The population of bees, which has been in decline of late, is maybe coming around. Of course, if they were all as big as this one, that might not be a good thing! The Nashville artist who goes by jamersonsgc produced this bee for Eddie’s Cee Bee Food Store on Lafayette, a natural design as bees are part of Cee Bee’s logos. Jamerson, who uses the tag #LowKeyArt, also apparently designs clothing, among other things. I actually had to step out in the middle of Lafayette Street to get this shot. The things I do for art! It appears to be dated 2018, and I’m pretty sure I was on Lafayette earlier this year and didn’t see it, so it’s probably pretty new. And hey, there’s the Batman Building!
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.
That’s what one of my professors in graduate school called Dr. Pepper. He is Texan, like me. Sure, we moved to Georgia when I was six, but I never lost the taste for Dr. Pepper. I drink the diet stuff now, and yes, I lost a lot of weight. Because I was drinking a LOT of Dr. Pepper. Wait, this is an art blog! This Dr. Pepper branded tank (presumably not a tank of Dr. Pepper) is at Tony’s Foodland, a grocery store in Joelton, on Clarksville Pike. Joelton is a very different part of Davidson County from what most people think of as Nashville. It’s much more rural, with actual farms, and houses with huge rural lots. But it’s as much a part of Metro Nashville-Davidson as Lower Broad, which is something that makes Nashville truly great. The Facebook page for Tony’s Foodland has only one picture of the tank with its current livery, which is dated July 13 of last year. I don’t think it’s much older than that, as I drove up there around that time and don’t remember seeing it.
Located at 5529 Clarksville Pike. This is just north of Old Hickory Boulevard. The tank is on the northwest side of the store. There is plenty of parking because it’s a grocery store. Grab a couple liters of Dr. Pepper and enjoy the art!
Carniceria Dominguez is a very new Hispanic grocery store on Nolensville, opened by Rose Dominguez, who also owns a similar store of the same name on Murfreesboro Road. The art is pretty new too, so new that it’s not made it to Carniceria Dominguez’s Instagram page yet. (Maybe it will by the time you read this). I’m using as the feature photo a mural from the south side of the store and not the front, mainly because I like it a lot and also because it has a cow in it and the art on the front is mostly vegetables and fruit. The name is “carniceria” after all, that is, “butcher.” The work is by José F. Vargas, who had done art for a lot of Hispanic businesses, such as the work featured in Gotta get that bling! and Mi casa es su casa. If you speak Spanish, this video from Nashville Noticias can fill you in on all the things you can get at Carniceria Dominguez. Very enthusiastically, I might add.
Located at 3709 Nolensville Pike. The grocery has a fair amount of parking. Load up on fresh meat and vegetables and enjoy the art!
Outside of Lewis Country Store on Ashland City Highway, you can find this metal gunslinger. It’s something of an ode to 2nd Amendment rights, as the plaque quotes the amendment and admonished us to “Come and take it.” The store owner, Renee Lewis, has been known for taking provocativestands. Regardless, it’s a fun piece, made by Ryan Barbour of Barrel House Metal and Woodworking in Clarksville. The materials are reclaimed scraps from Richmond Machine Service, also in Clarksville. Look close – you may have already figured out the snake is made of metal, but so too are the plants. The plaque also lets us know that the statue is called “The Dog” and is dedicated to the memory of Ronald Douglas Doggett (1948-2000).
Located at 5106 Old Hickory Boulevard, at the corner with Ashland City Highway. The store and the statue face the highway. The store has plenty of parking. Load up on food and sundries and enjoy the art!
One of the most prolific art scenes in Nashville is not found in any gallery or trendy neighborhood, but on the outer walls of the many Latino grocery stores scattered around town. Murals depicting the fruits and vegetables found inside or idealized images of the old country are common themes. The murals found in And another market and Mi casa es su casa are good examples. Usually, these are found in lower-income neighborhoods where immigrants tend to congregate. But what happens if one of those markets finds itself in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood like The Nations? Well, the owners of the Savemore Super Market found themselves in that position and decided to transform their market into the 51st Deli. Most of the groceries went away in favor of a deli/taqueria with a large menu. A new identity called for new art. So they asked Ruben Torres, who had done the market’s original fruit-themed mural featured in Frutas!, to come up with something new – a shout out to neighborhood pride instead of the more traditional old country pride. Torres’s map is elegant, perhaps in keeping with the clean lines of the all the new condos and modern houses spreading across The Nations. If you can’t beat the gentrifiers, join them, would seem to be the message.
Located at 1314 51st Avenue North, at the corner with Centinneal Boulevard – where the red star is in the mural! The mural faces Centinneal and often has cars parked in front of it. There is parking at 51st Deli, though at lunchtime you might have to park on a neighboring street and walk a bit. Grab some grub and enjoy the art!
This is a story of two murals. The building housing Northwest Liquors and Zap Market, located at the corner of Buchanan and D.B. Todd, lies at a prominent spot in the Buchanan Street neighborhood, so it’s a good place for a mural or two. Facing Buchanan is this Norf Collective piece signed by Woke3 that is an obvious companion to the mural featured in And her hair was an unfolded flower, featuring a male subject here instead of the female one seen in the other mural. (The website listed on the mural is a dead link.) On the south side of the building is a very different mural signed “Tracy the Rose 2016.” I can’t find anyone using that handle, but the subject is one that is found on some liquor stores. While not as ubiquitous as the tires painted on tire stores, they are other examples in town.
Located at 1613 Buchanan Street. There is plenty of parking at the liquor store, though cars are often parked in front of the murals so it might be advisable to visit on a Sunday.
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):
If this mural were more centrally located, or more in a tourist zone, it would be in a hundred thousand selfies. As it stands, tucked away behind the fairgrounds, it doesn’t get quite the attention it probably deserves. Maybe that will change if the soccer stadium goes in. Put in back in December 2015, by local artist Josh Blevins, it makes clever use of the windows to evoke the shape of an old cassette tape. Too bad one of the windows is broken. You can see Blevins working on it on his Instagram page. Blevins also has a website, but the page seems to be down for the time being.
Located at 600 Benton Avenue, on the Wedgehill Market building. The mural is on the east side of the building, facing Bransford Avenue. The market has parking, and there is some street parking on Benton. Grab some sundries and enjoy the art!