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A rainbow of pride

KindComments

In honor of LGBT Pride Month, Instagram decided to sponsor five rainbow colored selfie-worthy murals across the world, in London, Madrid, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Nashville. (The Madrid and London murals don’t appear to be up yet.) Nashville’s entry is signed @DCVXIndustries. That’s the business home of artist Adrien Saporiti, responsible for the very selfie-readyI Believe in Nashville” murals. The Instagram murals are meant to give greater visibility to LGBT Pride Month and are accompanied by a #KindComments campaign, encouraging people to make supportive comments on someone’s Instagram page. The Nashville mural was unveiled June 6, and so far the Los Angeles entry is far outpacing Nashville in Instagram hits. The Nashville Pride Festival will be taking place next weekend on June 24th and 25th on Public Square, just a couple blocks from this mural, so expect the Nashville mural to surge soon.

Located where Metro Alley intersects Third Avenue South, between 218 and 222 Third Avenue, right across from the parking lot where the mural featured in Guitars and automobiles is found. This is downtown, so plenty of parking, almost none of it free. There is a Premire Parking lot across the street. Grab a taxi or ride share to the Pride Festival, then stroll down and get you selfie game on!

Drink responsibly!

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“The Art of the Chalice” is a relatively recent Eastside Murals piece, sponsored by Stella Artois. Why did Stella Artois sponsor this mural? Well, the marketing decisions of major corporations can be obscure, but in fact, this mural is one of a number of art installations of the same name that Stella Artois has been doing all over the country. While this one is not specifically branded with Stella Artois, that particular style of glass features in their marketing and the bird chasing after the fish is carrying a horn seen on the Stella Artois label. Regardless, it’s a bright, cheery mural that brings some color to a drab downtown parking lot. You can watch the Eastside artists put the mural up in a nice time lapse video from their Instagram page. The bit of blue on the far edge is a separate mural advertising the bar next door. I’ll post it separately later.

Located at 173 Third Avenue North, on the north facing wall of Piranha’s Bar and Grill (bachelorette party headquarters!). Obviously, there’s parking right in front of the mural, but like most parking downtown, it ain’t free. Obviously, grab a ride share or taxi to Piranha’s, order a Stella, and enjoy the art!

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Boom Boom Pow

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Around the world, landmines and unexploded munitions from wars recent and long ago are a serious problem. Every day, people are killed or maimed by this deadly detritus of war. Here in the United States, we think of these things as the problems of other countries, but there have been major wars on our soil, and live ammunition from the Civil War is still out there. In 1999, when excavations for the foundation of the building now known as the Baker Donelson Center were underway, workers discovered a number of Civil War cannonballs, and not dead weight cannonballs, but the kind meant to explode. They were still live and ready to detonate. Fortunately, none of them went off. After munitions experts defused them, Nashville artist Joe Sorci incorporated them into this piece, “Timeless” (2002), which sits in front of the entrance to the Center. Go ahead, bang on the cannonballs. I’m sure nothing bad will happen.

Located at 211 Commerce Street, in Commerce Center Park. The sculpture is right next to the sidewalk. This is downtown Nashville, so lots of parking, almost none of it free. This is also just half a block from Lower Broad, so incorporate it into your next bachelorette party!

Survivor

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I remember the first time I visited Chromatics. I was with a friend of mine who is a photographer. This would have been in the mid/late 1990s. Digital photography was on the rise, but film was still common, particularly with professionals. She was picking up some prints they had developed for her. Chromatics was (and is) in SoBro, more precisely in Pie Town, but this wasn’t when SoBro was cool. Rather, it was cheap – a rundown warehouse district where a big building like this one was easier to acquire than today and must have been even more so in 1979 when Chromatics first opened. Chromatics survives, adapting and flourishing with the revolutions in photography, surviving when many in the business perished. And so too its mural. The panel down on the lower right says that it was “blasted out by TACKZ 7 miles ahead Ciudad de Lost Angeles 5.93.” TACKZ is the nom de plume of a Los Angeles-based graffiti artist associated with the Seventh Letter group (which is also responsible for the mural in Angels will rise), a group that goes back more than twenty years. I have seen older pictures of this mural where the colors are much richer (and where the building next door is industrial, not the hip Tennessee Brew Works), not faded like it is now, so I can easily believe it has been greeting the morning sun for twenty-four years, since May 1993. That would make it one of the oldest outdoor murals in Nashville. It survives, along with the store it advertises. And check out their website – another old school survivor!

Located at 625 Fogg Street. The mural actually faces Ewing Avenue, except for a little addendum on the Fogg side. Chromatics has parking, though don’t park long unless you are doing business there. Maybe park at Tenessee Brew and enjoy the art along with your beer?

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Black and white mystery

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Sometimes my investigative skills fail me. This arresting mural is found on a concrete wall that helps form a private yard behind the Sun Diner and the Patsy Cline Museum. The Johnny Cash Museum is next door, and the wall actually attaches to the back corner of Tequila Cowboy (based on that website, no one over twenty-eight ever goes inside Tequila Cowboy). When I first saw it, I figured my work was already done, that I would quickly figure out who Alton Ross is, and what he has to do with skulls. I found nothing. There are Alton Rosses out there, but none I could find a connection to here. No connection to any of the neighboring businesses turns up. A few folks have posted pictures of themselves standing in front of this mural. One guy used a lot of punk rock hashtags with his photo, but that led nowhere. So, if you know what this is about, let me know!

Located behind 105 Third Avenue South (Sun Diner), at the end of the alley/parking lot that heads south from Broadway between Broadway Brewhouse and Tequila Cowboy. If you are on the 100 block of Fourth Avenue South and look across the parking lot to the Patsy Cline Museum sign, the mural is below that sign.

Just a few feet away

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Thousands of people pass by this exuberant graffiti installation every day and never see it (or maybe get just a tiny glimpse). It lies underneath Spring Street, alongside the railroad tracks that wend their way through the spaghetti junction where Spring, Dickerson, Main and Ellington Parkway all come together, and with Jefferson and I-24 just a little way away. Make that tens of thousands, maybe more, come close every day but never see it. I first caught glimpse of these murals from quite a distance – you can just see them from where Foster Street crosses the railroad tracks, but it was a longer distance down the tracks than I cared to walk. After much map studying and driving around, I realized the best access was right off Ellington, where there is a pull off area right under the bridge. There is also a good sized homeless encampment just south of the bridge, also hidden from view of the many thousands of drivers who pass through here each day.

Located under Spring Street, as it passes over the railroad tracks that parallel Ellington Parkway. The easiest way to reach this site is to get on Ellington at or north of Cleveland Street, heading south. Just past the Spring Street/I-24/I-65 exit, there is an area where you can pull under the bridge. It may also be possible to reach it by foot from the west side of the bridge just west of 5th and Main. Google Earth shows a gravel “road” starting from First Street North at A-1 Fun Cycle that parallels the tracks up to the spot – maybe if you have a dirt bike? To be clear, I have no idea if any of this is legal, and there is a large homeless encampment less than 100 feet south from where the murals are.

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Guitars and automobiles

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Just because of how many artists are involved, this is a complicated mural to talk about. The “Gibson Tribute Wall” is a product of the Nashville Walls Project. The NWP is a collective of artists and local leaders, organized by Brian Greif, that seek to cover much of downtown and beyond with major art pieces, and are already responsible for a number of major projects. It’s sponsored in part by Gibson Custom Division, and FirstBank donated in particular for this piece. While the NWP seeks to bring in international artists for its projects, this mural was put together by Nashville artists. Starting at far left, the striped deer with butterflies is by Herb Williams, who is known for his multicolored animals, large and small, including a tiny butterfly that seems to have escaped the main mural (see below). Next is a work by Chris Zidek, who signs his work Zidekahedron and among other things did the octopus in Uncovered! Sam Dunson is responsible for the laughing hashtag man, while Emily Miller‘s work is recognizable to anyone who’s been in this town for very long (and keeps their eye open for guerrilla poster art). Finally, the young boys fishing on Leggo blocks are the work of Brian Donahue, who, like your intrepid blogger, is a professor at Tennessee State University.

Located at 213 Third Avenue North, between Chruch and Union, on the north wall of the building. The lot in front of the mural is a Premiere Parking lot, which Google Maps labels as Bank Alley. Bank Alley crosses Printer’s Alley just to the right of this mural. Obviously, there’s parking, but like just about everywhere downtown, it’s not free. The mural is well lit – grab a taxi or a ride share and make it part of your pub crawl on Printer’s Ally!

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