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Endangered art

Electric Thunder

I would not ordinarily do two posts about the same neighborhood in a row, and I try to avoid posting when I don’t know the artist. But this mural is likely to be gone soon, so I decided it was time to post about it.

Electric Thunder Studios is in Berry Hill, about a block away from the well known fences with portraits of music icons. Like those, I had also been reluctant to write about this mural because of the unfriendly sense of a neighborhood with no parking and no sidewalks. The parking at least is somewhat solved. So why do I say this mural is going away? Because the building is for sale. Indeed, as of this post, it is listed as being under contract. The listing also indicated the studio equipment is not part of the sale, so either Electric Thunder is moving or closing. Either way, it’s doubtful the future owners will want to keep what amounts to a large sign for the previous occupants.

The mural above is on the side of the building. There also used to be a second mural, presumably by the same artist, on the front of the building, but that has been painted over. Below is a picture of it, and you can see its relationship to the remaining mural. File these murals under both “lost art” and “endangered art.”

Electric Thunder mural Nashville Street art
Electric Thunder mural Nashville Street art

Located at 2824 Dogwood Place. The mural is on the south side of the building, facing a driveway. The nearest parking is on the next block over, around Columbine Park.

Black Lives Matter

It’s no secret that the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers has sparked a massive protest movement here in America and around the world. Not surprisingly, it has produced art. Perhaps the most widely shared example is a mural in Minneapolis done by Cadex Herrera, Greta McLain, Xena Goldman, Rachel Breen, Niko Alexander, Maria Javier, and Pablo Helm Hernandez. While I would not be surprised if there are others in Nashville, this one at the damaged Jerry’s Artarama on Main (above) and a similar one at Cobra Bar on Gallatin are the only ones I know of in Nashville at this time. I suspect others will emerge if they haven’t already.

This one is obviously temporary, as it is painted on boards covering a window blown out by the March 3rd tornado. Of course, my last post was about another mural on Jerry’s Artarama, but I feel this one is timely, and as construction is already getting started next door and a large disposal unit you see at construction sites has appeared just to the side of this mural, I thought it important to document it now. I also try really hard to credit artists, but this one is unsigned, and I suspect it is anonymous for a reason.

The happy-style letters belie the seriousness of the topic at hand. In my main work, I am a history professor, not an art blogger. I do not know why this particular incident has generated the enormous energy and the wave of protests that it has, while others like it before did not. My future colleagues will spend a lot of time sorting that out. Some reasons seem obvious, but one thing you learn in history, the obvious answers aren’t always right, or they may not be as important as they look. What history-minded people like me can do is document everything, so the full story can eventually be told. Already, the Smithsonian is collecting signs plastered to the fence around the White House so they will be available to researchers and the public in the future.

Below is a shot giving you some idea of how the piece fits with everything else on the wall. I took it at this odd angle because of the placement of the disposal unit. In it, you see murals by Andee Rudloff and Herb Williams, and the remnants of an older mural by Hannah Holgate and Marshall Hall that was severely damaged by the tornado.

BLM mural sign Nashville street art

Located at 713 Main Street. For now, the parking lot in front of Jerry’s Artarama is available, but once this becomes a construction site, that’s unlikely. The nearest street parking is towards downtown on Seventh Street North.

 

The Once and Future Elliston Place Soda Shop

Elliston Soda Sign mural street art Nashville

It says it there right on the sign. “Good Food Since 1939.” Many a Nashvillian has fond memories of Elliston Place Soda Shop. I’ve had a few burgers there myself. Recently, escalating rents almost forced owner Skip Bibb to close the restaurant for good, but Nashville developer Tony Giarratana bought the restaurant to prevent that fate, promising to renovate and reopen it this year. Recently it was announced that the soda shop would move next door, into a larger 1907 building that once housed the Cumberland Telephone Exchange. That means that everything in and on the old building that Giarratana plans to incorporate in the new site must be removed from the old. The three-dimensional neon sign that once welcomed customers has already been taken down, leaving behind this hand-painted sign (and Purity Dairies ad, who probably paid for it). It’s not clear how old it is, but the only other example on the internet of a hand-painted Purity mural I could find is in Smyrna, TN and it dates back to the late 1950s. Given the wear-and-tear on this one, that’s a probable approximate date for the Elliston sign as well. It certainly can’t be pre-1946, when Ezell’s Dairy became Purity. Since Elliston Place Soda Shop is going into a new building, the fate of this sign is very much up in the air. Interestingly, in the very rough rendering for the new shop, a version of this sign is included. In fact, it’s actually a cut-and-pasted photo of the old sign. Either way, this one is almost certainly endangered art.

Located at 2111 Elliston Place. The sign is on the east side of the building, facing towards downtown. There is metered parking on Elliston Place, and some free parking on nearby streets.

 

Seen today, hidden tomorrow

Unknown artistr mural street art Nashville

When the building at 912 Main street was torn down (a building I talked about in A few words and then who knows), this part of the east wall of 914 was exposed. It’s the same wall that contains the mural featured in  Or you could just watch the video, which is on the long-exposed south part of that wall. It’s a Jack Coyle piece, and I decided to go ahead and put it on the blog because I imagine this space will soon be a construction site. Note also that the clearance of the site at 916 (formerly Holleman Transmission) makes the mural in A few words and then who knows much more visible (I put new photos up), but all the murals here might be threatened, either with destruction or simply being hidden by whatever comes next. For that matter, it 914 is ever town down, the mural featured The cats are loose would be lost, as it’s on the backside. So check all of them out soon, as you may not be able to for long. Call them all endangered art.

Located at 914 Main Street. The mural is on the west side of the building, facing downtown. There are a few spaces in front of 914, though your best bet is probably parking across Main on McFerrin, and there’s a light to help you cross.

Obie’s no more?

Pizza Mural street art Nashvillle

Of late, Nashville’s “Rock Block,” located along Elliston Place, has been under threat. First, Gold Rush closed. More recently, there was a controversial move to rezone the lots at Elliston Place and Lousie Avenue, currently the site of three small buildings collectively known as the Louise Douglas apartments, to allow a 15-story hotel to be built on the spot. Such a building would tower over longtime music venues The End and Exit/In and radically alter the character of the neighborhood, not to mention eliminate some of the only reasonably affordable housing left in Midtown. After much public outcry, the rezoning measure was withdrawn, though the long-term future of the area remains uncertain. One troubling feature is the apparent closure of Obie’s Pizza, which lies in front of The End and just east of the apartments. It hasn’t been open in a couple of months or so. There is a sign on the door that says they will reopen soon, but the number at that link I gave for them has been disconnected, and there’s no sign of activity. So their mural, made for them by Tyler Z. Key, in all likelihood will disappear sooner than later. Call it endangered art. The mural has been edited at least once. On Key’s Instagram page, you can see that the mural once had a large signature at the bottom reading “TiiKii Art.” If you look close, you can see where it’s been painted over next to the blue hand. Key apparently decided to go with a more subdued signature, reading “TZ Key.” Either way, check it out soon while you still can.

Located at 2217 Elliston Place. The mural is on the west side of the building. There’s some free street parking in the area, but not a lot. You can probably get away with parking in the lot in front of the mural for a short time if you just want to grab a picture.

With a Capitol View

Graffiti Capitol street art mural Nashville

It’s been a while since I’ve put any “wild” graffiti on the blog, but this one caught my eye recently and I really like it. That skull in the middle of the tag is common in Nashville graffiti. A good example is the one featured in Staying power. This tag was surprisingly difficult to research because it lies in the midst of a massive development project, Capitol View. Capitol View lies on the north side of the part of Charlotte Avenue that was recently renamed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, centered on 11th Avenue. When fully finished, it will take up six entire blocks running between MLK Blvd and Clinton Street three blocks north, while bordered by George L. Davis Blvd to the west and the railroad that roughly parallels 10th Avenue to the east. And about 10th Avenue – many of us have come to rely on Google Maps to stay up to date, but as of this writing it very much isn’t, (but it might be by the time you click that) and I could not make what I remember seeing jibe with the map. At one time, Gay Street crossed 10th Avenue and went under a railroad bridge to connect to a large, decrepit parking lot. That lot is now “Building E” of Capitol View and has a big sign on it that says “500,” as it’s official address is 500 11th Avenue. And the stretch of 10th that used to run between Nelson Merry Street and Lifeway Plaza? It’s been turned into an almost-finished park, that according to Capitol View’s Master Plan, will apparently be open to the public and linked to the greenway system. To get it, you have to go under the bridge, right where this graffiti is. Which means this graffiti probably counts as endangered art. Check it out soon.

UPDATED: This has been painted over.

Located just east of 500 11th Avenue. There is a driveway that runs between Lifeway Plaza and Nelson Merry and parallels the railroad, and the underpass where this is found is right in the middle of that stretch. There is an entrance to a parking garage right in front of it where you should able to park as a visitor for short periods of time.

Day Dreamin

While Eddie’s Cee Bee on Lafayette has been closed for some time, the artist JamersonSGC continues to use the building as a canvas. This impressive collection of human and animal portraits emblazoned with the words “Day Dreamin” is found on the back of the building where the old loading dock sits unused. Jamerson (who labels much of his work “Low Key Art”) sometimes likes to edit and reshape his work. See for example the evolution of Low key bee into The full bee (an update). In an original draft (see below), instead of the two people an elephant and possibly a second zebra were taking shape. All that remains of those two animals is the elephant’s tusk, which is engraved with Egyptian hieroglyphics and links the woman and man together. As the fate of the Cee Bee building is uncertain, the long term prospect for this mural is anyone’s guess. But watch this space – Jamerson might decide to revise it again!

Animal Portraits mural street art Nashville

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Located at 109 Lafayette Street. The mural is on the east side of the building, facing Clairborne Street. There is parking in the area in front of the mural, and in the lot on the other side of the building.

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