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nashville public art

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Signs

Able Restaurant Equipment

Able Restaurant Equipment on Nolensville is no more. While the building that once housed the business still hosts two versions of this sign, the store closed some months ago. As I’ve written before, vintage hand-lettered signs in Nashville like this one are under threat. Of course, a sign is always under threat if the business closes, but it’s also true that the rapid pace of development in Nashville increases the threat. There’s a small signature at the bottom crediting “Post Sign Co.” I have been able to find no evidence of a sign company by that name. It may have passed out of existence pre-internet, or just so long ago that all internet traces of it have disappeared. That much of the sign is in Spanish suggests the possibility that this was one of the earliest Hispanic-oriented businesses on Nashville, if the sign actually goes back to the ’80s. If it was done later, then perhaps Able was merely responding to it’s changing neighborhood. The sign above on the north side of the building is the better preserved of the two signs (the south-side sign is below). However, recently it was defaced with some very carefully hand-lettered and quite vulgar insults I won’t reprint here. If a future owner wishes to preserve the sign, the graffiti is on the white part and could be easily painted over.

Able sign street art Nashville

Located at 2601 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, TN 37211. There is some parking available in the alley behind, and along Grandview Avenue one block west.

 

The Delgado calacas

In a small shop in the collection of galleries and other businesses at 919 Gallatin Ave is a business with a long history. Delgado Guitars had its start as a family business in 1923 in the city of Torreón, Coahuila, in north-central Mexico. Over the last century, the family and the business moved many places, eventually winding up in Nashville. And over those years Delgado Guitars has maintained both instrument making traditions and Mexican cultural traditions. Thus the very Mexican subject of calacas and calaveras found in the mural on their front door. Calacas are the skeletons, often in fancy dress, that are so important in Mexican art, particularly in representations of the Day of the Dead, while the calaveras are brightly painted skulls also common in Mexican art. They have a long history, as political satire, but also as a reflection of Mexico’s roots in Mayan, Aztec, and other Amerindian cultures. The artist who produced this work comes from another part of the world. Olasubomi Aka-Bashorun was born in Lagos, Nigeria and grew up in Oklahoma. He now has a gallery in The Arcade, the DBO Gallery. While the Delgado mural is a different theme from much of his work, its bright, strong colors are very much like his other paintings. This mural verges on hidden art. Not only is it impossible to see from the road, but also, since it’s on a door, you won’t see it when Delgado Guitars is open! So you’ll need to come twice, right? Certainly you will if you want to see both the guitars and the mural.

Calacas mural street art Nashville

Calavera mural street art Nashville

Located at 919 Gallatin Avenue. There is a fair amount of parking available at the venue.

 

Stratus skyline

Skyline mural street art Nashville

This lovely skyline with a bit of a watercolor vibe stretches the “public art” definition a little bit. It can be seen from Antioch Pike, but it’s definitely blink-or-you-miss-it. It’s found on the training center of the Nashville branch of Stratus Building Solutions, which bills itself as “leading the way in health and environmentally conscious commercial cleaning services.” It’s by Hannah Holgate, an artist who also is the Frame Shop manager at Jerry’s Artarama on Main Street (where she partnered with Marshall Hall to produce the mural on the facade of the art store, which I’ll post about later). She says it’s her first solo mural, which makes it a pretty good start! Hopefully, she will be doing more murals in the future.

Located at 2123 Antioch Pike. It’s located on a building behind the main building you see from the road, facing approximately north. There is parking here, but this is also a working business so you might want to ask politely before driving around to the back, particularly on a work day.

Nashville Spring Service

Spring Sign mural street art Nashville

Since 1943, Nashville Spring Service has been meeting all your vehicle and trailer spring needs, including, like the sign says, products from Monroe Shocks and Struts. They also provide a lot of other services, like cabinets and shelving. For most of those years, they’ve been in a red-brick building with the official address of 621 Eight Avenue South, but which lies on the corner of 9th Avenue South and “Litte” Division Street (Just one block north of Eight and Division there is a block-long stretch of road also called Division Street.) They have moved, however, to 216 Omohundro Place, an industrial area more in keeping with their work, unlike the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood they leave behind. The old building is for sale. That puts this sign in danger. This type of sign used to be common in Nashville, and you can still find a few of them around, but by and large, they disappear when the business does (or when the building is torn down.) Some new businesses save the old signs, but that’s rare.  So as this blog is meant in part as an archive, I want to document it while it still exists. I found a picture on Google Maps of a three-dimensional sign that used to be here as well (see below) but I don’t believe it made the move to Omohundro. Keep an eye out for these fossils. They are disappearing.

Spring sign street art Nashville
Photo credit: Kenny Holloway

Located, officially, at 621 Eight Avenue South. It actually faces Ninth, at the corner with “Little” Division Street. Around that corner is some of the only free street parking left in downtown Nashville. Grab it while you still can.

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!

Cocina Mexicana, RIP

Mexicana mural sign street art Nashville

I have long thought that I might put the hand-painted signs at Five Points Cocina Mexicana on the blog and seems that now is the time. Signs have gone up that indicate Cocina Mexicana will close on Apil 1 and will reopen sometime soon as a branch of Cilantro Mexican Grille. The original Cilantro is on 8th Avenue South and has appeared on this blog twice, so there’s a good possibility they will add art to this building as well. The Cocina Mexicana signs are unsigned and I haven’t had time to research the artist, but I wanted to put this up before they disappear. Definitely, call this endangered art.

Located at 972 Main Street. The murals are on the front and west sides of the building. Parking is available in back. Chow down and enjoy the art while you still can.

Gabby’s

Gabby's mural street art Nashville

Normally I would try to avoid posting a photo of a mural with stuff piled in front of it, but the tables and chairs on this patio at Gabby’s Burgers & Fries are a permanent part of the decor. Gabby’s opened in 2009 in what for many years had been the site of the historic Hap Townes restaurant beloved by many. Seriously, click right now and read that article by one of Nashville’s greatest writers, Tim Ghianni. I’m sorry I never got a chance to eat there, but apparently, the burgers at Gabby’s are pretty good. Along with a new menu came new art. The website link for the artist Vince Herrera painted on the mural is dead, but it wasn’t too hard to track down his Facebook and Instagram pages. On Instagram, you can see a few photos that show the process and reveal a few features now blocked by furniture, as well as telling us that Herrera has help from Mari Cristina. Apparently, this mural went up in July 2013. I’ve driven by that spot many times, but only noticed it recently. From the road, it is in something of a blink-and-you-miss-it spot. Take the time to look behind buildings – sometimes there’s art back there!

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Located at 493 Humpries Street. The restaurant is actually at the corner of Chestnut and Hagan streets, near Greer Stadium, while its parking lot faces Humphries. The mural is on the back side of the building. There is parking at Gabby’s and nearby side streets.

Bare Bones Butcher

Cow mural street art sign Nashville

Some months before Bare Bones Butcher opened, it seemed likely a butcher was going into the new building at 51st and Illinois in The Nations. Either that or maybe a Mexican folk art store. Their quite visible sign (by their own account) is a product of I Saw The Sign, Meghan Wood’s hand-lettered sign and mural company. Their work is all over town and you’ve no doubt shopped at one of their clients, or at least driven on the interstate near the football stadium. While their work is generally more understated than that of many of our local muralists, by helping a number of local businesses up their graphics game, I Saw The Sign has become an important contributor to Nashville’s “look.”

Located at 906 51st Avenue North. There is parking on the backside of the building and on nearby side streets. Get you some fresh cuts and enjoy the art!

First One

Sign mural street art Nashville

Who doesn’t love a great sign? First One Market on East Old Hickory Boulevard has a wonderfully chaotic sign, welcoming friends, extolling revolution, letting you know who’s boss (well, someone is boss, it’s not really clear) and assuring you that this is the place you can get your phone charged. Is the fist raised in protest holding a cup with a straw, or a walkie-talkie? I’m not sure, but I am sure it qualifies as art. I discovered this, by the way, when I decided to drive the entirety of Old Hickory Boulevard, minus of course the part that lies beneath the waters of Percy Priest Lake. Take a day and give it a try. It’s a great way to really get a grasp on the diversity of Nashville and Davidson County.

Located at 660 East Old Hickory Boulevard. The mural/sign is on the east side of the building. There is plenty of parking. Load up on cheap tobacco and beer and enjoy the art!

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