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Murals and More

Building who’s Nashville?

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Ordinarily, I like to keep people out of the pictures I use on this blog. But for this particular mural, done by Michael Cooper of Murals and Moore, that’s not easy. Church Street Park, known also as Library Park, has become a gathering ground for homeless Nashvillians. Some of this is because it lies across from the downtown Main Library, which has made efforts to reach out to the homeless. Not surprisingly, the presence of homeless people in such a prominent spot has raised controversy. That controversy is probably behind the willingness of Mayor David Briley to back a controversial proposal to allow developer Tony Giarratana to build a commercial high rise tower on the property in exchange for also building an apartment complex for the homeless on James Robertson Parkway. Ten years ago, the city bulldozed and rebuilt the park to rid the park of pesky starlings. Now they might just demolish it so they can rid it of the homeless. Whether the deal with Giarratana goes through remains to be seen. If it does, Cooper’s mural suggesting an unfinished but growing Nashville will almost certainly disappear. Call it endangered art.

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Located at 600 Church Street, across from the downtown library. This is downtown, so plenty of parking, almost none of it free. The library parking garage has reasonable rates, including ninety free minutes with validation. Peruse the stacks and enjoy the art!

Yazoo Brewery, Michael Cooper edition

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This giant Yazoo Brewery tank is something of a landmark on Division Street, but it’s a landmark that will be gone soon enough. Yazoo announced some time ago that they would be moving to a new site, and now that they have purchased land in Madison, all that’s left is finalizing the sale of their Gulch property. It’s unclear what will happen to this tank, painted by Michael Cooper of Murals and More, or the Herb Williams panels on the west side of the building. Hopefully, they will make the move as well. The logo on the front of the building, also by Cooper, will, of course, be lost. (See below, along with shots of the tank from other angles.)

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Located at 910 Division Street. Yazoo has a small amount of its own parking, and much of the paid parking in the Gulch area is one hour free. Get your last call at the Division St. site and enjoy the art!

Jump in, the water’s fine!

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I’ve been meaning to blog about this one for a long time, but the identity of the gentleman in this Michael Cooper (Murals & More) piece stymied me. The identity of the woman was easy to figure out. That’s Anne Brown, owner of The Arts Company, a gallery on Fifth Avenue. I should have known who the gentleman was. He is, after all, “The man behind the Sounds new ballpark.” That’s Ronald Gobbell, architect and president emeritus of Gobbell Hays Partners, an architectural firm that owns the building.

Located at 215 5th Avenue North. The mural actually faces St. Cloud Alley, on the back (west) side of the building. St. Cloud intersects with the 500 block of Church Street. This is downtown, so lots of parking, none of it free. There is a paid lot right in front of the mural. On the other side of the lot is Forget the past and a couple other murals I haven’t blogged about yet. Make it all part of your downtown art crawl, held each first Saturday of the month.

Yazoo Brewery, Herb Williams edition

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Yazoo Brewery has a lot of outdoor art. Two artists have contributed to this. In this post, I focus on the works of Herb Williams, and in a later post, I’ll write about the pieces done by Michael Cooper of Murals and More. When I went inside to ask who had done the two murals above, I was told something like “Doug Herbert,” who was described as “the guy who does the crayon art.” I should have known. Hidden away in the loading dock area is one of Williams’s signature small striped animals, a bear in this case. (See below.) What will happen to this art is unclear. Yazoo is selling its current location, though it’s destination is unclear. The murals above might just go with them. They are metal panels attached to the wall and could be easily moved. Still, we have to call this endangered art.

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Located at 910 Division Street. The murals above are on the west side of the building, facing Overton Street. The small bear below is on the east side of the building, on one of the loading dock bays. This is the Gulch area, so lots of parking, some of it free. Yazoo has some parking for customers. There’s free street parking one block over on 10th, and most of the Gulch lots offer one-hour free parking. There’s also plenty of paid parking on neighboring blocks.

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Have a Coke and a record deal

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Layman Drug Company, the drug store, has been out of business for a couple decades. Layman Drug Company the recording studio opened just a few weeks ago and has a spiffy new mural to boot. (On that link you’ll find the links to their social media pages more informative than the website.) The long shuttered Chesnut Hill drug store was purchased by Will Greig to convert into a studio. Like practically every building in Nashville, it has connections to music history, including a notable appearance on the cover of Dion’s Velvet and Steel album. The mural is by Michael Cooper of Murals and More, though the signature is painted black on black and is very hard to see. (It’s where the phone line trails out of the image.) In the slideshow below, I also include the historic sign on the north side of the building and the modern sign above the doorway, as well as a full view of the mural with the faded historic sign just above it.

Located at 1128 3rd Ave South. The mural actually faces Chestnut Street. There is plenty of street parking, as well as a parking lot across the street – which has a prominent “for sale” sign, so it may not be a parking lot much longer.

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Stop playing with your food!

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For the last couple of months, Nashvillians who drive down Charlotte have had a catalog of sorts of the kinds of things they can get at Nashville Cash and Carry, a restaurant supply store. NCC is the kind of place you go when you need a five-pound chocolate bar and a few gallons of salsa. Actually, it’s a great place if you need to cater a big party – or if you eat condiments by the pound! The mural is a Murals and More piece, commercial home of Michael Cooper. I know he did not work alone as I saw about three people working on it, one of whom was Darrah Thornicus Thornhill.

Located at 5001 Charlotte Ave. The mural faces 50th Avenue North. NCC has plenty of parking, and the mural is across the street from a park. Get you a gallon of soy sauce and an acre of tablecloths, put in your own avant-garde installation in the park, and enjoy the art!

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Maybe you’d like some art?

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At the site of the former Chief’s Family Diner on Buchanan Street, a new restaurant has opened, Mai-Bee’s Southern Cuisine. But this is not a food blog, (most of the time!) so what gets it noticed here is the mural, courtesy of Murals and More, the business home of artist Michael Cooper. Mai-Bee’s is a family owned, family run operation, and the mural and the restaurant honor the memory of the family matriarch. It’s new, and little bare bones, but definitely worth a try. And you get more art bang for your buck, because And her hair was an unfolded flower is right next door! The Buchanan Street corridor is beginning to see a number of new business. How it handles possibilities of gentrification remains to be seen.

UPDATE: This work has been painted over, as the business closes and has been replaced.

Located at 1200 Buchanan Street. The mural faces 12th Avenue North. There is some parking at Mai-Bee’s and street parking is available. Grab some grub and enjoy the art!

Freedom Riders on Jefferson

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Particularly because of the work of the Norf Collective, the Jefferson Street corridor has seen a recent explosion of murals and other public art. One of the oldest pieces on Jefferson, which helped kick start the public art movement along this historic street, is a Michael Cooper (of Murals and More) piece at the I-40 underpass. This 2009 piece was a collaboration between Cooper and local high school students. Cooper took drawings and designs from the students and turned them into a coherent mural. After Cooper drew it, students joined in painting it. The mural honors the Freedom Riders. Jefferson, of course, has long been the beating heart of the African American community in Nashville, and students from the three universities along the road, Fisk, Meharry Medical, and Tennesee State, were active in the Freedom Riders and numerous other activities in the Civil Rights era. The placement of the mural is poignant for another reason. I-40, I-65, and I-440 cut the Jefferson Street neighborhood into pieces, doing everlasting damage that the community continues to work to repair. Nashville is hardly the only city where the interstates were built through the heart of African American neighborhoods. It was a common practice. If you have wondered why some protesters have taken to blocking interstates, there’s definitely a history there. This mural has been vandalized in the past, which forced Cooper to coat it with a clear coating that makes vandalism easier to remove.

Located on the southwest side of the I-40 underpass on Jefferson Street, at the beginning of the 2500 block. Street parking is available across the street, though traffic can make crossing hard. Some parking is available at nearby business.

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Now that doesn’t look safe

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Back after a little holiday hiatus. Hope the holidays are treating you well.

Down on Eighth Avenue, we find another Murals and More piece by artist Michael Cooper. Once again, we see him using the same trompe-l’œil technique he used for the Karr Commercial mural on Charlotte that I featured in Fooled me! Here he uses it for a little slapstick comedy. Karmal Skillington makes custom furniture, but I hope none of their workers ever wind up in such a precarious position. This is a fairly new piece, as it is not visible in a Google street view picture from April 2016.

Located at 2019 Eighth Avenue South. The mural is on the north side of the building. Plenty of parking on that side of the building and some at the Shell station next door. Grab some gas and grub, or take a look at some beautiful furniture, and enjoy the art!

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