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nashville public art

Nashville murals, street art, graffiti, signs, sculptures and more

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Downtown

Glen Campbell, Rhinestone Cowboy

Here is more art in a time of pandemic. It’s unusual for me to have back-to-back posts about works in the same neighborhood, but there is something compelling about Lower Broad right now. The epicenter of Nashville’s tourism industry, it’s normally packed with people and raucous with sound – music, laughter, and the shouts and whoops from bachelorettes on pedal taverns. These days, it’s a ghost town, with only cops and the homeless, and two or three determined tourists. The Glen Campbell Museum and Rhinestone Stage only opened last month. On their Instagram page, they excitedly announced their first customers on February 1. By March 23, like much of the district, they were forced to close their doors by the pandemic.

Along the way, they got a spiffy mural, courtesy of Anthony Billups and Dean Tomasek of Music City Murals. On the museum’s Instagram page, you can see an image of it as a work in progress. It depicts Campbell dressed in rhinestone finery in a desert scene, where the Nashville skyline rises on the horizon like a distant mesa. “Rhinestone Cowboy” was, of course, Campbell’s signature song. While it is tempting to think that the line “I know every crack in these dirty sidewalks of Broadway” is a reference to Lower Broad, that’s unlikely. The song was written and first recorded by Larry Weiss, a New York native who wrote it shortly after moving to Los Angeles, so it’s much more likely a reference to the one in New York.

Interestingly, the mural is not technically on the museum, which is on the second floor of the building that houses the Nashville branch of Rock Bottom Brewery, and it sits in Rock Bottom’s patio.

Campbell Mural Nashville street art

Located at 111 Broadway, at the corner with Second Avenue, across the street from Hard Rock Cafe. To get up close to it, you’ll need to enter Rock Bottom. The entrance to the museum is on Second Avenue. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

Loser’s Postcard

Losers Postcard mural Nashville street art

As I’ve noted before, there’s a growing trend of murals designed to entice people (tourists mainly) to stand in front of them and get their portrait made. Not just because the mural is pretty, but because it’s designed in a particular way that it’s only really complete if someone is standing in front of it. The peacock at Chauhan’s is a great example, and the wings in the Gulch are the best known. A recent entry is this one, by Manuel Fuentes, is one of two murals he’s done for Loser’s Bar and Grill (look for the other one on the blog soon), just off Lower Broad, on Fourth. If you stand right under the “Greetings From Nashville Tennesee” the mural is complete. And you’ll always have Loser’s address, just in case. Sadly, as I write this, the bars and honkytonks have been shut down as part of the fight against COVID-19. Times are rough for the entertainment industry that draws all those tourists to Nashville. I’d note that visitor stats for this blog have cratered. I know from Google Analytics that half of my readership is women aged 18-35, the prime bachelorette demographic, and they ain’t coming to Nashville anymore. At least this is a hobby, not my living.

Based on his Instagram page, Fuentes has other murals, mostly in White House, TN. Whenever I get around to expanding the reach of this blog to surrounding counties, I’ll definitely feature them. This article also indicates that he has others in the works or already up in Davidson County, and I’ll definitely go looking for them. Maybe by the time I get them on the blog, the tourists will be back. Stay safe everyone.

Located at 111 Fourth Avenue South. The mural is on the south side of the building, facing towards the Hilton Nashville Downtown. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

Memories of Lower Broad’s Past

It’s faded, and it’s flaked a bit. But the mural of a street more in keeping with New Orleans than Nashville is looking pretty good for its age. For this mural on the side of the building currently housing Nudie’s Honky Tonk has been greeting revelers on Lower Broad since 1993. Of course, in 1993, Lower Broad was a very different place than the tourist mecca it is today. The bars were a little seedier, and where Layla’s is now there was an Adult World. The 1993 date also means this mural ties with the mural at Chromatics as the second oldest mural in town. That I know of, only the renovated painter man at Hard Hock Cafe is older. In Printer’s Alley, on the side of Bourbon Sreet Blues, there’s a remnant of a mural that may be from the same artist and time period.

Nudie's Mural street Art Nashville

Who that artist is is unclear. The mural is signed, right by the lampost at the end with the horse and buggy. It reads, “B. Hedrick.” I have not been able to pin down who this is, but I’m going to continue to research it. That I was able to take these pictures at all is due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, as this lot is some of the only parking on Lower Broad, there are lots of cars here. But after videos of crowds partying in Nashville drew criticism from around the world, Nashville Mayor Jim Cooper called on the bars and restaurants in the district to close or restrict seating. Some refused to comply, but by Monday afternoon, the crowds on Lower Broad were notably smaller. It’s a tough situation, as a lot of employees are going without paychecks, but it’s also important to fight the spread of this disease.

Nudie's Mural street Art Nashville

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Located at 409 Broadway. The mural faces east, towards the river. Even if you are willing to pay, parking nearby is hard. Expect to walk a bit, or catch a ride. Once the crowds come back, your best bet to see it is early in the morning, particularly on weekends, when there will be fewer cars.

By the tracks

It’s been a few weeks since I post any “wild” graffiti to the blog, though for all I know this was done with full permission of the owners. Owners of what? Hard to say. This piece is found on a small concrete building that lies at the corner of 11th Avenue North and Harrison Street, just below the tracks. This is part of an industrial area squeezed between what developers like to call North Gulch to the south and Hope Gardens to the north. It’s an area that has resisted development, a pocket of warehouses and factories a few blocks from the State Capitol. Two long-standing industrial firms are found right across the street. On both sides of 11th Avenue going north and to the east along Harrison Street, is the “campus” of John Bouchard and Sons, a machine shop and iron casting factory that goes back to 1908.  A little farther down Harrison, on both sides of the road, is a branch of U.S. Smokeless Tobacco. While the company goes back to 1822, its Nashville factory on Harrison only goes back to 1996. But its presence suggests this small area will remain industrial. A large plot half a block north of the graffiti mural was recently leveled, tearing down what used to be a Goodwill warehouse that had been severely damaged by fire. The new owners of the site? U.S. Smokeless Tobacco. So, no condominiums, at least not yet.

The little concrete building itself is probably railroad property, though abandoned. For a long time, it was completely screened by trees and occupied by at least one homeless individual. Today, the trees are gone, and a security car is often parked next to it, no homeless to be seen. On the other side of the tracks lies Solis North Gulch Apartments, which start at a little over $1500/month and go up quickly, but the corner of Harrison and Eleventh is likely to stay out of the development craze for some time to come.

UH Graffiti Nashville mural street art

Located at the corner of 11th Avenue North and Harrison Street. Street parking is available, but be aware large trucks come through here frequently.

The Listening Room, Selfie Edition

Selfie-bait is a growing trend in Nashville murals and the giant colorful headphones at The Listening Room Cafe is a case in point. I think it all began with the wings mural in The Gulch by Kelsey Montague, who specializes in murals designed to entice people to use them as frames for portraits. Much of the mural movement in Nashville is propelled by business owners who want people to get their pictures taken in front of their mural and of course check in on social media. This mural goes the extra mile. For one, The Listening Room’s Instagram handle, @TheListeningRoomCafe, is on the mural. And, like the mural at Zeal Church, there are instructions as to where the photographer is supposed to stand. Note the cable coming out of the headphones. It’s an arrow, leading to the perfect spot.

The artist is Ty Christian, who has been on this blog for a very different mural. Harmony is more in keeping with his other work, seen on his website (above) and his Instagram page. His mural for The Listening Room is not the only mural on this wall. Earlier I featured a fantastic hand-painted sign by Michael Cooper of Murals and More. I’ve seen at least as many people getting their picture taken with the sign, but admittedly I don’t drive down 4th Avenue every day.

Listening Room murals street art Nashville

Located at 618 4th Avenue South. There is some limited parking at the Listening Room and some street parking on Elm Street. As the mural faces a parking lot, your best bet is to visit early in the day, well before showtime. Enjoy the music and enjoy the art!

Arcade Alley

Michael Cooper of Murals and More is probably the most long-standing muralist in town, making outdoor art long before it became trendy in Nashville. Which is why highlighting this particular mural in Arcade Alley isn’t exactly breaking news. The signature, way down on the wall behind the last car on the right, gives the date of “6.25.99.” As such it ties with the mural at La Hacienda by Mitchell Torok as the third oldest mural in Nashville that I know of, after the Chromatics mural and the Hard Rock Painter Man. It is in Cooper’s usual trompe-l’oeil style, and is filled with the visual jokes he often incorporates, like a cat leaping out a window unnoticed by its humans as they steal a kiss. The shadows you see are also trompe-l’oeil  – I try to avoid real shadows in my pictures.

Arcade Alley gets its name because it bisects The Arcade, Nashville’s oldest enclosed shopping area. What was once Overton Allery was given a glass roof and redesigned to look more like the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II in Milan, though it was never that fancy. Originally, when it opened in 1904, the bottom floor was shops and the upper level was used for offices. Today, the bottom floor is mainly restaurants serving lunch and breakfast to downtown office workers, while the top floor is primarily art galleries. A good time to visit the galleries is during the monthly Downtown First Saturday Art Crawl.

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Located at 417 Union Street, on the east wall of the restaurant of the same name. It faces a parking lot. This is downtown, so lots of parking, almost none of it free.

Come together, again

More than a year ago, I wrote about a then brand new mural by Brian Wooden on Gallatin, and mentioned that it had a twin that I wrote “will probably be on this blog someday.” Well, that someday is today. As with the “Come Together” mural on Gallatin, this one is part of a national campaign against gun violence called “End Gun Violence Together” sponsored by Blake Mycoskie and the company he founded, the shoe and apparel company TOMS. The Gallatin version is on a black wall, and it’s mostly white and grey and for contrast. Here Wooden has opted for a blue version, to make it pop out of the white wall better. There are many more murals based on this design around the country, and you can find many examples on the Instagram page of Tyler Ramsey, an artist who is helping TOMS promote the mural campaign. None of the sites associated with the campaign seem to have information about who created the original design.

Come Together Nashville Mural street art

Located at 123 12th Avenue North. The mural faces an alley at the back of the building,  coming off of Grundy Street. If you are at the entrance to Chauhan Ale and Masala House, walk towards the interstate. The large gravel parking lot nearby is usually reserved for valet parking. There’s street parking on 12th after 6 pm and under the bridge to the north all day. Street parking is also available on Grundy.

 

Chauhan Peacock

Chauhan Peacock mural street art Nashville

A few weeks ago, Chauhan Ale and Masala House celebrated its 5th anniversary. Chauhan Ale and Masala is the first restaurant of what has become a small restaurant empire in Nashville founded by Maneet Chauhan, a celebrity chef perhaps best known as a regular judge on Chopped. As part of the celebration, Anthony Billups and Dean Tomasek of Music City Murals produced this peacock, a peacock notably missing its head. But that’s no accident. The Chauhan peacock mural nicely exemplifies one of the key drivers of the mural art scene in Nashville. Business owners want you to stand in front of the murals on their stores, get your picture taken, and check in on social media. Here’s Chef Chauhan doing exactly that in front of this very mural, modeling the way it’s supposed to be done. For this mural isn’t missing its head, it’s just waiting for you to put your’s in the right place to finish the image. This isn’t the only mural in town designed so specifically with selfies and portraits in mind. The two Kelsey Montague murals, both the balloon and the wings (of the almost continuous line) come to mind, but they are hardly the only ones. Of course, not everyone remembers to check in, but if you look close, you’ll notice that’s taken care of here because the key tags are already in the mural. So here’s to the selfie, creating work for artists all over town!

Located at 123 12th Avenue North. The mural faces the 1200 block of Grundy Street, on the north side of the building. The large gravel parking lot nearby is usually reserved for valet parking. There’s street parking going north on 12th after 6 pm and under the bridge to the north all day.

The new art of Patagonia

A couple years ago, what had been the south wall of the Turner Supply Company sported a double mural collaboration between Nathan Brown and Chris Zidek, who signs his work Zidekahedron, which I featured in the post From me to you. But this is go-go Nashville, Turner Supply has moved on, and the new tenants wanted something else. Actually, two tenants wanted something else, the local branches of the chains Patagonia and Superica. The original mural had a Brown piece on the left (west) side of the wall, with Zidek’s piece on the right (east). Now there’s no Zidek piece, and a new Brown piece is on the right, on the side of Patagonia, while there’s a hand-painted sign on the left on the side of Superica, which I’ll feature whenever I figure out who the artist is (It would be nice if it were credited anywhere by Superica, but I haven’t found such credit yet). The new Brown piece, while very much reflecting his style, does seem to evoke mountains, bringing to mind the great outdoors Patagonia wants you to associate with their brand. It’s also another example of a national brand sporting a local mural, though this not such a stretch for the brand image of Patagonia. This wasn’t an easy photo to shoot, as there is a building right across the road which makes it very difficult to get a straight-on picture, which is necessary because of the wooden slats. I had to hold the camera to my side and take a bunch of pictures hoping I got the right shot. A lot got left on the cutting room floor! I also had to do two different shoots, because the first time, I didn’t realize anything was under the wood slats!

Patagonia Mural street art Nashville

Patagonia Mural street art Nashville

Located at 601 Overton Street. The mural actually faces Mansion Street, on the south side of Patagonia. You can put some coins in the meters along Overton, but many of the nearby paid lots have one-hour free parking to encourage shopping in the Gulch, so make it part of your Gulch crawl and enjoy the art!

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