delivery folks (to name a few) have jobs that require them to take risks. We should honor those risks, and seek ways to help the people who don’t have adequate housing, income, and medical care to shelter in place.
Jamerson has some other work on this building I’ll feature later.
Located at 125 Lafayette Street, on the building that houses Southside Market and Deli and Big G’s. The mural faces Lincoln Street. There is some street parking in the immediate area.
This is what I like to call a “working mural.” Like the mural on the back side of Baja Burrito, there’s little chance you will ever find this mural not surrounded by the evidence of the business it adorns, in this case, Village Wines, Spirits and Beer. Boxes that once held bottles of wine or liquor are common. Here we see stacking trays and cleaning and loading equipment, and a couple of planters for some reason. For a long time cars, probably belonging to employees, were usually parked here. Maybe because of the pandemic and maybe because the store is under new management, the cars at least are gone. It’s the work of Emily Celeste Alexander and is almost three years old. (Seriously, I’ve been driving by it for a couple years and there were always, always cars parked in front of it.) With a prominent metronome labeled “Heartbeat of Nashville,” it has many well-known Nashville themes, such as guitars and the Batman Building, but also something different, a “Tennesee Butterly,” based on the Tennesee flag and the black-and-white colored state butterfly, the Zebra Swallowtail. The mural actually wraps around the building a bit, something I didn’t notice the first time I photographed it, which is why the arrangement of liquor-store gear and garbage is a little different in the picture below. You can see the mural without obstructions on Alexander’s Instagram page.
Located at 2006 Belcourt Avenue B. The mural faces north, towards the 1900 block of Wedgewood Avene across a small alley. If you are there to shop at Village Wine, there’s free parking. Otherwise, this is Hillsboro Village, so parking is rarely free (though you can get away with it in the pandemic shutdown).
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 doneversions (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.
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.
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.
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.
Before the storm, it looked like this:
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.
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.
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-madegraffiti 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.