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2nd Avenue Art Wall – Tess Davies

Working left to right on the wall of window murals at the AT&T Central Office on 2nd Avenue (not to be confused with the more famous AT&T building in Nashville, the Batman Building on Commerce Street) the fifth work is by Tess Davies. (And congratulations to Davies, for she is recently married and appears earlier on this blog as Tess Erlenborn.)

It’s part of series of murals on the building sponsored by AT&T, the Nashville Downtown PartnershipThe DISTRICTNashville Metro Arts Commission, and The Studio 208. All are done by women, and the project was curated by Ashley Segroves of The Studio 208. They are all on vinyl, and went up in the summer of 2018.

Like the work to the left by by Emily Leonard, it has a floral theme. The abstract shapes, lines and dots are characteristic of Davies’s style that you can also see in her contribution to the Off the Wall project and her contribution to the Nations Wall project. It’s been up for a couple years and has become dirty, in particular the marks down the left side of the mural are dirt, and not part of the original work. Below you can see it in context with some of the other murals. There are eight in total.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

ATT Murals Nashville street art

Located at 185 2nd Avenue North. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

Happy Notes

One of the more significant works of outdoor art in Nashville doesn’t get much attention. It’s seen by thousands of people every day (even in the pandemic) and yet hardly anyone talks about it. In part, that’s because its not easy to photograph, and it’s impossible to see the whole thing at once. That said, not many artists featured on this blog have their own Wikipedia page.

Happy Notes Mural Nashville street art

Along the west side of the tunnel that runs under Music City Center is a 165-foot mural-mosaic by Canadian artist Bob Zoell (who resides in Los Angeles). It was installed in 2013 and is called “Happy Notes,” and features many birds and musical notes.

“Besides flight, little birds are synonymous with songs and singing. How delightful it is that our everyday life is filled with the music and songs of these little creatures that project joy in their songs. For this reason I have chosen a theme of singing birds for the Music Center landscape mural. Little birds with their simple songs express the freedom in music that is so symbolic to Nashville history.” – Bob Zoell

Nashville Arts Magazine

The late-lamented Nashville Arts Magazine wrote about this mural in 2012, after Zoell got the commission. In their article, you can see Zoell holding up a version of the mural-mosaic, which gives you an idea what it might look like unobscured by the columns. The mosaic is a surreal journey between night, day and the passing of the seasons. Music City Center has a photo album of it being installed on their Facebook page.

I think it’s a bit of a shame that it’s not more prominently displayed, somewhere where people aren’t laser focused on getting from point A to point B. But it’s a lovely piece of whimsey, by a major artist, and it’s a delightful secret hidden in plain sight.

  • Happy Notes Mosaic Nashville street art
  • Happy Notes Mosaic Nashville street art
  • Happy Notes Mosaic Nashville street art
  • Happy Notes Mosaic Nashville street art
  • Happy Notes Mosaic Nashville street art
  • Happy Notes Mosaic Nashville street art

Located at 201 5th Avenue South. That’s the official address of Music City Center. The mural-mosaic is found on the 200 block of 6th Avenue South, which runs under MCC. Google Maps does not indicate this block of 6th Avenue exists, but it does! (It is visible on Street View in some very bad photos, but not on the regular map.) This is downtown, so lots of parking, almost none of it free. The tunnel is well lit, and there are crosswalks near each end.

16 Bit Bar+Arcade

Not all bars in Nashville are honky-tonks. At least one is an arcade. It’s natural that in a tourist town like Nashville, with so many bars, business owners will try all kinds of things to grab our entertainment dollars. 16 Bit Bar+Arcade in Nashville is actually part of a small chain. It draws in customers with its collection of 80s and 90s arcade video games and pinball machines.

It’s appropriate then that it be decorated with a mural based on one of the great classics of the genre, Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong and Princess Pauline are seen at the top, but there’s no sign of Mario. He was probably crushed by one of the barrels of beer and whiskey Kong has. Pauline yells “Get over here,” 16 Bit’s catch phrase, not the “Help” she does in the game. The steel piers Mario had to climb now spell out “NASH TENN.” As the mural is unsigned, it took a little research to find the creators, but it turns out to be a production of Eastside Murals, one of the most prolific mural teams in Nashville.

As of this writing, there’s a Netflix documentary series available, High Score, which includes a long discussion of Donkey Kong’s history. I enjoyed it, though one reviewer found it heavy on nostalgia, weak on real reporting.

Located at 1102 Grundy Street, just as it says on the mural, at the corner of 11th Avenue North. The mural faces Comers Alley, on the west side of the building, away from downtown. This is the Gulch, so not a lot of free parking, but there is some free street parking west of 11th. Paid parking is also available.

Damaged Stripes

This is a tale of a pristine, precise mural and architecture gone awry. Nathan Brown has produced a number of works in Nashville and elsewhere. Many of his works use what I have sometimes called his “colorful geometry problems” style, though the geometry for this piece at the Stay Alfred Sobro is fairly simple. (I used the Yelp link for that hotel because their own website is quite useless.) There was of course the complication of getting the stripes on the two layered walls to line up, which is a testament to Brown’s skill.

The picture above captures almost all of the mural. As you can see from some of the pictures of it on his website, to really capture all of it you need to be up a few floors in the building across the street, which I didn’t have access to. The other thing that is clear in those pictures – the lower wall is undamaged. Sometime since this mural went up in June, 2016, water leaks severally damaged the wall and the mural. If you look close, you’ll see a series of holes along the wall which are presumably for water draining. Nashville sits on a bed of ancient limestone that is often very close to the surface, and water can move around in strange ways. Obviously, the engineers didn’t get it right here.

The crack creates an illusion. It really looks like the damaged area is a deeper layer, like a few layers of plaster have been peeled off the wall, but that’s not the case. The damage, dirt, repair, and weathering create a trick of the eye. It’s a shame the mural is damaged, but a lot of the great masterworks are damaged, and people still trek to museums and archaeological sites to see them.

On Brown’s Instagram page, you can see a short video of him working on this mural. Blue painter’s tape is absolutely involved.

Located at 310 Peabody Street. That’s the address of the hotel. The mural faces the 400 block of Fourth Avenue South, right at the corner with Peabody. This is downtown. Lots of parking, almost none of it free.

Smashville (SoBro)

Monday night is a posting night, but this Monday is also the night before the 2020 election, so I’m going with a low-research post. The Preadators commissioned Audie Adams, who also goes by Audroc, to do a series of Smashville murals around the downtown area, and this one is found on a small building in the SoBro neighborhood. That’s “South of Broadway” for you out-of-town folks. I think you can guess where the neighborhood is. Adams has other murals around town, in particular as part of the Thoughts Manifested collective.

The Predators had a decent season this year, but unlike previous almost-a-champion seasons, they lost to the Arizona Coyotes in the first round of the playoffs. So why “Predators”? When what is now the UBS Tower was being built in 1970, workers found the partial remains of a sabre-tooth cat, including some impressive fangs. Those bones are now found at the Bridgestone Arena, home of the Predators. If you look on the south side of the arena, you’ll find another of these murals. I’ve also written about the one at the downtown Jackalope Brewing Company.

Located at 526 5th Avenue South. That’s the address of the building. The mural faces the 400 block of Lea Avenue, near the alleyway that runs halfway between 4th and 5th Ave. There is a set of murals on the other side of the building. There is some free street parking in the area, but not much. The building itself is surrounded by a pay lot, where you can easily park free for a limited time on the weekends. Unless there’s a Preds game.

2nd Avenue AT&T Art Wall – Emily Leonard

Working left to right on the wall of window murals at the AT&T Central Office on 2nd Avenue (not to be confused with the more famous AT&T building in Nashville, the Batman Building on Commerce Street) the fourth work is by Emily Leonard.

It’s part of series of murals on the building sponsored by AT&T, the Nashville Downtown PartnershipThe DISTRICTNashville Metro Arts Commission, and The Studio 208. All are done by women, and the project was curated by Ashley Segroves of The Studio 208. They are all on vinyl, and went up in the summer of 2018.

This mural is based on a work Leonard calls simply “Peonies,” because that’s what it is, a somewhat abstract image of peonies. At one point, prints of this this image were available, but I checked her shop and they are sold out. It’s part of a series of floral works she has done. While an abstraction of peonies, it’s also the “realistic” of the murals in this series.

You can see the other murals in this series (once I’ve posted them all, there are eight in all) using the links below. There’s a bit more information about the project in Part 1.

Below you can see it context, along with murals by Tess Davies and Jade Carter.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 5

ATT Murals Nashville street art

Located at 185 2nd Avenue North. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

Third and Lindsley Part 2 – Music Starts Here

There are three murals at Third and Lindsley, and all of them are by the artist who signs her work Blue Hayden Art. While one of them is a sign on a retaining wall, two of them are of what has become a common genre in Nashville, the mural explicitly designed to be the frame for a portrait, a mural that is only truly complete when someone stands in front of it to get their picture taken. I’ve taken the title of the post from a slogan written on the mural. While the one I previously wrote about is meant for multiple people, this one is more open to solo shots (though it can certainly accommodate more than one).

One notable distinction to this mural is that is not just a mural, it also sculptural elements. Right out in front of the outline that suggests either an upright bass or a really huge head of hair is a microphone implanted in the concrete. It’s pretty obvious what it’s for!

Music Microphone mural Nashville street art

Third and Lindsley re-opened on October 1, and are doing in-person shows. They even used this mural to help announce their re-opening on Twitter. Let’s hope it goes well for them. It’s hard to imagine Nashville without Third and Lindsley.

Part 1

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

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