nashville public art

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

Frankie Pierce Park, Part 2

Back in August,  Olasubomi Aka-Bashorun and  Anthony Billups of Music City Murals did a series of murals in the new Frankie Pierce Park. I wrote about the main one in Frankie Pierce Park, Part 1. That mural is on a long wall on the east side of the park, while this is one of two along a railroad underpass on the southwest side of the park.

Frankie Pierce Park is a green space that includes a children’s playground that was built as a public-private partnership between Capitol View, a massive multi-block development, and Metro Parks. It lies in a triangle of land between two elevated railroad lines that separate Capitol View from Capitol Hill.

It honors one of Nashville’s most important Black activists, J. Franke Pierce.  Pierce was a civil rights activist who played an important part in the women’s suffrage movement in Nashville, and who opened the Tennessee Vocational School for Colored Girls in 1923, which remained open until 1979.

It is her key role in the votes for women campaign in Nashville that is the subject of this mural. A parade of women in the long, white dresses of suffragettes dominates the scene. One of them carries a sign that reads, “August 18, 1920.” That was the day Tennessee became the crucial 36th state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote. Of course, Pierce, as a Black woman in the Jim Crow South, was not able to fully exercise that right even after the amendment passed.

The mural includes a quote from Pierce: “We asking only one thing – a square deal.” (May 1920)

Pierce Quote mural Nashville street art

Below you can see it in context with the other underpass mural. If you were standing where this picture was taken, the main mural would be behind you and to your right. The park is to your right in this photo. You can see some of the Capitol View development on the other side of the railroad bridge.

Underpass murals Nashville street art

Located at 130 Lifeway Plaza. That’s the address of the park. The mural is found on the south end of the park, on the southern railroad underpass, right off of Nelson Merry Street. The easiest parking is off of Nelson Merry, which you can see in the bottom image, and at Capitol View.

Part 1

2nd Avenue AT&T Art Wall – Jade Carter

UPDATE: This and all the murals in this series were destroyed in the Christmas Day Bombing.

Working left to right on the wall of window murals at the AT&T Central Office on 2nd Avenue (not to be confused with the more famous AT&T building in Nashville, the Batman Building on Commerce Street) the sixth work is by Jade Carter. This is the one to the left of the door.

It’s part of series of murals on the building sponsored by AT&T, the Nashville Downtown PartnershipThe DISTRICTNashville Metro Arts Commission, and The Studio 208. All are done by women, and the project was curated by Ashley Segroves of The Studio 208. They are all on vinyl, and went up in the summer of 2018.

This particular piece closely resembles a studio painting that Carter did called “VIDA,” which is square and contains a nautilus peeking out at the bottom. It was for sale but has long since been sold. In that work you can see more clearly the layers and texture that are common features in Carter’s work, but are lost in this vinyl print. This particular mural is hard to photograph as it is half under an awning, which creates a strong shadow. I had to go back and shoot it with flash.

You can see the other murals in this series (once I’ve posted them all, there are eight in all) using the links below. There’s a bit more information about the project in Part 1.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9

This is how it looks along with the the other two murals in the this set. Carter’s is at the far right next to the door in this image.

ATT Murals Nashville street art

Located at 185 2nd Avenue North. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

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.

Rainbow, Interactive

A well established trend I’ve written about several times before is the ever-growing importance of outdoor interactive art. While one can stand in front of any work of art and get your picture taken, these are pieces specifically designed for that. Easily the best known one in Nashville, the one that really got the trend started here, is the wings mural by Kelsey Montague down in the Gulch that often has lines of people leading to it who are waiting their turn for their photo. As Montague says about her work, “My murals specifically invite people into a piece and then invite people to share their experience online.”

Since doing the wings mural, Montague has returned to Nashville to do other interactive murals, most recently in a tour of the South that brought her to Nashville in September. This is one in the Capitol View complex is one of two pieces she did on that visit (the other is in Green Hills and I’ll feature it later). The place your are supposed to stand is obvious, beneath a rainbow that evolves into flowers before morphing into a flock of birds, themes common in Montague’s work.

Montague told Fox 17 that the mural is meant to honor front-line workers in the pandemic.

This mural is meant to honor the front-line workers during this pandemic for all of their sacrifice and for keeping our country going. It also is designed to be hopeful. Rainbows, to me, have a spiritual component and mean there will come a day when this pandemic no longer haunts us – a new beginning is coming. We just need to hang on.”

While not far from the wings in the Gulch (some developers and real estate folks like to call this area “North Gulch,” even though there’s no gulch here), sitting on busy Charlotte, it is not likely to attract as much attention – though it has gotten the attention of a hedgehog, and that’s what matters.

Located at 1010 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. (This stretch of Charlotte was recently renamed.) That’s the address of the Publix in Capitol View, and this mural is on the back, street-facing side of Publix, facing south towards the Gulch. Parking is available in the parking garage that Publix opens into, and there’s a pedestrian entrance to the parking garage right next to the mural.

House of Blues Fences of Fame, Part 5 – B.B. King

Travelling clockwise around Columbine Park in Berry Hill, coming from Bransford Avenue, count to the fourth fence, and you arrive at this building, 516 East Iris, with the largest of all of the portraits, one of B.B. King. It’s of course not on a fence, but on what appears to be a permanently closed garage door.

It’s also the only portrait in the entire set that isn’t labeled. I guess you’re just supposed to know that that’s B.B King. And there are no other portraits of him in the set, and you couldn’t do a set of portraits like this without B.B. King. Most of us know King as an older man than the one we see here, and I did look at some photos of a younger King to be sure. The artist,  Scott Guion, likes to play around with the ages that he depicts the music icons in these portraits, and here he goes against convention. King is smoking a cigarette and of course playing Lucille, though which one is unclear (King has a series of black Gibsons he called by that name).

The building is labeled House of Blues, but as I mentioned in a previous post, two years ago the whole complex was sold to Universal Music Group. This portrait is of course at the end of short driveway. I’ve always visited on the weekend, and found the driveway empty, but that may not be true during the work week.

See Part 1 of this series for why I’m just now writing about these murals. Spoiler alert: You can finally park in Berry Hill.

Located at 516 East Iris Drive. The mural faces south towards the water tower. Parking is available around the park.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

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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