Drive down Murphy Road from the west, and you will come to one of the best-known murals in Nashville, the sunflower mural on Import Flowers. It’s not on 12 South or in the Gulch or Downtown, but it shows up in a lot ofarticles telling youwhat muralsyou need to visit in Nashville. The owner of Import Flowers, John Farrel, says that their parking lot is often half full with cars of people getting their picture taken in front of it – the other half by cars of people coming to battle at a Pokemon hot spot right behind their dumpster. Hopefully, some of those folks buy flowers! The mural is by Mark Palen. Tim Ghianni did a profile of him for The Nashville Scene a few years back, or you can see him talk about his art and career in a video as well. Palen has at least two websites, one displayed on the mural that he may not be updating anymore, and another that seems more current. You can also find him on Instagram. There are a couple of hidden elements, at least. Look real close to find Lisa Simpson, and there’s a word hidden in the flowers. This Scene article will help you find it. There is another mural on the other side done by local youth artists some years ago – I’m working on researching their identities, and I’ll post about it when I find them.
Located at 3636 Murphy Road. The mural faces 37th Avenue North. Import Flowers has parking, as mentioned. Buy some flowers and enjoy the art!
I don’t often do very new work, but as this is a paper image in an outdoor setting, and is by nature ephemeral, so I want to post about it now before it’s gone. It’s a Brian Wooden piece and fits in a style we’ve already seen in works like the one I featured in Striding. Based on his Instagram feed, it’s a fairly new piece (that link is dated August 20) and there are others like it. You can even get a holographic sticker with the same design. If you want your selfie with this one, go soon. The paper is already peeling a bit.
Located on the 800 block of 12th Avenue North. There are railroad tracks behind Marathon Village. This installation in on the south side of the I-40 bridge over those tracks, facing Marathon Village. There is gravel lot right next to this installation.
Back when I blogged about the Mermaid House, the former owner contacted me. She let me know that there were more murals around back. Like the mermaid in front, this mural is the work of Brandon Donahue, who, like myself, is a professor at Tennesee State University. There is also something of a surprise here. For the most part, graffiti taggers are respectful of murals, but not this time. The style of the tag is one I’ve seen around East Nashville. “Editing” is always a possibility with outdoor art. The back fence of the yard of the house next door also has a colorful mural. (See the slideshow below.) It’s not signed and does not appear on Donahue’s website, so I’m not sure who made it. One notable detail on this second mural is the small “Hunter’s” sign. Hunter’s was an auto body shop that had extravagant signage a couple blocks from these houses, signage lost in the site’s recent renovation (though not completely – it does appear some of it is being saved).
Located in the alley behind at 1205 and 1203 Forrest Ave. Street parking is available. These are private homes, so be respectful.
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.
The scope of this blog includes not only murals and sculpture, but also “interesting signs.” And the sign for the old Key Motel definitely counts as interesting. There are at least a couple other of these old survivors on Dickerson, left over from the days before the interstates were built when Dickerson Pike, know also at US Highway 41, was the main route from the north into the city. Currently, the Key Motel is undergoing renovation, hence the fence. While it will reopen as a hotel, the developer is noncommittal as to whether he will keep the name, much less renovate the sign, so the future of this survivor is uncertain. Get your selfies while you still can. The southern side of the sign is actually in better condition, but it’s also partially obscured by vegetation. See below.
Located at 1414 Dickeson Pike. On the weekends you can park at the school next door. Otherwise, your best bet is the laundry a little farther north.
Above is a detail of the mural that is found on the east wall of Art and Invention Gallery. It is impossible to take a full picture of this mural, for parts of it are hidden behind BBMS and Riveter, two of the shops found at The Idea Hatchery. The Idea Hatchery is a small business incubator on Woodland, with eight small sheds that contain local start-up businesses. Riveter is a jewelry shop, while BBMS sells the clothing of fashion designer Maria “Poni” Silver. The sheds obscure the mural, but if you peer around the back of them, you can still see the whole mural. It was done by Phil Carrol and Todd Hatfield and is dated 2001, making it one of the older murals in Nashville. According to the owner of The Idea Hatchery, Carrol and Hatfield work in the film industry and did the mural once when they were briefly in Nashville. (There are IMDB pages for both those names for people who do art for movies, but I’m not completely confident they are the right people.) In the slideshow below, I show the various sections of the mural going left to right.
Located at 1106 Woodland Street. There is street parking and paid parking in the area. I recommend the 100 block of 12th Street North (just north of Woodland) as the closest place to easily find free parking. Fill up on goods from small local businesses and enjoy the art!
Last October, I wrote about a Thoughts Manifested mural on the north side of the Industrial Fire and Safety Inc. building on Ash and I mentioned that there was an unfinished mural on the west side. Well, the TM crew finally finished the east side recently. Visible from the Division Street Extension Bridge, this mural pays tribute to a number of important musicians with Nashville ties, including The Highwaymen (Waylon Jennings, Johhny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson), Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton and Leon Russell. Do I really need to provide links for these people? I think you know who they are! Sadly, since going up, the Dylan mural has deteriorated significantly. In the before and after below you can see quite clearly that paint is peeling off block by block. TM has repaired/replaced damaged murals before, so maybe they will fix this one.
Located at 608 Ash Street. The new Division Street extension complicates access somewhat. The mural above faces into a parking lot and alley on the north side of the building, on the opposite side from Ash. It’s easily accessed through the parking lot entrance on Ewing Ave between Middleton St and Fogg St, or down the alley that forks off of 6th Ave a little south of Lafayette Ave. Parking here is easy.
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.
Sadly, Carloyn’s Homestyle Kitchen has closed, at least as a restaurant. But as a cateringservice and a venue for art, it’s going strong. On the north side of the building, we see a scene from the inside (taken at a weird angle because of a fence), while on the back there are portraits, presumably of some of the staff at Carolyn’s. There is also on the south wall what appears to be a “lost” portrait, which I’ve included below. No apparent signatures, and the wear and tear suggests at least some of this has been here for a while. It does look similar to the art seen in Down at the corner and Northside Auto Clean Up, both of which are a few blocks away. The Buchanan Street area is undergoing rapid change, so the long-term fate of these paintings is unknown, but as part of neighborhood history, I hope they stick around.
Located at 1601 Ninth Avenue North, at the corner of Garfield Street. The main mural is on the north side of the building, visible from 9th, while the three ladies below are on the back, visible from Garfield. The lost portrait faces Garfield. Order up some good eats for your next party and enjoy the art!