This mural is a slight departure for this blog, as it in some sense inside. But from the lighting, you might notice it’s exposed to sunlight on one side. This piece by Folek Kelof, who signs his work with just “Folek,” is part of the Elliston Parking garage project organized by the Nashville Walls Project. The first two (see below) and the ones on the top floor are fully “outside,” while the rest are “inside” the parking garage, but ae very much exposed to the elements, and you don’t need a key or even to open a door to see them, so I think they fit. The mural seems to be flowers done in a style that implies graffiti. I don’t know any mural in town that looks quite like it.
Located at 207 Louise Avenue, just off Elliston Place. This piece is on the bottom floor on the south side of the building. Most of the parking in this area is pay parking. The garage is permit parking, at least on workdays.
In a less-trafficked part of Midtown, there’s a block with a lot of colorful art. On 17th street, the Eclipse Mart (now closed) has a couple of murals and right off that is Prison Alley, which is filled with graffiti murals, as is the east side of Printer’s Press, around the corner on State Street. The south side of Printer’s Press has these two murals, a collaboration between Kevin Bongang, an Atlanta artist who signs his work @bongangart, and Brandon Donahue, a local artist and TSU art professor. Bongang is responsible for the colorful extended sign partially obscured by shrubbery (if you look on his site he has some angled close-ups that help you see what’s behind the bushes), while Donahue did the Legos and the boy climbing over the wall (see below). Bothmen were also part of the Off the Wall project, as well as they now painted over Impermanent installation once found on 57th Avenue North. (I do plan to put the two graffiti walls on this blog at some point.)
Located at 1618 State Street. Street parking is available.
One of the great legends of country music was George Jones, and one of the best legends about George Jones was the story about the lawnmower. See, Jones went through a long period where he had a serious drinking problem. When he wasn’t allowed to drive himself to the liquor store, he used his driver. And when he lost that option, he took the lawnmower all the way to the liquor store, which was a few miles from where he lived at the time. As he later recalled:
I imagine the top speed for that old mower was five miles per hour. It might have taken an hour and a half or more for me to get to the liquor store, but get there I did.
Having recently gotten praise for running an “exhaustive” blog on outdoor art in Nashville, I feel a little better about my earlier plan to feature today not another pretty mural (which I’ve been doing a lot of lately because, well, there are a lot of them) but instead this simple and beautiful sign for Nashville Ready Mix, a concrete company. According to that very spare website, they are Nashville’s only locally owned mix company supplying the construction industry. They have no doubt been busy lately. I don’t know who made the sign, or its age, but the weathering on it suggests it has been there for some time. The smaller sign on the west side of the building facing the road is even more weathered. Ready Mix has owned this building since 1992, so it may be quite old for a painted sign. Their trucks use the same livery, which hints at a corporate design firm as opposed to an individual artist. I’ll tell you something – if this sign were anywhere near Lower Broad, it would be all over Instagram. I think it would definitely make a good album cover. I should note I found this sign shortly after shooting the very pretty mural at TopGolf down the street – you should check it out. I’ll put it on the blog soon.
Located at 605 Cowan Street. The main sign is on the south side of the building. There is parking here and next door, but your best bet is on the weekend when the businesses are closed. No street parking to speak of.
This is probably one of the better-known murals in town, at least for those who follow murals. For part 2 of my series on the Elliston Parking garage, I’m featuring one of two on the outside of the garage, besides the ones on the roof. I do intend to do the interior, which is a little different thing for this blog, but it’s an indoor/outdoor space, so I think it counts as “outdoor art.” This is unmistakably the work of Chris Zidek, even without his usual signature, Zidekahedron. Colorful intertwining geometric forms and plenty of negative space is characteristic of much of his work. This piece, in particular, uses similar themes to that found in another work of his featured in One mural down, one mural up. It makes me a little antsy to have cars in this picture, but a) this is a perfect crop for sharing to Facebook and b) good luck not finding cars there. This is in fact how it usually looks, and the mural is not obscured, so I’ll live with the cars. As noted in Part 1, the Elliston Garage project was organized by the Nashville Walls Project.
Located at 207 Louise Avenue, just off Elliston Place. The mural is on the east side of the building. Most of the parking in this area is pay parking. The garage is permit parking, at least on workdays.
A couple months ago, I featured a small mural linked to Tailgate Brewery in A hoppy place to tailgate. That small, two-color mural, by Drew Lord, is part of Tailgate’s Demonbreun Street location. Recently, they expanded to lower Gallatin, right next to Nashville Biscuit House. And here Lord, who is Tailgate’s art director, has produced something much bolder and much more colorful. You have the tailgate, you have the brewer breaking open a barrel that sprays out multi-colored beer, and you have an umbrella to protect you from that spray. (The umbrella kind of looks like a made-to-order Instagram target.) When you go to check it out, walk abound to the backside of Nashville Biscuit House. There’s a hidden mural back there.
Located at 811 Gallatin Avenue. The mural is on the south side of the building. There is parking behind Tailgate, and at the Biscuit House after it closes in the afternoon. There is also street parking on Petway Avenue on the north side of the building.
It’s tomato time! Since 2004, East Nashville has hosted the Tomato Arts Fest, one of the best neighborhood festivals in the country – but you already knew that. Why tomatoes? Wy not tomatoes is a better question. People get dressed up like tomatoes, there is, of course, a lot of tomato-themed art, and plenty of Bloody Marys to be had. An art fest should certainly get a mural. In fact, there’s more than one. There’s the one featured in Robots don’t care about veggies, and there’s this newer one by Michael Cooper of Murals and More. I would have never guessed it was his because of the style, had I not seen on his website a series of photos showing the process by which Cooper and his team made the murals. In the background, you can also see a Jason Galaz piece in the which will be on the blog as soon as I get around to writing part two of Crying Wolf, Part 1. And hey, I just realized the banner behind the tomato is a rainbow flag!
Located at 824 Main Street. The mural faces the alley on the back of the building. There is of course parking at Weiss, and at the storage center next door, which is a pay lot. The Weiss parking lot can be tricky on weekend evenings.
In my last post, I wrote that I was planning (eventually) to extend this blog to the surrounding counties because I believe the outdoor art scenes in all these counties are organically connected. Case in point: A new mural on Jefferson Street by Murfreesboro artists Travis and Alicia Maynard, who work under the moniker Murfreesboro Murals. When I first saw it, the bold colors and large portraits of African-American women made me guess it was by JamersonSGC, who has a new portrait just a couple blocks away, but instead it’s by two artists new to this blog. Notice the clever use of nail polish bottles and applicators to fill the mural with even more color. Beaut Creations is not open as of this posting, but the building has recently undergone renovation, so it presumably will be open soon. There was a moped rental company here before, but it was probably too far from the tourist zone to succeed. On the opposite side of the driveway in front of this mural is a Norf Studios piece featured in Get healthy!
Located at 2037 Jefferson Street. The mural is on the east wall, facing a driveway. There is some limited business parking at 2035 and 2037. The nearest street parking is west past the interstate overpass.
There are a handful of major art installations I haven’t gotten to, like the Berry Hill portraits, or the cartoon murals at Sadler and Grimrose, or this one, the Elliston Parking Garage. Recently, I finally finished the Nations Wall project. I want to fill these obvious gaps because I am thinking of expanding the reach of this blog. Not that I need to for material – I have at least a hundred folders in my “Future Blog Posts” folder. But I’m beginning to think that restricting this blog to just Davidson County is artificial. A visit to Dallas-Ft. Worth, also known as the Metroplex, made me realize that I could never do a “just Dallas” or “just Ft. Worth” blog – they and the other many communities there are too intertwined. And it’s obvious that the art scene in Nashville is deeply connected to the arts in the surrounding counties. Many of the artists featured in this blog have done work in those counties, and the outdoor art scene in Nashville has definitely inspired work in those counties. So, this blog will be expanding – but not before I fill some obvious gaps.
About the mural and the garage – for years, the Elliston Parking Garage on Louise Avenue has been a giant canvas for graffiti taggers. This is a major reason why the owner offered the garage to Nashville Walls Project. Murals do curb graffiti. Taggers tend to be respectful of murals (not the least because there is an overlap between local muralists and local taggers). The installation of murals in this garage, however, has not eliminated tagging, but it there is less than before. This mural here is one of two murals on the outside of the garage (besides the ones on the roof level) – there are several inside. It is by Audie Adams who also goes by Audroc. He’s also part of the Thoughts Manifested collective, responsible for a number of murals in town. The birds and the font used are both common in his work.
Located at 207 Louise Avenue, just off Elliston Place. The mural is on the south side of the building. Most of the parking in this area is pay parking. The garage is permit parking, at least on workdays.