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Murals and More

Dolly Parton in The Nations

Dolly Parton mural Nashville street art

One of the most prolific mural artists in town is Bryan Deese. For some time, he has been maintaining a wall at the Stop-N-Shop on 51st Avenue, putting up a series of murals, primarily ones promoting concerts. By definition, they are temporary. Back in March, Deese put up a new mural on the wall that may turn out to be a little more permanent, not the least because not many bands have concerts to promote these days. It is of course of Dolly Parton, and it is sponsored by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. It seems to have been based on a 1977 promotional photo, seen here on her song-list page on Wikipedia. Parton frequently uses flower motifs and is often seen with one in her hair, which may have inspired the halo of flowers. It’s a popular mural, and I’ve seen it many places on social media. Hopefully, it has some staying power.

Located at 5100 Indiana Avenue, at the corner with 51st Avenue North. The mural faces east towards 51st. Street parking and parking at the Stop-N-Shop are readily available.

Losers and the Pandemic

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a mural for the downtown branch of  Loser’s Bar and Grill done by Manuel Fuentes. That mural, on the south side of the building, was a great example of the murals in town specifically designed for people to stand in front and get their picture taken. I wrote about it at the beginning of the shutdown and commented on the irony of it not really being used at the time. Here we are about three months later, and the lockdown has eased, even as cases are rising. There are restrictions on venues like Losers, and their downtown branch remains closed. From their Facebook page, it appears their Midtown branch is open on reduced capacity and is featuring live music. Interestingly, they advertise that both locations have new UV-light systems in their airflow systems to reduce contaminants. Welcome to the emerging new normal. To their credit, they aren’t one of the places cited for violating the current pandemic rules. Someday, this will all be over.

Located at 111 Fourth Avenue South. The mural is on the north side of the building, at the far end of the parking lot if you are coming from 4th. It faces towards Broadway. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

 

Thistle Farms

For years, drivers headed east on Charlotte from the western suburbs were greeted by a mural of flowers on one wall of Thistle Farms, or more precisely, their cafe. This one isn’t it. There was another one here for years that I never shot because there were always, always cars in front of it. But more recently, Michael Cooper of Murals and More produced a new mural for Thistle Farms that I did manage to shoot without cars. The flowers you see are of course thistles, the organization’s namesake. The best way to understand what Thistle Farms does is to read their mission statement.

Thistle Farms is a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to helping women survivors recover and heal from prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. We do this by providing a safe place to live, a meaningful job, and a lifelong sisterhood of support.

They started by making candles, and now provide clothing, jewelry, home goods, and, at their Charlotte location, a nice place for lunch. The goods are all made by the women in Thistle Farm’s healing and recovery program and the proceeds support the mission. Thistle Farms was founded over 20 years ago by the Episcopalian priest  Becca Stevens, who deservedly is one of Nashville’s most honored citizens, including Nashvillian and Tennessean of the Year, a White House Champion of Change and a CNN Hero. All of this is a measure of how important the work of Thistle Farms is. So buy a candle, get a sandwich, make a donation, whatever you want to do to help.

Thistle Farms Sign

Located at 5122 Charlotte Pike. The mural is on the west side of the building, facing 52nd Avenue North. There’s parking in front of the mural and some street parking is available.

 

Spaceman

What happens when an artist is given complete freedom to create? Well, if the artist is Mobe Oner (aka Eric Bass), you might just get a surreal scene. Perhaps you might get something like a drifting spacesuit filled with butterflies, with the facemask broken open so the butterflies can escape. In this case, you get exactly that. It certainly doesn’t have much to do with pizza, despite being on the front of the Midtown branch of Donatos. And no, the closeup pictures below are not slightly out of focus. Originally, this was a wooden surface, but the mural was done on stucco, giving it a textured look. There’s a richness to the color that you don’t see in a lot of murals in Nashville. As for the spacesuit, it doesn’t appear to be a specific design, but it seems to most resemble the AL7, which used by NASA for the Apollo and Skylab missions and thus would be fixed in a lot of folks’ minds as what a spacesuit should look like. And anyway, the orange Space Shuttle suits wouldn’t look good here. The butterflies look a lot like Blue Emperor butterflies, but they may just be fantasy butterflies.

Spaceman mural Nashville street art

In all the rush to make murals interactive, maybe all that’s needed is an arresting image.

Located at 1915 Broadway. The mural is on the front of the building, facing the street. There is street parking right in front of the mural, unfortunately, and Donato’s has its own parking as well. Grab some pie and enjoy the art!

Arcade Alley

Michael Cooper of Murals and More is probably the most long-standing muralist in town, making outdoor art long before it became trendy in Nashville. Which is why highlighting this particular mural in Arcade Alley isn’t exactly breaking news. The signature, way down on the wall behind the last car on the right, gives the date of “6.25.99.” As such it ties with the mural at La Hacienda by Mitchell Torok as the third oldest mural in Nashville that I know of, after the Chromatics mural and the Hard Rock Painter Man. It is in Cooper’s usual trompe-l’oeil style, and is filled with the visual jokes he often incorporates, like a cat leaping out a window unnoticed by its humans as they steal a kiss. The shadows you see are also trompe-l’oeil  – I try to avoid real shadows in my pictures.

Arcade Alley gets its name because it bisects The Arcade, Nashville’s oldest enclosed shopping area. What was once Overton Allery was given a glass roof and redesigned to look more like the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II in Milan, though it was never that fancy. Originally, when it opened in 1904, the bottom floor was shops and the upper level was used for offices. Today, the bottom floor is mainly restaurants serving lunch and breakfast to downtown office workers, while the top floor is primarily art galleries. A good time to visit the galleries is during the monthly Downtown First Saturday Art Crawl.

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Located at 417 Union Street, on the east wall of the restaurant of the same name. It faces a parking lot. This is downtown, so lots of parking, almost none of it free.

The Cobra (Part 2)

Cobra Bar Mural street art Nashville

Sometimes I report on new art, sometimes not. While not nearly as old as the art in my last post, this mural at The Cobra on Gallatin goes back to September 2016, and I posted about the larger mural on the side of the bar way back in April of last year (see below). Obviously, it’s by Eastside Murals. It continues the theme of skulls found in the mural on the side, but not the cobra or beer imagery. Here the skulls are complimented with abstract art. There is another mural altogether on the backside of the bar, one very different from the other two. Maybe I’ll post it before the end of 2020.

Located at 2511 Gallatin Road. As it faces Gallatin, your best bet for a good view is actually across the street, where there is a Walgreen’s with ample parking. The bar itself has plenty of parking, particularly early in the day when the bar is closed.

Part 1

September 11

It’s the 11th of September, and I doubt I have to remind anyone what memorial this is. On Murfreesboro Road, Michael Cooper of Murals and More produced this 9/11 mural honoring first responders earlier this summer. Many of those responders lost their lives that day, and others have faced long-term health effects. After much prodding (notably from Jon Stewart), Congress recently passed into law a 70-year extension to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, which includes money to help first responders with their health care. Cooper’s mural, which he did with a team of assistants, includes imagery of the Tribute in Light, two shafts of light that are part of the annual commemoration in New York City. It also includes One World Trade Center, the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center. The memorial also fits into its neighborhood as well. Catty-corner across Cleaveland Street is the backside of the Metro Fire Department Engine Company #12 (located at 101 Polk Street). On the other side of Murfreesboro Pike is the recently completed Metro Nashville Police Department Headquarters at 600 Murfreesboro Pike. There is a large, simple plaque honoring police officers killed in the line of duty on the front of the police headquarters. The mural itself lies above Pierre’s Customs (which has no internet presence I can find) and on the side of Labor Smart.

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Located at 571 Murfreesboro Pike, at the corner with Cleaveland Street. The mural faces Cleaveland. Parking is available on this block, but it’s haphazard.

Weiss Murals, Part 2 – Tomato Arts Fest

It’s tomato time! Since 2004, East Nashville has hosted the Tomato Arts Fest, one of the best neighborhood festivals in the country – but you already knew that. Why tomatoes? Wy not tomatoes is a better question. People get dressed up like tomatoes, there is, of course, a lot of tomato-themed art, and plenty of Bloody Marys to be had. An art fest should certainly get a mural. In fact, there’s more than one. There’s the one featured in Robots don’t care about veggies, and there’s this newer one by Michael Cooper of  Murals and More. I would have never guessed it was his because of the style, had I not seen on his website a series of photos showing the process by which Cooper and his team made the murals. In the background, you can also see a Jason Galaz piece in the which will be on the blog as soon as I get around to writing part two of Crying Wolf, Part 1. And hey, I just realized the banner behind the tomato is a rainbow flag!

Go to the Tomato Arts Fest! You won’t be sorry!

Part 1

Weiss Tomato mural street art Nashville

The two murals together.

Weiss Murals street art Nashville

Located at 824 Main Street. The mural faces the alley on the back of the building. There is of course parking at Weiss, and at the storage center next door, which is a pay lot. The Weiss parking lot can be tricky on weekend evenings.

Weiss Murals, Part 1 – East Nashville

There are two quite distinct murals on the backside of Weiss Liquors. The first one, featured above, is very obviously in the style of Michael Cooper of Murals and More. I have to say a couple of times I passed by and thought people were standing in front of it, but of course, that’s Cooper’s usual trompe-l’oeil style. A banner reading “East Nashville” is being put up on the wall by a couple of Weiss employees, while a dog and a couple of musicians hang out. The other mural, which I will feature in a later post, is in a very different style, and at first, I did not know who did it. But it turns out it’s also by Cooper, as you can see on his website with a series of photos showing the process by which Cooper and his team made the murals. You can also see a Jason Galaz piece in the background which will be on the blog as soon as I get around to writing part two of Crying Wolf, Part 1. And below, you can also see the Weiss sign which I featured in A true Nashville survivor. For that matter you can see above mural number two – I didn’t crop it out completely in order that the featured photo would work right with Facebook shares. It references the Tomato Arts Fest next week, and I’ll feature it then.

Part 2

East Nashville mural street art Nashville

East Nashville mural street art Nashville

East Nashville mural street art Nashville

Located at 824 Main Street. The mural faces the alley on the back of the building. There is of course parking at Weiss, and at the storage center next door, which is a pay lot. The Weiss parking lot can be tricky on weekend evenings.

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