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nashville public art

No art left behind

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Endangered art

Two years

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The mural from the single most popular post on this blog. It continues to get hits every day. Read about it in The Kind Way

It’s been two years since the first post went up on this blog. In that time, I’ve built a small following and learned a fair amount about the outdoor art scene in Nashville/Davidson County. The most obvious thing I’ve learned about is the relationship between local independent businesses and outdoor art. Corporate businesses, with very few exceptions, do not support local artists or allow their branding to be altered with local art. That’s why the area around Rivergate Mall has very little outdoor art, and Nolensville Pike has so much. If your neighborhood has a Panda Express, you won’t find much art. If it has a lot of immigrant grocery stores and local auto repair centers, you’re likely to get art.

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Part of the mural responsible for the second most popular post on this blog. Ronald “Ronnie” Bobal, aka Betor, had a lot of friends. See Betor Forever

Another observation is that art breeds art. You see this in the distinction between Nolensville and Murfreesboro Pikes. Both have a similar mix of independent businesses with a good sized immigrant community, but outdoor art just hasn’t quite caught on on Murfreesboro.

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Art you won’t find in any “Best Instagram Murals in Nashville” article. Art on immigrant businesses is a key part of the aesthetic landscape in Nashville. See In Old Mexico

And of course, there is a relationship between tourism and art. A Buzzfeed article by Anne Helen Petersen did a good job of linking the bachelorette phenomenon with the growth in murals. All those folks posting pictures of themselves in front of murals, tagging the location on Instagram and Facebook, well, it’s a lot of free advertising. The explosion of murals in the 12 South neighborhood is in part a response to this phenomenon. And certainly, the art found there and elsewhere in town has gotten a lot of attention, including promotions to tourists and homebuyers. Most of the attention is focused on tourist-heavy areas like 12 South, Downtown, the Gulch, while work in the outer boroughs and non-mural art doesn’t get as much love, art that doesn’t drive as much tourism and isn’t as well known but is very much part of our local art scene.

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Local art that is under threat from gentrification and unlikely to be featured in tourist magazines. See Northside Auto Clean Up

Most of those articles probably get more traffic than this blog, but traffic is moving in the right direction – up. I have more than double the number of monthly page views than I had in 2017, at about 1200 to 1600 a month, though for this month, June 2018, the number is almost 2300. Small, but growing. Google Analytics tells me that my largest readership group is women aged eighteen to thirty-four, which is the principle demographic making up the bachelorette parties, so perhaps I’m part of the problem! (Or the blessing, if your job depends on them.)

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The mural from my third most popular post. That the now-closed Cloud IX Hookah Bar had its share of crime stories probably explains that. This art has since been defaced. See Mysteries of Cloud IX

So yes go to 12 South and Five Points and The Gulch, but take a look at my map and explore a little (just check the link for each point to see if I’ve updated it as being “lost art”). There’s a lot out there, and more all the time. I’ll keep working to document it all.

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One of my favorite works that you are unlikely to find on Instagram. See A bird in the bush

Catered art

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Sadly, Carloyn’s Homestyle Kitchen has closed, at least as a restaurant. But as a catering service and a venue for art, it’s going strong. On the north side of the building, we see a scene from the inside (taken at a weird angle because of a fence), while on the back there are portraits, presumably of some of the staff at Carolyn’s. There is also on the south wall what appears to be a “lost” portrait, which I’ve included below. No apparent signatures, and the wear and tear suggests at least some of this has been here for a while. It does look similar to the art seen in Down at the corner and Northside Auto Clean Up, both of which are a few blocks away. The Buchanan Street area is undergoing rapid change, so the long-term fate of these paintings is unknown, but as part of neighborhood history, I hope they stick around.

Located at 1601 Ninth Avenue North, at the corner of Garfield Street. The main mural is on the north side of the building, visible from 9th, while the three ladies below are on the back, visible from Garfield. The lost portrait faces Garfield. Order up some good eats for your next party and enjoy the art!

The Johnny Cash Mural

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Sure, there’s more than one mural featuring Johnny Cash in this town. But this was one of the first, if not the very first. Or at least, the original one on this spot was. Bryan Deese, Audie Adams and Ryan Shrader of Thoughts Manifested produced a Cash mural on this spot not long after Cash’s death in 2003. However, by late 2012 it was in very bad shape, so the same three artists painted a new Cash mural to replace the original (and I do not know how close the second version is to the first). There is a video of them making the second mural. Now six years on, the second mural is somewhat worse for wear, and it faces more threats than just the weather and traffic smog. The little building it’s on is surrounded by some very expensive real estate, and it’s hard to imagine no developer has any interest in it. If you want your picture taken in front of it, you might want to do so soon.

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Located at 300 4th Avenue South at the corner of 4th and Molloy Street. The mural faces Molloy. This is downtown, so lots of parking, almost none of it free.

Dutch Maid

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Large, three-dimensional signs like this one used to be common in America, but they’ve been out of style for decades. There are persistent survivors in Nashville, like the Weiss Liquor sign featured in A true Nashville survivor or the Ernest Tubb sign and others on Lower Broad. There are even some new ones on Broadway, given its place in local tourism. Other survivors are scattered around town, mostly on the Pikes. This one is located in the rapidly gentrifying The Nations neighborhood, and its fate is uncertain. The laundromat it advertises has long since closed its doors, and the windows are boarded up. It’s hard to imagine any developer tearing this wonderful icon down, but in go-go Nashville, it’s always a possibility. Call it endangered art.

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Located at 6227 Roberston Avenue, near the corner with Croley Drive. Plenty of parking on site.

Building who’s Nashville?

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Ordinarily, I like to keep people out of the pictures I use on this blog. But for this particular mural, done by Michael Cooper of Murals and Moore, that’s not easy. Church Street Park, known also as Library Park, has become a gathering ground for homeless Nashvillians. Some of this is because it lies across from the downtown Main Library, which has made efforts to reach out to the homeless. Not surprisingly, the presence of homeless people in such a prominent spot has raised controversy. That controversy is probably behind the willingness of Mayor David Briley to back a controversial proposal to allow developer Tony Giarratana to build a commercial high rise tower on the property in exchange for also building an apartment complex for the homeless on James Robertson Parkway. Ten years ago, the city bulldozed and rebuilt the park to rid the park of pesky starlings. Now they might just demolish it so they can rid it of the homeless. Whether the deal with Giarratana goes through remains to be seen. If it does, Cooper’s mural suggesting an unfinished but growing Nashville will almost certainly disappear. Call it endangered art.

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Located at 600 Church Street, across from the downtown library. This is downtown, so plenty of parking, almost none of it free. The library parking garage has reasonable rates, including ninety free minutes with validation. Peruse the stacks and enjoy the art!

Another departure

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In what seems to be a new, ongoing series, yet another entry to file under “artwork endangered because the business is moving.” While the first two entries are from Yazoo Brewery’s building on Division Street, this time we are at Grimey’s New and Preloved Music, which will be decamping from 8th Street and moving to Trinity Road this fall. The building Grimey’s is in sold to a new owner, whose plans do not seem to include the iconic record store and music venue. All of which puts the future of this mural in question. Found on the patio of what used to be a branch of Frothy Monkey that shared space with Grimey’s, it’s a DCXV production. DCXV is the business home of Adrien Saporiti, whose best-known murals are the “I Believe in Nashville” murals scattered around town. Here we see a stack of amplifiers, maybe some turntables, and a couple of plastic crates filled with records (one of which has the DCXV signature). If you look close on the far right, you’ll see a coffee cup with the Frothy Monkey logo on it. File all of this under “endangered art.”

Located at 1604 Eighth Avenue South. The mural lies on the south side of the building, easily visible from the road if you are driving north. There is limited parking in front, more in back. Grab some records and some souvenirs while there is still time and enjoy the art!

 

Yazoo Brewery, Michael Cooper edition

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This giant Yazoo Brewery tank is something of a landmark on Division Street, but it’s a landmark that will be gone soon enough. Yazoo announced some time ago that they would be moving to a new site, and now that they have purchased land in Madison, all that’s left is finalizing the sale of their Gulch property. It’s unclear what will happen to this tank, painted by Michael Cooper of Murals and More, or the Herb Williams panels on the west side of the building. Hopefully, they will make the move as well. The logo on the front of the building, also by Cooper, will, of course, be lost. (See below, along with shots of the tank from other angles.)

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Located at 910 Division Street. Yazoo has a small amount of its own parking, and much of the paid parking in the Gulch area is one hour free. Get your last call at the Division St. site and enjoy the art!

Have I got a deal for you

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I have wanted to write about this particular mural for some time. It’s prominently visible if you are driving north on upper Nolensville Pike, it’s a weird mix of cheesy and minimalist, and it seemed to have been around a long while. What’s not to love? Sadly, there always seemed to be at least one car parked in front of it. So when I saw it car-free, I knew I had to get my shot quick. Sadly for this mural, the reason I found it car-free may also spell its doom. The furniture and appliance store whose goods it advertises has moved. Sam’s Mattress Furniture Warehouse doesn’t have much of an internet presence (other than a couple of bad Yelp reviews), but a sign on the door lists three new addresses, two for furniture and mattresses, one for appliances, all closer to downtown on Nolensville. The murals are as I guessed, survivors. All are signed by Mark E. Witte, a name I have not been able to track down. Witte seems to have worked fast giving each of them a separate specific date in April 2009. But they are out of order. Going left to right, they are dated April 26, 27, 28, 25 and 30. So he did the sofas first, then went back to the washing machine and worked his way back down the wall. Started on a Saturday, finished on a Thursday for a productive week. But with Sam’s closed, the fate of this mural seems uncertain.

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Located at 3312 Nolensville Pike. It faces south, towards Chilton Street. It is possible to park across the street on Chilton, and there is of course parking at Sam’s until developers get a hold of it.

Flour Girls

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This is an easy one to write about, but there’s a twist. There’s a web page that goes into detail as to the origins of this mural in central Goodlettsville. Imagine Goodlettsville, a community association, partnered in 2014 with artists at the Nossi College of Art to produce this mural that graces the Flourgirls Cafe building. Mark B. Flemming, Nossi’s Illustration Coordinator, was the chief artist, with significant help from students Lance Askins and Chelsa Jeanne. So what’s the twist? Well, note the lack of a link for Imagine Goodlettsville. Their website is defunct, and there’s no sign that the group is still active. That’s a shame, because it seems this was supposed to be part of a “mural program,” but it doesn’t seem much else was produced besides this one. And the Flourgirls are a mystery, too. They left this building in 2015. The last entry on their Facebook page (October 17, 2015) says that they will open their new Madison location in a week – and then nothing. There’s no evidence the Madison location ever opened. The Goodlettsville building remains empty, though it still has a “Flourgirls” sign. The future of this piece is uncertain, with the original sponsors gone, the building inactive. A crack evident in older pictures (see the first link above) has worsened and had to be patched. This bright splash of color has to be thought of as endangered art.

Located at 201 South Main Street (Dickerson Pike) in Goodlettsville. The mural faces south, in front of a dirt and gravel lot where you can park.

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