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House of Blues Fences of Fame, Part 8

Travelling clockwise around Columbine Park in Berry Hill, coming from Bransford Avenue, you’ll find at the northeast corner of the park a building with a small water tower in its parking lot. That building used to be the main House of Blues property of several around the park. I say used to be, because although I named this series after the House of Blues because they sponsored all the murals around the park which were done by Scott Guion, the whole complex was bought in January, 2019 by Universal Music Group. (That story has a picture of Guion working on the first fence I featured in this series.) 

There are three murals associated with this building, two of which I’ve featured before. The mural above is unusual in that it features only one musical act. The only other mural in this series that features only one act is the garage door featuring B.B. King. It’s also unusual in that unlike all the other fences, Guion has not filled the fence end to end with portraits. Instead, he’s devoted almost half of this fence to a geometric pattern evoking flames. That may be because to really appreciate a portrait at the part of the fence farthest from the street, you’d have to be in the neighboring business’s parking lot.

Mississippi Sheiks mural Nashville street art

The musicians featured here are members of the Mississippi Sheiks, an influential country blues and string band group that recorded and toured in the first half of the 1930s, best known for the song “Sitting on Top of the World.” (Listen to it in on YouTube.) The group went through a few lineup changes, but this portrait is of three of its key members, Bo Carter, Lonnie Chatmon, and Walter Vinson. Bo Carter was born Armenter Chatmon and was Lonnie’s brother. Another brother, Sam Chatmon, also participated in the group. Indeed, the Chatmon family had a long history of musicianship starting with Henderson Chatmon, the family patriarch who had been born into slavery. Mandolin player Papa Charlie McCoy (not to be confused the harmonica player named Charlie McCoy) also performed and recorded with the Sheiks.

It’s interesting that Guion has chosen to show them as somewhat see-through, like ghosts. The lake and forest behind them perhaps represent the Mississippi Delta region that they were from. The portrait is based on a photograph you can see here. In the original photo, the musicians are leaning against a wall, and they are photographed at an angle, while Guion’s mural is more straight-on.

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. The mural peeking out from behind the Sheiks is this one.

Located at 517 East Iris Drive, which is the address of the building with the water tower. The mural is actually found off of Columbine Place, and faces south, away from the water tower. Parking is available around the park.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 9

Tennessee Tough

This mural is hard to miss, given its enormous size (135 feet long, 26 feet high) and its prominent location right across Korean Veterans Boulevard from the Nashville Music City Center. Being that it faces a parking lot, it’s a little difficult to get a “clean” photo, but I finally caught it without cars. It was, not surprisingly, sponsored by the Tennessee Titans, and went up back in September as part of Titans Kickoff Week for the 2020 season. It’s the work of Mobe Oner (Eric Bass), one of Nashville’s most versatile muralists.

Titans Mural Nashville street art

The mural was inspired by Nashville’s response to the March 3 tornado and the pandemic. According to Titans Creative Director Surf Melendez:

“Tennessee Tough really just explains the resiliency of the people of Tennessee. Tennessee Tough are people who get their hands dirty for a living and do what they have to do, like our first responders, essential workers and teachers. Tennessee Tough is our football team.”

Titans Mural Nashville street art

The mural shows an unnamed Titans player with the number “615” (the Nashville area code) on his jersey. Below his arms are the names of all of the counties of Tennessee. Above his arms are a series of quotes from various Tennesseans (or in the case of John Lewis, people associated with Tennessee.) From left to right:

  • “Teamwork is what makes common people capable of uncommon results.” Pat Summit, from “Reach for the Summit”
  • “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Tennessee Williams, from “A Streetcar Named Desire”
  • “The triumph cannot be had without the struggle.” Wilma Rudolph, from a Chicago Tribune interview
  • “We’re ready to go to work for you because you’re our family.” Jon Robinson, from the press conference presenting him as the new Titans General Manager
  • “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” John Lewis (a frequent quote of his)

The mural includes an augmented reality experience, created by MVP Interactive. If you go to the Titan’s page for the mural, you can get a QR code which will start the process (click on “Launch Augmented Reality”). It works on pictures, so try it on the image at the top of the screen (if you are on a computer). The quotes pop out of the mural, and the football player becomes 3-D and spikes the football.

Titans Mural Nashville street art

This press release from the Titans includes a video of Bass working on the mural as well as discussing the process of creating it. He apparently had a lot of freedom in creating the image. You’ll also find an extensive photo essay of the mural’s creation there. The long-term future of this mural is perhaps questionable. The building it sits on, an office and industrial building, is a rare survivor from the industrial past of this neighborhood, and the land it sits on is undoubtedly worth millions – many millions.

Located at 424 6th Avenue South. That’s the address of the parking lot. It lies between 6th Avenue S and Rep. John Lewis Way South (aka 5th Avenue S), just south of Korean Veterans Blvd, and faces to the north. This is downtown, so lots of parking, not much of it free. If you are willing to walk a few blocks, there is some free street parking to the south.

Dolly at TailGate Brewery

One trend in Nashville outdoor art I can definitely support is the spread of portraits honoring Dolly Parton, like Kim Radford’s and the one by MuckRock. Now, both of those are on walls, and may be a little more permanent than this one. That said dumpsters are heavy, so this one will probably stick around a while. (By the way, I grew up calling them “dempsty dumpsters,” a corruption of the brand name of the original line of dumpsters, “Dempster Dumpsters.”)

Now, technically, I should have saved either Radford’s or MuckRock’s for today, as they are both women artists and today is International Women’s Day (and my father’s birthday!), but honoring Dolly is certainly in the spirit of the day, as she has long been a supporter of women’s rights and is something of a feminist icon, even though she’s careful about using the term “feminist.”

Dolly Parton Mural Nashville street art

This piece appears to be signed “ALORD 20,” which confused me for a bit until I remembered that Drew Lord is the art director of Tailgate Brewery and responsible for all their art. The dumpster, you see, is located in the parking lot of their Demonbreun Street location (right across the street from the (in)famous Musica statue). The mural includes some outlines of the pickup truck that serves as one of Tailgate’s logos (look under the name “Dolly”). That this work was done by Tailgate suggests it has some staying power, certainly as long as Tailgate Brewery remains in that location.

Dolly Parton Mural Nashville street art

The mural is based on a widely distributed photo that is probably from a 1970s promotion shoot. I have not been able to find who the photographer is, but Parton herself tweeted a copy of it on August 8, 2018, which apparently was International Cat Day. Her caption? (Or is that “cat-tion”?) “Just kittin’ around!” But of course.

Located at 1538 Demonbreun Street. The dumpster with the mural is in a small parking lot next to the traffic circle where the Musica statue is, and sits at the exit from the parking lot onto 16th Avenue South. There is parking in this area, but most of it is either pay lots or belongs to nearby businesses. Grab a brew and enjoy the art!

An Elite Eagle

This is not a March 3 tornado anniversary blog post. Well, mostly not. Two days after the tornado, I posted a piece called “What We Lost in the Storm,” about the outdoor art in East Nashville damaged or destroyed by the tornado. A couple days later I also wrote about that happened in North Nashville and Germantown. For the East Nashville article, the featured photo at the top of the blog post, the one you saw if someone shared the article, was of Kim Radford’s eagle mural at Bill’s Elite Bail Bonding Company on Main Street. I noted at the time I had never actually done a proper blog spot about this mural. I am now finally correcting this.

Radford did the Elite Bonding eagle mural in August 2019. I had a chance to talk to her about it then, and my memory is that she told me that the owner wanted something patriotic, hence the eagle. This was one of Radford’s first outdoor murals in Nashville, and she has since gone on to be one of the more prolific muralists in town. For example, most of the murals at Grimey’s are her work.

Because of its themes, I had intended to save the Elite Bonding mural for a patriotic day, like July 4 or Veteran’s Day, and had there been no tornado, that’s exactly what I would have done. That this mural survived with only minor damage is miraculous, and a testament to both the arbitrary nature of tornado damage and the willingness of the business owner, Bill Tomlinson, to repair and restore his building instead of raze it and start over. When Radford originally did this mural, she continued the geometric flag pattern on the opposite, west-facing side of the building. That half of the building collapsed, and the roof was ripped off, but the wall with the eagle survived.

Eagle Mural street art Nashville tornado
The Elite Bonding Eagle by Kim Radford as it appeared on March 5, 2020.

The damage to it is modest. Mostly what looks like damage is actually places that weren’t painted in the first place because something was covering that part of the wall before the storm. There is a stripe that looks like a repaired crack on the right of the mural. In fact, there used to be a gutter there. That stripe was never painted in the first place. The only real damage is a few dings and scratches. A few quite reminders of the storm, if you know what to look for.

I didn’t get any pictures of the completed mural before the storm. For that, you’ll need to check Radford’s Instagram page – here it complete, and there also several shots of the mural in progress. I do have my own nighttime shot of the eagle in progress.

Elite Eagle Mural Nashville street art

Located at 940 Main Street. The mural is on the east side of the building, facing away from downtown. There is plenty of parking here and at nearby businesses.

A Colorful Abode

As more and more business owners in Nashville come to see art as an essential part of their operation, the trend will spread to more kinds of businesses. For some time, it was almost entirely local retail that sought to decorate their outer walls with murals and graffiti art, and really only in certain neighborhoods. Bars, restaurants, and auto repair places were among the early adopters, as well as a number of immigrant-owned businesses. But now the movement has spread to all kinds of businesses, both local and national, including apartment buildings.

Gallatin House Mural Nashville street art

The current (March 1, 2021) Google Street View of the apartment building at 3811 Gallatin Pike shows it as a drab, grey building (the photo is from June 2019). Out front are two signs – one advertising rentals, the other stating that a “handyman painter” was wanted. I don’t know if the artist who goes by Sterbo answered that particular ad, but he’s the one who turned the drab building into something much more colorful. As you can see from the pictures above and below, the mural actually wraps around the building a bit.

Gallatin House Mural Nashville street art

There was a time when the building next door, at 3807, was also quite colorful, with a number of pop-art portraits on it. But that was when it was the hookah bar called Cloud IX, which got shut down a few years ago. Now it’s a bar called Henry James, which has a small, more debonair mural in keeping with its namesake, which I’ll feature later.

Located at 3811 Gallatin Pike. While there is parking, it might be best to park at one of the businesses near by. This building is home to a number of people, so be respectful if you visit.

Lockeland Design Mural

This mural is hard for me to miss, as I only live a block away – though it’s not the closest mural to my house! This is unmistakably the work of Andee Rudloff, along with students of Lockeland Design Center, an elementary school in in Lockeland Springs where the mural is found. You might know Lockeland Design for its strong reputation, or you might know it because it was featured in a Kleenex ad that honored a long-time janitor.

Rudloff is know for her community murals, and she has done several at schools, including two murals not far away at Warner Arts Magnet Elementary.

The Lockeland Design mural sits on the back of a “portable” classroom (it’s been in place for several years) behind the main school building. It’s filled with a number of school-related themes, and from this mural I have finally learned that the school mascot is the Lions. I like how the design makes creative use of the HVAC vents.

The mural also honors the class of 2020. I wondered about that, but because Lockeland Design has recently acquired an Instagram account, I was able to learn that the mural is a legacy product of the 4th grade class of 2020 (LDC is a K-4 school). The design of the mural includes drawings from the Class of 2020, and it went up last November.

Lockeland Design Mural Nashville street art

I managed to get a picture of the mural just after Rudloff had drawn the outline of the design. This is how she does community murals – she draws the outline, and then invites participants to help her fill it with color. Over on Lockeland Design’s Instagram page, you can find a video of Rudloff drawing the design, as well as photos of students helping to complete the project.

Located at 105 South 17th Street. That’s the address of the school. The mural is found on the back side of the school, and can be seen from the 1700 block of Woodland Street. Remember that this is a school. While the backyard is usually open, limit your visits there to when school is not in session. Street parking is available.

House of Blues Fences of Fame, Part 7

Of the many fences surrounding Columbine Park in Berry Hill with murals that depict famous musicians, only one is not immediately visible from the street, as it is in the parking lot of what used to be the main House of Blues building. (The whole complex of House of Blues properties in Berry Hill was bought in January, 2019 by Universal Music Group.) The mural can be seen from East Iris Drive, but a water tower partially obscures the view. Like the whole set, this fence was created by Scott Guion for the now closed Nashville branch of the House of Blues.

Faces Mural Nashville Street art
T Bone Burnett

This particular fence is just as eclectic as the others, with a range of artists representing everything from classic country to modern hip-hop. Like the other fences, the people depicted are shown at a range of ages, and this is also one of the only fences where the majority of people shown are alive. Prominently displayed with a halo of rays that make his image look almost three-dimensional is T Bone Burnett, a guitarist and song-writer best known for his work as an influential and prolific producer.

Faces mural Nashville street art
Patsy Cline and Stevie Ray Vaughan

In the middle are two stars who perished young in aviation accidents, the legendary Patsy Cline and the wildly talented guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan. They were only 30 and 35, respectively, when they died.

Faces Mural Nashville Street art
Joe Walsh and Snoop Dogg

Next to Vaughn is a portrait of another guitarist, Joe Walsh, who fist gained fame with the James Gang and then became a superstar with the Eagles. And at the far left is Snoop Dogg, aka Snoop Lion, aka Snoop Doggy Dogg, aka Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. He’s labeled here as Snoop Lion, a name he used for a time in 2013 in promotion of reggae record, and is depicted engaging in one of his favorite activities.

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 517 East Iris Drive. The mural faces north across the parking lot towards West Iris. The parking lot is most likely to be empty on Sunday. Parking is available around the park.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 8 Part 9

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