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Thoughts Manifested

Three years and counting

Because I’ve been doing a lot of travelling lately, I was out of town for the third-year anniversary of this blog, which happened on June 30. Much has happened since the second anniversary of this blog. For one, the outdoor art scene continues to blossom here in Nashville. New murals appear seemingly every day, and at my usual three-posts-a-week pace I’ll never catch up! And the world has noticed. Do a quick Google search for “Nashville street art” or “Nashville murals” or related searches, and you will find dozens and dozens of articles, blog posts, and various guides to whatever the author considers to be the best, the prettiest. or most “Instagramable” murals. And while this blog doesn’t show up very high in those searches, traffic has been steadily improving. The first year, the blog got a few hundred views a month. In the second, 1000-1500 views a month. In the third year, that number hovers in the low 2000s. Still small fry, but the moving in the right direction. And unlike any of those articles or “guides,” I really am trying to chronicle it all!

Kind mural street art Nashville
As it was last year, the subject of the most popular post on this blog.  Read about it in The Kind Way.

Many of the observations I made in the post I wrote about the second year anniversary remain true. The relationship between art, tourism, and gentrification remains strong. It’s still true that most art, particularly murals, is found on local businesses, not chains. Nashville business owners are getting the message – murals generate foot traffic, and they encourage people to take a picture and “check in” at the business, which amounts to free advertising. And art very much still breeds art. Businesses and building owners are encouraged to seek out artists for their site when they see their neighbors doing the same thing.

Cash mural street art Nashville
Despite, or perhaps because it no longer exists, the subject of the second most popular post on this blog. See The Johnny Cash Mural

Having recently traveled to New Orleans and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I can say that our mural/outdoor art scene compares well to those areas. One mistake we did not make, which until recently New Orleans had, was to put onerous permitting limitations on art. I would also say that while there are definitive art districts, in particular 12 South and Downtown, we do a good job of spreading art out – just look at my map.

I continue to be concerned about the impact of gentrification, notably on the less celebrated artists who have decorated Hispanic and Black-owned business. In particular, the work of the artist I have dubbed the “Unknown Buchanan Street Artist(s)” is endangered. That’s one reason I do this blog, to archive what is an inherently ephemeral form of art.

Restaurant mural street art Nashville
One of the “Unkown Buchan Street Artist(s)” murals that may be threatened by gentrification. See Catered Art.

For now, this will continue to be a Davidson County-only blog. When I think of some of the massive collections of work I have yet to chronicle, notably the Elliston Place garage and the dozens of musician portraits in Berry Hill, it’s hard to think about expanding. For that matter, I have dozens of files under the heading “Future Blog Posts,” most of which I need to do more research for or reshoot photos (I have gotten very picky about the pictures I use.) But visiting the Metroplex (as Dallas-Ft. Worth is known), I realized if I lived there I would have to do an area-wide blog, and I think I will have to do so here as well in time. The surrounding counties have developing outdoor art scenes of their own, often by the same artists who work in Davidson County. It’s really the same scene, and singling out Davidson County is somewhat artificial.

Bird Mural street art Nashville
Still my answer when people ask me about my favorite mural in Nashville. In part, because you are very unlikely to find it on Instagram. See A bird in the bush

The header photo is the mural at Chromatics. The artist who made it, TACKZ, recently contacted me, which reminded me that, to my knowledge, only the refurbished Painter Man at the Hard Rock Cafe on Lower Broad is older. The Chromatics mural is a true survivor, dating back to 1993. We definitely have a very different outdoor art scene than we did in 1993. We actually have one now! I intend to continue to chronicle it as best I can.

Fire and Safety (Part 2)

Fire&SafetyFull

Last October, I wrote about a Thoughts Manifested mural on the north side of the Industrial Fire and Safety Inc. building on Ash and I mentioned that there was an unfinished mural on the west side. Well, the TM crew finally finished the east side recently. Visible from the Division Street Extension Bridge, this mural pays tribute to a number of important musicians with Nashville ties, including The Highwaymen (Waylon Jennings, Johhny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson), Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton and Leon Russell. Do I really need to provide links for these people? I think you know who they are! Sadly, since going up, the Dylan mural has deteriorated significantly. In the before and after below you can see quite clearly that paint is peeling off block by block.  TM has repaired/replaced damaged murals before, so maybe they will fix this one.

Part 1 Part 3

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Located at 608 Ash Street. The new Division Street extension complicates access somewhat. The mural above faces into a parking lot and alley on the north side of the building, on the opposite side from Ash. It’s easily accessed through the parking lot entrance on Ewing Ave between Middleton St and Fogg St, or down the alley that forks off of 6th Ave a little south of Lafayette Ave. Parking here is easy.

The Johnny Cash Mural

Johnny Cash Mural street art Nashville

Sure, there’s more than one mural featuring Johnny Cash in this town. But this was one of the first, if not the very first. Or at least, the original one on this spot was. Bryan Deese, Audie Adams and Ryan Shrader of Thoughts Manifested produced a Cash mural on this spot not long after Cash’s death in 2003. However, by late 2012 it was in very bad shape, so the same three artists painted a new Cash mural to replace the original (and I do not know how close the second version is to the first). There is a video of them making the second mural. Now six years on, the second mural is somewhat worse for wear, and it faces more threats than just the weather and traffic smog. The little building it’s on is surrounded by some very expensive real estate, and it’s hard to imagine no developer has any interest in it. If you want your picture taken in front of it, you might want to do so soon.

UPDATE: This building has been slated for demolition. Get your self immediately!

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Located at 300 4th Avenue South at the corner of 4th and Molloy Street. The mural faces Molloy. This is downtown, so lots of parking, almost none of it free.

History in color

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When I first saw this Thoughts Manifested mural on the west wall of Plaza Art, (or PLA-ZA, as it says on the sign in front) I knew it had some cultural references I didn’t quite recognize. Sure, I knew about the artist who goes by “Kid Oak” and who puts up the acorn-hatted boy all over town. And I figured the hockey player was from one of our many pre-Predators teams. But although the images looked familiar, I was fuzzy on some of the references. Bryan Deese’s Instagram page helped set me straight. I should have known the boy with the donut was from the Donut Den, as I love their donuts. And though Twitty City became Trinity Music City some time ago, I had been to Conway Twitty‘s legendary Christmas light show years ago when I was a Vandy grad student, and I should have recognized the Twitty bird. The hockey player represents the Nashville South Stars, who played here 1981-1983. Too early for me, though I did catch a couple Nashville Knights games in the early ’90s (the hockey team, not the Lingerie/Legends Football League team). The dancing peanut is from The Peanut Shop in the Arcade, which got its start as a Planters Peanut store in 1927 but became independent in 1960. And there is, of course, the Prince from Prince’s Hot Chicken. There are catfish in the Cumberland River, and then there are those other Nashville catfish. The birds are symbols Thoughts Manifested uses in many of their murals, while Montana is the name of a spray paint company (whose cans you can buy at Plaza). L&N is the old Louisville and Nashville railroad, which was one of the major lines coming through Union Station, while CSX is the railroad company that ultimately absorbed L&N and has a regional headquarters here. Plaza Arts lies close to the still functioning CSX tracks. Wow, that’s a lot of links!

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Located at 633 Middleton Sreet in Pie Town. The mural is on the west side of the building, facing Seventh Avenue South. There is parking at Plaza and street parking on 7th. Load up on art supplies and enjoy the art!

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Fire and Safety (Part 1)

TMBird

I am definitely trying to stay away from multi-part posts, but some sites require it. Three sides of the Industrial Fire and Safety Inc. building on Ash have murals. On one side, we find a series of country and folk music legends (that isn’t quite finished). On the other two other themes are found, mostly stuff that flies. It seems to be mostly if not all the work of the Thoughts Manifested crew, a collection of mural and graffiti artists whose best-known work is probably the Johhny Cash mural on Molloy. I need to blog about that one soon. Given development in that area, I wonder about the future of the small building it’s on. This piece takes a little more effort to find, in the Pie Town neighborhood that still retains the warehouse/industrial atmosphere that was common south of Broadway before the boom years. The bird is featured on some of Thoughts Manifested’s other work, notably a nearby mural on Plaza Art facing 7th Ave, also awaiting a blog post.

Part 2 Part 3

Located at 608 Ash Street. The new Division Street extension complicates access somewhat. The mural above faces into a parking lot and alley on the north side of the building, on the opposite side from Ash. It’s easily accessed through the parking lot entrance on Ewing Ave between Middleton St and Fogg St, or down the alley that forks off of 6th Ave a little south of Lafayette Ave. Parking here is easy.

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