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The Gulch Dog Park, Part 4

This is the fourth in the series I’m doing covering the murals in the dog park in The Gulch. In the summer of 2019, MarketStreet Enterprises, the city-appointed master developer of The Gulch, opened a contest for new murals for a dog park that was then still under development. The new dog park lies at the top of a hill on the west side of The Gulch, overlooking I-40, just uphill from the Turnip Truck. The artists who won the contest are largely new names in the Nashville mural world, expanding the roster of our local muralists.

Sometimes murals are unfortunately placed, and there is not much the artist can do about it. In this case, the artist, Joe Geis, has a post on his Instagram page where you can see the mural from multiple angles. I should have done the same, but of course, the best way to take in the mural and fully understand it is to go visit it. Geis’s mural is the fourth from the right in this series (that is, the fourth going from north to south). As you can see, it lies behind that gate that leads into the part of the park set aside for small dogs (which is the north part).

The mural is in keeping with the main themes of a great deal of Geis’s work, which features a lot of colorful abstract shapes, though he also works in black and white. Geis is based here in Nashville and in Brooklyn. While he doesn’t have much in the way of outdoor public art in Nashville, he is no stranger to murals, having done indoor and private outdoor murals here, and murals indoor and out as far away as Mumbai, India. Not many Nashville muralists can say they have installations in India!

Located at 1216 Pine Street, at the top of the hill. That’s the address of the dog park. This mural is actually almost directly in line with the alley that lies between Pine and Laurel Street. It is of course at the entrance to the part of the park for small dogs, very near the middle of the whole dog park. It faces east towards 12th Avenue South and the Turnip Truck. This is The Gulch, so plenty of parking, none of it free. Well, only if you stay too long. Most Gulch parking is free for the first hour or even longer. Check the signage at each lot and garage.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Diana Ross, Arcade Alley

Almost every new business in Nashville needs a mural it seems, particularly if they cater to tourists. That’s double so if you’re hidden in an alley and need to grab people’s attention any way you can. Sometimes the mural appears well before the business even opens. As far as I know, The WayBack PartyBar isn’t even open as of this writing, and it certainly wasn’t open in late March when the new mural was put in by Stephen Sloan, a Nashville artist who signs his work Never Xtinct

Diana Ross mural Nashville street art

It is of course a glorious image of Diana Ross. The mural is based on an iconic photograph of Ross that was shot as part of a portrait session in 1975 by Harry Langdon Jr. (And yes, for those of you with long memories, he is the son of comedian and early Hollywood star Harry Langdon Sr.) The original photo was shot in black and white, so the limited palette of Sloan’s portrait is true to the photograph it’s based on. The angular ribbon of differing shades of orange could be right out of a 1975 stylebook, the sort of graphic that might be part of the opening montage of a ’70s cop show. There’s a brief video of Sloan working on the mural on WayBack’s Instagram page.

Ross Portrait mural Nashville street art

Sloan has done other work around Nashville, including a mural in 12 South promoting the Nashville Zoo. He also recently contributed to a mural honoring Loretta Lynn at the Loretta Lynn Ranch in Humphries County. This is by the way not the only Diana Ross mural in town. There’s another by JamersonSGC (aka Charles Key) on Jefferson Street.

Ross Mural Nashville street art

Located at 217 Arcade Alley, about halfway between Church Street and The Arcade. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

Pride and Glory

The Christmas bombing in Nashville left many scars. People lost their homes and their businesses. Some of Nashville’s most important historic buildings were damaged beyond repair. 2nd Avenue was an important part of the Nashville tourist scene, and many of the businesses that were housed in those historic buildings were what you would expect to find in a tourist zone – bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, honky-tonks and tattoo parlors. To be precise, the Pride and Glory Tattoo Parlor lost what was once its home at 172 2nd Avenue North.

But it wasn’t long before they found a new place to open shop on Rep. John Lewis Way (5th Avenue), and with the new place came a big bold mural to announce their presence. Often, the artwork on tattoo parlors is done by the tattoo artists themselves, but in this case, prolific local muralist Mobe Oner (aka Eric Bass) provided the artwork.

Pride & Glory sign Nashville street art

The images Mobe Oner has chosen are common tattoo images – the climbing black jaguar, the guitar wrapped in a ribbon, and the hand holding flowers are all familiar tattoo images. Eagles in every imaginable pose are also the frequent subject of a tattoo.

Pride & Glory mural Nashville Street art

The jaguar reminds me a lot of the one found one the Drum Supply/Relik Vintage mural done by  Folek Kelof and Christian Branger. Coincidentally, Relik Vintage was forced to move to new quarters after a disaster, in their case as a result of the March 3, 2020 tornado.

Pride & Glory mural Nashville street art

The return of Pride and Glory is important. In the face of the tornado, the bombing, and the pandemic, we like to talk about resilience and “Nashville Strong.” But it’s good to actually see Nashville’s strength and resilience in action, with a literally bombed-out business up and running in a matter of months – and with new art, to boot!

Located at 510 Rep. John Lewis Way South (5th Avenue South). The mural faces the street and takes up the whole front façade of the business, so its hard to miss. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free (though some free parking is found a few blocks south of Pride and Glory).

The Gulch Dog Park, Part 2 – Jason Skinner

This is the second in the series I’m doing covering the murals in the dog park in The Gulch. In the summer of 2019, MarketStreet Enterprises, the city-appointed master developer of The Gulch, opened a contest for new murals for a dog park that was then still under development. The new dog park lies at the top of a hill on the west side of the The Gulch, overlooking I-40, just uphill from the Turnip Truck. The artists who won the contest are largely new names in the mural world of Nashville, expanding the roster of our local muralists.

Skinner Mural Nashville street art

This one is the second from the right (that is, the second going from north to south), inside the part of the park set aside for small dogs. It is by Jason Skinner, with an assist from the “For Becks” artist. At first I didn’t think this mural was signed, but it does say “bougettes and arrows” in several places, which is Skinner’s Instagram handle (“bougette” is an old French word for a pouch or bag.) Both artists work primarily in stencil, and there are various stencil designs on this mural. Arrows feature strongly, as does what appears to be a set of buildings. There are also some parachutists, a few Conway Twitty Twitty Birds, and a security camera. The heart-shaped balloon is by the For Becks artist.

There are also a couple of sayings on the mural. “The grass is always greener” is probably an allusion to the fact that this mural is on a fence. It is fact greener on the other side, where there are large bushes. We are also told that, “Change makes you interesting, being interesting makes you change.” There are some spots labeled “AD SPACE,” but there are no ads. Two large rocks sit in front of the mural, which is why I’ve added the angled photographs. You can also see from them that the mural wraps around the sides.

In this closeup of the heart-shaped “For Becks” balloon, you can also see what appears to be the face of an alien. Keep an eye out for stenciled balloons, Leggo men, and ice-cream sticks around town signed “For Becks.” They show up in a number of places.

For Becks Balloon Nashville Street art

Located at 1216 Pine Street, at the top of the hill. That’s the address of the dog park. This mural is actually closer to an alley that lies between Pine and Laurel Street, at the north end of the dog park. It faces east towards 12th Avenue South. This is The Gulch, so plenty of parking, none of it free. Well, not if you stay too long. Most Gulch parking is free for the first hour or even longer. Check the signage at each lot and garage.

Part 1 Part 3 Part 4

The Gulch Dog Park, Part 1 – Cassidy Bidwell

Having just ended one series, I start a new one. But this one will be shorter than the “Fences of Fame” series, as The Gulch Dog Park only has six murals and a couple of interesting signs. In the summer of 2019, MarketStreet Enterprises, the city-appointed master developer of The Gulch, opened a contest for new murals for a dog park that was then still under development. The new dog park lies at the top of a hill on the west side of the The Gulch, overlooking I-40, just uphill from the Turnip Truck. The artists who won the contest are largely new names in the mural world of Nashville, expanding the roster of our local muralists.

Working from the north to south (north is towards Broadway, south is away from Broadway), the first mural we come to is by Cassidy Bidwell. Bidwell is a local graphic artist and illustrator. Her illustration work, like that seen in this mural, tends to be brightly colored and has a strong pop-art vibe. Though I don’t know when she first created it, the central design of this mural, the record on a record player with the slogan “Lookin Pretty Music City,” first appeared on her Instagram account last May. In that post she lamented how quiet Nashville had become in the early days of the lockdown, and looked forward to it becoming normal. While it certainly hasn’t gotten back to normal, Nashville is definitely nosier right now.

Based on pictures from the announcement of the contest, I think the rock was already in place before the mural went in. This is a smaller part of the park, which is divided into two sections, one for small dogs (where Boswell’s mural is), and one for larger dogs at the south end of the park.

Located at 1216 Pine Street, at the top of the hill. That’s the address of the dog park. This mural is actually close to an alley that lies between Pine and Laurel Street, at the north end of the dog park. It faces east towards 12th Avenue South. This is The Gulch, so plenty of parking, none of it free. However, most Gulch parking is free for the first hour or even longer. Check the signage at each lot and garage.

Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Smashville (The Stage on Broadway)

Sometimes it’s good to walk down an alley – you might find art! This particular alley is not super-secret. It lies between Ryman Auditorium on one side and a bunch of Broadway honkytonks on the other. And it contains one of the Smashville murals that the Predators commissioned Audie Adams to do around the downtown area. (Adams also goes by Audroc.)

This particular mural is on the back side of The Stage on Broadway, hence the logo next to snarling saber-toothed Predator. While usually I would crop a mural shaped like this vertically, I think the placement of this example, framed by the gutters and the gas meter, calls for a wider shot to give the full context.

The Predators have had a mixed season this year (2021), but as of this posting are still in contention. So why are they the Predators? What does that have to do with Nashville? 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 Bridgestone Arena, home of the Predators. Hey, the Nashville soccer team chose a coyote as its mascot, after the coyote that managed to get in to a bathroom at the Music City Center. (His name is Tempo.)

This is part of a series of similar murals. I know of at least three others: one in SoBro, one at the downtown Jackalope, and another on the south side of Bridgestone Arena, which I haven’t written about yet. Given its proximity to the Ryman and Lower Broad, this one may be the most accessible to tourists, at least the kind of tourists who are here for the Ryman and Lower Broad.

Located at 412 Broadway. That’s the address of The Stage on Broadway. The alley lies between and runs parallel to Broadway and Commerce Street. It’s closer to Broadway than Commerce, and it runs along the south side of the Ryman. If you can find the alley, just look for The Stage’s neon sign sticking out into the alley. The mural is right next to it. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

Tennessee Tough

This mural is hard to miss, given its enormous size (135 feet long, 26 feet high) and its prominent location right across Korean Veterans Boulevard from the Nashville Music City Center. Being that it faces a parking lot, it’s a little difficult to get a “clean” photo, but I finally caught it without cars. It was, not surprisingly, sponsored by the Tennessee Titans, and went up back in September as part of Titans Kickoff Week for the 2020 season. It’s the work of Mobe Oner (Eric Bass), one of Nashville’s most versatile muralists.

Titans Mural Nashville street art

The mural was inspired by Nashville’s response to the March 3 tornado and the pandemic. According to Titans Creative Director Surf Melendez:

“Tennessee Tough really just explains the resiliency of the people of Tennessee. Tennessee Tough are people who get their hands dirty for a living and do what they have to do, like our first responders, essential workers and teachers. Tennessee Tough is our football team.”

Titans Mural Nashville street art

The mural shows an unnamed Titans player with the number “615” (the Nashville area code) on his jersey. Below his arms are the names of all of the counties of Tennessee. Above his arms are a series of quotes from various Tennesseans (or in the case of John Lewis, people associated with Tennessee.) From left to right:

  • “Teamwork is what makes common people capable of uncommon results.” Pat Summit, from “Reach for the Summit”
  • “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Tennessee Williams, from “A Streetcar Named Desire”
  • “The triumph cannot be had without the struggle.” Wilma Rudolph, from a Chicago Tribune interview
  • “We’re ready to go to work for you because you’re our family.” Jon Robinson, from the press conference presenting him as the new Titans General Manager
  • “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” John Lewis (a frequent quote of his)

The mural includes an augmented reality experience, created by MVP Interactive. If you go to the Titan’s page for the mural, you can get a QR code which will start the process (click on “Launch Augmented Reality”). It works on pictures, so try it on the image at the top of the screen (if you are on a computer). The quotes pop out of the mural, and the football player becomes 3-D and spikes the football.

Titans Mural Nashville street art

This press release from the Titans includes a video of Bass working on the mural as well as discussing the process of creating it. He apparently had a lot of freedom in creating the image. You’ll also find an extensive photo essay of the mural’s creation there. The long-term future of this mural is perhaps questionable. The building it sits on, an office and industrial building, is a rare survivor from the industrial past of this neighborhood, and the land it sits on is undoubtedly worth millions – many millions.

Located at 424 6th Avenue South. That’s the address of the parking lot. It lies between 6th Avenue S and Rep. John Lewis Way South (aka 5th Avenue S), just south of Korean Veterans Blvd, and faces to the north. This is downtown, so lots of parking, not much of it free. If you are willing to walk a few blocks, there is some free street parking to the south.

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