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No art left behind

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Endangered art

All Around and outta here

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One thing this blog seeks to do is document art before it’s gone. There is a rezoning sign out in front of this property. This low wall and concrete floor is about all that’s left of All Around Pressure Washing on Dickerson Road. So while it sits and awaits replacement by some mixed use development, it’s become a canvas for taggers. The requested zoning is MUL-A, which, according to Metro, is for “Mixed Use Limited, intended for a moderate intensity mixture of residential, retail, and office uses.” The “A” is meant for walkable neighborhoods. On this stretch of Dickerson I’m not sure what this means, but maybe a stretch of sidewalk will go in. I can’t decipher the tags, but the one on the right is the same style as the one found in V! Something. There is an apparent signature – “Ask Noss V.” In any event, I imagine these tags are not long for the world. Call it endangered art.

Located at 3968 Dickerson Pike, on the west side of the road, a little north of Clean Quick Carpet Service (at 3492). When I was there is was possible to pull in and park on site.

For that perfect smile

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I have to wonder how long this one is going to be around. Located near Plaza Art on Middleton, it lies right next to a major graffiti installation that was just painted over. This part of SoBro/Pie Town has been fairly resistant to gentrification, but that can’t last. The market forces are very powerful. I believe this says “Crest.” There’s one very much like it in Cheltenham, PA, on the north side of Philadelphia. (As of this posting, third row on that page. Look for “Crest Graffiti Cheltenham”.) I suspect it’s the product of an out of towner, because I don’t think I’ve seen this tag elsewhere, and the DayGlo color scheme is unusual here in Nashville. Even if it survives gentrification, for the time being, it’s peeling, likely because it faces the afternoon sun every day unshaded.

Located at 617 Middleton Street. Nearby parking is easy. The mural is on the west side of the building, facing Plaza Art.

These are not the tags you’re looking for

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Big murals are going in down in the Gulch and on Charlotte, while new murals have appeared recently on Gallatin and elsewhere. The Dragon of Dragon Park continues its restoration. Metro Arts is about to unveil its civil rights installation next to City Hall (Friday, APril 21, 2:00 p.m.). But sometimes on NPArt, we go small. Particularly when art is likely to be short-lived. The Pennington Bend/River Trace neighborhood is a somewhat upscale rural community north of Opry Mills. The Briley Parkway bridge that crosses the river at the northwest corner of the bend has clearly gotten its share of graffiti tags, that have all been quickly painted over, from the looks of it. So our three Stormtroopers here probably won’t last too long, But then they are Stormtroopers – they are used to a quick demise.

Located on Pennigton Bridge Road, as it goes under Briley Parkway, near the intersection with Music Valley Drive. The Stormtroopers are on a wall on the east of the road, the side opposite of the river. There is a small area across the street in front of a gate you can park.

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The usual suspects

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Sometimes, when searching for outdoor art, you wind up in less than pleasant places. The easternmost support of the Jefferson Street bridge, where Jefferson passes over an unnamed access road just before reaching Cowan Street, is not a place Nashvillians would ordinarily take tourists, and unless you work at one of the industrial sites nearby, nor is it a place Nashvillians would visit themselves. Unless you are homeless, or a graffiti artist. There’s plenty of evidence of people spending time here – discarded bottles, food wrappers, and the like, as well as a mattress it’s hard to imagine anyone sleeping on. But the seclusion that some homeless people appreciate also attracts graffiti artists, given access to a large concrete wall. There are many layers of tags here, with each artist painting over the previous one. If you ever visit, you’re likely to see some names other that what I captured when I found it. Someone has labeled the current crop “usual suspects,” hence the blog title.  There is also an interesting “eye” on a nearby pylon (featured below). I should note that the panel on the far right currently has a reference to sexual assault. It’s not clear what the meaning is – I have chosen not to include a close-up of that part.

Located under the Jefferson Street bridge just west of Cowan, next to the Cross Point Church. To reach it, take Oldham Street west towards the river and turn right on the access road just after the railroad tracks. Just before you get to the bridge, there’s a dirt road on the right that leads to the graffiti. I suspect this will get paved as part of the large construction project underway just past the bridge. This is an industrial area, so try not to park where you’ll block large trucks.

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Drive away

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Five Points in East Nashville was not always the place you went for bar hopping, fine dining, and trendy shops. It used to be the place you got your car fixed. Margot’s, Burger Up, East Side Smiles* and the Family Dollar all used to be service stations, the kind of places that filled your tank and replaced your spark plugs. Gym 5 was an auto repair place, and Battered and Fried was once where you found Jackson’s, which sold tires, tubes, and batteries and had a fleet of trucks to deliver them around town. Beyond the Edge at one point was a welding shop that no doubt helped repair cars. There were probably more. Now only Firestone and Main Street Tires are left in the immediate area. Hunter’s Custom Automotive is the latest to leave (they’ve moved to Trinity Lane), its property snatched up to be developed as restaurant space by Fresh Hospitality. Already the small building they owned across the street has undergone major renovations (no longer will Hunter’s employees play the dangerous game of crossing the street right where Main makes a right angle curve and become Gallatin – the light went in not long before they moved). What will happen to the Hunter’s murals is unknown at the moment, but in all likelihood, they are doomed, as are the glittery signs. I only learned this past weekend that those signs make a fair amount of noise when it’s windy. Whooooooosh.

UPDATE: I drove past Hunter’s this morning (3/28/17) and saw that the brick facade the mural up top is on is being dismantled, and the mural with it. This one is a goner.

Located at 975 Main Street. Until it becomes a construction site, you can park in the Hunter’s lot. Climb the stairs to get a better look at the main mural, though I recommend against clambering on to the roof. The sign and the mural above both face south, while the  King of Chrome mural is on the west side of the building. (*East Side Smiles may be a different building, but there did used to be a service station at that spot. Family Dollar may also be a “new” building.)

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Betor Forever

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Several weeks ago, a major installation appeared on the 2600 block of Gallatin, on the Penny Recycling building. It’s one of the larger murals in town (though smaller certainly than the giant ones downtown.) I haven’t been able to get to it before because of cars parked at the Hairworld next door. Over a portrait of a young man in a hat surrounded by flowers and spray paint cans, the mural declares “Betor Forever.” Betor was the nom de plume of Ronald “Ronnie” Bobal, who died last December, a couple of weeks shy of his thirtieth birthday. Bobal was a prolific graffiti artist who worked with the UH and ICR crews. You can see some of his work and tributes to him herehere and here. The mural itself is signed by Sterbo and Tierdo.  Sterbo has also memorialized Bobal in the mural of colored spheres mentioned in Arctic colors. There are some other, smaller pieces at this site. I’ve included them in the gallery below.

Located at 2611 Gallatin Pike on the south side of the Pocket Money Recycling building, near the corner of Carolyn Avenue. Your best bet for parking is the Hairworld next door. All the images are on the south side of the building, though the camera is on the back of some construction debris so it may not be very permanent.

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What’s in a face?

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Corporate America is not big on public art. Oh sure, major corporations routinely fund art projects, often to beautify their own facilities or to gain some good publicity, but when it comes to the brand, the brand must be pure. And if the company is building chain stores across the country, be they restaurants or retail, little deviation is allowed. Chain stores and restaurants seem to exude some kind of cloud that kills public art. The worst place to look for public art of any kind are those four-lane thoroughfares that have miles of national chains up and down them. Which is why I’m 99.99% certain this face on the property of the Family Dollar at the corner of Home and Gallatin was not authorized, and will probably be painted over soon enough. This is found on a concrete enclosure protecting the store’s garbage dumpster. Less interesting graffiti is found on the other two sides of the enclosure. A note to business owners tired of cleaning up graffiti – you should put in murals. Taggers are mostly respectful of mural art. You could save yourself the trouble of cleaning up graffiti and make the neighborhood more interesting in one go!

Located at 3407 Gallatin Pike. The face is found on a concrete “box” behind the store, at the corner of Home and Baxter, facing Baxter. Load up on unnecessary plastic objects and enjoy the art!

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