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Statues and sculptures

Capitol relics, Bicentennial Mall

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Walk down the Walkway of Counties on the east side of the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and at the halfway point you’ll find these mysterious fragments of limestone Ionic columns. There is a stela nearby that tells the story of these fragments. They were part of the original facade of the Tennessee State Capitol building. The Capitol, built between 1845 and 1859, was designed by William Strickland. It was built out of limestone pulled from a quarry near what is now 13th and Charlotte. The limestone deteriorated over time, and the original columns were replaced in a major renovation in the 1950s. The old columns were stored near the state prison on Centinneal Boulevard until the construction of Bicentennial Mall in 1995. Some were taken to the northwest side of the Capitol building and arranged by Charles Waterfield, who had worked on the original restoration. Others came to the Mall, though there’s no indication who arranged this set. Both the stela at the Mall and a sign at the Capitol say the arrangements are a tribute to those who built the Capitol. What neither acknowledges is the role of slave labor in constructing the Capitol. According to an article by Thomas Joseph Broderick IV,

In the spring of 1846, fifteen slaves, all men, were loaned to the state government by A.G. Payne, a Nashville stone mason. For nearly a year they carved out the Capitol’s cellar, their skilled labor worth nearly twice as much as the unskilled labor of free men.

In all the discussion of monuments and who we should and should not recognize, one thing is clear – there are many missing monuments. It would be a simple thing to add a sign at each site noting the labor of these fifteen men, leaving us with one fewer missing monument. See below for views from other angles, and for the four capitals that are found around the central column fragments.

Located on the 900 block of 6th Avenue North, about halfway between Harrison and Jefferson Street. There is plenty of parking in the park, including free two-hour parking almost directly across from the columns.  (The ones on Capitol grounds can be reached by entering the parking lot at Charlotte and Rosa Parks Avenues and driving to the very end of the lot.)

Chet Atkins, C.G.P.

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Though a little off center from the main downtown tourist center, this work draws in the tourists who want their picture taken with the great Chet Atkins, if only in bronze. This lost wax sculpture titled “Chet Atkins, c.g.p.” is the work of Nashville artist Russell Faxon, and went in in January 2000, a year and a half before Atkins’ death. Various music luminaries paid tribute at the unveiling, including Eddy Arnold, who said, “I’m delighted to be here because I met Chet back in 1896.” Atkins himself promised everyone that, “I’ll come to your outing if you have one.” The statue was paid for by Bank of America, the major tenant in the building that looms over the Atkins tribute. So what’s that “C.G.P” about? Certified Guitar Player, a designation Atkins gave out to those players he thought “excelled far beyond the normal line of playing.” Only five men, plus Atkins himself, got the title. There is of course that empty stool, placed there so you could have your picture taken with the man. Many tourists do, and local folks who just need a place to sit can also be found on the stool. I’m sure Atkins would be happy to play for any of them.

Side note: I was so astonished to find the statue devoid of humans, I parked in a hurry and raced to take pictures. You can see my little red car in the header above, and there’s a better shot below in the photo of the back side of the sculpture.

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Located at 414 Union Street. The sculpture sits in a small triangular plaza at 5th and Union, in front of the Bank of America Building. This is downtown, so plenty of parking, virtually none of it free.

A well-traveled rose

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The Frist Museum (more properly known as the Frist Center for the Visual Arts) does not generally keep permanent pieces but rather hosts an ongoing series of new exhibits. One notable exception sits outside – “Rose on 65th Street” by Will Ryman. It may not have originally be thought to be permanent – an article from the Nashville Scene dated May 2012 says it “will remain up through December.” The descriptive plaque states that it was an anonymous gift in 2013, so apparently, someone liked it enough to buy it and donate it to the museum. It was originally part of a series Ryman installed in 2011 along Park Avenue in New York City as a “riff on a Park Avenue tradition of displaying seasonal flowers and ornamental trees.” Look close – it’s more than just roses. Its initial installation on the front side of the Frist facing Broadway was an elaborate process. It is now installed on the opposite side of the building.

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Located at 919 Broadway. The statue is found on the south side of the building, facing McGavok Street at the corner with 10th Avenue. The museum has its own parking, with a half off discount for visitors. Otherwise, you might take it in after you drop off a package at the Post Office in the basement or before quaffing a few beers at the Flying Saucer.

Migration

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Nolensville Road is home to some striking outdoor art, and one of the most notable pieces is the colorful tile mosaic installation atop Casa Azafrán. Casa Azafrán describes itself as “28,800-square-feet of community empowerment, nonprofit collaboration and global grandeur.” It houses several non-profits, many with ties to the Latino community, notably Conexión Américas, which helps Latino families integrate into the Nashville community. The mosaic, titled “Migration” and unveiled in January 2013, was designed by Jairo Prado, a Columbian born Nashville artist. The design and materials are in keeping with the traditions of both Latino and Muslim culture (there are Muslim community non-profits housed at Casa Azafrán as well). Tile mosaics have a long history in Spain, stretching back through the Moorish period of Muslim rule and into the Roman era. When the Spanish came to the Americas, they brought their tile mosaics with them, where they encountered an already rich mural tradition in Mexico and Central America. Both art forms, often intertwined, spread across Latin America, and it is only natural that they have found their way in such a bold and bright manner to Nashville’s main immigrant corridor. The mosaic also represents the community focus of Casa Azafrán. More than 300 volunteers helped cut and install the tiles. You can see some of the process by which it was made in this video.

Located at 2195 Nolensville Pike. There is a fair amount of parking at Casa Azafrán. If the front lot is full, there is also parking at the back of the building. Get involved in some community non-profits and enjoy the art!

 

Corn and Tomatoes

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It’s another Metro Arts Commission bicycle rack! Seriously, there are holes in the tomatoes you can slip a chain through. This is half of a rack found on the east side of the Nashville Farmer’s Market at Bicentennial Mall. The other half is below, which you see actually has a bike strapped to it, something you don’t see much with these Metro Arts bike racks. This piece, “Corn and Tomatoes”  was done in 2010 by Lebanon metalsmith Dan Goostree and Nashville painter Paige Easter. Sadly, it is something of a memorial, as Goostree passed away in 2013 at the age of 57.

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Located at 900 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard. The rack actually faces Seventh Avenue,  in front of the main entrance on the east side of the building. There is plenty of free parking around the market, though with current construction, it can be hard to park at lunchtime. Load up on local veggies and enjoy the art!

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Always on duty

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I don’t know of any labor specific art in Nashville, but firefighters certainly work hard, so this Labor Day I’m posting about the Firefighters Memorial next to the Schermerhorn Center. The first volunteer firefighter department in Nashville was founded in May 1807, and 200 years later, in November 2007, the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 140 unveiled this memorial which it had sponsored. The piece is signed by RC (“Bobby”) Hunt and Richard Thompson. IAFF 140’s video of the unveiling only mentions Hunt, so he was presumably the principal artist. Both men are listed as artists at Schaefer Art Bronze in Arlington, Texas. Hunt has since passed away. His artist’s website remains up, and the gallery includes this memorial. The memorial may seem to be in an odd spot, but it is the original site of Nashville Fire Station Numer 9, now found a few blocks south.

UPDATE: Of course there’s labor specific art in Nashville. And that’s a post that I’ll update soon, as the art in question has received a very nice refurbishing.

Located at 1 Symphony Place. The memorial itself is on the north east side of the center, on the 100 block of Third Avenue South, in a small alcove just a little south of where the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge connects with Third. This is downtown, so there is lots of parking, none of it free. Most days, the parking across the river on the other side of the pedestrian bridge is free. Make it part of your Lower Broad crawl, your night at the symphony, or your stroll along the river.

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Cock-a-doodle-do!

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What is with chicken wing places and big metal chickens? It definitely seems to be a thing. Indeed, the chicken above, found atop McDougal’s Chicken on White Bridge Road, looks remarkably like one of the two chickens found atop Smokin Thighs near the fairgrounds. They might both be products of A Rustic Garden, which will sell you chicken statues made from recycled metal from about $139 to nearly a thousand dollars. From the looks of it, if this is where they came from, both McDougal’s and Smokin went with less expensive models. Hey, let’s all get one!

Located at 316 White Bridge Road. Plenty of parking, though not so much at peak hours. Maybe McDougals’s will last longer than some of the other restaurants that have inhabited this spot!

Play time!

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Shelby Bottoms Park is an enormous and fantastic network of playing fields, greenways, nature trails, and even a small golf course at Vinny Links. The Nature Center is an educational and information center where one can learn about the vast flora and fauna found in the park. Nearby the center is the Nature Play area, an area designed for small children to enjoy the outdoors in a safe environment. Two pieces of art are found in the Nature Play area. The small mural above on a small storage shed features animals that might be found in the park. And above the entrance gate is a crawfish (or maybe you call it a crawdad?).

Located in Shelby Bottoms Park, a little northeast of the Nature Center building. There are various entrances to the park, notably off of Davidson Street and at Lillian and 19th. The closest parking to the Nature Center and the play area is on the east side of the railroad bridge. Just drive under it and park. The center and the play area will be to your left, south towards the river. If you don’t have kids the right age, it’s just off the entrance to the Greenway and the nature trails, so make it part of you next hike!

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Lock it up

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Would you believe this is a bike rack? That’s what Metro Arts says it is. “Emerge” (2010) by Matt Young is one of a number of bike racks Metro Arts has commissioned, including, of course, the rack featured in Bee Cycle. I don’t think I have ever seen a bike attached to any of these racks, but I’m not monitoring them 24-7. Young is a prolific artist, including designing some interesting furniture.

Located in Chuch Street Park, on the 600 block of Church Street, at the corner with Capitol Boulevard, across from the main Nashville Public Library. This is downtown — plenty of parking, not much of it free. The library has 90 minutes free parking with library validation, so grab a book and enjoy the art! (The picture below was taken during the 2017 March for Science.)

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