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nashville public art

Nashville murals, street art, graffiti, signs, sculptures and more

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Industrial site

Beer Strong (New Heights Brewing)

How can a mural on a little-used side street be seen by thousands of people every day? If that little-used street faces the interstate. Up on a knoll along Carrol Street, this Eastside Murals work faces I-40, on the south side of the downtown loop, at the very north end of Chestnut Hill. I only knew of it recently because I’ve been staying home a lot and I stay off Nashville interstates as much as I can under any circumstances. Because of the tight sightlines, it’s impossible to get a traditional straight-on photograph. I took the photo at the bottom of this post from across the interstate, through a fence (near Mulberry and 5th). If it looks a little fuzzy, it’s because I blew it up a great deal.

New Heights Mural Nashville street art

The mural features the logo and motto of New Heights Brewing Company. New Heights was founded by people who came from San Diego, CA, and the logo includes not only the Nashville skyline (with its iconic Batman Building), but also San Diego’s North Park Water Tower. The Chestnut Hill neighborhood New Heights is in of course has its own iconic water tower, at 4th and Chestnut. The mural doesn’t actually lie on New Heights’ building, which is located about half a block away down 5th Avenue. The building it is on, which has a large three-dimensional sign in its front yard that says “GPI,” is currently vacant.

New Heights Interstate

Located at 915 5th Ave South. The mural faces Caroll Street, facing north towards downtown. It’s most easily accessed using either 6th Ave South coming from downtown, or coming from Oak Street, off of 4th Avenue South. Street parking on Carrol is prohibited, but for the moment you can park in front of the GPI building.

By the tracks

It’s been a few weeks since I post any “wild” graffiti to the blog, though for all I know this was done with full permission of the owners. Owners of what? Hard to say. This piece is found on a small concrete building that lies at the corner of 11th Avenue North and Harrison Street, just below the tracks. This is part of an industrial area squeezed between what developers like to call North Gulch to the south and Hope Gardens to the north. It’s an area that has resisted development, a pocket of warehouses and factories a few blocks from the State Capitol. Two long-standing industrial firms are found right across the street. On both sides of 11th Avenue going north and to the east along Harrison Street, is the “campus” of John Bouchard and Sons, a machine shop and iron casting factory that goes back to 1908.  A little farther down Harrison, on both sides of the road, is a branch of U.S. Smokeless Tobacco. While the company goes back to 1822, its Nashville factory on Harrison only goes back to 1996. But its presence suggests this small area will remain industrial. A large plot half a block north of the graffiti mural was recently leveled, tearing down what used to be a Goodwill warehouse that had been severely damaged by fire. The new owners of the site? U.S. Smokeless Tobacco. So, no condominiums, at least not yet.

The little concrete building itself is probably railroad property, though abandoned. For a long time, it was completely screened by trees and occupied by at least one homeless individual. Today, the trees are gone, and a security car is often parked next to it, no homeless to be seen. On the other side of the tracks lies Solis North Gulch Apartments, which start at a little over $1500/month and go up quickly, but the corner of Harrison and Eleventh is likely to stay out of the development craze for some time to come.

UH Graffiti Nashville mural street art

Located at the corner of 11th Avenue North and Harrison Street. Street parking is available, but be aware large trucks come through here frequently.

A bull on Charlotte

This bull with the peony in his mouth perched high above the Cumberland appeared on the outer wall of Elemental Arthouse’s factory store a few weeks ago. Why this bull is apparently standing on one of the arches of the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge is unclear, but images of animals, often surreal, are common in the work of the artist, Jessica Fife. A bull with a peony in his mouth also evokes the story of Ferdinand, the peacefull bull who had no interest in fighting, wanting only to smell all the pretty flowers. Elemental Arthouse has more to do with iron bridges than peaceful bulls. They bill themselves as people who “turn homes and businesses into a work of art,” though wood and metalworking. Signs, furniture, and all kinds of decorative designs are made in the warehouse building this small storefront it attached to. The hashtag that both EA and Fife use for this mural is “#bullsitwall.” I tried to come up with a clever blog title around that but didn’t come up with anything I was comfortable using. Apparently, the plan is that EA will make a bench to go in front of the mural so people can sit and have their photo taken. Hence, “bullsit.”

Fife, who teaches art at Austin Peay University, also has written that she has recently bid on more murals in Nashville, so hopefully, we’ll be seeing more of her animals in odd places!

Bullsit mural street art Nashville

Located at 4206 Charlotte Avenue. The mural faces west, away from downtown. Street parking is available on 42nd Avenue, and to some extent on 43rd. The mural lies between these two streets.

Music in black and white

Altru Creative mural street art Nashville

Usually, if I’m having trouble researching an artwork, it’s because I don’t know who the artist is. But the signature for Eastside Murals is very clear here. No, what took some digging was figuring out what Eastside’s client, Altru Creative, actually does. Check out that website. Music business, check! But what they do in the business isn’t all that clear, even if you read all their blog posts. However, their Facebook page is more helpful, as they’ve checked the categories Advertising Agency, Media Agency, and Music Production Studio on the “About” section. Those categories would seem to include promoting music shows and festivals while working primarily in the worlds of house, electronica, dance, hip-hop, and R&B. That triangle in the middle is their logo, and their name is tattoed on the DJ’s hand, so it seems this counts as a sign as well as a mural. It’s Nashville, so of course, there’s an image of the Batman Building, but also a crane with a wrecking ball, which is also very much a symbol of today’s Nashville.

Located at 1036 West Kirkland Avenue. The mural faces the road. There is a large gravel parking lot, and street parking is available.

Bearded Iris Brewing, Makeover Edition

In January 2017, just a few months after starting this blog, I wrote about an interesting wall of graffiti on the rear side of Bearded Iris Brewing. I even called it “Part 1,” because I intended to come back and write about the less interesting graffiti on the building that faced that back wall of Bearded Iris, on the other side of the Cumberland River Greenway. Well, that building got torn down to make way for a parking lot, and the graffiti was replaced by this giant sign for Bearded Iris done by Eastside Murals. (The graffiti off to the left is still there, and might get a blog post someday.) This mural is reminiscent of another recent work by Eastside Murals covering the entirety of the Molly Green building at McFerrin Ave and Main Street. While the color scheme is quite different, that work also features thick flowing lines and large circles. I recently got good photos of it, so look for it on the blog soon. The featured photo above is angled because, as you can see below, trying to take a photo straight on mostly just gets you a picture of trees! The Bearded Iris Brewing logo, which you can see in the upper right of the mural and on the tanks located on the front of the building, doesn’t look much like a bearded iris flower to me but more like a stylized fleur-de-lis. Your mileage may vary.

Bearded Iris Mural street art Nashville

Bearded Iris Tanks street art Nashville

Located at 101 Van Buren Street. The mural faces east, along the Cumberland River Greenway. There is a paid parking lot directly in front of it, but you can probably park for free for a little while in Bearded Iris’s parking lot (look for the tanks), longer if you stop in for a brew!

Tattoos of Shed

Some people like their photo taken with wings, but there are undoubtedly some folks who would prefer a couple of heavily muscled tattooed arms in their picture. This three-month-old mural by Tara Marie Aversa (also known as Tarabella Aversa) has those people covered. It’s an appropriate mural for a fitness center. Shed Group Fitness is actually a chain, though four of its seven locations are in Nashville, including the one in Germantown, where this mural is found.  While spare compared to some of Aversa’s other murals, these tattooed arms contain a few of the flowers characteristic of much of her work. There are also some traditional tattoo subjects, like birds, knives and mottos – “Keep Goin” and “Stronger Harder Every Day.” But how many people have tattoos of a cassette tape? No doubt someone does. This isn’t the only mural of flexing arms in town. Put up your dukes! by  Rachel Deeb is found on the side of the Church Street branch of Title Boxing Club near Elliston Place. Those are also tattooed, but not surprisingly, also have boxing gloves on.

Located at 85 Van Buren St, at the corner with Adams Street in a building Shed shares with O-Ku Suhi Nashville. The mural is on the west side of the building, facing a large parking lot. The Cumberland River Greenway is on the other side of the lot. The lot is a pay lot – there is some street parking on Van Buren and Adams. Get your sweat on and enjoy the art!

Line it up

The tricky part about photographing this Sterbo (aka TerboSterbo) mural is knowing exactly where to stand and how high to hold the camera. Notice that the artist included the two utility poles as part of the installation. I think I did a fairly good job of lining up the lines on the poles with the lines on the wall, but I know I didn’t get it quite right. With the gentrification in Salemtown and Germantown, art has been spreading for a while (including the piece in the most popular post on this blog, ever), but not as much as 12 South or the Gallatin/Main/Five Points region – yet. That this is a more residential area prevents some of that, but some of the condos and apartments have outdoor art, such as the piece in Swoosh! This Sterbo piece is on a decidedly ungentrified place – Plumbers of Nashville, which despite that link doesn’t have its own internet presence or is even found on Google maps. But now they have a very colorful wall.

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Located at 1800 5th Avenue North. The mural actually faces Buchanan Street, near the middle of the 400 block. Street parking is available.

City under the bridge

Usually, I try to use a shot of the entire work as the featured image, but that’s impossible here, as this particular work is spread out over both sides of the underneath of a railroad bridge on Wedgewood Avenue. The wider shots are informative, but I think this detail above best captures the essence of the spread out work. It’s not clear how long these abstract skylines have been under the bridge next to Warren Paint and Color Co. It appears that mold and mildew have grown over some of the work, and some has been tagged with graffiti. That and some general deterioration, including chips out of the concrete that the work is painted on, suggests its been here for several years. I first saw it about a year ago, but I’m sure it’s much older. The abstract buildings may be inspired by the main Warren building (see below). There is also a rainbow-colored “RESIST sign on the bridge itself. That, I’m sure is fairly recent. In the slideshows below the factory, the first focuses on the north part of the underpass, working from east to west, while the second showcases the southside, working from west to east.

brick factory building Nashville

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Located on Wedgewood Avenue, between 700 and 654. Parking is tricky here. It is possible to park on a gravel area in front of 654, on the northeast side of the bridge, but I have only done this after hours and on the weekend.

Nashville Ready Mix

Having recently gotten praise for running an “exhaustive” blog on outdoor art in Nashville, I feel a little better about my earlier plan to feature today not another pretty mural (which I’ve been doing a lot of lately because, well, there are a lot of them) but instead this simple and beautiful sign for Nashville Ready Mix, a concrete company. According to that very spare website, they are Nashville’s only locally owned mix company supplying the construction industry. They have no doubt been busy lately. I don’t know who made the sign, or its age, but the weathering on it suggests it has been there for some time. The smaller sign on the west side of the building facing the road is even more weathered. Ready Mix has owned this building since 1992, so it may be quite old for a painted sign. Their trucks use the same livery, which hints at a corporate design firm as opposed to an individual artist. I’ll tell you something – if this sign were anywhere near Lower Broad, it would be all over Instagram. I think it would definitely make a good album cover. I should note I found this sign shortly after shooting the very pretty mural at TopGolf down the street – you should check it out. I’ll put it on the blog soon.

Located at 605 Cowan Street. The main sign is on the south side of the building.  There is parking here and next door, but your best bet is on the weekend when the businesses are closed. No street parking to speak of.

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