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nashville public art

No art left behind

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Graffiti

Going, going gone

MainOuterWall

I had intended to post about the graffiti installations on the small building next to Plaza Art a few days ago. If I had, I would have posted about it while the art still existed. I drove by yesterday, and the building was in the process of being painted blue, with just a little of the graffiti art still visible. Some of this art was fairly old, old enough to have started peeling at least, though there is also a 2016 date on one piece. The tags KOG, 3XM and N86 were once visible here. KOG is a graffiti team out of Los Angeles and San Fransico, while the other tags are associated with Nashville artists. I’m not sure if the art on the fence wall is also being painted over, but I imagine it is. Archiving art before it disappears is part of the mission of this blog.

Located on the south side of Middleton Street, next to Plaza Art. The art is gone, but there is a major mural next door (at least for now) that I plan to post on soon, and Plaza Art has acquired a large mural of its own. Plenty of parking.

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The forgotten factory of 17th Avenue

Boanes

I don’t know much about the abandoned factory on the 800 block of 17th Avenue just south of Herman Street. I know the original deed is dated 1920, and that the property currently belongs to Fisk University. I know also the county assessor’s office values the factory itself at exactly zero dollars and zero cents. The land is a bit more — $326k. It makes sense. The building is probably prohibitively expensive to repair. It’s a shame though – people once made their living here. Now it’s abandoned, crumbling down by the railroad. It’s the kind of place both the homeless and graffiti artists can sometimes be found. I encountered no one when I visited the site, but it is obvious that people sleep here, including in the smokestack, in the very place workers once shoveled coal into the fire. The factory and nearby walls are plastered with tags, mostly from the UH crew, a prolific Nashville group. There’s at least one Betor memorial, so at least a little of this is fairly new (Betor died last December). There are more tags under the adjacent bridge. I’ll feature them in a later post.

Located by the bridge over the railroad tracks on the 800 block of 17th Avenue North. The factory is on the west side of the road. There is a fair amount of vegetation, and if you venture very far, you’ll be out of sight of the road quickly. Street parking is available.

FactoryMachinery

 

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The Carquest Gallery, Part 2

Car Quest Back Middle

This blog has been a learning process. One thing I’ve learned – look on the back side of buildings. There’s a lot of art where few people can see it. Back in November 2016, I posted about the very obvious murals visible from Nolensville road on the front and side of CarQuest. I did not, however, take a few steps to look around back. I did note though at the time that there were murals on the back side visible on Google street view, and I vowed to update. Well, here I am, updating. Usually, when there are several murals in one place, my top photo is the wide view of all of them, with a slide show of the individual ones below. But I like this one so much I decided to feature it. These three murals were clearly painted over other, older murals, which only highlights the transience of outdoor art and the need to document it. Next to the blue door, we see “Kyle Korea.” While that may be the name or handle of an artist, Camp Kyle was a U.S. Army base in Korea closed in 2005, so that might also be the reference. See the map pin for Part 1.

Part 1

Located at 3317 Nolensville Road, at the corner with Elgin Street. There’s some street parking on Elgin, and if things aren’t too busy at the Lava Lounge Hookah Bar next door, you might be able to park in their lot for a spell. Pick up some bling for your car and enjoy the art!

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Just a few feet away

SpringStBridgeEastFull

SpringStBridgeWestFull

Thousands of people pass by this exuberant graffiti installation every day and never see it (or maybe get just a tiny glimpse). It lies underneath Spring Street, alongside the railroad tracks that wend their way through the spaghetti junction where Spring, Dickerson, Main and Ellington Parkway all come together, and with Jefferson and I-24 just a little way away. Make that tens of thousands, maybe more, come close every day but never see it. I first caught glimpse of these murals from quite a distance – you can just see them from where Foster Street crosses the railroad tracks, but it was a longer distance down the tracks than I cared to walk. After much map studying and driving around, I realized the best access was right off Ellington, where there is a pull off area right under the bridge. There is also a good sized homeless encampment just south of the bridge, also hidden from view of the many thousands of drivers who pass through here each day.

Located under Spring Street, as it passes over the railroad tracks that parallel Ellington Parkway. The easiest way to reach this site is to get on Ellington at or north of Cleveland Street, heading south. Just past the Spring Street/I-24/I-65 exit, there is an area where you can pull under the bridge. It may also be possible to reach it by foot from the west side of the bridge just west of 5th and Main. Google Earth shows a gravel “road” starting from First Street North at A-1 Fun Cycle that parallels the tracks up to the spot – maybe if you have a dirt bike? To be clear, I have no idea if any of this is legal, and there is a large homeless encampment less than 100 feet south from where the murals are.

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Out of the shadows (for now)

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There used to be a Spanish language church on Trinity Lane, just a hundred feet or so from Gallatin. “Jesus te ama” – “Jesus loves you” declared the sign out front. It got knocked down. I’m putting my money on condos or apartments to take its place. But this has temporarily brought to light a graffiti mural that otherwise remained fairly well hidden. On the alleyway between Zophi Street and Trinity Lane (which Google declares to be “2036 Alley”), the backside of a small barn has become a canvas for the prolific local artist who goes by Rasmo, of the UH crew. The washed out psychedelic color palette is not something I’ve seen before here in Nashville, but I don’t claim to have seen everything. The man with the upturned cap is a common theme in UH installations.

Located in the alley behind 1076 Zophi Street. That’s a private residence, so I recommend parking at Checkers at 3001 Gallatin Pike, at the corner of Trinity Lane. The alley and the barn are just a few feet away.

The usual suspects

JeffesronBridgeFull

Sometimes, when searching for outdoor art, you wind up in less than pleasant places. The easternmost support of the Jefferson Street bridge, where Jefferson passes over an unnamed access road just before reaching Cowan Street, is not a place Nashvillians would ordinarily take tourists, and unless you work at one of the industrial sites nearby, nor is it a place Nashvillians would visit themselves. Unless you are homeless, or a graffiti artist. There’s plenty of evidence of people spending time here – discarded bottles, food wrappers, and the like, as well as a mattress it’s hard to imagine anyone sleeping on. But the seclusion that some homeless people appreciate also attracts graffiti artists, given access to a large concrete wall. There are many layers of tags here, with each artist painting over the previous one. If you ever visit, you’re likely to see some names other that what I captured when I found it. Someone has labeled the current crop “usual suspects,” hence the blog title.  There is also an interesting “eye” on a nearby pylon (featured below). I should note that the panel on the far right currently has a reference to sexual assault. It’s not clear what the meaning is – I have chosen not to include a close-up of that part.

Located under the Jefferson Street bridge just west of Cowan, next to the Cross Point Church. To reach it, take Oldham Street west towards the river and turn right on the access road just after the railroad tracks. Just before you get to the bridge, there’s a dirt road on the right that leads to the graffiti. I suspect this will get paved as part of the large construction project underway just past the bridge. This is an industrial area, so try not to park where you’ll block large trucks.

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Betor Forever

BetorForeverFull

Several weeks ago, a major installation appeared on the 2600 block of Gallatin, on the Penny Recycling building. It’s one of the larger murals in town (though smaller certainly than the giant ones downtown.) I haven’t been able to get to it before because of cars parked at the Hairworld next door. Over a portrait of a young man in a hat surrounded by flowers and spray paint cans, the mural declares “Betor Forever.” Betor was the nom de plume of Ronald “Ronnie” Bobal, who died last December, a couple of weeks shy of his thirtieth birthday. Bobal was a prolific graffiti artist who worked with the UH and ICR crews. You can see some of his work and tributes to him herehere and here. The mural itself is signed by Sterbo and Tierdo.  Sterbo has also memorialized Bobal in the mural of colored spheres mentioned in Arctic colors. There are some other, smaller pieces at this site. I’ve included them in the gallery below.

Located at 2611 Gallatin Pike on the south side of the Pocket Money Recycling building, near the corner of Carolyn Avenue. Your best bet for parking is the Hairworld next door. All the images are on the south side of the building, though the camera is on the back of some construction debris so it may not be very permanent.

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What’s in a face?

Baxterface

Corporate America is not big on public art. Oh sure, major corporations routinely fund art projects, often to beautify their own facilities or to gain some good publicity, but when it comes to the brand, the brand must be pure. And if the company is building chain stores across the country, be they restaurants or retail, little deviation is allowed. Chain stores and restaurants seem to exude some kind of cloud that kills public art. The worst place to look for public art of any kind are those four-lane thoroughfares that have miles of national chains up and down them. Which is why I’m 99.99% certain this face on the property of the Family Dollar at the corner of Home and Gallatin was not authorized, and will probably be painted over soon enough. This is found on a concrete enclosure protecting the store’s garbage dumpster. Less interesting graffiti is found on the other two sides of the enclosure. A note to business owners tired of cleaning up graffiti – you should put in murals. Taggers are mostly respectful of mural art. You could save yourself the trouble of cleaning up graffiti and make the neighborhood more interesting in one go!

Located at 3407 Gallatin Pike. The face is found on a concrete “box” behind the store, at the corner of Home and Baxter, facing Baxter. Load up on unnecessary plastic objects and enjoy the art!

Someone was here

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This tag is found on the wall of a nondescript small warehouse on Hermitage Avenue. I don’t know what it says, and I don’t recall seeing a similar one around town, so I’m not sure if it’s by a local artist or a visitor. Grafitti artists will often leave their mark on cities they visit. I do though think it’s elegant in its simplicity, standing alone on this long brick wall. Google Maps shows it in a March 2016 photo, so it’s at least a year old.

Located at 280 Hermitage Avenue. The mural is found on the east side of the warehouse, facing a small open lawn. This is an industrial area, so not much street parking. You will probably have to park at one of the local businesses.

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