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Restaurant and bars

The Once and Future Elliston Place Soda Shop

Elliston Soda Sign mural street art Nashville

It says it there right on the sign. “Good Food Since 1939.” Many a Nashvillian has fond memories of Elliston Place Soda Shop. I’ve had a few burgers there myself. Recently, escalating rents almost forced owner Skip Bibb to close the restaurant for good, but Nashville developer Tony Giarratana bought the restaurant to prevent that fate, promising to renovate and reopen it this year. Recently it was announced that the soda shop would move next door, into a larger 1907 building that once housed the Cumberland Telephone Exchange. That means that everything in and on the old building that Giarratana plans to incorporate in the new site must be removed from the old. The three-dimensional neon sign that once welcomed customers has already been taken down, leaving behind this hand-painted sign (and Purity Dairies ad, who probably paid for it). It’s not clear how old it is, but the only other example on the internet of a hand-painted Purity mural I could find is in Smyrna, TN and it dates back to the late 1950s. Given the wear-and-tear on this one, that’s a probable approximate date for the Elliston sign as well. It certainly can’t be pre-1946, when Ezell’s Dairy became Purity. Since Elliston Place Soda Shop is going into a new building, the fate of this sign is very much up in the air. Interestingly, in the very rough rendering for the new shop, a version of this sign is included. In fact, it’s actually a cut-and-pasted photo of the old sign. Either way, this one is almost certainly endangered art.

Located at 2111 Elliston Place. The sign is on the east side of the building, facing towards downtown. There is metered parking on Elliston Place, and some free parking on nearby streets.

 

The avocados of Avo

Avo Mural avocados street art Nashville

The mural at Avo, a vegan restaurant on Charlotte, shows up a fair amount on social media. It helps that it’s across the street from the Off the Wall project,  which packs together fourteen high-quality murals in one place. Anyone doing a serious mural tour of Nashville will definitely check that group out, and they won’t be able to miss the raining avocados across the street. Also, its fun, poppy design naturally lends itself to lots and lots of Instagramready photos. Now the mural isn’t signed, but if you dig deep on Avo’s Instagram page, you’ll find a picture of the artist hard at work and credited as @moldymonk – a link which is dead. Good thing I recognized that handle because Seth Prestwood has changed his IG handle to @sayyyeth. And then it clicked – Prestwood also did the very first piece of the Off the Wall project! (That link has links in it to all my posts on the series.) Anyway, go get your Instagram shot and definitely eat your veggies.

Located at 3 City Boulevard #200. The mural is on the north side of the building and faces a large parking lot that lies on the 3000 block of Charlotte Avenue.

Chauhan Peacock

Chauhan Peacock mural street art Nashville

A few weeks ago, Chauhan Ale and Masala House celebrated its 5th anniversary. Chauhan Ale and Masala is the first restaurant of what has become a small restaurant empire in Nashville founded by Maneet Chauhan, a celebrity chef perhaps best known as a regular judge on Chopped. As part of the celebration, Anthony Billups and Dean Tomasek of Music City Murals produced this peacock, a peacock notably missing its head. But that’s no accident. The Chauhan peacock mural nicely exemplifies one of the key drivers of the mural art scene in Nashville. Business owners want you to stand in front of the murals on their stores, get your picture taken, and check in on social media. Here’s Chef Chauhan doing exactly that in front of this very mural, modeling the way it’s supposed to be done. For this mural isn’t missing its head, it’s just waiting for you to put your’s in the right place to finish the image. This isn’t the only mural in town designed so specifically with selfies and portraits in mind. The two Kelsey Montague murals, both the balloon and the wings (of the almost continuous line) come to mind, but they are hardly the only ones. Of course, not everyone remembers to check in, but if you look close, you’ll notice that’s taken care of here because the key tags are already in the mural. So here’s to the selfie, creating work for artists all over town!

Located at 123 12th Avenue North. The mural faces the 1200 block of Grundy Street, on the north side of the building. The large gravel parking lot nearby is usually reserved for valet parking. There’s street parking going north on 12th after 6 pm and under the bridge to the north all day.

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

Urban Juicer, Eastside Edition

If you think about it and are a little generous, you can say that the twisted straw on this mural spells out the word “urban.” Which makes sense, since this mural sits on the side of the Gallatin Road version of a local juice bar chain called The Urban Juicer. If you look at that website, you’ll see long, super twisty straws are part of their branding, so this colorful version hinting at all the different kinds of juice you can get fits right in. It’s by David Wright of Manecoon Sign Company, who rarely signs his work, but if you peruse that Instagram account, you’ll see that his art is all over town. The picture above doesn’t capture the whole work, as there is also a The Urban Juicer logo and slogan off to the side, but that would have made a bad header photo for this post (see below). Maybe give The Urban Juicer a try – they were voted Best Juice Bar in the Nashville Scene’s Best of Nashville poll in 2019.

Urban Juicer Mural street art Nashville

Located at 1009 Gallatin Ave. The mural is on the south side of the building. Note that the parking lot it faces is not The Urban Juicer’s parking lot. There’s is in front of and behind their building. There is also street parking on Sharpe Avenue, just to the north.

Stock & Barrel

The small piece of Nashville wedged between 8th Avenue South and the Gulch is increasingly mural dense. As it should be, as tourists are beginning to really discover this spot, where, if you are lucky, some of the last free downtown parking spaces can be found. Stock and Barrel, their name a reference to their emphasis on bourbon and burgers, originated in Knoxville and is a relative newcomer to the scene. Their muralist, to my knowledge, is as well. Adam Newman (you’ll find his Instagram page a little more informative) seems to be new to the mural movement here in Nashville, but his evocative piece for Stock & Barrel leaves me hoping we’ll see more work from him in the future. I like how he just cut off the final “E” in “Nashville.” It’s the only vowel he used anyway, so why not cut it off?

Stock & Barrel Mural street art Nashville

Located at 901 Gleaves Street. The mural is on the west side of the building, facing Peg Leg Porker (which has its own new mural). There is street parking nearby, but most of it is metered. If you’re lucky and you look hard, you’ll find the free spaces (for now), mostly on 10th Avenue.

Blek, Barista, and Beethoven

It’s not often that a graffiti artist gets written up in the local news, his arrival in town excitedly heralded by local arts groups. But Blek Le Rat is not just any graffiti artist. He’s an internationally known French street artist, known to some as the “godfather of stencil,” that is, the use of stencils to make images on walls. He toured the U.S. south in late 2018, creating works in the Texas cities of Waco, Houston, and Austin, and also here in Nashville. He left stencils at Montgomery Bell Academy and the one above at the Germantown branch of Barista Parlor. In this video interview with WPLN, he explains that he came to Nashville because it is the capital of music and because he thinks his work would be ignored and unappreciated in a more outdoor art-dense city like New York. The subject is a young Beethoven, who Blek presents in more modern dress, imagining how the old master might present himself to the Nashville of today and its music. He also thinks “the real America is in Nashville, a city like Nashville.” The video is worth watching because it captures a lot of his process as he produced the Beethoven portrait. It’s not as simple as spraying a stencil! The picture below gives you a sense of context.

Bleck Beethoven mural

Further down the wall is the work of another stencil artist, For Becks, who is local. I’ve featured his Lego Men before. Here we see one of his “Like” stencils, which are popular on Instagram, including this one.

Barista Like mural street art Nashville

Located at 1230 4th Avenue North. Both murals actually face the 300 block of Monroe Street. The Blek piece is obviously at the corner with 4th, while the For Becks piece is almost all the way down at the other end of the wall, near the back of the building. Street parking is available on 4th.

La Hacienda Taqueria

Facing the front parking lot of La Hacienda Taqueria, one of the original Mexican restaurants on Nolensville Road, is a mural that has been seen by tens if not hundreds of thousands of people by now. But it’s unsigned, and most people would have no idea who might have made it. Even the staff just points to the signature on the main mural inside, which was clearly done by the same artist. It reads “M. Torok ’99.” Well, there is a painter and muralist named “M. Torok” with a deep connection to Nashville, Mitchell Torok. Torok, who now resides in Texas, had a long career in country music as a performer and, in partnership with his late wife, Gail “Ramona” Redd, a songwriter. He is best known for the songs “Mexican Joe,” (which was an even bigger hit for Jim Reeves) and “Caribbean,” and he and Redd wrote successful songs for a number of other artists. But before he became a recording star, he got a dual degree in Art and Journalism from Stephen F. Austin University. He must have had a reputation as a visual artist in Nashville because he  “was commissioned to paint a 110-foot, five-panel mural titled “The History of the Grand Ol’ Opry”, which was on display in the Ryman Auditorium until it was remodeled for live performances.” (Wikipedia) (That remodeling happened in 1994.) He also painted an 85-foot long mural called “Elvis-A-Rama” detailing the life of Elvis Presley, which was last seen in a museum owned by Jimmy Velvet that closed in 2006. It’s unclear what happened to that mural. The La Hacienda murals, including the ones inside, are a little worse for wear, but still going strong. The outdoor one featured here has been broken up by the construction of an outdoor seating area, but you can see that hidden part below in the slideshow. And being from 1999, it is definitely one of the oldest outdoor murals in town. That I know of only the Chromatics mural (1993) and the renovated painter mural at the Hard Rock Cafe are older (date unknown, but it was hidden for decades by an adjoining building that was torn down in or just before 1994, when Hard Rock opened). The Angels Will Rise/Seventh Letter mural came just after La Hacienda, in 2001. As of this writing, Torok at 90 years old is apparently still alive and painting and writing in Texas, making him perhaps the oldest and certainly one of the oldest artists I’ve featured on this blog.

Hacienda Mural street art Nashville

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Located at 2615 Nolensville Pike. The mural actually sits on the north wall (facing downtown) of La Hacienda Supermercado next door at 2617. There is parking in front and in the rear of the restaurant (the rear parking is reached from Grandview Avenue). If you want any chance to see it without cars parked in front, arrive before 10:00 a.m., which is when the restaurant opens each day.

Baja Burrito

I’ve known about this mural behind Baja Burrito for some time, but have not posted about it before because I wanted a “clean” picture, without various items stacked in front. But that was a fool’s errand for two reasons. One, this is the back door to a busy restaurant. It is a natural thing for all kinds of crates, trays and garbage cans to be stacked by the door. This is the mural’s natural habitat, and the only way to see it. It’s a worker’s mural. Second, when I finally got the nerve to move at least a couple of large, easily rolled pieces out of the way, the staff that inevitably came out while I was doing it didn’t even seem to notice I was there. Maybe people do this all the time. The big trash can that I left for this photo was really heavy and might have been a grease depository. What it’s hiding is a dog, who is in the slide show below. The piece is signed “Luis Marin Creative.” That website is all about Marin’s photography and videography, with no mention of murals, but the profile shot on his Instagram page is a selfie in front of this mural, so I know I have the right artist. The mural itself doesn’t have much to do with the actual goings-on at Baja Burrito, but it does evoke the relaxed vibe that Baja is known for. There are also two cactus murals separate from this mural – one on a separate building that you would see directly to your left if you were standing where the featured photo above was shot. The other is around front, on the right (east) side of the building. Both are found below.

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Located at 722 Thompson Lane. The main mural is on the backside, facing in the direction of Heather Place, but you can’t see it from the road. Parking in Berry Hill is always a nightmare, as there seems to be no public parking. If you’re just here to see the mural, I recommend the Baja Burrito’s offsite parking on Columbine Place, just off of Heather, straight back (north) from Baja Burrito. But hey, there’s a good meal to be had here, so grab some grub and enjoy the art!

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