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

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Baked on Eighth

If you live in Nashville and pay any attention to murals, you’ve seen this. It’s on a major thoroughfare, it adorns a beloved sweet shop, so of course people put this on their Instagram. It’s a bachelorette favorite. Posting this now is not journalism!

This mural for Baked on Eighth appeared back in February, 2018. It is appropriately emblazoned with the slogan “Life Can be Sweet,” and is festooned with cookies and pies and cakes, exactly what Baked on 8th is known for. They change their menu regularly, but they focus on the sweet stuff.

The mural is the creation of Susanna Chapman. Chapman is a local illustrator and muralist who specializes in watercolors and book design, mostly children’s books. To my knowledge, this is her only outdoor mural in Nashville, but her illustration work is playful and energetic and would definitely lend itself to some fun murals. Hopefully we’ll see more from her.

This mural is hard to photograph. I like to photograph on cloudy days to avoid shadows, but the pastels look a little dark in anything besides bright sunlight. So imagine this on a sunnier day. Or better, make an order on a sunny day at Baked on Eighth, and go see it for yourself.

Located at 1512 8th Avenue South. The mural is on the south side of the building, looking down 8th Avenue away from downtown. There’s parking in back of Baked on Eight and there’s street parking just to the north on Lynwood Avenue, where you will find the mural featured in Hanging Around.

Welcome to Nashville

This is another “only on Christmas” picture. This mural sits on a storage building in a Premier Parking paid lot attached to Nashville Pedal Tavern. Now if you’re local, that’s quite a pair. Neither one is exactly a favorite of Nashvillians. But hey, everyone’s got to make a living. And because of the bachelorettes and the row of bars along this stretch of Demonbreun, the lot is usually packed with cars, blocking the mural.

Not on Pandemic Christmas! It’s by Music City Murals, business home of Anthony Billups and Dean Tomasek. It’s a very Nashville mural. It features an enormous guitar, and the Cumberland River, with some folks enjoying a rowboat ride on the water. And the guitar neck leads to the Nashville skyline in front of a glorious sunset as seen from the east side of the river, including our city’s signature, the Batman Building. Just as the Eiffel Tower is all you need to say “Paris,” the Batman Building says “Nashville.”

Welcome Mural Nashville street art

It’s also interesting in that it can only be fully appreciated by looking at it from the corner. It’s a continuous image that wraps around the south and east sides of the building, forcing you to stand back from the corner to take it all in. Also, one of the dangers of it being in a tight parking lot, it’s been damaged. It’s pretty obvious someone backed into it, right below the word “Tennessee.”

Welcome Mural Nashville street art

Located at 1504 Demonbreun Street, at the corner with 14th Avenue South. The largest part of the mural faces east towards downtown. There’s obviously parking here, but not much free anywhere nearby. (Pro-tip: If you want to sound like a local, learn to pronounce “Demonbruen.”)

Hillsboro Village

What did you do on Christmas Day, 2020? I photographed murals. This mural has been around since 2012, and there have been cars parked in front of it pretty much every day since. But on pandemic Christmas, I stumbled on it car-free.

It is of course by Andee Rudloff. Anyone who reads this blog should recognize her style immediately. Like a lot of her work, this mural was a product of community collaboration. It was sponsored by Kay-Bob’s Grill and Ale, and sits on the side of their building. If you watch the time-lapse video of the mural’s production (produced by Stacey Irvin), you’ll see how it was made, which is typical of Rudloff’s work. She drew a black-and-white outline of all the figures, and completed all of the parts of the the mural that required a boom lift. Then, community volunteers helped complete the lower part of the mural.

The plaque on the mural, which includes a QR code that leads you to the video, thanks the Hillsboro Village Art Walk, an art and music crawl that used to be a monthly event in Hillsboro Village. Presumably the community volunteers in the video were participants in the Art Walk. It would have been one of the last Hillsboro Art Walks. The mural went up in the summer of 2012, and the last Art Walk was in September of that year.

The mural is a jumble of imagery, but the road at the top leads to green hills in the distance. If you drive down 21st Ave from the mural, yes, you’ll get to the Green Hills neighborhood. But it’s south, not west, and the sun shouldn’t be rising or setting in that direction. Oh well, it’s art! The mural has received a little wear in eight years, but it’s still standing. Hopefully, it will be around for many more.

(Note, Rudloff does not link to her Instagram page on her website, so here it is.)

Located at 1602 21st Avenue South. The mural is on the north side of the building, facing Caper’s Avenue. This is Hillsboro Village, so lots of parking, but not much of it free.

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.

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