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Murals and More

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.

Bullets, beef, and beer

You might think that whoever commissioned this mural would be a bar or even a butcher, maybe even both, given the subject matter. But in fact, it was commissioned by Shooter’s Guns, Ammo and Range, which is exactly what it says it is. The artist is Michael Cooper of Murals and More, using the trompe-l’oeil style he often works in. According to Cooper,

“They were looking to turn the blank, boring wall on the side of their building into something more exciting, and we were happy to make it into a fun storefront mural that incorporates their awning and doorway and turns it into the entrance of an Irish Pub!”

If you’re wondering why there’s a fence right in front of it, what appears to be a long-dead Jack in the Box lies next door, and the fence rather ineffectively is supposed to keep people off that property. Obviously, I ninjaed my way in – by going through a rather large gap in the fence.

Pub mural street art Nashville

Butcher mural street art Nashville

Located at 573 Murfreesboro Pike. The mural faces south, towards Foster Ave. There is parking in front and behind Shooters. The back parking is accessed off Cleaveland Avenue, on the north side of the building.

The Listening Room

Listening Room mural sign street art Nashville

The music venue The Listening Room Cafe has had many incarnations. Founded by Chris Blair, it first appeared in Franklin in 2006. Blair moved it to Cummins Station in 2008, and again to its current location on 4th Avenue un 2012. And it is on 4th Avenue that we find on a stark white wall this sign featuring The Listening Room’s logo, created by Michael Cooper of Murals and More. On the bottom right of the photo, you can see his usual signature, which as always includes his phone number.

Located at 618 4th Avenue South. There is some limited parking at the Listening Room and some street parking on Elm Street. As the mural faces a parking lot, your best bet is to visit early in the day, well before show time. Enjoy the music and enjoy the art!

Marathon Gas Mural

Marathon Gas mural street art Nashville

The new mural by Michael Cooper of Murals and More is an interesting addition to Nashville’s outdoor art scene. Unlike most outdoor art murals in town, tourists won’t be getting their portraits taken in front of it, pretending perhaps to be run over by the large truck in the center.  The Marathon Gas terminal on 51st is decidedly industrial and off-limits to outsiders. That fence is as close as you’ll get without an invitation. But the Marathon terminal is also in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, on the north end of The Nations. Just down the street are places like Nicky’s Coal Fired Pizza, an outpost of Frothy Monkey, and a Frutta Bowls. Fancy apartments have opened a couple blocks north, and more are coming. And murals are popping up all over as part of this gentrification, such as the one for Village Realty and of course the giant silo mural. Marathon may simply be trying to stay in tune with the changing neighborhood, or it may be playing a little defense. The Nations used to be the kind of low and middle-income neighborhood that an industrial site holding hazardous material is often found in, but now Marathon has wealthier neighbors not always accustomed to living near such a site. Some art might make the relationship a little easier. In the slideshow below, take a look at how Cooper cleverly incorporated the Marathon sign that was already on the building.

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Located at 1472 51st Avenue North. There is some street parking south of the railroad and at local businesses. A path has recently been installed along the fence, and there’s a picnic table as well. Grab a cup at Frothy and enjoy the art!

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