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Third and Lindsley Part 1 – Find Your Look

Just a few days ago, I featured a mural at the independent music venue The East Room. Today, it’s the turn of the venerable Third and Lindsley, which has been in operation for almost 30 years. The anniversary comes up in February, but in announcing their reopening for October 1, the management speculated about not holding the anniversary party until September, because they’ve been closed for six months. Let’s hope the re-opening works out for them. Any music venue shutting down would be a loss, but it’s hard to imagine Nashville without Third and Lindsley.

As any Nashville icon should, Third and Lindsley has art. In total, there are three outdoor murals, two relatively new ones by the artist who goes by Blue Hayden Art, and an older sign painted on a retaining wall. I say relatively – the two Blue Hayden pieces went in about a year ago. Both are part of a trend I’ve noted before, murals very specifically designed for people to stand in front of and get their picture taken. I’ve taken the title for my post from an Instagram post from the artist that shows people doing just that (swipe to the second picture).

This one is related to those paintings of groups of people with cutouts that you can stand behind and stick your face in. Here you stand in front, under one of the hats, grabbing one of the instruments. It’s really designed for a group to participate in, which make sense if you know how things work at Third and Lindsley. Crowds waiting to get into the venue line up in front of this wall, so for a show night, at least before social distancing, groups were already standing in front of this spot anyway!

I’ll feature the other two mural over the next couple of weeks or so. I once said I’d never do series posts again (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, etc.) but some projects really require it.

Located at 818 3rd Avenue South, at the corner with, you guessed it, Lindsley Avenue. There is very limited street parking, and a pay lot. During the day on weekends it’s easy to park at neighboring businesses.

2nd Avenue AT&T Art Wall – Beth Inglish

Back in the summer of 2018, a group of women artists in Nashville created a series of abstract murals to spruce up the drab exterior of the AT&T building. No, not the Batman Building on Commerce Street, but the giant brick AT&T Central Office on 2nd Avenue. It contains offices as well as phone and cable service infrastructure, and is almost windowless. On an otherwise colorful and lively 2nd Avenue, it is something of massive, dull box. The colorful, playful murals provide a nice contrast to the the more severe building.

The murals are the product of a collaboration between AT&T, the Nashville Downtown Partnership, The DISTRICT, Nashville Metro Arts Commission, and The Studio 208. Specifically, AT&T participated through the Women of AT&T organization, reflecting perhaps that all of the artists for the project are women. Ashley Segroves of The Studio 208 curated the murals. The murals are all abstract, and are meant to display positivity, playfulness, and cheerfulness.

I’m going to post them in a series, running left to right (south to north). The first of these, featured above, is by Beth Inglish, a prolific local artist and founder of the Nashville Creative Group. Like all the murals, it was printed as a series of posters, and placed on what had been empty windows on the ground floor of the AT&T building. (Here’s a gif of it being installed.) It features the dynamic swirling lines and bold colors found in much of the rest of her work.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting the other murals in the series. There are eight in all. Below is a shot that gives you a better idea of the context of these murals. Though it looks like winter, I actually took the photo below in April, 2019. Some of the photos for this series were taken then, others in March, 2020.

Located at 185 2nd Avenue North. Inglish’s mural is at the south end of the building, near a parking garage. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

Spread Love

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a Music City Murals work found a little hidden away at the Capitol View project in a post I called Riding!. This is another of their works, just around the corner and much more visible. Unlike the “Riding!” mural, this one is signed, not just by Music City Murals, but also specifically by one of their artists, Anthony Billups. I had seen this mural on social media a few times in the last few months (it was put up back in January), but perhaps because Capitol View is not completely rented out and Google still hasn’t fully incorporated this massive project into its maps, folks were a little vague as to where to find it. If you think of the downtown Publix on Charlotte as the “front” of the building in question, this is on the “back,” on Nelson Merry Street, next to the entrance of the Residences at Capitol View.

The hands incorporate several Nashville icons, such as the State Capitol, the Batman Building, Nissan Stadium, and the Sheraton Hotel with its distinctive round top. The imagery certainly lends itself to the message of “Spread Love,” as the mural is titled. Billups himself used it in a heartfelt post about Nashville’s resiliency in the face of the March 3 tornadoes. When I went to photograph it, I had to wait for a couple who seemed to be clearly taking engagement photos in front of it (Mazel tov!). No doubt it will be the backdrop for many similar photos.

Spread Love Hands mural Nashville street art

Located at 1015 Nelson Merry Street. You can access free parking (meant for the businesses in the building) off the alley on the east side of the building, towards the State Capitol. Some street parking is available.

Flood

Somehow I’ve been writing about outdoor art in Nashville for four years and had managed to miss this rather large downtown mural. But it’s on Third Avenue South, which is not nearly as trafficked as 2nd and 4th, the main north-south arteries in this part of SoBro. It’s by two Tennessee artists, Erica Swenson and Stacy Ann Taylor. While it sits on the side of Diversified Equipment Company (which still has a prominent sign for the long-closed Shuler Business Sytems Inc.), it’s for and was sponsored by members of The Anchor Fellowship, which is on the other side of the parking lot (taking this picture, I had my back to the church). Swenson, who first came to Nashville as an intern for Michael Cooper at Murals and More, was a member of Anchor when work on the mural began in 2008, and members of the church raised money for the project. “Flood,” as she calls it, took time. A blog post from Taylor dated October 2011 indicates that she and Swenson were still working on it at that point, but it was probably finshed not long after that. Its age shows, and there has been some minor flaking.

On her website, Swenson describes the mural:

Mesmerizing waves riot into the parking lot, drawing the viewer out into the sublime sea. The arches provide a comforting shelter from the vastness on the horizon. Their ruined state invite the imagination to contemplate what was, what could have been, and what is. Trees on either side facilitate a transition between the ancient, man made structure and the reclaiming elements of nature. They merge with the purpose of the pillars, possessing the ambition to hold up the sky. Although the cathedral walls are no more,the grandness behind the arches now is so much greater than what could have been before.

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The figures in the columns are the Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus, St. Peter (identifiable by his keys), adult Jesus, and St. Francis of Assisi (identifiable by dress and the bird in his hand).

The same team also did a large Noah-themed mural at Inglewood Baptist Church, but I’ve been reluctant to put it on the blog, as you need to be deep on church property and on their playground to see it clearly.

This mural is located at 635 Third Avenue South. The mural faces north, towards downtown and towards the church. As long as the church parking lot is not taken up by parishoners, there is parking there. Otherwise, there is street parking on Third.

Riding!

Tucked away on the back side of Block E of the massive Capitol View project is this charming mural of a kid on a trike by Music City Murals. Though sort of hidden in an alleyway between the building and a raised railway track, the subject is appropriate, for there’s a short tunnel just across the alley that leads to Frankie Pierce Park, a green space that includes a children’s playground that was built as a public-private partnership between Capitol View and Metro ParksPierce was a civil rights activist who played an important part in the women’s suffrage movement in Nashville. The mural is one of three that Music City Murals has done for Capitol View, the other two in much more visible places. They’ll be on the blog soon. The hardest part of researching this (since I already knew who had done this unsigned mural) was working out exactly where it is on a map. Google Maps, as of this publication, has still not fully incorporated this relatively new development project. Google wants you to believe this patch of land is on the border between “North Gulch” (ugh) and Hope Gardens, but long-time locals know that it’s Hells Half-Acre.

Tricycle Kid mural Nashville street art

Located at 500 11th Avenue North. That’s the address of Block E of the Capitol View development, the building the mural is located on. The mural is found in an ally/driveway that separates Block E from the raised railroad that lies to the east, in the direction of the Capitol. The alley runs between Nelson Merry Street and LifeWay Plaza. The mural faces south, towards Nelson Merry, and is about in the middle of the block. There is plenty of parking available in the complex’s garages.

Colors of Creativity

Sanger Mural Nashville street art

A few weeks ago, I posted about a graffiti mural by Troy Duff, aka Duffomatic. Duff did that work as part of the 2018 “Hands on Creativity” festival sponsored by Plaza Art. You can see a small piece of it in the background of the picture above. This second mural was also part of that festival. Plaza Art ran a contest in which students from Watkins College of Art competed for the right to do this second mural, which was won by Maggie Sanger. She produced her mural at the same time Duff was making his (the last week of October, 2018) and had help from Dough Joe, aka Yusef Hubb. Of course, this is a moment to remember that in just a couple of months, Watkins will merge with Belmont University. Students and faculty were largely unhappy with this move, and tried to stop it, but to no avail. Watkins has been around for more than a century, and its loss is a sad one for Nashville. Its legacy is its students, like Sanger.

Located at 621 Middleton Street. Nearby parking is easy. The mural is on the west side of the building, facing Plaza Arts.

Little Jimmy Dickens

As he was a long-time stalwart of the Grand Ole Opry, it makes sense to find a life-size sculpture of Little Jimmy Dickens right in the center of the plaza in front of the entrance to the Ryman Auditorium, the Opry’s long-time former home. It’s actually fairly new. It and a statue of Bill Monroe nearby were unveiled on June 7, 2017. Both are by the Mississippi sculptor Ben Watts. (I’ll write about the Monroe statue in a later post.) Brad Paisley, who cites Dickens as an important influence, helped dedicate the statue, noting Dickens’s hard work and commitment to entertaining his audiences. Dickens, who died at 94 on January 2, 2015, had been on stage at the Opry just days before.

Besides his diminutive size and love of funny novelty songs, Dickens was also an early pioneer of the rhinestone style, which West has captured in bronze. Dickens was also a Shriner, and consistently wore a Shriner symbol on his cowboy hats, also seen in West’s work.

The Ryman has announced plans to work with Watts again to produce more statues of iconic country music figures, so expect to see even more bronzes at the Ryman in the coming years.

As you can see in the slideshow below, this is another in a series of works that has a helpful suggestion as to where the photographer should stand for your photo with Dickens. The empty plaza in my photos also tells you that I shot this during the pandemic shutdown. Even so, I did have to wait for a small group to finish their pictures first.

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Located at 116 5th Avenue North. That’s the official address of the Ryman, and long ago it was where you entered the building. However, the modern entrance faces the 100 block of 4th Avenue North, about a half-block north of Broadway. That is where you will find the statue. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

Williams Salvage Company

Williams Salvage Sign mural Nashville street art

If you stand at the bottom of the west (Downtown) side of the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge and turn towards Lower Broad, you should be able to see this faded sign off to your left. It’s at the back end of a gray-green brick building that lies at 127 Third Avenue South, across the street from the Nashville branch of Big Machine Vodka. As of this posting, the building is empty with a big “Available” sign. I’ve known of the faded sign above for some time, but it has frustrated me. The red lettering is so faded, I could only confidently read “Salvage” in the middle, maybe “Company” to the right. But what salvage company? There are of course old city directories at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, but by the time I thought to do that, COVID has closed everything.

But then I stumbled on this blog post from Brentwood Interiors, which used to be called “The Salvage Store” and was located not in Brentwood, but a couple doors down from the gray-green brick building with the mysterious sign. In it, they mention a collection of salvage and interior goods stores that used to line both sides of this stretch of Third Avenue, from the 1950s into the 1990s. One name they mentioned was “Williams Salvage Company.” Now, while it doesn’t look much like “Williams” would quite fit in front of “Salvage” on this sign (maybe it was abbreviated), it doesn’t take much internet sleuthing to find that yes, Williams Salvage Company was long at 127 Third Avenue South. In this picture, you can see it used to say “Williams Salvage Co.” in bold letters on the front of the building. That sign got painted over, but you can still barely make it out.

I’m not sure when Williams Salvage closed. I do know that when Hastings Architecture bought the building in 2002, it was referred to by the Nashville Business Journal as “the old Williams Salvage building.” (Hastings has long since moved on.) These old sings are disappearing. Relics of a different era, they remind of us of a Nashville long gone. I hope whoever moves in leaves the faded Williams Salvage Company sign in place.

Located at, you guessed it, 127 Third Avenue South. The sign is on the south side of the building, overlooking a parking lot. This is downtown, so lots of parking, almost none of it free. Hint: On the other side of the pedestrian bridge, there’s still some free parking for Cumberland Park.

The AT&T Sculpture

This work took a little bit of sleuthing because it is not labeled. It’s certainly not secret. It lies at 4th and Commerce, at the foot of the Batman Building (aka the AT&T Building), almost directly across the street from the Ryman Auditorium. Certainly, it’s well known to people who work downtown and has been seen by a lot of tourists, and in 2005 it was featured on the cover of the Nashville Business Directory. It turns out that it’s a creation of Lin Swensson, who happens to be the daughter of the architect who designed the AT&T Building, Earl Swensson of ESa. It’s thirty-five feet tall and was unveiled on October 12, 1994. As the Tennesse Department of Community and Economic Development was one of the building’s original tenants, the sculpture was meant to be an abstract representation of Tennessee’s economic growth. The best way to describe it is with the artist’s own words:

The design consists of a granite spire tapering at the top – around the spire is an image of the state of Tennessee.  Out of the state of Tennessee image is a stainless ribbon representing energy emerging, twirling up to meet three kinetic rings representing the world.

The installation was quite a process that involved closing streets and heavy machinery. Swensson herself is apparently still sculpting, but based on her website, it appears her main focus now is healthcare art consulting.

This slideshow takes you on a clockwise walk around the sculpture.

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Located at 333 Commerce Street. The sculpture is in a small well just off the corner of 4th and Commerece. There are benches where you can sit and observe the sculpture, or more likely, have lunch. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

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