Across the street from the Hillsboro Village dragon mural is a whole cast of animals, thirty one to be exact. No, I didn’t count them, the artists did. This is another of the many Eastside Murals works around town. The playful animals fit the location well, as the mural sits on the side of Arcade, a children’s store that sells clothes and toys aimed primarily at the under-six set.
In contrast to giant, fleshed-out dragon across the street, the Arcade animals are much more simple, built out of abstract digital lines and a poppy but limited color palette. It doesn’t look like anything else Eastside has done, but besides having a certain preschool aesthetic, its fits the style of the company that designed the mural, Fuzzco. (You can get a better idea of their work from their Instagram page.) They are a branding company with offices in Charleston, SC and Seattle, WA. This is hardly the only example of local artists being hired to execute a design by an out-of-town firm. Indeed, on the other side of 21st Avenue is another mural by Eastside that was designed by Donald Robertson, a New York-based artist who has recently moved to Santa Barbara.
The mural went up in the summer of 2019 when Arcade opened in this location. Genie Lockwood, the owner, has noted that “the magical and mysterious childhood world” was an inspiration for the store, and the animals seem designed with that spirit. The mural is also practical. The ruler attached to the tall giraffe on the right of the mural (see below) is intended to be used as a growth chart.
Located at 1721 21st Avenue South, at the corner with Belcourt Avenue. It’s right next to Belcourt Theatre. This is Hillsboro Village, so lots of parking, very little of it free.
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.
How can a mural on a little-used side street be seen by thousands of people every day? If that little-used street faces the interstate. Up on a knoll along Carrol Street, this Eastside Murals work faces I-40, on the south side of the downtown loop, at the very north end of Chestnut Hill. I only knew of it recently because I’ve been staying home a lot and I stay off Nashville interstates as much as I can under any circumstances. Because of the tight sightlines, it’s impossible to get a traditional straight-on photograph. I took the photo at the bottom of this post from across the interstate, through a fence (near Mulberry and 5th). If it looks a little fuzzy, it’s because I blew it up a great deal.
The mural features the logo and motto of New Heights Brewing Company. New Heights was founded by people who came from San Diego, CA, and the logo includes not only the Nashville skyline (with its iconic Batman Building), but also San Diego’s North Park Water Tower. The Chestnut Hill neighborhood New Heights is in of course has its own iconic water tower, at 4th and Chestnut. The mural doesn’t actually lie on New Heights’ building, which is located about half a block away down 5th Avenue. The building it is on, which has a large three-dimensional sign in its front yard that says “GPI,” is currently vacant.
Located at 915 5th Ave South. The mural faces Caroll Street, facing north towards downtown. It’s most easily accessed using either 6th Ave South coming from downtown, or coming from Oak Street, off of 4th Avenue South. Street parking on Carrol is prohibited, but for the moment you can park in front of the GPI building.
I wanted to call this blog post Lipps, Inc., but that’s an actual thing. Every once in a while I have to write about one of those murals that is in a billion Instagram posts, and everyone has seen, so it’s news to no one, and this is one of those times. The motto of the blog is “No art left behind” after all, and I am trying to catalog everything. This is yet another Eastside Murals piece, the versatile team that has been signing their work “Out East Boys” for a while. The design is by Donald Robertson, which explains the “Donald” written on the edge of the mural. On his Instagram page, you can see that while he doesn’t just do lips, they are a major theme in his work. Also, the “Donald” on the mural looks like his regular signature for his works, so I imagine he did that part himself.
I photographed this mural on one of the first days of Nashville’s shutdown when there were still a few tourists around. Two women were taking their pictures in front of it and thought I was trying to do the same thing. They wanted me to give them my phone so they could take my picture in front of it for me. I politely declined, and at this point in time, I still would.
Located at 1814 21st Avenue South. The mural faces an alley on the north side of the building, across from Fido. This is Hillsboro Village, so a fair amount of parking, almost none of it free. In non-COVID times, parking at peak hours can be very hard.
On this Memorial Day, a flag. Not just any flag, but the flag that adorns the facade of The Villager Tavern in Hillsboro Village. The Villager is one of the last holdouts against the gentrification of Hillsboro Village. The smokey bar with dartboards and the pictures of patrons plastering the walls has been in place since 1973. I don’t know who painted the flag originally, but it had gotten in pretty sad shape. I do know however that it was recently restored by Eastside Murals. You can also tell from the photo I linked to that it wasn’t always blocked by a pedestrian crossing sign, but pedestrian deaths in Nashville are a problem, so I’m fine with the sign.
I hope that everyone had a good Memorial Day. Always remember our fallen.
Located at 1719 21st Avenue South. There’s plenty of parking in Hillsboro Village, but almost none of it is free.
The best view of the We Are Nashville installation at 916 Main Street is where the Holleman Transmission building used to stand. It was taken down by bulldozers, in preparation for new development. But the photographic mural features the staff of the local fashion line Molly Green, whose Main Street branch once stood next door to Holleman, and which was almost completely destroyed by the March 3 tornado. We Are Nashville is an anonymous collaborative that for the last two years has been documenting who Nashville is today. They have begun to put up wheat-paste installations of the resulting photographs, with QR codes that lead to their website where you can learn the stories behind the images. The start of their campaign to present these photos and stories to the city coincided with the tornado and its aftermath, so it makes sense that some of the early installations are about the people and stories of the storm.
In the center and the far left, we see the people of Molly Green, standing in the ruins of their Main Street store.
If you were to stand where the photographer stood now, you would see the mural to your direct right, as the Molly Green building has been leveled.
The left side of the mural includes a closeup portrait of Molly Green staffer Heather Johns, but it’s mostly is a portrait of ten-year-old London outside her great-grandfather’s home, David Young Sr. Parts of the home date back to 1870, and if you click on the Donelson story above you’ll see it was more damaged than it appears in this photo.
A little ways away, about where I stood when I took the photo at the bottom of this post, there are three smaller portraits of Molly Green staffers. They are on the backside of Attaboy. The only deaths recorded in Davidson County from the March 3 storm were of two people who left Attaboy just as the tornado was approaching.
These are obviously all temporary. Wheat-paste murals don’t tend to have a long shelf life. Like the recent also temporary installation at Jerry’s Artarama a few blocks away, they both memorialize the damage suffered from the storm as well as highlight the strength of Nashville as a community. There is something else about them that speaks to the temporary nature of all art. Just below the four portraits above stands the only remaining fragment of the largest work of art destroyed by the March 3 storm, the wrap-around mural by Eastside Murals that once covered all of Molly Green.
This particular wall at the corner of Dallas and 12th in the 12 South district has seen a series of murals that Eastside Murals has played a role in. The mural promoting the American Heart Association’s “Nashville at Heart” campaign that I featured in Last year’s heartthrob was their work, as was the mural that followed – which I never blogged about. Oops – search for “#peacelovegooddeeds” on Instagram – you’ll find lots of pictures of it. This one they helped on, but it isn’t their design. The designer and main artist is Austin artist Emily Eisenhart. That it’s her design is pretty obvious from a quick look at her Instagram page. You’ll note the main theme seems to be people wearing blue pants. The mural sits on the side of a building currently occupied by one of the Nashville branches of Madewell, a clothing store that specializes in denim. Eisenhart also did a muralfor Madewellin the Williamsburg district of Brooklyn, in the same signature style. The Nashville mural also had a community component. Students from Pearl-Cohn, an entertainment magnet school, came out one day last March when the mural went in and helped paint it. This is probably why under the word “Madewell,” it reads “Created in support of music and art programs in Metro Nashville’s public schools.” On Eisenhart’s Instagram page, you can find several postsabouttheproduction of thismural.
Located at 2709 12th Avenue South. The mural faces south, towards Dallas Avenue. There is paid parking nearby, and street parking if you are willing to walk a bit. It’s fairly easy right now, but it will be harder when the pandemic ends and the tourists come back.