In the battle of the selfies (see my previous post), an up-and-comer is the “nashville looks good on you.TN” mural found behind Frothy Monkey’s 12 South outpost. There’s also one on the Anderson Group Real Estate building on 21st South. This one, on the side of the BW Gallery, seems to be the newest one. The artist, who bills himself online as NASH.TN, posted on his Instagram account last October 28 that he had just started working on this one, so it’s just a few months old. This is also much larger than the others, which allowed the artist to suggest the shape of the state of Tennesee, and to fade out the mural into a barely visible graffiti tag. And while this version is seen by thousands of Nashville commuters every day, I doubt you’ll find much of a line here for your portrait. Perusing the #nashvillelooksgoodonyou tag on Instagram, I found only one portrait with the Nolensville Pike edition.
Welcome to Old Nashville. That’s an interesting greeting for Tin Dog Tavern to make. On the one hand, it’s relatively new, having opened in 2014. But it’s also true that there’s been a dive bar on this corner of 4th Avenue South for a while. Before it was Tin Dog, it was Purple Heys, and before that, it was TC’s Triangle (the building is triangle shaped). Tin Dog sits in an interesting place. It lies on the border between Wedgewood-Houston and Chestnut Hill, two rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods that still have significant chunks of their older versions. Warehouses, factories, auto repair places and low-income housing sit side-by-side with art galleries and some of the newest high-end housing in town. Just south, the Fairgrounds are poised to become home to Nashville’s major league soccer stadium. Compared to all that, Tin Dog is very much Old Nashville. It’s anyone’s guess how long it, or some succeeding dive bar, will stick it out. The sign is an Eastside Murals creation. On the other side of the building is a graffiti installation that bears tags from the UH crew. (See below).
UPDATE: This building has been renovated and all of this work has been painted over.
Located at 1401 4th Avenue South, at the corner with Rains Avenue. The Welcome to Nashville mural faces Rains Ave. The graffiti mural is on the south side of the building, facing an alleyway. Tin Dog has parking, much of it right in front of the mural. If you want to find the mural car-free, try early in the morning.
Back when I blogged about the Mermaid House, the former owner contacted me. She let me know that there were more murals around back. Like the mermaid in front, this mural is the work of Brandon Donahue, who, like myself, is a professor at Tennesee State University. There is also something of a surprise here. For the most part, graffiti taggers are respectful of murals, but not this time. The style of the tag is one I’ve seen around East Nashville. “Editing” is always a possibility with outdoor art. The back fence of the yard of the house next door also has a colorful mural. (See the slideshow below.) It’s not signed and does not appear on Donahue’s website, so I’m not sure who made it. One notable detail on this second mural is the small “Hunter’s” sign. Hunter’s was an auto body shop that had extravagant signage a couple blocks from these houses, signage lost in the site’s recent renovation (though not completely – it does appear some of it is being saved).
Located in the alley behind at 1205 and 1203 Forrest Ave. Street parking is available. These are private homes, so be respectful.
Normally, I’m a purist about cars parked in front of murals. But I have never seen this mural without a car parked in that spot, usually pulled more far forward and blocking a good chunk of the left half of the mural. It’s apparently the official employee parking space. And as such, cars are really part of the art, ultimately. Jammers Market has no internet presence, not even so much as Yelp review. But it does have a colorful if to me largely indecipherable graffiti mural. A smaller tag on the right seems to read “”DBNER,” which might be what the brown and yellow letters say. Other tags include “IPCTW” and what might be “Kaos Ink” and “Fdc.” Kaos Ink leads to some tattooparlors in other countries, but I doubt that has anything to do with this.
Located at 1519 Jones Avenue, at the corner with Chickasaw Avenue. There is parking at the market, and there is street parking across the street on Chickasaw.
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 “inkblot” 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 (UPDATE: Their website has no longer exists) 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.
UPDATE: These murals have been painted over.
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.