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nashville public art

No art left behind

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Signs

Yazoo Brewery, Michael Cooper edition

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This giant Yazoo Brewery tank is something of a landmark on Division Street, but it’s a landmark that will be gone soon enough. Yazoo announced some time ago that they would be moving to a new site, and now that they have purchased land in Madison, all that’s left is finalizing the sale of their Gulch property. It’s unclear what will happen to this tank, painted by Michael Cooper of Murals and More, or the Herb Williams panels on the west side of the building. Hopefully, they will make the move as well. The logo on the front of the building, also by Cooper, will, of course, be lost. (See below, along with shots of the tank from other angles.)

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Located at 910 Division Street. Yazoo has a small amount of its own parking, and much of the paid parking in the Gulch area is one hour free. Get your last call at the Division St. site and enjoy the art!

Gotta get that bling!

BlingMart

Of all the people producing outdoor art in Nashville, I think some of the least appreciated, certainly some of the least written about, are the people who decorate businesses that cater primarily to our international community, notably Latino businesses. Virtually every Latin grocery and convenience store in town is covered in art, usually advertising the wares inside or evoking images of Mexico and Central America. The pattern also sometimes extends to other kinds of businesses, like Bling Mart Jewelry (for which I can find no internet presence). Often, this art is found in places one doesn’t think of as arts destinations, like commercial clusters in the outer parts of the county. The artist for this signed it only as “Vargas,” but as is common with this particular art scene, there’s a phone number, and it matches the one for José F. Vargas, who produced the work in Mi casa es su casa. Bling Mart is on Antioch Pike and Mi Casa is on Dickerson Road, so Vargas gets around!

Located at 1708 Antioch Pike. The trailer sits in the parking lot of Doña Mari Tortilleria Carniceria, itself covered in art which I’ll post about at a later date. There’s plenty of parking, so fill up on tacos, get you some fine jewelry, and enjoy the art!

We build Nashville

HartetRussell

This blog is not the only database of outdoor art in Nashville. Metro Arts Commision has both an actual dataset and the Explore Nashville Art website. They seem like they might have more listings than I do, but it’s had to tell. (Ok, I’m biased, but they don’t seem very user-friendly.) I’m pretty sure though that they don’t have this because this isn’t what they do. This blog (nashvillepublicart.com) is not just a blog about pretty pictures – though don’t get me wrong, I think there is both a beautiful symmetry and a wonderful simplicity to the sign/mural above. It isn’t though what most people think of first when they think “art.” However, this blog is strongly ecumenical about that word, and the slogan around here is “No Art Left Behind.” The work here is signed with a Facebook symbol and “Artist Contact Mural Ruben Torres.” That doesn’t lead anywhere but I’m pretty sure this is the Ruben Torres of Frutas! and And another market. Torres is one of the artists who decorates Latino markets and other businesses. His website, Facebook page, and Instagram only advertise some of his work. He updated the murals featured in Frutas! dramatically a few months ago to include a map of The Nations. Maybe someday when what is obviously some employee’s car isn’t parked in front of it I’ll update the post. As for how Torres’s work wound up on the front of Hartert-Russell, HR is a building firm, so I’d hazard a guess that the connection was made through some of the many Latino construction workers in town.

Located at 2221 Bransford Avenue. There’s no street parking, but there is some parking in back and at Santa’s Pub next door, which has much more exuberant murals.

A noble brew

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It wasn’t that long ago when Hunter’s Custom Automotive used to be on the bend in the road where Main Street becomes Gallatin Pike (they moved to Trinity Lane). And for years they owned a small concrete building they used for storage that lay across the street. And until just before they moved, there was no light. So you would see Hunter’s guys racing across a busy four-lane road with whatever they needed for the current job. Well, a light went in and Hunter’s decamped, and the little concrete block building was transformed into something much larger – Noble’s Kitchen and Beer Hall. Back in January, Noble’s acquired this Eric Bass mural (who signs his work “Mobe Oner”). Bass/Oner has done a number of murals, including one just down the street I haven’t featured yet at Greko Greek Street Food. (And more art inside.) I asked at Noble’s and no one knew who the gentleman in the mural is – he may just be from Bass’s imagination. I like the clever use of the fire hydrant in the mural – see below.

Located at 974 Main Street. The mural is on the east side of the building, facing 10th Street. There is a fair amount of parking at Noble’s. Unfortunately, a lot of it is right in front of the mural, so if you want to get a clear view of it, go early in the morning before Noble’s opens.

Karma

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Most people don’t know it, but the biggest industry in Nashville is health care, not bachelorette parties. Still, all that money from the explosive growth in tourism has brought a lot of well-heeled investors to downtown, forcing out smaller, locally owned businesses that catered to an earlier, more laid back tourist scene. Karma Boutique, founded in 1990, is a survivor. Increasing rents have forced it to move various times, but it’s still here. When it landed in its current location on Third, it gained a new mural to help it stand out. Karma sells clothing and accessories that I’m going to call neo-hippie, much of it handmade by owner-operator Terri Sanford. The mural by Billy Martinez – illustrator, painter, graphic designer, comic artist – is a different but complementary style.  Martinez runs Neko Press, the outlet for much of his work, and also the platform for his art classes.  His work here is definitely attention-getting.

KarmaFrontKarmaSide

Located at 205 Third Avenue North. This is downtown, so plenty of parking, none of it free. There is a paid parking lot across the street, but it isn’t cheap. Load up on handmade clothing and enjoy the art!

Attaboy

Attaboy

For many years, when I talked about food in Nashville, I would say, “we’re ten years behind Atlanta.” But then the “It City” phenomenon took hold, gentrification went wild, and chefs from around the country began to establish themselves in Nashville. The bar scene quickly followed, including the decision of the muchballyhooed New York City bar Attaboy to establish a branch in Nashville. Attaboy is different from most bars. They don’t take your drink order. Instead, they ask you what you like, and the bartender creates a concoction for you. The hard to miss sign is a product of Philadelphia artist Eric Kenney, who also goes by Heavy Slime. Kenney mostly does posters and t-shirts and does his own screen printing. Looking through his work, the Attaboy sign is sunnier than a lot of it. As for the chicken on the bike, while Kenney’s work features DeathAngry Snoopy, and a crazed Mickey Mouse, this is the only chicken I can find. I imagine it’s a nod to East Nashville’s most famous culinary export. And how does a Philly artist wind up doing a sign in Nashville? Because one the partners, Brandon Bramhall, is Kenney’s cousin (and a former bartender at the New York Attaboy).

Located at 8 McFerrin Avenue. The mural faces south, across from the alley that is halfway between Woodland and Main. There is limited street parking, and Attaboy has just a few spaces, so maybe you should just take a late night rideshare to get some cocktails and enjoy the art!

BBQ music

MuddyRootsGZ

Barbeque joints (along with their cousins the hot chicken spots) and music venues are all places where you have a good chance to find art. A lot of that has to with the fact that they are often local businesses, which are much more likely to sport outdoor art than corporate ventures. So it makes sense to find a music label advertised on the side of a BBQ restaurant. G’z BBQ and Catering (their Facebook page might be a better guide than their website) sports a hard-to-miss promotion for Muddy Roots Records, well known for its eponymous festival. The pig isn’t just a hint of the food inside, it’s also a long-standing symbol of Muddy Roots, and is found in a legacy mural just down the road I featured in The pig abides. The same artists involved in that one, Jason Galaz and Milton Chavez, did this one as well. Once again we find an example of the Batman Building used as shorthand for the downtown skyline, with the added touch of the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge.

MuddyRootsPig

Located at 925 Gallatin Avenue, near the corner with Granada Avenue. The mural is located on the south side of the building, easily visible to anyone driving north on Gallatin. There is a fair amount of parking at G’z BBQ, so get you some grub and enjoy the art!

Hair loss

HairLoss

At some point in time, there was a barber shop/hair salon at the corner of 12th Avenue and Clay Street in North Nashville. The store is long closed, but some internet sleuthing suggests it was called Final Finish Salon. Whatever the name was, it has since been erased, but whoever did that took the trouble to preserve the rest of the mural. The mural is signed $quirt and dated 2003. There’s a bit of damage, possibly from bricking up a window. There’s also a bit of trompe l’oeil, a little three-dimensional effect, perhaps suggesting flipping the pages of a style magazine. The fate of this mural is uncertain, given the loss of the business it once represented. Call it endangered art.

Located at 1233 Clay Street. The mural faces 12th Avenue, where there is substantial free parking. Sadly, you can not get your hair done while you enjoy the art.

300

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This is post number 300. For this post, I’m updating on the art I know is now gone. The photo above is an Emily Miller piece once found at the corner of Main and McFerrin. Much of Miller’s work is deliberately temporary, drawn on paper and glued to outdoor walls. Her pieces are more durable than you might think, however, and in fact, this one was deliberately removed when the building was repainted. That’s the fate of most of the works listed here – they have been painted over. Others are gone because the building they stood on is gone.

The blog itself is getting a little better all the time. Statistics wise, since I started it in July 2016, 5450 people have visited the blog for a total of 11,006 page views. Modest, but it has been growing. From a couple hundred views a month when I got started, 800 and 900 has become common, it looks like the blog is about to close in on the second month in a row and third overall for more than 1000 views. The empire grows slowly.

All art is temporary, outdoor art in particular. A list, probably incomplete, of art I have chronicled that is gone or substantially erased. (I will be updating these posts in the coming weeks):

Ask not who the wrecking ball calls for (one building destroyed, another painted over)

The Vape USA Gallery (painted over)

The doomed graffiti wars of Madison Mills (painted over)

Unsafe at any speed (painted over)

Ch-ch-ch-changes! (removed – the Miller piece above)

The Carquest Gallery, Part 1The Carquest Gallery, Part 2 (partially painted over)

Where you at?! (painted over)

Color me gone – soon (building destroyed)

The ghost of craft beers past (painted over)

A flower grows in East Nashville (painted over; replaced with new mural)

Going, going gone (painted over)

Sorry you missed the show (painted over)

Children’s Art on Jefferson Street (removed)

Super visible, very temporary, hard to reach (replaced with a billboard)

Woodland creatures, Part 1 (severely deteriorated, and then removed)

The Zoop Gallery on 8th South (removed and/or deteriorated, replaced)

The ruins of 21st and Linden (lost to construction)

Oz Arts Inside/Out, Part 2 (removed)

On imagined seas (painted over, replaced with new mural)

Big Blue (painted over, replaced with new sign)

Frutas! (partially painted over, replaced with new mural)

Wanda (painted over, replaced with new mural)

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