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nashville public art

No art left behind

Coloring the community

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The folks who own East Nashville BBQ Company may or may not have the very most colorful BBQ shack around, but they are certainly contenders. Many hands went into this mural, which is how artist Andee Rudloff often does things. In this project and others, such as the one featured in Down by the river, she contracted with a group of people who collaborated with her on both the design and the production. Here, the main collaborators were the children and families of the Boys and Girls Club of Middle Tennesee (Cleveland Park Club) and the Cleaveland Park Neighborhood Association. It’s also a Nashville Metro Arts Commision project, which helped fund it through its THRIVE Community Arts Project. There were other sponsors as well – check the list of names on the sign that’s featured in the slideshow below. As is often true with Rudloff’s collaborative works, there’s a video showing how the mural came together (the video is by Stacey Irvin). It shows Rudloff brainstorming with the kids, then painting the black and white outline of the mural, followed by the community pitching in to fill in the white spaces with color. It all came together June 2, 2016, and continues as a colorful marker of community spirit. Added bonus: There’s a couple of pigs out front – see the slideshow.

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Located at 829 Lischey Avenue, at the southeast corner of Lischey and Cleveland Street. The mural faces west towards Lischey. There is parking at the BBQ place and some street parking on Lischey. Load up on pork and enjoy the art!

 

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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Chet Atkins, C.G.P.

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Though a little off center from the main downtown tourist center, this work draws in the tourists who want their picture taken with the great Chet Atkins, if only in bronze. This lost wax sculpture titled “Chet Atkins, c.g.p.” is the work of Nashville artist Russell Faxon, and went in in January 2000, a year and a half before Atkins’ death. Various music luminaries paid tribute at the unveiling, including Eddy Arnold, who said, “I’m delighted to be here because I met Chet back in 1896.” Atkins himself promised everyone that, “I’ll come to your outing if you have one.” The statue was paid for by Bank of America, the major tenant in the building that looms over the Atkins tribute. So what’s that “C.G.P” about? Certified Guitar Player, a designation Atkins gave out to those players he thought “excelled far beyond the normal line of playing.” Only five men, plus Atkins himself, got the title. There is of course that empty stool, placed there so you could have your picture taken with the man. Many tourists do, and local folks who just need a place to sit can also be found on the stool. I’m sure Atkins would be happy to play for any of them.

Side note: I was so astonished to find the statue devoid of humans, I parked in a hurry and raced to take pictures. You can see my little red car in the header above, and there’s a better shot below in the photo of the back side of the sculpture.

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Located at 414 Union Street. The sculpture sits in a small triangular plaza at 5th and Union, in front of the Bank of America Building. This is downtown, so plenty of parking, virtually none of it free.

Rainbow pizza

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I would probably be two or three pounds lighter if Five Points Pizza did not exist. Opened about six and a half years ago in where else, Five Points, it quickly became a popular spot for a pie or a slice. A couple of the night shift take-out workers know my name. Oh, right, we were talking about art! A few months ago this Nathan Brown piece went up in the alley that separates Five Points Pizza from Battered and Fried. Again, it’s another one of Brown’s colorful geometry problems, and it’s also another example of Google Fiber promoting its brand through art sponsorship. I had to shoot it at an odd angle because of the geometry of the alley. A shot from the other side is below.

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Located at 1012 Woodland Street. The mural faces west and is impossible to miss from Woodland if you are headed east. There are paid lots in the core of Five Points, but free street parking is available if you walk a couple blocks.

Attaboy

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For many years, when I talked about food in Nashville, I would say, “we’re ten years behind Atlanta.” But then the “It City” phenomenon took hold, gentrification went wild, and chefs from around the country began to establish themselves in Nashville. The bar scene quickly followed, including the decision of the muchballyhooed New York City bar Attaboy to establish a branch in Nashville. Attaboy is different from most bars. They don’t take your drink order. Instead, they ask you what you like, and the bartender creates a concoction for you. The hard to miss sign is a product of Philadelphia artist Eric Kenney, who also goes by Heavy Slime. Kenney mostly does posters and t-shirts and does his own screen printing. Looking through his work, the Attaboy sign is sunnier than a lot of it. As for the chicken on the bike, while Kenney’s work features DeathAngry Snoopy, and a crazed Mickey Mouse, this is the only chicken I can find. I imagine it’s a nod to East Nashville’s most famous culinary export. And how does a Philly artist wind up doing a sign in Nashville? Because one the partners, Brandon Bramhall, is Kenney’s cousin (and a former bartender at the New York Attaboy).

Located at 8 McFerrin Avenue. The mural faces south, across from the alley that is halfway between Woodland and Main. There is limited street parking, and Attaboy has just a few spaces, so maybe you should just take a late night rideshare to get some cocktails and enjoy the art!

Have I got a deal for you

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I have wanted to write about this particular mural for some time. It’s prominently visible if you are driving north on upper Nolensville Pike, it’s a weird mix of cheesy and minimalist, and it seemed to have been around a long while. What’s not to love? Sadly, there always seemed to be at least one car parked in front of it. So when I saw it car-free, I knew I had to get my shot quick. Sadly for this mural, the reason I found it car-free may also spell its doom. The furniture and appliance store whose goods it advertises has moved. Sam’s Mattress Furniture Warehouse doesn’t have much of an internet presence (other than a couple of bad Yelp reviews), but a sign on the door lists three new addresses, two for furniture and mattresses, one for appliances, all closer to downtown on Nolensville. The murals are as I guessed, survivors. All are signed by Mark E. Witte, a name I have not been able to track down. Witte seems to have worked fast giving each of them a separate specific date in April 2009. But they are out of order. Going left to right, they are dated April 26, 27, 28, 25 and 30. So he did the sofas first, then went back to the washing machine and worked his way back down the wall. Started on a Saturday, finished on a Thursday for a productive week. But with Sam’s closed, the fate of this mural seems uncertain.

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Located at 3312 Nolensville Pike. It faces south, towards Chilton Street. It is possible to park across the street on Chilton, and there is of course parking at Sam’s until developers get a hold of it.

A well-traveled rose

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The Frist Museum (more properly known as the Frist Center for the Visual Arts) does not generally keep permanent pieces but rather hosts an ongoing series of new exhibits. One notable exception sits outside – “Rose on 65th Street” by Will Ryman. It may not have originally be thought to be permanent – an article from the Nashville Scene dated May 2012 says it “will remain up through December.” The descriptive plaque states that it was an anonymous gift in 2013, so apparently, someone liked it enough to buy it and donate it to the museum. It was originally part of a series Ryman installed in 2011 along Park Avenue in New York City as a “riff on a Park Avenue tradition of displaying seasonal flowers and ornamental trees.” Look close – it’s more than just roses. Its initial installation on the front side of the Frist facing Broadway was an elaborate process. It is now installed on the opposite side of the building.

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Located at 919 Broadway. The statue is found on the south side of the building, facing McGavok Street at the corner with 10th Avenue. The museum has its own parking, with a half off discount for visitors. Otherwise, you might take it in after you drop off a package at the Post Office in the basement or before quaffing a few beers at the Flying Saucer.

Breaking the rules

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I have pointed out many times on this blog that chain businesses are the worst places to look for public art. But for every rule about human behavior, there are always exceptions. Holler & Dash presents itself as something of a neo-Southern small chain with a neighborly feel that emphasizes local produce. It may well be all that, but it is also owned by Cracker Barrel. So not only is this a chain, it’s also corporate. But the branding of this corporate chain is not centralized, which allows for local artists to get involved. The mural here is by Meghan Wood of I Saw the Sign. I learned that from Holler & Dash’s Instagram account because of course I did. Maybe local branding will become more of a trend for corporate America.

Located at 2407 8th Avenue South. I’m a little uncertain about the parking situation, as there was still some construction going on when I visited. I believe there is parking in the back, and for the time being, parking is available at the abandoned gas station next door but in go-go Nashville that won’t last. Enjoy some corporate grub trying to be local and enjoy the art!

BBQ music

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Barbeque joints (along with their cousins the hot chicken spots) and music venues are all places where you have a good chance to find art. A lot of that has to with the fact that they are often local businesses, which are much more likely to sport outdoor art than corporate ventures. So it makes sense to find a music label advertised on the side of a BBQ restaurant. G’z BBQ and Catering (their Facebook page might be a better guide than their website) sports a hard-to-miss promotion for Muddy Roots Records, well known for its eponymous festival. The pig isn’t just a hint of the food inside, it’s also a long-standing symbol of Muddy Roots, and is found in a legacy mural just down the road I featured in The pig abides. The same artists involved in that one, Jason Galaz and Milton Chavez, did this one as well. Once again we find an example of the Batman Building used as shorthand for the downtown skyline, with the added touch of the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge.

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Located at 925 Gallatin Avenue, near the corner with Granada Avenue. The mural is located on the south side of the building, easily visible to anyone driving north on Gallatin. There is a fair amount of parking at G’z BBQ, so get you some grub and enjoy the art!

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