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Eastside Murals

What we lost in the storm

 

In Nashville, and communities to the east, homes and businesses have been shattered and destroyed, lives lost. Much of what has been broken will take months to rebuild, if ever. Families without homes, employees without paychecks. In the face of that, what’s a little art?

In the last few years, there has been a mural renaissance in Nashville, and it’s been my honor to chronicle it. Arguably, it really started in East Nashville over four years ago, with Chamber East doing much to cajole eastside businesses to take a chance on art. And many ultimately did, so many that the east side, from Fifth and Main to well up Gallatin Road, became the most art dense neighborhood in Nashville. Art is part of this neighborhood’s identity. So when a tornado plowed down Main and through Five Points and beyond very early Tuesday morning, it inevitably took a lot of art with it.

One image more than any other has been the symbol of the tornado damage, Basement’s East’s fallen wall of concert murals with its still intact version of the I Believe in Nashville mural (based on a design by Adrien Saporiti of DCXV Industries). A simple image that speaks to the neighborhood’s musical heritage and its enduring strength.

Basement East mural street art Nashville tornado

Other losses attracted fewer news cameras, but were still quite devastating. This pile of painted concrete blocks is all that’s left of the murals that once wrapped around Hunt Supply Co., a skateboard gear supplier whose building completely collapsed.

Hunt Supply mural rubble

Before the storm, it looked like this:

Hunt Supply Mural street art Nashville

Hunt Supply and Gold Electric Tattoo across the alley are something of neighborhood secrets. You need to know to walk up the alley behind Beyond the Edge to find them, or what’s left of them now. The front side of Gold Electric once had a really fun mural, now shattered in the wake of the storm.

I never blogged about it, nor learned the artist, because I was waiting to get a “clean” picture of the other Gold Electric mural, a memorial to founder Mike Fite. Employee cars were always parked in front of it. Sadly, on the night of the tornado, one was still there and was seriously damaged.

Fite memorial mural street art Nashville tornado

Not so secret was the “Do the Dew” mural by Eastside Murals on the old Family Dollar, just steps away from Gold Electric Tattoo. The building was probably slated for demolition and “mixed-use” development, but it was still a shock to see such a bright and colorful wall collapse, along with the rest of the building. Look close at the rubble and you can see a section of the mural. 

Eastside Murals also created the largest mural that was lost to the tornado. Molly Green at McFerrin was a total loss, the building left in ruins, the ice-cream-colored walls painted by Eastside reduced to rubble.

The alley between Main and Woodland has also been for some time a place filled with art. Almost all of it is by the UH graffiti crew. It included well-made graffiti tags, trippy caricatures, and even a surreal sky. The surreal sky, which I dubbed “Panda Sky,” had already been damaged by construction, but now just a slip of it is left. The hypnotic “Under Hypnosis,” of which the word “under” has collapsed, is by the artist Sterbo.

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One of the most devastating losses is a work that first appeared on this blog in a piece called “A True Survivor.” No, it’s not a mural, but it’s still a work of art that has been part of the eastside’s image for decades. The Weiss Liquor sign crumbled in the storm and with it a lot of history.

Right behind this building is another piece I never got around to blogging about, in part because it had been partially painted over by another piece I’ve only tangentially blogged about, the giant concert mural by Jason Galaz on the back of Crying Wolf. A fence painted by someone who’s signature I never figured out was partially painted over with a list of concert performers by Galaz. Regardless, the fence collapsed.

A more total loss was a large piece of art about art. The facade of Jerry’s Aratama had been covered in art by Hannah Holgate and Marshall Hall, right down to the parking lot itself. The parking lot art is fine, including the signs, but the facade of the building collapsed, largely destroying the mural.

Two more total losses are found in the alley behind Smith and Lentz Brewing. There was a lovely, bizarre fence by Andee Rudloff and Max Grimm that belonged to the house behind Smith and Lentz. Only a single post remained when I checked on it Wednesday. And on the backside of Smith and Lentz was another Eastside Murals piece I never blogged about, I think because it didn’t seem too public behind the bar’s fence, now ripped down by the storm. You can see what it looked like intact on Eastside’s Instagram page.

The featured mural of the eagle at the start of this post is by  Kim Radford and lies on the east wall of Elite Bonding. I never got around to writing about it because I was saving it for a patriotic holiday. (While it’s relatively intact, the work Radford did on the other side of the building is largely gone, the wall having collapsed. Here’s what the eagle looked like undamaged.) I suppose there’s a lesson to be learned about impermanence and not assuming everything will always be what you expect. Another example of this is the East Nashville “EN” murals, which are sponsored by Chamber East. I’ve never put one on the blog for some reason. The one by Troy Duff at Burger Up is intact, but given the state of the building, it’s hard to say if it will last.

East Nashville Burger Up

Tuesday, after the storm, I had more visitors to this site than I’m used to. People wanted to know what it all used to look like, to see what had been lost, to remember what things that had been broken looked like when they were intact. If you want to help artists who have been hurt by the storm, start here. Here is a page with more general information about volunteering and donating for tornado relief.

East Nashville will rebuild, it will prosper, thought scars will remain. And I predict that Nashville’s artists will be in the thick of it.

Hyatt House and the Melting LP

Nestled in the alcove that forms the entrance to the Hyatt House Nashville at Vanderbilt (actually a couple blocks north of Vandy) is this large image (it’s around ten feet high). It looks for all the world like a viny LP record that is melting, dripping in thin streams of color down the panel. If you’re just walking down the street, it jumps out in stark contrast from the white wall behind it, as you can gather from the context shots below. A deconstructed vinyl record in rapidly developing Midtown seems appropriate, particularly since it is just a few steps away from the Rock Block, itself threatened by growth. It’s by Eastside Murals, with a discreet signature on the side. Instead of their more common way of working by painting directly on walls, this work is on a large wooden panel. The wall it sits on is alternately smooth and rough, and you can see from the picture of the signature below, the artists shaped the wood accordingly. Is it coincidence that the void in the middle is the perfect place to stand to get your picture taken?

Dripping vinyl mural street art Nashville

Hotels frequently use art, sometimes on a grand scale, but I think a giant wooden panel painted by local artists on the outside of a hotel is a little unusual. It certainly fits with the theme that Nashville business, even corporate chains, see outdoor art as a necessary part of their business plan.

Located at 2100 Hayes Street. The mural is on the south side of the building facing Hayes, near the corner with 21st Avenue North. There is street parking on Hayes.

Music in black and white

Altru Creative mural street art Nashville

Usually, if I’m having trouble researching an artwork, it’s because I don’t know who the artist is. But the signature for Eastside Murals is very clear here. No, what took some digging was figuring out what Eastside’s client, Altru Creative, actually does. Check out that website. Music business, check! But what they do in the business isn’t all that clear, even if you read all their blog posts. However, their Facebook page is more helpful, as they’ve checked the categories Advertising Agency, Media Agency, and Music Production Studio on the “About” section. Those categories would seem to include promoting music shows and festivals while working primarily in the worlds of house, electronica, dance, hip-hop, and R&B. That triangle in the middle is their logo, and their name is tattoed on the DJ’s hand, so it seems this counts as a sign as well as a mural. It’s Nashville, so of course, there’s an image of the Batman Building, but also a crane with a wrecking ball, which is also very much a symbol of today’s Nashville.

Located at 1036 West Kirkland Avenue. The mural faces the road. There is a large gravel parking lot, and street parking is available.

The Cobra (Part 2)

Cobra Bar Mural street art Nashville

Sometimes I report on new art, sometimes not. While not nearly as old as the art in my last post, this mural at The Cobra on Gallatin goes back to September 2016, and I posted about the larger mural on the side of the bar way back in April of last year (see below). Obviously, it’s by Eastside Murals. It continues the theme of skulls found in the mural on the side, but not the cobra or beer imagery. Here the skulls are complimented with abstract art. There is another mural altogether on the backside of the bar, one very different from the other two. Maybe I’ll post it before the end of 2020.

Located at 2511 Gallatin Road. As it faces Gallatin, your best bet for a good view is actually across the street, where there is a Walgreen’s with ample parking. The bar itself has plenty of parking, particularly early in the day when the bar is closed.

Part 1

Local art comes to Kroger

I have written many times on this blog about how national chains don’t do local art. They have their centralized branding, and that’s that. Good luck finding any local outdoor art anywhere near Rivergate Mall. It can, in fact, be done, but that example is on a local business. Lately, however, things are changing. Top Golf is a recent example, and of course, the local version of Cracker Barrel’s faux-local chain Holler & Dash has its mural. (Cracker Barrel recently bought Maple Street Biscuit Company and plans to rebrand all of its Holler & Dash sites, so that mural may be in danger.) But Kroger is not pretending to be local and is a much more traditional firm than Top Golf, so a big, giant, neighborhood-celebrating mural for its grand reopening done by local artists, Eastside Murals to be precise, is a significant development. I’ve noted that more and more local companies are seeing outdoor art as part of the cost of doing business in Nashville, and maybe now at least some of the big corporate firms are also beginning to get that message. I’ve also noted that art breeds art, and Main St/Gallatin Pike from 5th Street to Trinity Lane is one of the most art-dense neighborhoods in Nashville. The Eastland Kroger sits right in the middle of that stretch. This particular mural came about as a result of Kroger collaborating with The Studio 208 owner Ashley Segroves, who’s been a strong advocate and promoter of mural art in Nashville for several years. Says Seagroves:

Kroger worked with The Studio 208 and Eastside Murals to collaborate for a uniquely East-side vibe. The coolest part of the story is that one of the artists, Sterling [Goller-Brown], grew up behind me on Eastland Ave. I watched him learn to play drums. Full circle and so fascinating since Kroger wanted to stay as local as possible.

The most obviously local part of the mural, besides the words “East Side” and the train trestle bridge from Shelby Park, is the map. If you are used to maps having north at the top, you’ll be a little confused. North is actually to the left, where the grapefruit and peaches are. On the flipped map below, the red “K” in the center of the red circle is where Eastland Kroger is. The map is a little abstract, so ignore the inconsistencies.

Eastland Kroger Map Mural street art Nashville

Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come. The visual fabric of Nashville would be greatly improved if more national chains followed Kroger’s example.  Also, I must note this Channel 4 story about the Kroger grand reopening. It says only that the mural was done by “a local artist.” Really? It’s actually signed. Please everyone, unless an artist wants to remain anonymous, or is genuinely impossible to identify, credit them for crying out loud.

East Kroger mural street art Nashville

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Located at 711 Gallatin Avenue. The mural is on the south side of the building, facing Eastland Avenue, behind the pharmacy. It’s a grocery store, so lots of parking is available.

Molly Green

This building at the corner of Main Street and McFerrin has undergone a lot of changes in recent years. It’s been a couple of failed clubs and a boutique clothing store. It’s been completely white and completely black – at which time it served as a canvas for one of Emily Miller’s wheatpaste creations. For the last couple of years, it’s been home to a branch of Molly Green, a local fashion line. And perhaps befitting the lively styles that Molly Green sells (and no, that’s not actually the name of a person associated with the fashion line), the building now sports a very colorful mural from Eastside Murals. As I mentioned in my post about their mural for Bearded Iris Brewing, it has a passing resemblance to that mural, with the many dots and the snaking lines. But here those dots and lines are found on a tie-dye canvas, as opposed to the crisp black one at Bearded Iris. The mural actually wraps around the building, so there’s much more than seen in the featured photo (see slide show below). If you look close on the right, you can see a piece of the graffiti art mural featured in A few words and then who knows.

UPDATE: This building was destroyed by the March 3, 2020 tornado.

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Located at 918 Main Street, at the corner with McFerrin Avenue. There is street parking on McFerrin, more of it on the north side of Main. When Molly Green is open, the west-facing side and the back end of the east side the building often have cars parked in front of them.

Bearded Iris Brewing, Makeover Edition

In January 2017, just a few months after starting this blog, I wrote about an interesting wall of graffiti on the rear side of Bearded Iris Brewing. I even called it “Part 1,” because I intended to come back and write about the less interesting graffiti on the building that faced that back wall of Bearded Iris, on the other side of the Cumberland River Greenway. Well, that building got torn down to make way for a parking lot, and the graffiti was replaced by this giant sign for Bearded Iris done by Eastside Murals. (The graffiti off to the left is still there, and might get a blog post someday.) This mural is reminiscent of another recent work by Eastside Murals covering the entirety of the Molly Green building at McFerrin Ave and Main Street. While the color scheme is quite different, that work also features thick flowing lines and large circles. I recently got good photos of it, so look for it on the blog soon. The featured photo above is angled because, as you can see below, trying to take a photo straight on mostly just gets you a picture of trees! The Bearded Iris Brewing logo, which you can see in the upper right of the mural and on the tanks located on the front of the building, doesn’t look much like a bearded iris flower to me but more like a stylized fleur-de-lis. Your mileage may vary.

Bearded Iris Mural street art Nashville

Bearded Iris Tanks street art Nashville

Located at 101 Van Buren Street. The mural faces east, along the Cumberland River Greenway. There is a paid parking lot directly in front of it, but you can probably park for free for a little while in Bearded Iris’s parking lot (look for the tanks), longer if you stop in for a brew!

Soundbox

Soundbox mural street art Nashville

The little building on 8th Avenue South that once housed Edison Vacuum Company and has apparently recently become the home of XGTEES has long been a target for taggers. Graffiti tags would go up, and the owner would paint them over. Graffiti tags would go up again, and the owner would paint over them again. Rinse, cycle, repeat. Taggers are generally respectful of murals, though not always, so maybe this new piece by Eastside Murals will tamp down on that cycle a little. It is however probably a temporary mural, as it advertises an exhibit at the nearby Adventure Science Center, Soundbox. The interactive exhibit looks like a lot of fun, giving visitors the opportunity to play with all kinds of sound technology. And it’s the Science Center’s first new permanent exhibit in many years, so perhaps this mural will have some staying power. Also, don’t confuse Adventure Science Center’s Soundbox with Metro’s mobile park installation of the same name, which also looks like a lot of fun. It’s not surprising Adventure Science Center asked Eastside Murals to do this mural, as Eastside has done work for them before.

Located at 862 Eighth Avenue South. Street parking is available, and there is parking at the rear of the building. The mural is on the north side of the building facing downtown.

A few words and then who knows

This is an old graffiti mural on Main Street in East Nashville I have passed many times thinking, “I should put that on the blog,” but I never got around to. It was an old reliable I could always do some other day. Well, not anymore. RECORD SCRATCH! Stop! I got this building confused with the one next door, that hosts Holleman Transmission. THAT building is soon to be replaced with a new boutique hotel. But not apparently this one. So the blog post I wrote and have now rewritten about this mural about to be gone, along with the others on the building, was wrong. For the moment. Those murals, by the way, are one by Eastside Murals featured in The cats are loose that is on the back of the building, and an Andee Rudloff piece featured in Or could just watch the video on the opposite side from this graffiti mural. I wrote originally that all would be lost, but not so fast. That said, I wouldn’t count on this property staying quiet for too long in go-go Nashville. This piece has tags for the UH crew, and there are others, such as ICR, Tier, Rasmo, Saeph, and Left, but as usual, some of the tags are a mystery to me. So I’d go ahead and get your photos because you never know.

Graffiti mural street art Nashville

graffiti mural street art Nashville

Rasmo graffiti mural street art Nashville

Pink Graffiti mural street art Nashville

UPDATE: When Holloman Transmission was torn down, this mural became much more visible. Presumably, it will soon be hidden by new construction.

Graffiti tags mural street art Nashville

Located at 914 Main Street. The mural is on the east side of the building, facing an alley. For now, you can park for free in front of the building. Once construction starts next door, that might be complicated.

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