It is becoming more and more evident that Nashville business owners understand the importance of art as part of their self-presentation. The Eastland is yet another of the many upscale apartment and condo buildings that have been sprouting like weeds in the current Nashville real estate market. It’s all crisp modern lines, muted whites and greys, but then you turn into the little tunnel that links the parking lot to the road and you encounter this vivid splash of color, courtesy of Troy Duff. There are the obvious neighborhood nods, like “615” and “37206.” It’s also a sign. Look closely under the arrow, and you’ll see “The Eastland.” It isn’t signed, but following a hunch that it was his work, I found it on Duff’s Instagram page. That post is dated August 27, 2017, making the piece about a year old.
Located at 1035 West Eastland. There is parking at the apartment building and some limited street parking, as well as an adjacent parking garage.
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.
This is a tale of two murals and two stores. The Hokus Pokus mural by Music City Murals on Gallatin advertises the vape store of the same name. The MCM guys must be really proud of it, as they use it as the cover art on their Facebook page. Hokus Pokus has also used the design in a billboard farther south on Gallatin. Before this mural, however, there used to be a graffiti art mural here with the “Betor” tag, he of Betor Forever. I thought I had my own photograph of it, but I can’t find it, so I’ve posted a Google street view shot below. But wait, there’s more! Sage and Serpent is a tattoo parlor in the same building, and below I include their interesting sign and an image that is posted on the back of the building. I don’t know who did either, but I would hazard a guess it’s one or both of the two artists who own Sage and Serpent.
Located at 4118 Gallatin Pike. The main mural is on the north side of the building, while the Sage and Serpent sign is on the front and the image of a hand is on the back side. There is plenty of parking in front and back of the building.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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):
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.
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!