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nashville public art

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

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Signs

Pride and Glory

The Christmas bombing in Nashville left many scars. People lost their homes and their businesses. Some of Nashville’s most important historic buildings were damaged beyond repair. 2nd Avenue was an important part of the Nashville tourist scene, and many of the businesses that were housed in those historic buildings were what you would expect to find in a tourist zone – bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, honky-tonks and tattoo parlors. To be precise, the Pride and Glory Tattoo Parlor lost what was once its home at 172 2nd Avenue North.

But it wasn’t long before they found a new place to open shop on Rep. John Lewis Way (5th Avenue), and with the new place came a big bold mural to announce their presence. Often, the artwork on tattoo parlors is done by the tattoo artists themselves, but in this case, prolific local muralist Mobe Oner (aka Eric Bass) provided the artwork.

Pride & Glory sign Nashville street art

The images Mobe Oner has chosen are common tattoo images – the climbing black jaguar, the guitar wrapped in a ribbon, and the hand holding flowers are all familiar tattoo images. Eagles in every imaginable pose are also the frequent subject of a tattoo.

Pride & Glory mural Nashville Street art

The jaguar reminds me a lot of the one found one the Drum Supply/Relik Vintage mural done by  Folek Kelof and Christian Branger. Coincidentally, Relik Vintage was forced to move to new quarters after a disaster, in their case as a result of the March 3, 2020 tornado.

Pride & Glory mural Nashville street art

The return of Pride and Glory is important. In the face of the tornado, the bombing, and the pandemic, we like to talk about resilience and “Nashville Strong.” But it’s good to actually see Nashville’s strength and resilience in action, with a literally bombed-out business up and running in a matter of months – and with new art, to boot!

Located at 510 Rep. John Lewis Way South (5th Avenue South). The mural faces the street and takes up the whole front façade of the business, so its hard to miss. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free (though some free parking is found a few blocks south of Pride and Glory).

Star Struck Vintage

When you are tucked away in a somewhat hidden spot, it helps to be bold. The spot where Star Struck Vintage is located is indeed a little out of sight, and its mural is definitely bold and hard to miss.

Star Struck Vintage is a vintage clothing store that is an offshoot of a long-standing and now-closed New York vintage store that first opened in Edgehill in 2013. Early last year they moved to the complex of shops and offices at 604 Gallatin Ave, right at the corner with Eastland Avenue. The unit they are in is on the backside of the complex and tucked under an awning, so some bright, pop-art colors are useful for catching the eye of passers-by. Of course, it’s also right in front of that giant hot-air balloon mural by Kelsey Montague, so that’s a clue if you need to know where to find them.

Vintage mural Nashville street art

Their mural is the work of Anthony Billups of Music City Murals, who continues to show great versatility in his work. Star Struck Vintage sells vintage clothing from the ’30s to the ’80s, which probably explains the Rubik’s cube. While the cowboy boots and hat are standard Nashville icons, a look at Star Stuck’s Instagram page suggests they’ve been getting a lot of material from the local music scene.

Vintage mural Nashville streert art

Because of the location with its columns and the fact that it wraps around the building, it’s pretty much impossible to take a clear picture of the whole thing, which is why I’m posting several pictures of it. I suspect the detail area above is what most people will want their picture taken in front of.

Vintage mural Nashville street art

This view is more what you would see from Eastland as you walk by. Billups put up a video of himself working on the mural, and Star Struck put up a different one. The woman you see working with Billups is his wife, Katje Billups.

Vintage Mural Nashville street art

Located at 604 Gallatin Avenue, at the corner with Eastland Avenue. That’s the address of the building. The mural faces an alley on the backside of 604 Gallatin and is visible from Eastland. If you can see the big balloon mural, you’ve found it. Parking can be tricky here. Your best bet is the free parking garage right across Eastland from the mural and Star Struck Vintage. (Lower level – the upper level belongs to the pharmacy.)

The Shoppes on Fatherland

One of the more surprising things (to me!) about the development of East Nashville in the last couple of decades has been the success of a couple of different developments of small-sized retail spaces in the Five Points area, including the one called The Shoppes on Fatherland. Turns out that these places that cluster several small businesses in one place are a favorite of both of locals and tourists. Shows what I know about retail and tourism.

The Shoppes themselves are part of a larger collection of properties around the intersection of Fatherland and 11th Street called The Fatherland District (whose website features a nice picture of the “Main Street” of The Shoppes). That in turn is the property of a much larger multi-state company called S&S Property Management with dozens of properties – just in case you thought this kind of development was strictly a local mom-and-pop thing.

Where there is tourism in Nashville, especially where there is tourism and successful businesses, there’s going to be murals. The one featured here went in in late 2020, and it serves not just as a sign but as a giant welcome to anyone coming in to the Five Points district from the south, presumably from Shelby Avenue, one of the main avenues into East Nashville. The kind of branding that in the past might have been done with a billboard or a large sign now warrants a huge mural. This one is by the prolific Eastside Murals, who for some time now have been signing their work Out East Boys, as they have done here.

Shoppes Mural Nashville street art

Now it so happens there is a fence jutting out right where one might usually stand when getting your picture taken in front of the mural, but I imagine the tourists will figure out a solution. This mural is not the only one Eastside Murals has done for this complex. On the west side of the Shoppes, along an alleyway and on the back of a barn-shaped building is a mural they did a few years ago that has a very large “Fatherland District” sign scrolled across it. At the time I wrote about that mural I think I believed it was just as example of neighborhood pride, but now it’s clear that like the mural featured in this post, it’s part of the site’s branding.

Located at 1006 Fatherland Street. That’s the address of The Shoppes as a whole. The mural is on the south side of the complex, on the opposite side from Fatherland Street. It’s visible from the parking lot behind Far East Nashville and from the 200 block of South 11th Street. It lies on the outer wall of Eastside Nails, one of the businesses in The Shoppes. There is street parking nearby and limited parking at The Shoppes, but this area can be hard to park in when it’s busy.

Shed Strong

When looking for outdoor art in Nashville, sometimes it pays to drive around to the back of the building, as I did with the white building off Douglas Avenue that contains, among other businesses, the East Nashville branch of Shed Fitness. Shed Fitness Group is actually a chain, with four of its seven branches in Nashville. It’s been on this blog before, as Tarabella Aversa did a mural for their Germantown branch.

This mural on their Douglas Avenue branch is by Rachel Deeb, a photographer, artist and graphic designer who has also been on this blog before. This is her third mural that I am aware of for a fitness outlet, including Put up your dukes! on the side of the Church Street branch of Title Boxing Club and another mural for MK Fitness on Main Street. Sadly, while the Main Street mural survived the March 3, 2020 tornado, the building it was on was severely damaged and has since been demolished.

Unlike those previous two murals, which were primarily images (boxing gloves for the one, an abstract design for the other) this one leans more strongly to signage, featuring the slogan “Shed Strong.” The kettlebell and dumbbells are an obvious reference to Shed Fitness’s business, while the energetic lines and triangles are found in much of Deeb’s other work, including the the two previous fitness-themed murals. The mural went up last June, not long after the East Nashville branch of Shed Fitness opened. You can watch a video of Deeb creating it (it looks like she did it in one day) on her Instagram page.

Located at 747 Douglas Avenue. The mural is found on the northeast side of the building, which is the far side from Douglas. Enter the parking lot and go around to the back of the building. Obviously, parking is available.

Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum

Tucked away underneath the Nashville Municipal Auditorium is the Nashville Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. It hasn’t always been there, having once been down on 6th Avenue. But they had to give that site up to make room for the Music City Center in 2010, reopening in 2013 in what was once the Municipal Auditorium’s convention exhibit space.

Being a little tucked away, all the visual bling they can get to help people find them is useful. Enter Steve Mellgren, CEO of Dimensions in Screen Printing, who designed and donated the mural to the museum in 2019. (Dimensions is a small screen printing company in Irvine, California and does not appear to have an internet presence.) The mural makes a nice logo, and in fact, you can get it on a T-shirt, in teal and black (my preference).

This part of downtown doesn’t have a lot of outdoor art, though the main entrance to the auditorium does have a giant mural of concert tickets. I see the Musician Hall of Fame mural as another data point in the evidence that Nashville businesses increasingly understand that art is an essential part of any commercial enterprise. Maybe it will inspire more art in the neighborhood.

Located at 401 Gay Street. The mural is behind a gated area (facing towards James Robertson Parkway), so if the museum is closed, you can see it, but not up close. This is downtown, so lots of parking, none of it free. There are metered spaces across Gay Street.

Drum Cat

It’s a little unusual for a mural to be geared to two businesses, but this little gem on the side of a small building next to Mas Tacos Por Favor guides you to both businesses it holds, Drum Supply and and Relik Vintage. It used to be three, as Drum Supply once cohabited with Nelson Drum House, which has since decamped to Gallatin Pike.

Appropriate for a mural for two businesses is that it’s the product of two artists, Folek Kelof and Christian Branger. That the design features a drum makes a lot of sense, and while I don’t know where the cat comes from, it certainly looks like the sort of thing you’d find on a vintage T-shirt.

While the mural itself is about a year old and has weathered the past year fine, the signatures have faded. If you look at this photo Folek posted to his Instagram account right after the mural was painted, you’ll see the signatures are bold, and the Instagram accounts of both Relik Vintage and Drum supply are clear, along with the hashtag #NashvilleCat. Those account names are now almost invisible, while the signatures are faded and the hashtag can be only faintly seen.

Relik Vintage dodged a bullet. They used to be on Woodland. A few months before the tornado, they moved to McFerrin. When the March 3 storm came, their old location was devastated. Scrolling through their Instagram page, I recognized murals that used to be in the alley behind their Woodland shop being used as backdrops for people modeling their clothes. Some of those you can read about here in my post about the storm’s aftermath.

Located at 730 McFerrin Avenue. This is a very busy commercial corner, and while there is business parking and street parking nearby, you may have to do some walking.

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.

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