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

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Signs

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.

House of Blues Fences of Fame, Part 3

Travelling clockwise around Columbine Park in Berry Hill, coming from Bransford Avenue, the third fence you come to is one of the youngest. I know from happenstance that the artist, Scott Guion, must have been working on it October, 2017, because I have a photo of from thent where the sign portion (see the photo at the bottom if the post) is white, the sign not yet painted. It’s one of several around the park sponsored by the Nashville branch of the House of Blues. The House of Blues calls them the “Wall of Fame,” but for obvious reasons, I went with “fences.”

BH Faces mural Nashville street art
Bob Marley, Minnie Pearl, Amy Winehouse

This fence is not as dense as the first two, featuring only six artists. It’s also a bit more consistent with ages, showing all of them in the middle/leat-middle stages of their careers, expect of course for Amy Winehouse, who of died young of alcohol positioning. All of them are icons of their genres. We see our first artist on the fences who is not primarily known for music, but rather comedy, Minnie Pearl. Bob Marley, James Brown, Prince, and Waylon Jennings round out an extraordinary list. One thing that is different about this fence from the fist two, it’s the first of the fences I’ve featured in which all of the artists are dead.

BH Faces mural Nashville street art
James Brown, Prince, Waylon Jennings

The blue house in the back was also decorated by Guion, as was the bit of fence in the back ground you can see in the picture at the bottom.

BH Faces Sign mural Nashville street art

See Part 1 of this series for why I’m just now writing about these murals. Spoiler alert: You can finally park in Berry Hill.

Located at 520 East Iris Drive. The mural faces south towards the park. Parking is available around the park.

Part 1 Part 2

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.

The East Room

One thing the ongoing pandemic has not stopped is the outdoor art scene in Nashville. Certainly some commissions never materialized as some businesses cut costs and others closed. But new art is still appearing. A few months ago, this new mural appeared at The East Room on Gallatin. It’s by Matthew Depew, who also used the label “Popcorn Art,” and the mural carries the hashtag “#popcornmurals.” I don’t know why he uses that name, but the mural, which is on a set of panels, is highly textured. It’s depiction of a road leading off into a surreal landscape is reminiscent of the yellow brick road mural by Anthony’s Billups for The Griff Apartments.

There’s also a pretty impressive sign on the side of the building, but I don’t know the artist.

East Room Sign mural Nashville street art

Of course, like all our public venues, The East Room is struggling. As of press time, their calendar is blank, though they do have an announcement for a series of virtual concerts they are taking part in over the next two months. Recently, the Metro Council approved a $2 million grant to help keep small, independent venues afloat. The National Independent Venue Association is running a lobbying campaign called “Save our Stages” to try to get Congress to step in to save an industry that is in serious trouble. Let’s hope they are successful.

Located at 2412 Gallatin Avenue. There is limited parking on site for the other businesses in this building. Street parking is available a short distance north on Chester Avenue.

Electric Thunder

I would not ordinarily do two posts about the same neighborhood in a row, and I try to avoid posting when I don’t know the artist. But this mural is likely to be gone soon, so I decided it was time to post about it.

Electric Thunder Studios is in Berry Hill, about a block away from the well known fences with portraits of music icons. Like those, I had also been reluctant to write about this mural because of the unfriendly sense of a neighborhood with no parking and no sidewalks. The parking at least is somewhat solved. So why do I say this mural is going away? Because the building is for sale. Indeed, as of this post, it is listed as being under contract. The listing also indicated the studio equipment is not part of the sale, so either Electric Thunder is moving or closing. Either way, it’s doubtful the future owners will want to keep what amounts to a large sign for the previous occupants.

The mural above is on the side of the building. There also used to be a second mural, presumably by the same artist, on the front of the building, but that has been painted over. Below is a picture of it, and you can see its relationship to the remaining mural. File these murals under both “lost art” and “endangered art.”

Electric Thunder mural Nashville Street art
Electric Thunder mural Nashville Street art

Located at 2824 Dogwood Place. The mural is on the south side of the building, facing a driveway. The nearest parking is on the next block over, around Columbine Park.

Unfinished, Unknown

The exuberant, graffiti-style sign for A&B Towing has been up for well over a year, possibly much longer. But it is also distinctly unfinished. It’s hard to see in this picture, but the artist sketched out more of both the hook and the chain, but never completed them. For that matter, the rest of the word “truck” is stenciled in but was never painted, and that letting seems to in the midst of an unfinished editing process. I say “artist” because I don’t know who did this. There is an interesting dot, like a period at the end of the “Towing” banner, which is exactly where a signature would go. It otherwise doesn’t make much sense in the context of the rest of the mural.

Not all muralists sign their work, but the ones that do, don’t sign them until the work is done. So it would seem when the artist was about 90% done, they walked away. Why? It could be something mundane, or it could have been some sort of disagreement with the business owners. A and B Towing does seem to be active, but it also has no internet presence at all, so I don’t know much about it. And as it’s been at least a year-and-half, I really don’t think the artist is coming back. Not all art is completed, and some of the great masterpieces are unfinished works. This one is likely to remain a bit of a mystery.

Located at 707 East Trinity Lane, at the corner with Pittway Drive. The mural faces east, towards Pittway. There is parking at the building, and some street parking on Pittway.

Re-Spun – The Big Shirt Mural

This mural, which dates back to last April and is found in the heart of 12 South,  took a little research because it’s unsigned. It looks something like the style of a couple of artists I know, but I struck out with them. I just had to wait for the Google crawlers to do their thing and index the right page. Turns out it’s by a California artist who bills himself as The Hyste. He does a lot of signage, and so a fair amount of his work is unsigned. That the artist is from California makes some sense because the mural is on the side of the local branch of the Califonia-based clothing line Marine Layer. Re-spun (the words in the upper left of the mural)  is a line of theirs of t-shirts made from other recycled t-shirts. (Warning: There’s an autoplay video on that link.) This explains the jokey tags on the big mural shirts.

“Made from 43% Country Music Hall of Fame souvenir shirts.”

“Made from 23% old 80s hair band concert tees.”

“Made from 14% Vote for Pedro shirts.”

“Made from 17% free shirts from an energy drink hype squad.”

I can tell you I have none of those teeshirts.

This is actually an example of a national chain retail store putting a mural on their building, though it’s not as surprising as when Kroger did it. I’ll believe that corporate America is fully on board with public art when all the local Walmarts are done up in murals.

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Located at 2705 12th Avenue South. This is 12 South, so a lot of available parking is paid, though side streets are generally free (but give a thought to local residents when you park on those streets).

NLGOY – Anderson Group

NLGOY Anderson mural Nashville street art

I’ve written about the one on Nolensville Pike. I’ve written about the one in 12 South. And now it’s time for the one on 21st Avenue South, the one at The Anderson Group, a real estate agency. All three are by the same artist, who signs his work  NASH.TN. On one level, they are quite similar – black background and white text, a simple message, the artist’s signature, and his Instagram account. But each has its own features. The Nolensville Pike version is much larger, includes an outline of Tennessee, and has some subtle graffiti art as well. The 12 South and 21st Ave versions both have the white box, which the one on Nolensville doesn’t, but 12 South is the wider of the two and usually has a lot of tourists, while the one on 21st Avenue is dramatically curved, and mostly is a backdrop for real estate agents, not tourists. And I have recently learned that there is at least one more outdoor version (there are also at least a couple indoor versions) in East Nashville that its own unique features. Sometimes limitation is a powerful spur for creativity. They are also all now un-bannered. For some time after the March tornadoes, “Nashville” was replaced with a banner reading “Volunteering,” but those came down for good earlier this summer. I imagine that by the time I write about the East Nashville one, another will have appeared.

Located at 2313 21st Ave South, at the corner with Sunset Place. I doubt if the Anderson people mind if you park in their lot to take a picture, but they might try to get you to list your house while you’re there!

One Way

Apparently, the Berry Hill Square shopping center has been having some trouble in its parking lot. The entrance off Thompson Lane is a little oddly designed, so it wouldn’t be surprising if traffic flow weren’t some kind of issue. So what’s the answer? Build a fence right at the entrance, and get a muralist to paint it. Or how about two, or even three? This mural is signed by Tarabella Aversa, and it features large images of lush flowers found in some of her other work, such as the murals featured in Flowers of Walden. But she must have gotten help from WHAT.Creative Group (Jake and Hana Elliot), as their signature is on the bottom as well. This went in back in February, and if you compare an image from back then to the mural now, it’s obvious it’s taken a little damage. One of the hazards of being in the middle of a parking lot, no doubt. Somebody probably backed into it.

Located at 718 Thompson Lane, right in front of the Applebee’s, and across the street from Guitar Center. It’s in a parking lot, so of course parking nearby is available.

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