Sometimes I find myself, a little sheepishly, finally putting a piece of art on the blog that everyone knows about, everyone has seen, thousands and thousands of people have photographed, and which went up years ago. Here’s a little secret – the original I Believe in Nashville mural, the one in 12 South, is not yet on the blog. Maybe I’ll rectify that for the blog’s 5th-year anniversary, which is coming up in June.
The Marathon mural has a small plaque next to it crediting the work to “Adrien Saporiti of DCXV Industries.” Saporiti stopped using the DCXV name some time ago (DCXV is “615” in Roman numerals, Nashville’s area code). He was for a time signing his murals with a hashtag that led to an Instagram page for “Juvenile Success,” but that has also gone by the wayside.
Located at 1402 Clinton Street. That’s the address of Marathon Music Works, whose employee entranceway, prominently labeled “1402,” is right next to the mural. There is plenty of parking all around Marathon Village.
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.
Perhaps the most famous mural in Nashville, the most famous piece of art, period, is not one but multiple. It’s three, or four or even more, depending on what you decide to count. There are two completely official “I Believe in Nashville” murals, one in 12 South and one in Marathon Village (neither of which is on this blog yet). I say “completely official,” because those are the ones you find on IBelieveInNasvhille.com, the I Believe in Nashville Facebook page, and on the I Believe in Nashville Instagram page. There is also one on Shelby Street done by a local homeowner and not the original artist, Adrien Saporiti of DCXV Industries. There are takeoffs like the I Believe in Petsville mural by Leah Boorse, and an I Believe in Smashville mural by Saporiti himself. This one, on the west wall of The Basement East, is not signed by Saporiti, nor does it appear on any of his websites or social media, but it does sport the IBelieveInNashville.com website and Instagram page addresses, so I’ll call it semi-official. I didn’t see it scrolling through several pages of the #ibelieveinNashville hashtag on Instagram, though interestingly, one that does is the wings mural by Kelsey Montague, featured in Sometimes you have to be obvious and easily the biggest rival for Internet fame to the I Believe in Nashville series. I think that’s odd because the Basement East version is the best one for taking an actual selfie because it’s up high, and thus you can angle your phone and get a decent shot. The wall it’s on features a rotating series of concert murals and one other “permanent” mural of a skeleton. This mural, by the way, will be the 500th pin on the blog’s map. It’s not the 500th blog post – that honor went to 500 Pink Elephants back in July. Early in the blog, I was in the habit of using only one pin where there were multiple works of art, thus the discrepancy, but now I don’t do that and pin every piece. Note that not all of the pins on that map are for art that still exists – check the relevant blog post before making a special trip – but it does give you a good idea of where to find outdoor art in Nashville.
UPDATE: While the mural was spared, at least temporarily, this building was severely damaged by the March 3, 2020 tornado. The fate of the mural is unclear. See What we lost in the storm.
Located at 917 Woodland Street. The mural is on the west wall, facing downtown towards the river. Parking is complicated in this area, given the many businesses and that Basement East is a concert venue. There is street parking on the nearby side streets, 9th Street and McFerrin Avenue.
This is a very new mural, finished just about a month ago. I see it on my way to work, but had not been able to photograph it until recently because of all the bright, sunny days we’ve been having – and all the shadows that go with them! This parade of pets on the side of City Pets Animal Care is the work of Leah Boorse. From the looks of her page, human portraiture is her main theme, but she also does a lot of pet portraits, which makes her a natural to bring art to a veterinary care center. Besides pets, there is a very obvious homage to the “I Believe in Nashville” murals by Adrien Saporiti of DCXV Industries in the center of the mural. (The only one of those murals on my blog so far is actually a copycat!) I photographed this mural at an angle because of a chain-link fence that interferes with a straight-on view (see below). And up above the mural, Boorse painted the City Pets logo on a second-floor window (see below).
Boorse has done some other murals, notably a quite different one from this in Deep Ellum. Deep Ellum is a neighborhood of bars and restaurants just east of downtown Dallas that can only be described as “mural intense.” Think 12 South on steroids. As for the City Pets mural, I scrolled through City Pets’ Instagram page to see if the models for these portraits could be found there and saw no obvious candidates, but plenty of cute pets. City Pets opened in this location about three years ago, when outdoor art in this area was a lot less common. Now it fits well with the expanding outdoor art scene along the Jefferson and Buchanan Street corridors, and come to think of Charlotte as well, a few blocks south. It’s also further evidence of just how common it is becoming for Nashville businesses, notably local Nashville businesses, to see art as a key component of what they do.
Located at 1016 Jefferson Street. It’s possible to park next door in the parking lot fo Ware’s Barbershop, but a fence prevents direct access to the mural. For that, go to Rev Dr Enoch Jones Boulevard one block north of Jefferson to access City Pets’ parking lot.
Which pretty much no one will keep. This is a fairly new mural, having gone up in late September. As it lies on the back side of The Basement East, the “no selfie” rule is going to get violated a lot (as long as there isn’t a car parked in front of it, which would be often). It is perhaps commentary on the relationship between selfies/portraits and murals. Businesses like it when people check in on social media at their place, and a mural makes that more likely. Murals and tourism go together, for better or for ill. The #JVNLSCCS tag leads to the Juvenile Success Instagram page, which is Adrien Saporiti’s page, the man behind DCXV and the I Believe in Nashville murals (one of which is on the west side of Basement East near the entrance). There is at least one more No Selfies mural – I’ll blog about it if I ever find it. Whether or not you decide on a No Selfies New Year’s resolution, I wish everyone a happy, safe, and bountiful 2019!
UPDATE: Sadly this has been defaced. I did find the other one though. It’s blue.
Located at 917 Woodland Street. The mural is on the northeast corner of the building, facing the alley that runs between McFerrin Avenue and Ninth Street South, parallel to Woodland Avenu and Main Street. There is parking in the area – good luck! And perhaps try early in the morning, as there is a parking space right in front of the mural, likely to have a car in it.
One of the most talked-about and photographed murals in town is the “I Believe in Nashville” mural in 12 South by Adrien Saporiti of DCXV Industries. When it was vandalized and then restored, local news covered it. It even has its own Facebook page, along with other versions of the mural found at Basement East and Marathon Village. The one in 12 South, on the north side of Archangel Esthetics, is the champ, with people standing in sometimes quite long lines to get their picture taken. Only the wings mural by Kelsey Montague featured in Sometimes you have to be obvious rivals it for Instagram portraits. The Marathon and Basement East ones generally don’t involve waiting, though they can. (The Basement East version is the best one for taking a selfie because it’s up high, and so you can angle your phone and get a decent shot.) But for the one above, I think I can guarantee you no waiting, ever. I’m not sure if this was actually done by Saporiti – it isn’t signed, and it doesn’t appear on the DCXV Instagram page or the “I Believe in Nashville” Facebook page. It’s on a retaining wall in front of a private home on Shelby, and may simply be a homage by the homeowners. Regardless, I’m listing it under Saproriti on the Artists page, as it is obviously his design. So come and get your unique, ivy-framed “I Believe in Nashville” portrait and be the envy of all your friends. And don’t stand in line.
UPDATE: Per the comment below, the mural was done by homeowner Jason T. Ryan.
Located at 906 Shelby Avenue. There is street parking on Shelby and Ninth. The mural is right off the sidewalk, facing north. This is a private home, so be respectful.