I’ve known about this mural behind Baja Burrito for some time, but have not posted about it before because I wanted a “clean” picture, without various items stacked in front. But that was a fool’s errand for two reasons. One, this is the back door to a busy restaurant. It is a natural thing for all kinds of crates, trays and garbage cans to be stacked by the door. This is the mural’s natural habitat, and the only way to see it. It’s a worker’s mural. Second, when I finally got the nerve to move at least a couple of large, easily rolled pieces out of the way, the staff that inevitably came out while I was doing it didn’t even seem to notice I was there. Maybe people do this all the time. The big trash can that I left for this photo was really heavy and might have been a grease depository. What it’s hiding is a dog, who is in the slide show below. The piece is signed “Luis Marin Creative.” That website is all about Marin’s photography and videography, with no mention of murals, but the profile shot on his Instagram page is a selfie in front of this mural, so I know I have the right artist. The mural itself doesn’t have much to do with the actual goings-on at Baja Burrito, but it does evoke the relaxed vibe that Baja is known for. There are also two cactus murals separate from this mural – one on a separate building that you would see directly to your left if you were standing where the featured photo above was shot. The other is around front, on the right (east) side of the building. Both are found below.
Located at 722 Thompson Lane. The main mural is on the backside, facing in the direction of Heather Place, but you can’t see it from the road. Parking in Berry Hill is always a nightmare, as there seems to be no public parking. If you’re just here to see the mural, I recommend the Baja Burrito’s offsite parking on Columbine Place, just off of Heather, straight back (north) from Baja Burrito. But hey, there’s a good meal to be had here, so grab some grub and enjoy the art!
When is hidden art not hidden art? When it’s only visible from an alleyway, but that alleyway has a fair amount of foot traffic. Hunt Supply Co. supplies all your skateboarding needs and is found in an alley a couple doors back behind Beyond the Edge in the Five Points district. According to Google Maps, the alley is called “#929 Alley.” As a long-time resident of Lockeland Springs, which borders Five Points, this is news to me. Hunt Supply has been in place for a few years, long enough to acquire multiple stages of art. For some time, there was an Emily Miller wheat-pasted and skateboarding paper wolf just below the sign (see at the bottom). The current work is by David Wright of Manecoon Sign Company and an artist he credits as @_wanted_1 on Instagram (that account has no pictures or information). It features a western scene, which may or may not have much to do with skateboarding, but the wolf at the end mimics Miller’s piece. If you check out the Instagram page of Jason Hunt, the store’s owner, you’ll see a fair amount of wolf imagery, and the shop dog, Harley, has something of wolf-like look. There’s a large sign in the back which was also done by Wright.
Located at 118 South 11th Street D. The “D” means “behind.” There is a path that reaches from 11th to Hunt Supply, but the real front of Hunt Supply, and the main mural, faces the alley. The alley can be reached from the 1000 block Woodland Street between Five Points Pizza (at 1012) and Boston Common, aka Batter’d & Fried (at 1008 A). It can also be accessed from the 1000 block of Russell Street, next to the YMCA Community Action Program building at 1021, or from the paid parking lot next to Beyond the Edge.
This one is just barely public art. Down at the bottom of the post is what you can see if you stay on the regular path. Maybe in winter, it’s a little more visible. It’s really a double that brings together two Nashville artists known for their stenciled solitary men, Brian Wooden and an artist who signs his work “For Becks.” Wooden does the usually headless men in suits (though sometimes not), while For Becks does the Lego men. Here, their work is found side by side. This grainy photo proves Wooden’s piece has been their at least a couple of years, while the For Becks piece is much more recent. They are not very accessible – if you want a selfie with one, there are easier places – just check the Instagram pages linked above. These are at the base of a platform that is part of the Rolling Mill Hill Greenway, itself part of a ramp that connects the City View Apartments above with the Nashville Trolly Barns below (that’s where Pinewood Social is). To get to it, start at the bottom of the ramp and either jump the railing, or at the very beginning of the lower part of the ramp, you can squeeze between the railing and a low wall for about 30 feet to gain access to the area where the mural is. And if you climb up the first part of the ramp, you’ll see some miniature Wooden stencils, these just of headless men in jackets, but no legs (see below).
Located at 9 Lea Avenue. That’s the address of the closest business, Emma, which is on the backside of the trolley barns, behind Pinewood Social. City View Apartments, up above, are at 500 Rolling Mill Hill Greenway, off Middleton Street. If you’re at the apartments and can see the Batman Building, head in that direction, keeping near the river. If you are at the Trolley Barns, head away from the Batman Building, towards the big hill next to the river with apartments on it. If you’re coming from below, the two large figures are above where the ramp makes an almost 90-degree turn before heading up. The mini mural is at the place where the ramp makes a U-turn. Parking is problematical in this area, but a lot less so nights and weekends.
In my ongoing series on the Eliston Parking Garage, I’m getting a little out of order because it seems my photo collection is not complete (probably because there were cars in the way). So I’m skipping some first-floor art for now and moving to the second. This piece is on the north-facing wall, and is signed by Mobe Oner (aka Eric Bass) and Folek Kelof, who signs his work “Folek.” This, and the other murals in and on the building, are part of the Elliston Parking garage project organized by the Nashville Walls Project. In revisiting the garage, I realized the mural I featured in Part 3 (see below) was part of a three-part wraparound mural, so I’ll be updating that post as soon as I get more pictures.
Located at 207 Louise Avenue, just off Elliston Place. This piece is on the second floor on the north side of the building (there are stairs and an elevator). Most of the parking in this area is pay parking. The garage is permit parking, at least on workdays.
While Eddie’s Cee Bee on Lafayette has been closed for some time, the artist JamersonSGC continues to use the building as a canvas. This impressive collection of human and animal portraits emblazoned with the words “Day Dreamin” is found on the back of the building where the old loading dock sits unused. Jamerson (who labels much of his work “Low Key Art”) sometimes likes to edit and reshape his work. See for example the evolution of Low key bee into The full bee (an update). In an original draft (see below), instead of the two people an elephant and possibly a second zebra were taking shape. All that remains of those two animals is the elephant’s tusk, which is engraved with Egyptian hieroglyphics and links the woman and man together. As the fate of the Cee Bee building is uncertain, the long term prospect for this mural is anyone’s guess. But watch this space – Jamerson might decide to revise it again!
Located at 109 Lafayette Street. The mural is on the east side of the building, facing Clairborne Street. There is parking in the area in front of the mural, and in the lot on the other side of the building.
In a less-trafficked part of Midtown, there’s a block with a lot of colorful art. On 17th street, the Eclipse Mart (now closed) has a couple of murals and right off that is Prison Alley, which is filled with graffiti murals, as is the east side of Printer’s Press, around the corner on State Street. The south side of Printer’s Press has these two murals, a collaboration between Kevin Bongang, an Atlanta artist who signs his work @bongangart, and Brandon Donahue, a local artist and TSU art professor. Bongang is responsible for the colorful extended sign partially obscured by shrubbery (if you look on his site he has some angled close-ups that help you see what’s behind the bushes), while Donahue did the Legos and the boy climbing over the wall (see below). Bothmen were also part of the Off the Wall project, as well as they now painted over Impermanent installation once found on 57th Avenue North. (I do plan to put the two graffiti walls on this blog at some point.)
Located at 1618 State Street. Street parking is available.
I try usually to present “clean” images of outdoor art – just the art, all the art, and nothing but the art. But sometimes, context is everything. And the artist, Folek (also known as Folek Kelof), did exactly the same thing on his Instagram page, only with more tires, which I felt gave me permission to branch out this time. This mural is a sign for CrossFit Rising Sun, a relatively new gym in an also pretty new complex on Trinity that includes the new Grimey’s location. Their logo is a cross between a rising sun and a kettlebell weight, which Folek has imposed on a fiery sky. And in the “clean” image below, you can better see the Nashville skylike gracing the kettlebell. It looks almost like a movie poster to me! By the way, did you know “CrossFit” is actually a brand name? I did not. I learn so much writing this blog!
Located at 1056 E Trinity Lane #104. Crossfit Rising Sun is on the back half of a building it shares with Living Waters Brewing. (Which has its own mural, soon to be on this blog.) The Rising Sun mural is on the east side of the building. There is parking for the various business at this complex.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.