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nashville public art

No art left behind

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Graffiti

Hey, hey, hey!

Lucky7Full

Near the corner of Douglas and Jones Avenues, there is a market with a sign that very clearly says “Lucky 7 Discount Grocery.” However, it is apparently also known as Pharaoh’s Market. That’s what Google calls it and we know Google is always right, right? Either way, it has this impressive Fat Albert mural to liven up its parking lot. The purple tag on the left says “Fat Albert,” while the yellow/tan/blue tag seems to read ASAKA, presumably the handle of the artist or one of the artists who produced this. The south wall of the store also has a large graffiti installation, but a wall blocks access and the used car dealership with the fenced yard next door seems permanently closed, so you can only see the south wall from a distance. That car in the picture? It’s also in a 2015 Google street view shot.

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Lucky7South

Located at 1303 Jones Avenue. The accessible mural is on the north side of the building, where there is plenty of parking. Load up on sundries and enjoy the art!

Two years

KindMural
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.

NorthSideAutoMain
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

Workspace, playspace, UHspace

HMFullEast

Recently, a new mural appeared in the alley behind Center 615 and HOME courtesy of the UH crew, a prolific local graffiti crew. The mural features strong geometric lines, a more earth tone palette than seen in some of their other works, and familiar tags like Rasmo and Panda. There’s also a memorial to the late Ronald “Ronnie” Bobal, whose graffiti tag was “Betor.” A much larger memorial to Betor is featured in Betor Forever (where you can read more about him). Center 615 is an office and cowork space, while HOME is a cowork space specifically for musicians.

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HMBettor

Located at 615 Main Street. The mural is in the alley on the back side of the building that runs between North Seventh and North Sixth Streets. It’s conceivable to park in the alley, and there is street parking on Sixth and Seventh.

300

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This is post number 300. For this post, I’m updating on the art I know is now gone. The photo above is an Emily Miller piece once found at the corner of Main and McFerrin. Much of Miller’s work is deliberately temporary, drawn on paper and glued to outdoor walls. Her pieces are more durable than you might think, however, and in fact, this one was deliberately removed when the building was repainted. That’s the fate of most of the works listed here – they have been painted over. Others are gone because the building they stood on is gone.

The blog itself is getting a little better all the time. Statistics wise, since I started it in July 2016, 5450 people have visited the blog for a total of 11,006 page views. Modest, but it has been growing. From a couple hundred views a month when I got started, 800 and 900 has become common, it looks like the blog is about to close in on the second month in a row and third overall for more than 1000 views. The empire grows slowly.

All art is temporary, outdoor art in particular. A list, probably incomplete, of art I have chronicled that is gone or substantially erased. (I will be updating these posts in the coming weeks):

Ask not who the wrecking ball calls for (one building destroyed, another painted over)

The Vape USA Gallery (painted over)

The doomed graffiti wars of Madison Mills (painted over)

Unsafe at any speed (painted over)

Ch-ch-ch-changes! (removed – the Miller piece above)

The Carquest Gallery, Part 1The Carquest Gallery, Part 2 (partially painted over)

Where you at?! (painted over)

Color me gone – soon (building destroyed)

The ghost of craft beers past (painted over)

A flower grows in East Nashville (painted over; replaced with new mural)

Going, going gone (painted over)

Sorry you missed the show (painted over)

Children’s Art on Jefferson Street (removed)

Super visible, very temporary, hard to reach (replaced with a billboard)

Woodland creatures, Part 1 (severely deteriorated, and then removed)

The Zoop Gallery on 8th South (removed and/or deteriorated, replaced)

The ruins of 21st and Linden (lost to construction)

Oz Arts Inside/Out, Part 2 (removed)

On imagined seas (painted over, replaced with new mural)

Big Blue (painted over, replaced with new sign)

Frutas! (partially painted over, replaced with new mural)

Wanda (painted over, replaced with new mural)

Staying power

301RosaParks

I don’t post all the graffiti I see. A lot of it isn’t interesting enough. This skull is modestly interesting, but what gets it a blog post and a pin on the map is visibility. This has to be one of the most visible pieces of “wild,” uncommissioned graffiti art in town, outside of the tags on some of the interstate underpasses and highway billboards. It ranks presumably below the “MOIST” on the Riverfront Condominiums brick tower that can be seen from the Jefferson Street bridge for the number of people who see it each day, but given its prominent location on the Rosa Parks Boulevard underpass that whisks people from the north side to Church Street into the heart of downtown, a lot of people see it every day. Certainly, anyone using the TSU downtown campus parking lot sees it frequently. And it does have staying power. It’s been there at least a year. It would seem the Lofts owners are not deeply interested in removing it. If they do, I would recommend replacing it with commissioned art. Otherwise, something less interesting is likely to take its place.

Located at 301 Rosa Parks Avenue. Though at first glance this seems to be painted on a retaining wall, it would actually seem to be part of the Lofts at the Reserve complex. The mural actually faces Rosa Parks Boulevard, one block west from Rosa Parks Avenue. It is best viewed either from YMCA Way in front of the TSU parking lot, or, if you are adventurous, you can walk down the underpass road (Rosa Parks Boulevard) from Church Street. There is metered parking on YMCA Way.

Glyph man

This unusual face has a striking resemblance to the Mayan glyph for balam, the word for “jaguar” and “strength.” The glyph has fangs and is more cat-like, but the pattern of dots and lack of adornment, along with the general shape, suggests a humanized balam. Or maybe it’s just random graffiti.

Located at 1309 McGavock Pike, on the back side of Relax and Wrap Barber and Style (well, that’s what the sign says – on the internet, it’s known and Relaxing Wraps Barber and Style.) There’s plenty of parking here and across the street, though often full with partons of the Village Pub and Garden. Baily and Cato, sadly, has closed. Get a cut, grab some grub, and enjoy the art!

Back in the alley

GraffitiGreen

Some weeks ago, a set of UH crew works appeared in the alley between Main and Woodland on the back side of the building that house Main Street Liquors, Main Street Market, and Transmission Exchange. This is obviously permitted work – tags this elaborate take time to install, and this is a fairly public place. Some business owners have figured out the way to avoid random graffiti is to promote murals and more elaborate graffiti art. This appears to be the case here. The UH crew has done other work in this alley, notably And we’re back!. See below for the rest of the installation. There is also an interesting tag on a gate/door across from this installation on the other side of the alley

GraffitiMain

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Located at 944 Main Street. The installation is in fact in the alley, which can be accessed from 10th Street or McFerrin Avenue. There is some parking in this alley if you are just visiting.

Horton hears a UH!

HortonUH

As in the UH crew, one of the most prolific graffiti crews in town (and which I really need to create a category for). This colorful door is found on the loading dock of Horton Paper Service, Inc. That page is from a database of businesses. Horton doesn’t seem to have much need of an internet presence. Some of your more traditional industries don’t, I’ve found, the kind of industrial places you’re likely to find graffiti. The immediate neighborhood around here actually has a lot of art, including the Norf Wall Gallery site and A bird in the bush, among others.

Located at 614 18th Avenue North, behind Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School. This stretch of 18th runs parallel to a bridge where Dr. D.B. Todd Blvd sails over a railroad. It’s often possible to park under the bridge, and there is street parking (though I’ve never tried it during school hours.) Put on some sturdy shoes and check out all the art in the neighborhood!

Fire and Safety (Part 1)

TMBird

I am definitely trying to stay away from multi-part posts, but some sites require it. Three sides of the Industrial Fire and Safety Inc. building on Ash have murals. On one side, we find a series of country and folk music legends (that isn’t quite finished). On the other two other themes are found, mostly stuff that flies. It seems to be mostly if not all the work of the Thoughts Manifested crew, a collection of mural and graffiti artists whose best-known work is probably the Johhny Cash mural on Molloy. I need to blog about that one soon. Given development in that area, I wonder about the future of the small building it’s on. This piece takes a little more effort to find, in the Pie Town neighborhood that still retains the warehouse/industrial atmosphere that was common south of Broadway before the boom years. The bird is featured on some of Thoughts Manifested’s other work, notably a nearby mural on Plaza Art facing 7th Ave, also awaiting a blog post.

Located at 608 Ash Street. The new Division Street extension complicates access somewhat. The mural above faces into a parking lot and alley on the north side of the building, on the opposite side from Ash. It’s easily accessed through the parking lot entrance on Ewing Ave between Middleton St and Fogg St, or down the alley that forks off of 6th Ave a little south of Lafayette Ave. Parking here is easy.

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