Of all the works sponsored by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, this is one of the more unusual. It becomes more understandable once you read about it on Metro Art’s website. This piece, “Anchor in the Storm” (2013), by Betty and Lee Benson, commemorates a moment when a quarry saved the local neighborhood. During the 2010 flood, 700 billion gallons of floodwater poured into the Reostone Quarry (located on Robertson Avenue just a few blocks from the sculpture), water that would have otherwise innundated the nearby neighborhoods of Charlotte Park, The Nations, and Crowley Wood. The rock, from the quarry, was carved and donated by the quarry’s owners, Rogers Group. The log structure is a raft, representing the neighborhoods saved by the quarry. Of course, I imagine it mostly serves as some interesting whimsey for small children to climb on. (The mural on the water tank behind is by Eric Henn. Read about it in This one is BIG!)
Located at 6105 Morrow Road, i.e. West Park. The sculpture is just a few feet from Morrow Rd, in the northeast corner of the park. There is plenty of parking at the park, and there is nearby street parking.
When Metro decided it was time to renovate both the West Park Pumping Station and West Park itself, plans called not only for new facilities for the dilapidated park but, oh yeah, also a 210-million gallon overflow tank to deal with major storms. That is, a 37 foot high, 260-foot diameter tank, plunked right on park grounds. That’s not exactly something you can hide. So to soften the blow a bit, the city hired Eric Henn to brighten up an otherwise drab concrete monstrosity. (See the second slide show below for what its unpainted older twin off park grounds looks like.) I think I can say this is the largest mural by far in Nashville. Plug the numbers into the formula for the area of the side of a cylinder, 2πrh, and the mural, which goes all the way around the tank, comes out to about 30,222 square feet. (“r” would be 130 feet, half the diameter, and “h” is the hight, 37 feet. The roof, by the way, which Henn and his team also painted, adds about 53000 square feet.) The silo painting of the older man and two kids is about 200 feet tall, but even with a base of 30 feet or so on each side, that only gets you to about 6000 sq ft for the man about a third of that for the kids, so 9000 or so. The Nations Wall that is only a few blocks from West Park, and which I have not blogged about yet (you can see a few pictures here) is probably less than 9000 sq ft all together, and the Off the Wall project in its entirety is in a similar range. The big murals downtown also top out at 10,000 sq ft or less. So yeah, this one is big, and you have to a bit of hiking to see all of it – 816 ft plus a little more, since you can’t hug right on the wall. Henn has an album on his Facebook page detailing the production of this mural, as well as a video of one of his colleagues struggling to stay out of the mud. His web page in incomplete, but it does suggest water tanks are something of a specialty. You can read here about all the improvements to the park, and here is an infographic about what the tank and the pumping station do. The first slideshow is a walk around the tank going clockwise from the featured picture above. The second shows some more distant views, the unadorned twin, and a closeup.
Located at 6105 Morrow Road. There is plenty of parking at the park. If the spots next to the community center are full, there is another lot past the water tank.
Sometimes, art sneaks up on you. I’ve driven by this wall of giant ticket stubs at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium/Musician’s Hall of Fame and Museum many times and it took a while for it to register as art. If you peruse the many, many articles out there about the “20 Murals You Must See In Nashville!” you’ll be hard pressed to find it. Yet given all the concertgoers who pass by it, it has definitelybeeninalotofInstagramshots. Indeed, it seems a little unnatural to post a daytime photo of it because nighttime is when people usually saddle up next to it for a photo, though Nashville Ballet was there in the daylight a couple years ago for some publicityshots. The mural seems to have gone up probably in 2016 and certainly wasn’t there in 2013. The oldest ticket shown is from an April 4, 1965 Peter Paul & Mary show, while the newest is a Lady Antebellum ticket for a February 22, 2012 show. Both are found in the collum next to the doors, near the top. The mural is printed, not painted. There are individual giant stubs inside.
Located at 417 4th Avenue North. The mural actually faces James Roberston Parkway, on the auditorium’s east side. This is downtown, so parking is nearby, none of it free.
The new mural by Michael Cooper of Murals and More is an interesting addition to Nashville’s outdoor art scene. Unlike most outdoor art murals in town, tourists won’t be getting their portraits taken in front of it, pretending perhaps to be run over by the large truck in the center. The Marathon Gas terminal on 51st is decidedly industrial and off-limits to outsiders. That fence is as close as you’ll get without an invitation. But the Marathon terminal is also in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, on the north end of The Nations. Just down the street are places like Nicky’s Coal Fired Pizza, an outpost of Frothy Monkey, and a Frutta Bowls. Fancy apartments have opened a couple blocks north, and more are coming. And murals are popping up all over as part of this gentrification, such as the one for Village Realty and of course the giant silo mural. Marathon may simply be trying to stay in tune with the changing neighborhood, or it may be playing a little defense. The Nations used to be the kind of low and middle-income neighborhood that an industrial site holding hazardous material is often found in, but now Marathon has wealthier neighbors not always accustomed to living near such a site. Some art might make the relationship a little easier. In the slideshow below, take a look at how Cooper cleverly incorporated the Marathon sign that was already on the building.
Located at 1472 51st Avenue North. There is some street parking south of the railroad and at local businesses. A path has recently been installed along the fence, and there’s a picnic table as well. Grab a cup at Frothy and enjoy the art!
The story of the mural on what is now the Fond Object building is complicated, as it is not one mural, but at least four. Back in 2012, a community produced mural led by Savannah McNeill of Hey Wanderer went up. There’s a nice time-lapse video of its production on YouTube. Look for the “two hands” picture below (I think I got that image from Google street view, but I’m not sure). But that was only the beginning. A Tim Kerr portrait of experimental producer Joe Meek went up in time to get the “best mural” award in the Nashville Scene’s Best of 2014 edition. See the picture below with Meek but not Tom Petty. Then, in the aftermath of the death of Tom Petty, a Jules Muck portrait honouring him went up this year. And more recently, a tribute by Jason Galaz and Maria “Poni” Silver to the co-owner of Fond Object, Joe Pettit, was added to the corner. There was never any whitewash. Pieces of the original mural are still visible. And yet this rapidly transforming mural may meet its ultimate transformation soon, as the building itself is under threat, as the owner is seeking to replace the building with a major development. Whether this multi-layered, multi-artist mural can survive very much remains to be seen.
Located at 1313 McGavock Pike. The mural faces Riverside Drive. Your best bet for parking is probably the gas station across the street.
Sometimes I feature old signs. Sometimes I feature graffiti hidden behind a building. Sometimes I feature a mural in some less traveled part of town. But it’s only one time I get to feature the single most prominent piece of outdoor art in Nashville. Sure, some of the downtown and Gulch murals are of a similar size, and the old man on the silo is definitely taller, but none of those are plainly visible from a stretch of interstate that sees about 130,000 vehicles a day. (See this page for traffic history data.) Located on the (surprise!) east side of the river a couple blocks east of I-24, the giant “East” sign on the garage of the Eastside Heights apartments was designed by Riley Carroll and produced by I Saw the Sign, Meghan Wood’s hand-lettered sign company. Because of the Allinder Plumbing Company building, the mural can only be fully viewed from the air, but its placement on a hill looking down on Nissan Stadium ensures that even without interstate traffic, it gets seen by a lot of people. Not really selfie material, unless you get the Allinder people to let you climb on their roof!
Located at 120 South 5th Street. It is a parking garage, but I’m not sure about guest parking rules. Otherwise, the nearest street parking is on Russell Street, on the south side of the building.
This blog is devoted to outdoor art, and the mural above mostly qualifies, as it is just inside the 5th Avenue entrance to the L&C Parking Garage and if the wind blows from any westerly or northern direction, the rain would definitely hit it. And why does a portrait of Pat Reedy grace a parking garage wall? Because in the basement of the same garage is The Vinyl Bunker, a record store owned by Jason Galaz (the artist who made the mural) and is also headquarters for Muddy Roots, the music festival and record label. And no surprise, Reedy records for that label. So, synergy?
Located at 144 5th Avenue North. The entrance to the garage opens on to the alley behind Downtown Presbyterian Church. Look for the giant mural of words (which I have not yet featured on the blog) – this mural is just below that one.
I’ve often said I’m a blogger, not a journalist. Still, this is a pretty prominent mural, and it was finished almost a year ago. One issue has been photographing it. You would think something this big and visible would be easy to shoot, but given the industrial area it’s in, getting a good angle isn’t easy. And of course, that’s not whole mural – the rest is below. Sponsored in part by the Nashville Walls Project, the mural is the work of Australian artist Guido van Helten. (That website hasn’t been updated in a while. You can find his more recent work on his Facebook page.) Van Helten makes a specialty of giant portraits of people local to the community he is painting in. The gentleman featured here is Lee “LD” Estes, a 92-year-old lifetime resident of The Nations, the West Nashville neighborhood where this mural is found. The mural represents both the gentrification of The Nations and, in Estes, the longer traditions and history of The Nations. This article discusses that and has some good pictures as well. The silo itself is almost all that’s left of what was once Gillette Grain Co. Now its part of Silo Bend, a 38 acre development project of Southeast Venture that includes both housing and retail. Southeast Venture planned on keeping the silo from the beginning, and commissioned the mural, and now the silo and the mural feature prominently in the development’s branding. You can watch a series of day by day videos documenting its creation, and there’s also a time-lapse video for the whole project.
Located near the intersection of Centennial Boulevard and 51st Avenue North. The portrait of Estes can be best viewed from the parking lot of the shopping complex that includes a branch of White Bison Coffee, located at 5202 Centennial. Getting a clear view of the two children is tricker, and might be considered trespassing, though it’s not marked as such. Go north on 54th Avenue from Centennial, and cross the railroad track, turning right immediately. This is a construction staging area at the moment. The gravel road paralleling the railroad goes right up to the silo. No one stopped me when I did this. Hopefully, once all the construction is finished, proper public access will be available.