Once upon a time, there was a muffler shop at 935 4th Avenue South called Tiger Muffler Center. It is no more. It would appear there is now an auto repair store at that address called Los Partners, though they don’t have much of an online presence. Why they or whoever owns the building decided to erase “muffler center” but leave the rest of the sign is unknown to me – maybe they just like tigers. It does change the meaning of the sign. Instead of telling us “This is the name of the muffler store,” it now says to us “Yes, that’s a tiger. The individual holding a muffler is indeed a tiger.” Ghost signs from lost businesses are of course nothing new, such as the Dutch Maid sign. “Los Partners” is an odd name, given that in Spanish the word for “partner” (as in “business partner”) is “socio.” Signs of an emerging hybrid culture, I suppose. The tiger image, however, must be considered endangered, like its natural counterpart, given that the store it supported is long gone. Check it out while you can.
Located at 935 4th Avenue South. This is a tricky place to park, particularly on a weekday when the businesses on this stretch are all open. The nearest street parking appears to be on 3rd Avenue South.
The scope of this blog includes not only murals and sculpture, but also “interesting signs.” And the sign for the old Key Motel definitely counts as interesting. There are at least a couple other of these old survivors on Dickerson, left over from the days before the interstates were built when Dickerson Pike, know also at US Highway 41, was the main route from the north into the city. Currently, the Key Motel is undergoing renovation, hence the fence. While it will reopen as a hotel, the developer is noncommittal as to whether he will keep the name, much less renovate the sign, so the future of this survivor is uncertain. Get your selfies while you still can. The southern side of the sign is actually in better condition, but it’s also partially obscured by vegetation. See below.
The story of the mural on what is now the Fond Object building is complicated, as it is not one mural, but at least four. Back in 2012, a community produced mural led by Savannah McNeill of Hey Wanderer went up. There’s a nice time-lapse video of its production on YouTube. Look for the “two hands” picture below (I think I got that image from Google street view, but I’m not sure). But that was only the beginning. A Tim Kerr portrait of experimental producer Joe Meek went up in time to get the “best mural” award in the Nashville Scene’s Best of 2014 edition. See the picture below with Meek but not Tom Petty. Then, in the aftermath of the death of Tom Petty, a Jules Muck portrait honouring him went up this year. And more recently, a tribute by Jason Galaz and Maria “Poni” Silver to the co-owner of Fond Object, Joe Pettit, was added to the corner. There was never any whitewash. Pieces of the original mural are still visible. And yet this rapidly transforming mural may meet its ultimate transformation soon, as the building itself is under threat, as the owner is seeking to replace the building with a major development. Whether this multi-layered, multi-artist mural can survive very much remains to be seen.
Located at 1313 McGavock Pike. The mural faces Riverside Drive. Your best bet for parking is probably the gas station across the street.
And the blog is back! How about a whole lot of art to celebrate? Back in April, there was an art show at an old warehouse in The Nations whose only indication of its past is a damaged sign that seems to have once read “Motor Parts.” The show was carried out by Impermanent, which bills itself as “a collective of artists who are displaying their talents in the world of subversive and immersive art within an uninhibiting environment,” and was done in partnership with Nashville Civic Design Center and The Oasis Real Foundation. The show produced art both inside and out at the warehouse. This blog covers outdoor art, but you can see some of the creations inside in this video. Some of the work on the outside features tags associated with the UH crew. There is one piece signed by Brandon Donahue (look for the “ink blot” image that is the second image in the South Wall slideshow below). On the Impermanent website the orange face above is credited to Sterbo, and based on style, the mouse on the south wall and the mouse and head on the north wall appear to be the work of Adam Hale, while the ice cream colored scene around the orange face fits the style of Kevin Bongang. Presumably, the other artists listed on Impermanent’s Who page were also involved in producing the outdoor art. (I really should have gone to this show – I’d be better informed. It must have been laundry night!) Go check it out soon. An abandoned warehouse in the go-go-go real estate market of The Nations won’t last long.
East Wall, left to right.
South Wall, left to right.
West Wall, full, then left to right.
North Wall, left to right
Located at 1211 57th Avenue North. Street parking is available.
I live down the street from this house, and pass it almost every day. I’ve wanted to put it on the blog pretty much from day one (it first appeared around the time I started the blog in 2016), but I never knew who made it. And then I found it on a local artist’s website while researching another post. Problem solved – except, I forgot who the artist was. I searched every local artist’s site I could think of – and nothing. Tonight I was planning on posting about another of the Norf Wall murals, which turned out to be by Brandon Donahue, who, like me, is a TSU professor. So I checked out his website – and there was the mermaid. Well, Professor Donahue’s Norf Wall mural (which is education-themed) will have to wait. At present, the house appears to be unoccupied and is being renovated by Bootstrap Architecture and Construction. One would hope that they or a future owner would leave the mermaid in place, but now may be the time to get your picture made with it. I may be wrong about the house being unoccupied, so I can only recommend taking pictures from the sidewalk.
Located at 1205 Forrest Ave. Street parking is available. This is a private home, occupied or not, so be respectful.
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.
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.
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, theartfoundthereandelsewhereintownhasgottenalotofattention, 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.
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.)
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.
Sadly, Carloyn’s Homestyle Kitchen has closed, at least as a restaurant. But as a cateringservice 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!
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.
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.
Located at 6227 Roberston Avenue, near the corner with Croley Drive. Plenty of parking on site.