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.
Located at 916 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.
This is the tenth and last in the series on The Nations Wall, a massive set of murals on the west-facing wall of Music City Tents and Events, organized by the Nashville Walls Project. It’s the tenth piece going from left to right (roughly north to south), and thus also the one the far right. This last one is by Emily Elizabeth Miller, an artist known for doing mixed-media murals, where part of the mural is painted, generally the background, while another part, often the central and main theme, is a paper drawing plastered on to the painted backdrop. She also does installations that are just the paper drawing. Naturally, this leads to a gradual decay of the paper as it is exposed to the weather and sunlight, meaning the mural is also inherently dynamic. The picture above was taken when the installation was about a year old. This picture from Miller’s Instagram feed gives you a sense of what it looked like new. While it seems to be fairly resilient, if you want to get your photo with the elephant, you might want to go soon!
Again, this is the last in this series, as there are no more murals to chronicle from this project. Images of the entire wall with all the murals together can be found in Part 1.
Located at 5901 California Ave, Nashville, TN 37209. The murals actually face the 1300 and 1400 block of 60th Avenue North, across from the intersection with Pennsylvania Avenue. Street parking is possible nearby.
Because I’ve been doing a lot of travelling lately, I was out of town for the third-year anniversary of this blog, which happened on June 30. Much has happened since the second anniversary of this blog. For one, the outdoor art scene continues to blossom here in Nashville. New murals appear seemingly every day, and at my usual three-posts-a-week pace I’ll never catch up! And the world has noticed. Do a quick Google search for “Nashville street art” or “Nashville murals” or related searches, and you will find dozens and dozens of articles, blog posts, and various guides to whatever the author considers to be the best, the prettiest. or most “Instagramable” murals. And while this blog doesn’t show up very high in those searches, traffic has been steadily improving. The first year, the blog got a few hundred views a month. In the second, 1000-1500 views a month. In the third year, that number hovers in the low 2000s. Still small fry, but the moving in the right direction. And unlike any of those articles or “guides,” I really am trying to chronicle it all!
Many of the observations I made in the post I wrote about the second year anniversary remain true. The relationship between art, tourism, and gentrification remains strong. It’s still true that most art, particularly murals, is found on local businesses, not chains. Nashville business owners are getting the message – murals generate foot traffic, and they encourage people to take a picture and “check in” at the business, which amounts to free advertising. And art very much still breeds art. Businesses and building owners are encouraged to seek out artists for their site when they see their neighbors doing the same thing.
Having recently traveled to New Orleans and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I can say that our mural/outdoor art scene compares well to those areas. One mistake we did not make, which until recently New Orleans had, was to put onerous permitting limitations on art. I would also say that while there are definitive art districts, in particular 12 South and Downtown, we do a good job of spreading art out – just look at my map.
I continue to be concerned about the impact of gentrification, notably on the less celebrated artists who have decorated Hispanic and Black-owned business. In particular, the work of the artist I have dubbed the “Unknown Buchanan Street Artist(s)” is endangered. That’s one reason I do this blog, to archive what is an inherently ephemeral form of art.
For now, this will continue to be a Davidson County-only blog. When I think of some of the massive collections of work I have yet to chronicle, notably the Elliston Place garage and the dozens of musician portraits in Berry Hill, it’s hard to think about expanding. For that matter, I have dozens of files under the heading “Future Blog Posts,” most of which I need to do more research for or reshoot photos (I have gotten very picky about the pictures I use.) But visiting the Metroplex (as Dallas-Ft. Worth is known), I realized if I lived there I would have to do an area-wide blog, and I think I will have to do so here as well in time. The surrounding counties have developing outdoor art scenes of their own, often by the same artists who work in Davidson County. It’s really the same scene, and singling out Davidson County is somewhat artificial.
The header photo is the mural at Chromatics. The artist who made it, TACKZ, recently contacted me, which reminded me that, to my knowledge, only the refurbished Painter Man at the Hard Rock Cafe on Lower Broad is older. The Chromatics mural is a true survivor, dating back to 1993. We definitely have a very different outdoor art scene than we did in 1993. We actually have one now! I intend to continue to chronicle it as best I can.
Able Restaurant Equipment on Nolensville is no more. While the building that once housed the business still hosts two versions of this sign, the store closed some months ago. As I’ve written before, vintage hand-lettered signs in Nashville like this one are under threat. Of course, a sign is always under threat if the business closes, but it’s also true that the rapid pace of development in Nashville increases the threat. There’s a small signature at the bottom crediting “Post Sign Co.” I have been able to find no evidence of a sign company by that name. It may have passed out of existence pre-internet, or just so long ago that all internet traces of it have disappeared. That much of the sign is in Spanish suggests the possibility that this was one of the earliest Hispanic-oriented businesses on Nashville, if the sign actually goes back to the ’80s. If it was done later, then perhaps Able was merely responding to its changing neighborhood. The sign above on the north side of the building is the better preserved of the two signs (the south-side sign is below). However, recently it was defaced with some very carefully hand-lettered and quite vulgar insults I won’t reprint here. If a future owner wishes to preserve the sign, the graffiti is on the white part and could be easily painted over.
Located at 2601 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, TN 37211. There is some parking available in the alley behind, and along Grandview Avenue one block west.
The artist who goes by jamersonsgc and signs all his work #lowkeyart has been busy of late. You’ll see on his Instagram page linked above a lot of new work in an around the J.C. Napier Homes, and along the Lafayette/Murfreesboro Pike corridor. This home, found at the corner of Cannon and Claiborne Streets, on the southeast of the Napier complex, is an older work. The whole house is covered, primarily with religious themes. On the front, he quotes both Jeremiah 5:21 (thus the title of this post) and the gospel tune “Open our Eyes.” Here it is by The Gospel Chiefs, Earth Wind & Fire, and Funkadelic. There’s a Christ figure on one side, a giant “ELOHIM” on the other, and the apple and serpent in the garden on the back. The house itself is in bad shape. While gentrification is coming slowly to this neighborhood, this still should be considered endangered art. At the rate this artist is going, there will be plenty to replace it soon should it go.
Located at 71 Cannon Street. There is street parking available. The house appears unoccupied, but still, be respectful.
Since 1943, Nashville Spring Service has been meeting all your vehicle and trailer spring needs, including, like the sign says, products from Monroe Shocks and Struts. They also provide a lot of other services, like cabinets and shelving. For most of those years, they’ve been in a red-brick building with the official address of 621 Eight Avenue South, but which lies on the corner of 9th Avenue South and “Litte” Division Street (Just one block north of Eight and Division there is a block-long stretch of road also called Division Street.) They have moved, however, to 216 Omohundro Place, an industrial area more in keeping with their work, unlike the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood they leave behind. The old building is for sale. That puts this sign in danger. This type of sign used to be common in Nashville, and you can still find a few of them around, but by and large, they disappear when the business does (or when the building is torn down.) Some new businesses save the old signs, but that’s rare. So as this blog is meant in part as an archive, I want to document it while it still exists. I found a picture on Google Maps of a three-dimensional sign that used to be here as well (see below) but I don’t believe it made the move to Omohundro. Keep an eye out for these fossils. They are disappearing.
Located, officially, at 621 Eight Avenue South. It actually faces Ninth, at the corner with “Little” Division Street. Around that corner is some of the only free street parking left in downtown Nashville. Grab it while you still can.
I have long thought that I might put the hand-painted signs at Five Points Cocina Mexicana on the blog and seems that now is the time. Signs have gone up that indicate Cocina Mexicana will close on Apil 1 and will reopen sometime soon as a branch of Cilantro Mexican Grille. The original Cilantro is on 8th Avenue South and has appeared on this blog twice, so there’s a good possibility they will add art to this building as well. The Cocina Mexicana signs are unsigned and I haven’t had time to research the artist, but I wanted to put this up before they disappear. Definitely, call this endangered art.
Located at 972 Main Street. The murals are on the front and west sides of the building. Parking is available in back. Chow down and enjoy the art while you still can.
Handpainted signs like this one are found all around Nashville. They are particularly a feature of North Nashville, in the area of the Jefferson St. and Buchanan St. corridors, long a predominantly African American neighborhood. Steady gentrification has begun to encroach on the area, and some of these signs have disappeared as a result. The stately red brick building at the corner of Monroe and 9th Avenue is a survivor, dating back at least to 1900. JC Beauty Collection has not been so resilient. The building seems to have been empty for several years. One would hope it will be renovated and repurposed. Perhaps the new tenants, should that come to pass, will preserve this old sign, as Lockeland Table did when it moved into the old Boutique Coiffures building. Interestingly, there is a JC Beauty Mart in Clarksville, so perhaps the business simply moved. In any event, this piece of the North Nashville fabric must be considered endangered art.
Located at 817 Monroe Avenue, at the corner with 9th Ave North. This is across from the Kroger on Rosa Parks Blvd. There is parking at the Kroger, and street parking on 9th.
News has just come down that The Gold Rush, a fabled bar long=resident at Elliston Place, has closed for good. It’s a bit of a stunner for anyone who knows the history of this neighborhood, but change in Nashville stops for no one. So the fate of the wagon train mural on the back of the building is uncertain. Coincidentally, I got this car-free picture just a week or so before the news broke. Because The Gold Rush’s website and social media is also shuttered, I’ve been unable to really research the origin of this unsigned mural. If anyone knows who made it, drop me a line. Someone has written across the Sun in the mural, “You are not a rock star. Shut up. Be humble.” (see below) I don’t know if that’s original or not. Also in this parking lot, there is a small mural of a marijuana plant on the east side, and on the west, some graffiti art (actually on the wall of The End), at least part of which was done by Troy Duff. There is a small image of a crying cat (?) partially obscured by the graffiti art. In the slideshow below, I’ve included a full version of that image I took some months ago, along with the other art around the parking lot.
Located at 2205 Elliston Place. The art lies faces the alley behind the bar, on the north side. Most of the nearby parking is either in a pay lot or uses a parking meter.