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

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Restaurant and bars

A Landmark Reborn

I don’t normally report on something that has just been installed, but this is an important story. In terms of outdoor art, one of the most devastating losses from the March 3 tornado was the Weiss Liquors sign. Prominently placed on Main Street, it was one of the icons of the east side. If you scroll down to about the middle of this post you’ll see what it looked like after the storm, smashed and broken into several pieces. What I once called a true survivor was unable to survive taking a direct hit from a major tornado.

The Weiss family had no intention of simply leaving it at that. Two days after the storm, the pieces of the sign were collected for storage at Bozeman Signs. Ultimately, the Weisses contracted with Fortify, a Nashville fabrication and design company to rebuild the sign. The work was done by Nick Redford, Fortify’s owner, and Kyle Davis. It was not possible to rebuild the sign using the original panels. Instead, Fortify built and painted new panels, replicating the original as closely as possible. Much of that progress can be seen on the Weiss Liquors Instagram page: here, here, here, here, here, and here. In time, the Weiss family plans to hang the original pieces inside the store.

And on Saturday night, November 28, a small crowd gathered to see the newly installed sign lit for the first time.

There are still many scars from the storm that came in the early hours of March 3. Some have been fixed or replaced quickly. Others, like the Weiss Liquors sign, have taken some time. Others will linger much longer. But at least this icon is back, built stronger than ever and all shiny with a fresh coat of paint. You can knock East Nashville around, but we always get back up.

Located at 824 Main Street. Impossible to miss. There is of course parking at Weiss, and at the storage center next door. The parking lot can be tricky on weekend evenings.

16 Bit Bar+Arcade

Not all bars in Nashville are honky-tonks. At least one is an arcade. It’s natural that in a tourist town like Nashville, with so many bars, business owners will try all kinds of things to grab our entertainment dollars. 16 Bit Bar+Arcade in Nashville is actually part of a small chain. It draws in customers with its collection of 80s and 90s arcade video games and pinball machines.

It’s appropriate then that it be decorated with a mural based on one of the great classics of the genre, Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong and Princess Pauline are seen at the top, but there’s no sign of Mario. He was probably crushed by one of the barrels of beer and whiskey Kong has. Pauline yells “Get over here,” 16 Bit’s catch phrase, not the “Help” she does in the game. The steel piers Mario had to climb now spell out “NASH TENN.” As the mural is unsigned, it took a little research to find the creators, but it turns out to be a production of Eastside Murals, one of the most prolific mural teams in Nashville.

As of this writing, there’s a Netflix documentary series available, High Score, which includes a long discussion of Donkey Kong’s history. I enjoyed it, though one reviewer found it heavy on nostalgia, weak on real reporting.

Located at 1102 Grundy Street, just as it says on the mural, at the corner of 11th Avenue North. The mural faces Comers Alley, on the west side of the building, away from downtown. This is the Gulch, so not a lot of free parking, but there is some free street parking west of 11th. Paid parking is also available.

Keep Dreaming

One thing the pandemic has not done is slow down the mural movement in Nashville. As a result, I’m getting even farther behind in cataloguing all that is out there. This trippy mural at Honytree Meadery is only a few months old, and it’s the work of Kim Radford, who over the last year or so has become quite prolific and is responsible for a lot of the new murals.

This one has a bit of backstory. Mindmilk is a mental wellness brand owned by Centric Creative Group, itself a brand-marketing agency. Back in September, Creative Centric sponsored a mural scavenger hunt. They even partnered with ROAR to create augmented reality experiences for each mural through the ROAR app, and this mural was part of the hunt. Maybe some of the participants also used this blog to help them find murals? Maybe.

Mindmilk includes dream interpretation as part of its services, and Radford’s mural seems very much to come from the world of dreams, and tells us to “Keep Dreaming.” Of course, this is also a meadery, and honey bees feature in the mural, even wrapping around the corner towards Honeytree’s front door.

Mindmilk Mural Nashville street art
Mindmilk Bees mural Nashville street art

This mural replaces a previous mural on this spot I never blogged about. It was a mural promoting Nashville SC, our local Major League Soccer team. While they promoted the mural on their social media, I was never able to track down the artist. This is my regular plea to businesses. Muralists are not simply journeyman workers, and acknowledging them can actually help promote your business, as those people who follow the artist will become aware of your business and possibly think better of it. I think the biz speak for that is “synergy.”

Nashville Soccer Mural street art

Located at 918 Woodland Street. The mural is on the east side of the building, facing away from downtown. Honeytree has some limited parking, and you can probably get away with a short stay in the lot in front of the mural. Grab some mead and enjoy the art!

Third and Lindsley Part 2 – Music Starts Here

There are three murals at Third and Lindsley, and all of them are by the artist who signs her work Blue Hayden Art. While one of them is a sign on a retaining wall, two of them are of what has become a common genre in Nashville, the mural explicitly designed to be the frame for a portrait, a mural that is only truly complete when someone stands in front of it to get their picture taken. I’ve taken the title of the post from a slogan written on the mural. While the one I previously wrote about is meant for multiple people, this one is more open to solo shots (though it can certainly accommodate more than one).

One notable distinction to this mural is that is not just a mural, it also sculptural elements. Right out in front of the outline that suggests either an upright bass or a really huge head of hair is a microphone implanted in the concrete. It’s pretty obvious what it’s for!

Music Microphone mural Nashville street art

Third and Lindsley re-opened on October 1, and are doing in-person shows. They even used this mural to help announce their re-opening on Twitter. Let’s hope it goes well for them. It’s hard to imagine Nashville without Third and Lindsley.

Part 1

Located at 818 3rd Avenue South, at the corner with, you guessed it, Lindsley Avenue. This mural faces Lindsley. There is very limited street parking, and a pay lot. During the day on weekends it’s easy to park at neighboring businesses.

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery

Around the corner from one of the more spectacular murals in town is the façade of Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. Nelson’s is a revival of a family business first founded in Nashville after the Civil War by Charles Nelson. It became one of the only high-volume distilleries in Tennessee, and was distributed widely until the state of Tennessee instituted prohibition in 1909. A hundred years later, two of Nelson’s grandsons restarted the business in Marathon Village. You can read about its history here.

The central logo is based on a logo found on bottles from the original business, reading “Green Brier Tennessee” instead of “Nelson’s Green Brier.” (The name comes from the location of the original distillery in Greenbrier, TN). The sign, or really collection of signs, is by Bryan Deese, a prolific Nashville muralist. Like a lot of signs, it has no signature, but Nelson’s credits him on their Instagram page, and includes a couple of shots of him working on it, one which makes clear he had an assistant. Not every business does that, credit sign makers (and sometime not even muralists) so good for Nelson’s.

An odd aside – as I was leaving from shooting (and buying a bottle!) a truck pulling a large flat-bed trailer festooned with flags pulled up. On the trailer was a preacher, railing into his phone (shooting a video) against the evils of alcohol and the audacity of Nelson’s having its doors wide open (not the ones in the picture). They were open for COVID safety, presumably. The spirit of Prohibition than fist shut down Nelson’s is still around.

Located at 1414 Clinton Street, at the corner with 16th Avenue North. There is some street parking on Clinton, and some nearby paid lots.

Dolly at The Five Spot

This mural of Dolly Parton by Kim Radford is only a little more than a month old, but’s already made quite a splash. Lots of people have posted it to social media, and the Tennessean did a story about it. The pandemic has probably stifled its reach a bit, but pandemics come and go, Dolly is forever.

The mural came about in part out of social media. Radford had a deal to do a similar mural for a downtown honky-tonk, but when that fell through, she turned to social media, and soon The Five Spot, an East Nashville music venue near Five Points, offered its wall. Like a lot of local music venues, The Five Spot remains closed. If you want to help them out, they have a GoFundMe account. As of publication, they are at $23,000 of a $75,000 goal.

Right when Radford was doing the mural, Billboard magazine published an interview with Parton in which she expressed support for Black Lives Matter.

“I understand people having to make themselves known and felt and seen,” she says. “And of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!”

Radford added part of the quote to the mural, starting with “of course,” and substituting Parton’s signature butterflies for the S’s in “ass.”

Kim Radford, by the way, only got really active doing outdoor murals in Nashville about a year ago or so. Since then, she’s become one of the more prolific of our local artists. In particular, she’s done a series of pieces for Grimey’s New and Pre-Loved Music I hope to feature soon.

This mural is on my street, and I might have put it up sooner, except that small parking lot in front of it is often full. You might have your best luck early in the morning.

Located at 1006 Forrest Avenue. The mural faces east, away from downtown and nearby Gallatin Road. There is street parking on the 1100 block of Forrest and other streets nearby.

Walls for Women: Miss Wynta-Amor Rogers

I’ve been featuring a lot of older art of late, so here’s something new. DMA (it stands for “Do More Art”) is a collective dedicated to promoting outdoor art, namely murals. Their first big project is called “Walls for Women,” which has seen murals go up all over the state this summer in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women’s suffrage, and of course it was Tennessee’s ratification of the amendment on August 18, 1919 that enabled its passage. All the artists for the project have been women, and the murals focus on women and issues from women’s lives.

The Nashville entry is by Sarah Painter, who did the portraits, and Cymone Wilder, who did the lettering. Painter is a Florida artist, while Wilder is based here in Nashville. Their mural is named after its young subject, Wynta-Amor Rogers, a seven-year-old Long Island girl whose participation in Black Lives Matter protests resulted in a viral video.

Wynta Mural Nashville street art

The mural features the quote “They buried us but they didn’t know we were seeds.” That quote is also featured in a big community mural off Main Street I wrote about in We Are Seeds. It’s a variation on a line from the Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos.

Wynta Mural Nashville street art

The larger project is spread out across Tennessee and has many sponsors. The primary sponsor for this mural was Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, on whose wall in Marathon Village the mural is found. The curator for the project is Kristin Luna, one of DMA’s founders. In her blog announcement of the artists for Walls for Women, you can see just how white and plain this wall was before. It very much cried out for art. (Scroll down to near the bottom of the post.) Apparently this is the largest mural in the project. As far as I know, the portrait of an adult woman does not reference a specific person.

Wynta Mural Nashville street art

Because of trees in the park across the street, it’s impossible to take a clean image of the mural straight on, but below is my best effort.

Wynta Mural Nashville street art

Located at 1414 Clinton Street. That’s the address of the distillery. The mural faces the 600/700 block of 16th Avenue North, and the portrait of the adult woman sits at the corner of 16th and Clinton. There is some street parking on Clinton, and paid parking is also found on Clinton.

Wynta Mural Nashville street art

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