nashville public art

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



Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2021

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Given all that is happening in the United States right now, his wisdom would certainly be welcomed in 2021. Indeed, if you read his Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963), there is much that he said 60 years ago that is still relevant today.

This is a very recent mural of Dr. King by Charles Key, who usually signs his work as JamersonSGC and also “Low Key Art.” The truth is, Key has done a lot of murals I haven’t gotten to yet, but I thought this is the day to post this one, even though there are at least five or six others I need to write about.

Like a lot of Key’s work, the King portrait is found along Lafayette street, a neighborhood which is predominantly African-American. Many of Key’s murals feature Black history and culture. On the same building where this mural is found, Key also has portraits of Jimi Hendrix and Erykah Baydu (which I haven’t blogged about yet) and a Black masked nurse who stands as a homage to the Covid-19 first responders.

The King portrait is based on a widely distributed photo, which is sometimes shown in reverse. It is so widely spread it was difficult to locate a photo credit – most people seem to think it’s in general use. I finally found this on an Atlanta-Journal Constitution article: “Martin Luther King Jr. listens to other staff members of SCLC during a meeting at an Atlanta restaurant. (Photo by © Flip Schulke/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images).” Schulke was a widely-respected freelance photographer whose work has appeared in papers and magazines around the world. He met King in 1958 and spent a decade photographing him and the movement. It’s interesting that an image from such an ordinary moment has become so iconic.

Located at 125 Lafayette Street, on the building that houses Southside Market and Deli and Big G’s. The mural faces, perhaps appropriately, Lincoln Street. There is some street parking in the immediate area.

Three Kings and a Queen

That is what the artist Charles Key, who signs his work JamersonSGC and also Low Key Art, called this work in an Instagram post. It is of course portraits of four African-Americans killed by police. Two are known world-wide, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. The other two men, on the left and right of Floyd, respectively, are Jocques Clemmons and Daniel Hambrick, both killed by officers of the MNPD. Strikingly, Taylor is draped with crime scene tape in a way that suggests a beauty queen’s sash.

Breonna Taylor mural Nashville Street art
Breonna Taylor

Key created this mural back in June, painting over a previous mural of his which I featured in The full bee (an update). It is both coincidence and not that I am posting this only now, just after the outcome of the grand jury investigation of the death of Breonna Taylor, which resulted in protests around the country, including Nashville. I finally got a chance to photograph it very recently, and the timing seemed appropriate.

Daniel Hambrick mural Nashville street art
Daniel Hambrick

Key told WSMV (Channel 4), “Some people march. I paint murals.” He has certainly been doing a lot of that recently, with murals of John Lewis, Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), and former Titan’s quarterback Steve McNair, among others. Key also talked to WTVF (Channel 5) about this mural, and you can see some of his other work there. The reality is I’m way behind on posting all of his work.

George Floyd mural Nashville street art
George Floyd

The location of this art is significant. It’s a grocery store across from the J.C. Napier homes, a large housing project whose residents are primarily African-American. But Eddie’s Cee Bee Food Store has been closed for a couple of years, and neighborhood residents no longer have a grocery store they can walk to, and have to go much farther to get groceries. The building is for lease, so perhaps some new owner will put in a grocery store in the future.

Jocques Clemmons mural Nashville street art
Jocques Clemmons

Located at 109 Lafayette Street, between Wharf Avenue/Charles E Davis Boulevard and Claiborne Street. The former grocery store has a large parking lot. (Look carefully at the photo below and you can see my red Honda Fit!) The mural faces Lafayette.

Kings & Queen mural Nashville street art

Spread Love

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a Music City Murals work found a little hidden away at the Capitol View project in a post I called Riding!. This is another of their works, just around the corner and much more visible. Unlike the “Riding!” mural, this one is signed, not just by Music City Murals, but also specifically by one of their artists, Anthony Billups. I had seen this mural on social media a few times in the last few months (it was put up back in January), but perhaps because Capitol View is not completely rented out and Google still hasn’t fully incorporated this massive project into its maps, folks were a little vague as to where to find it. If you think of the downtown Publix on Charlotte as the “front” of the building in question, this is on the “back,” on Nelson Merry Street, next to the entrance of the Residences at Capitol View.

The hands incorporate several Nashville icons, such as the State Capitol, the Batman Building, Nissan Stadium, and the Sheraton Hotel with its distinctive round top. The imagery certainly lends itself to the message of “Spread Love,” as the mural is titled. Billups himself used it in a heartfelt post about Nashville’s resiliency in the face of the March 3 tornadoes. When I went to photograph it, I had to wait for a couple who seemed to be clearly taking engagement photos in front of it (Mazel tov!). No doubt it will be the backdrop for many similar photos.

Spread Love Hands mural Nashville street art

Located at 1015 Nelson Merry Street. You can access free parking (meant for the businesses in the building) off the alley on the east side of the building, towards the State Capitol. Some street parking is available.

The Flowers of Rosebank

This colorful display of flowers is something I might ordinarily be hesitant to put on the blog, as it is not only at a personal home, it’s also at the end of a short driveway, set back from the road. But I was contacted by one of the homeowners to let me know about it and suggest I put it on the blog. The artist is Melody Cash, a local artist and graphic designer. You wouldn’t know it from that website, but on her Facebook page, you can see that this isn’t her only fence work and also not her only flowers on fences. I’m not sure where some of that other work is, but I’ll be sure to put it on the blog if I find it. The homeowner who wrote to me, Allison, said that they are happy for people to stop and take pictures of it and get their picture made it front of it. Please be respectful if you do.

Located at 1425 Rosebank Avenue. You can park a short distance away on Sheridan Road, or if you feel like a walk, this is only a block or so from Cornelia Fort Park.

Precious Jewel

When I recorded the damage to Nashville’s art from the March 3 tornado, I featured a flag-and-eagle mural by Kim Radford. It was at the time one of only a few outdoor murals she had done in Nashville (and which has happily survived the storm, its wall preserved while the rest of the building is being completely rebuilt). Since then, she’s been increasingly prolific. This guitar-and-birds mural appeared just a few weeks ago, at the corner of Douglas and Lischey, just around the corner from another of Radford’s murals. The guitar is adorned with a Maya Angelou quote, from the poem “You are a precious jewel.”

Precious jewel, you glow, you shine,
reflecting all the good things in the world.

The birds in flight reflect this optimistic theme, sailing away from a flowery guitar. The quote may also reflect that this mural is a memorial. At the bottom of the guitar, it reads:

In Loving Memory: Mohhamed Hossein Seyed Sharifi 10/2/94 – 2/19/19. Heaven couldn’t wait for you.

I would note that now having seen a few of Radford’s murals, she reminds me of Eastside Murals. Some muralists, I see their work, and I know immediately who made it. But Radford and Eastside are not easily pigeon-holed, and work in a number of styles. Thankfully, they both sign their art, which makes my work a lot easier.

It’s also somewhat notable that this mural is found on the facade of Douglas Market Lofts, named after the market that used to sit on this corner. It’s really no longer novel for a business, a condo building in this case, to have murals and other outdoor art. No, it’s becoming increasingly the order of the day, a thing that business owners do to try to get your attention and stand out. And that’s good because we get more art!

Radford Guitar mural Nashville street art

Radford Birds mural Nashville street art

Located at 337 Douglas Avenue. The mural faces east, towards Lischey Avenue. There is street parking available on Lischey, on the block south of Douglas.

Irises for The Iris

There’s long been a hotel on Iris Drive just off Thompson Lane. But recent renovations have produced a very modern version of a boutique hotel. The Iris Motel is a hotel you could visit and easily never see any staff. As they say on their website, “communication is mostly virtual.” There is no front desk, and the lobby is really just a common area for guests. To add a little life to this hyper-digital form of lodging, a giant mural of irises, naturally, has been provided by Folek Kelof, who signs his work with just “Folek.” Perhaps in keeping with the digital nature of the hotel, Folek’s irises are angular and blocky. They look to me something like English irises, but there are so many varieties of irises, there are many potential candidates. The mural is a little hard to photograph, as it faces a driveway that is bordered by another building on the other side. You can’t quite get the whole thing with a front-facing view, which you can see below.

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Located at 656 W Iris Dr. There is free public parking across the street. 

Seen today, hidden tomorrow

Unknown artistr mural street art Nashville

When the building at 912 Main street was torn down (a building I talked about in A few words and then who knows), this part of the east wall of 914 was exposed. It’s the same wall that contains the mural featured in  Or you could just watch the video, which is on the long-exposed south part of that wall. It’s a Jack Coyle piece, and I decided to go ahead and put it on the blog because I imagine this space will soon be a construction site. Note also that the clearance of the site at 916 (formerly Holleman Transmission) makes the mural in A few words and then who knows much more visible (I put new photos up), but all the murals here might be threatened, either with destruction or simply being hidden by whatever comes next. For that matter, it 914 is ever town down, the mural featured The cats are loose would be lost, as it’s on the backside. So check all of them out soon, as you may not be able to for long. Call them all endangered art.

Located at 914 Main Street. The mural is on the east side of the building, facing downtown. There are a few spaces in front of 914, though your best bet is probably parking across Main on McFerrin, and there’s a light to help you cross.

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