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No art left behind

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Graffiti

A few words and then who knows

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.

Graffiti mural street art Nashville

graffiti mural street art Nashville

Rasmo graffiti mural street art Nashville

Pink Graffiti mural street art Nashville

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.

Three years and counting

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!

Kind mural street art Nashville
As it was last year, the subject of the most popular post on this blog.  Read about it in The Kind Way.

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.

Cash mural street art Nashville
Despite, or perhaps because it no longer exists, the subject of the second most popular post on this blog. See The Johnny Cash Mural

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.

Restaurant mural street art Nashville
One of the “Unkown Buchan Street Artist(s)” murals that may be threatened by gentrification. See Catered 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.

Bird Mural street art Nashville
Still my answer when people ask me about my favorite mural in Nashville. In part, because you are very unlikely to find it on Instagram. See A bird in the bush

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.

Nations Wall – Part 7

This is the seventh 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 seventh piece going from left to right (roughly north to south). The Nashville Walls project credits Eshor for this mural. While there seems to be no website or social media associated with that name, the hashtag #eshor on Instagram has a number of images you can explore. The lower tag is “Venser.” (I chose this partially blocked view of that tag for the featured photo because of the way Facebook crops shared links. See a full, angled view below.) This doesn’t seem to correspond to any of the artists that the Nashville Walls Project credited. Searching #venser on Instagram produces some similar tags and at least one other example of the two tags together (see the fourth photo in that set), but rare enough that I assume they are by two different people.

Graffiti mural street art Nashville

Images of the entire wall with all the murals together can be found in Part 1.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10

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.

The Nations Wall – Part 5

Graffiti mural street art Nashville

This is the fifth 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 fifth piece going from left to right (roughly north to south), and it’s by the artist Troy Duff. Duff is a prolific local artist working mostly in a graffiti-heavy style. I believe the word here is “KREST.” (#krestonegraffiti is a tag Duff uses a lot on Instagram.) He’s been featured several times on this blog, including in Eastland graffiti and A window on Nashville.

Images of the entire wall with all the murals together can be found in Part 1.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10

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.

Bugs Bunny and Company

Along the same wall that once housed the mural featured in Hidden skyline, one can now find a set of elaborate graffiti tags, as well as Elmer Fudd, Bugs Bunny, and of course a camel. Because camels. This art went in in early March, and may soon not be visible. One of those temporary electrical hookups you see at constructions sites has appeared in the yard in front of the mural. Even if the new building doesn’t complete;y hide it, the construction to come will certainly make it hard to take in the whole things. The only tag recognize belongs to Mobe Oner. On his Instagram page, he also credits The Rebel at Large, G. Lowks, bigskan2, and sticker_butthead (the last two are both private Instagram accounts). In any event, this is likely to be blocked from view soon, so check it out now!

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Located at the corner of Herman Street and 19th Avenue North, on the east side. Street parking is available. There is a lot of art on this group of buildings.

As long as the grass shall grow

Meulman mural street art Nashville

On this blog, I have been a little slow on documenting the big murals downtown, and this is one of the last I’ve gotten to. Like many of these murals, this one is part of the Nashville Walls Project. It was created in 2016 (aren’t I timely?) by the Dutch artist Niels Shoe Meulman. It’s done in a style he calls “Calligrafiti,” mixing elements of graffiti and calligraphy. In this case, it was also a messy process, as you can see from the photo series on the NWP website. The words come from the chorus of a song written by Peter LaFarge and performed by Johnny Cash, “As Long as the Grass Shall Grow.” It’s found on Cash’s 1964 album, Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian, a concept album about the history and problems of Native Americans. It’s a reference to the broken promises in many of the treaties signed between the United States and Native Americans.

As long as the moon shall rise, as long as the rivers flow
As long as the sun will shine, as long as the grass shall grow

Located at 144 Fifth Avenue North, the address of the L & C Garage. It lies directly behind the Downtown Presbyterian Church. Obviously, there is parking, but as this is downtown, so none of the nearby parking is free.

Panda sky

Panda Betor Mural

This mural appeared in the alley behind Make Nashville some months ago and is visible from the 900 block of Main Street (well, until some developer builds condos on top of Gym 5’s parking lot). But until very recently, there were a group of trailers parked in front of it stacked with what appeared to be some kind of traffic dividers, making for lousy pictures. When I realized those trailers were finally gone, I rushed immediately to get a new picture. I found that there was, in fact, a lot of new art in this alley. The wall of graffiti tags featured in Back in the alley has been replaced with a whole new set of graffiti tags, and there is a trippy new mural on the back of Gym 5 – all of which I will feature here soon. This mural above is unsigned, but the block of colors with a lion’s face poking out appears to say “Panda,” which is a tag I associate with the UH crew. There is also another Betor memorial. Betor was the tag of the artist Ronnie Bobal, who died in 2016. There is a major memorial to Betor on Gallatin Road, and his name is found in a number of murals around town. (This is the same wall that once had an interesting flower on it.)

Located at 947 Woodland Street. The mural can only be reached through the alley, which runs from McFerrin to South 10th Street. It is plausible to park in the loading dock best to the mural. Otherwise, there is street parking on McFerrin.

String theory

String mural street art Nashville

Though I have not quite finished documenting the murals associated with the Norf Wall Project, it’s worth noting that the collection of buildings whose walls host those murals have not been static canvases. New work has appeared over the last two years, some of which has already been painted over faster than I could document it. As well, at least one area of the original project has been replaced, which I will document later. This piece is fairly recent. It is unsigned, but the style looks very familiar, perhaps because this particular style of “string art” is sometimes found in the background of large graffiti installations. The three stars in the middle would seem to be a reference to the Tennessee state flag, though the rest of the design distinctly does not evoke the flag. I think it’s one of the more interesting examples of graffiti art in Nashville. How long it will last in this dynamic spot is anyone’s guess.

Located on the 800 block of 18th Avenue North, just south of Herman Street, underneath the Dr. DB Todd Jr. Boulevard bridge. The mural is on the west side of the road. Street parking is available.

The Gold Rush, R.I.P

Gold Rush Mural street art Nashville

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.

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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.

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