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

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Murals

Hold Fast (An Off The Wall project)

One of the projects that inspired this blog was the Off the Wall project on Charlotte organized by Tinsley Dempsey. Fourteen murals along the wall protecting  Abbot West Storage from Charlotte and wrapping around as the wall turned and ran down 28th Avenue North led to a lot of blog posts. (The first one is here, and has links to all the others.) The first of those murals went up in 2016, and the last one a little over a year ago in April, 2019. Now there is a postscript. This new mural is on one of Abbot’s storage buildings, facing 31st Avenue North, just off Charlotte. It’s the product of Tarabella Aversa (who in the past has gone by Tara Marie Aversa) and went up in late April of this year, with the sponsorship of Dempsey. Its flower motif is familiar from Aversa’s other work, such as the mural featured in Flowers of Walden.  Its message of strength resonated in the aftermath of the March 3 tornadoes, which did so much damage to Nashville and nearby communities. But a lot has happened since then. Aversa has since linked it to the cause of justice embodied in the protests that arose in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. The mural’s mix of delicate beauty and fierce strength with a message of perseverance will no doubt be relevant for many causes to come.

Located at 3020 Charlotte Avenue. This mural actually faces 31st Avenue North and is easily visible from Charlotte. Your best bet for parking is perhaps across Charlotte at Cross Fit Nashville, and there is street parking on Felicia Street one block north of the mural.

Colors of Creativity

Sanger Mural Nashville street art

A few weeks ago, I posted about a graffiti mural by Troy Duff, aka Duffomatic. Duff did that work as part of the 2018 “Hands on Creativity” festival sponsored by Plaza Art. You can see a small piece of it in the background of the picture above. This second mural was also part of that festival. Plaza Art ran a contest in which students from Watkins College of Art competed for the right to do this second mural, which was won by Maggie Sanger. She produced her mural at the same time Duff was making his (the last week of October, 2018) and had help from Dough Joe, aka Yusef Hubb. Of course, this is a moment to remember that in just a couple of months, Watkins will merge with Belmont University. Students and faculty were largely unhappy with this move, and tried to stop it, but to no avail. Watkins has been around for more than a century, and its loss is a sad one for Nashville. Its legacy is its students, like Sanger.

Located at 621 Middleton Street. Nearby parking is easy. The mural is on the west side of the building, facing Plaza Arts.

Kobe Bryant (Nolensville Pike)

Since the death of Kobe Bryant, at least three memorial murals have appeared in Nashville honoring him. I’ve already written about one by JamersonSGC, which I featured in Strength and mourning. Another, which I’ll feature soon, is found on 51st Ave North at This Red Bicycle Coffee. It is interesting that of all the icons that have been lost of late, Bryant has gotten this much artistic attention.

The one above is on Nolensville Pike at the building that houses La Sierra Western Wear. It is by José Fernando Vargas, who has been on this blog many times before. He’s one of the principal muralists who decorates Latino-owned businesses in town. Unlike Jamerson’s mural, which features a young Bryant alone, this mural also includes Bryant’s daughter Gianna, as well as the names of all the victims of the helicopter crash that killed them. As well, the mural includes the jerseys Bryant had in his career, an action shot of Bryant dunking, and one his quotes. A golden basketball rim stands in as a halo over Bryant’s head.

Long ago, this wall had a mural of graffiti art I featured in The Vape USA Gallery, which was painted over some time ago.

Located at 3807 Nolensville Pike, a few hundred yards south of the entrance to the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. This mural faces north towards downtown. Parking is available.

Love, Nashville

In times like this, sometimes a simple message is the best. This mural, which is the product of Madeline Lederman, is just a few weeks old. It sits on a building behind the Charlotte Avenue post office, a building which at times has attracted graffiti. Lederman is a teenager, and I’m pretty sure she’s the second youngest artist I’ve featured on this blog, after Drew T. Morrison, who I wrote about in The drops of Saint Stephen. There’s definitely a Sixties vibe to Lederman’s piece, which is totally in keeping with the one-word message “LOVE,” something that shows up a lot in Sixties iconography. Lederman was recently featured in WPLN’s “Dispatches from Quarantine” series, where she expressed her struggles with separation from school and friends. Here at least she has found a creative outlet. This appears to be Lederman’s first mural. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more work from her.

Located at 4414 Park Avenue. That’s the technical address, as this is the back side of a storage building belonging to the house with that address. However, to view the mural, you need to go to the US Post Office at 4501 Charlotte Avenue. The mural is across an alley at the rear of the post office. Parking is available at the post office, and the mural is quite visible from the parking lot.

Lips

I wanted to call this blog post Lipps, Inc., but that’s an actual thing. Every once in a while I have to write about one of those murals that is in a billion Instagram posts, and everyone has seen, so it’s news to no one, and this is one of those times. The motto of the blog is “No art left behind” after all, and I am trying to catalog everything. This is yet another Eastside Murals piece, the versatile team that has been signing their work “Out East Boys” for a while. The design is by Donald Robertson, which explains the “Donald” written on the edge of the mural. On his Instagram page, you can see that while he doesn’t just do lips, they are a major theme in his work. Also, the “Donald” on the mural looks like his regular signature for his works, so I imagine he did that part himself.

The building is on the side of a UAL outlet, otherwise known as  United Apparel Liquidators, in Hillsboro Village. They are also found on West End, where I wrote about a bold version of their logo painted on the back wall of the building. There’s a little “ShopUAL” Instagram logo on the large window at the street end of the mural.

I photographed this mural on one of the first days of Nashville’s shutdown when there were still a few tourists around. Two women were taking their pictures in front of it and thought I was trying to do the same thing. They wanted me to give them my phone so they could take my picture in front of it for me. I politely declined, and at this point in time, I still would.

Lips Mural Nashville street art

Located at 1814 21st Avenue South. The mural faces an alley on the north side of the building, across from Fido. This is Hillsboro Village, so a fair amount of parking, almost none of it free. In non-COVID times, parking at peak hours can be very hard.

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.

 

Black Lives Matter

It’s no secret that the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers has sparked a massive protest movement here in America and around the world. Not surprisingly, it has produced art. Perhaps the most widely shared example is a mural in Minneapolis done by Cadex Herrera, Greta McLain, Xena Goldman, Rachel Breen, Niko Alexander, Maria Javier, and Pablo Helm Hernandez. While I would not be surprised if there are others in Nashville, this one at the damaged Jerry’s Artarama on Main (above) and a similar one at Cobra Bar on Gallatin are the only ones I know of in Nashville at this time. I suspect others will emerge if they haven’t already.

This one is obviously temporary, as it is painted on boards covering a window blown out by the March 3rd tornado. Of course, my last post was about another mural on Jerry’s Artarama, but I feel this one is timely, and as construction is already getting started next door and a large disposal unit you see at construction sites has appeared just to the side of this mural, I thought it important to document it now. I also try really hard to credit artists, but this one is unsigned, and I suspect it is anonymous for a reason.

The happy-style letters belie the seriousness of the topic at hand. In my main work, I am a history professor, not an art blogger. I do not know why this particular incident has generated the enormous energy and the wave of protests that it has, while others like it before did not. My future colleagues will spend a lot of time sorting that out. Some reasons seem obvious, but one thing you learn in history, the obvious answers aren’t always right, or they may not be as important as they look. What history-minded people like me can do is document everything, so the full story can eventually be told. Already, the Smithsonian is collecting signs plastered to the fence around the White House so they will be available to researchers and the public in the future.

Below is a shot giving you some idea of how the piece fits with everything else on the wall. I took it at this odd angle because of the placement of the disposal unit. In it, you see murals by Andee Rudloff and Herb Williams, and the remnants of an older mural by Hannah Holgate and Marshall Hall that was severely damaged by the tornado.

BLM mural sign Nashville street art

Located at 713 Main Street. For now, the parking lot in front of Jerry’s Artarama is available, but once this becomes a construction site, that’s unlikely. The nearest street parking is towards downtown on Seventh Street North.

 

Out into the open

The March 3 tornado that tore through Nashville did a lot of damage to art on the east side. But temporarily at least, it has brought one work out into the open. The building that housed the Nashville Urban Winery was heavily damaged in the storm, and recently it has been demolished. When the winery was intact, it had a large covered patio at the front. From the street, this mural by Bryan Deese was visible inside the patio, but it was also shrouded, and usually had lots of tables in front of it. I debated putting it on the blog, but each time I thought about it I wound up going with something else. Then suddenly it was fully in the light. It survived the destruction of the building because it sits on a wall shared with Jerry’s Artarama, currently closed due to tornado damage.

The mural’s themes make sense for a Nashville winery, evoking the great wine nations of France and Italy. The trellis shape is the base of the Eiffel Tower. It frames a row of vines from a vineyard, the facade of Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Roman Colosseum. In the center of course is Nashville’s own Eiffel Tower, the Batman Building.

Urban Winery mural Nashville street art
The Nashville Urban Winery mural when the building was intact.

Soon, the cleared lot this mural looks out on will become a construction site. For that matter, the building it sits on is in need of serious repair. So the fate of this mural is highly uncertain. Let’s call it endangered art. I should note it’s also currently inside an area sealed off by a locked fence, but there is a gap between the building and the fence, right at the edge of the mural. You didn’t hear that from me.

Located at 715 Main Street, an address that currently has no building. More accurately, it’s on the east side of 713 Main, the Jerry’s Artarama building. For now, you can park in Jerry’s Artarama’s parking lot.

Strength and mourning

Nashville and the world have been through a lot lately, so much so that the tragedies memorialized in this mural, part of it only a few weeks old, have been superseded by even more. The mural is by Nashville artist JamersonSGC, who often signs his work “Low Key Art,” and it went up in stages on the back wall of Tito’s Market and Seafood as different tragedies played out. First, on the left, Jamerson created a memorial for Kobe Bryant sometime in February, not long after Bryant’s death in January. It features a nickname Bryant chose for himself, Mamba. The image is based on a photo by John Soohoo that first appeared in a Rolling Stone article about the hype over Bryant’s early career. Interestingly, an artist in Brooklyn had a similar idea.

Tennessee Mural Nashville street art

The rest of the mural was added in the aftermath of the March 3 tornado. Look closely at the Nashville skyline embedded in the Nashville Predators logo, and you’ll see that it includes a tornado bearing down on the city. You know it’s Nashville because it has Nashville’s Eiffel Tower, the Batman Building. Atop the Predator is a Northern Mockingbird, Tennesse’s state bird. “Tennessee Strong,” along with “Nashville Strong,” are both slogans that have been seen in more and more places in the aftermath of the tornadoes and the crises which have followed. Below the slogan is a logo of my employer, Tennesse State University, as well as the logo of the Tennesee Titans (with a tornado added) and the central shield from the Tennessee state flag.

Praying Girl Mural Nashville street art

At the far right, we find a young girl in prayer, which needs no explanation. This is not the first mural Jamerson has painted on this wall. Back in 2018, he put up a large Mother Earth mural that was subsequently painted over. On the side and front of the building, Jamerson has recently painted some food murals which I will feature later.

Located at 13 Lafayette Street, at the intersection where Lafayette, 2nd Avenue South, and McCann Street come together. Parking here can be difficult. The market has some limited spaces in front, and it is sometimes possible to park for a short time in the small yard in front of the mural. Street parking is available a little farther south on 2nd Avenue.

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