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nashville public art

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

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#12South

The Linden Building Mural

What makes a mural a mural, and where does this one start and where does it end? It’s by Sideshow Sign Co., whose work is found all over town. This is one of the only pieces signed by them, as most of their work is branding work and signs for restaurants and retail businesses, things that are not usually signed. But this mural, on the side of Serendipity in 12 South, comes with a plaque:

Linden Building Sign Nashville street art

“Repetition and the illusion of layering” would suggest that the only part of this wall that’s meant to be part of the mural is the black and white stripes up top. If so, the featured image at the beginning of this blog post should be this one:

Linden Building Stripes Nashville street art

If that’s right, that would make this one of the smallest and simplest murals in town. And truly, how many murals are mostly a white wall? But the big red stripe and the red windows along with the black and white stripes seem to all tie together. Even the turquoise awning and window frame, which are surely not part of the mural, seem part of the whole. There is the artist’s intent and the viewer’s perception. Take your pick. Either way, this mural is indeed, as the plaque says, “simple yet conceptual.”

Located at 2301 12th Avenue South, at the corner with Linden Avenue. The mural faces north towards Linden. This is 12 South, and there is a mix of paid and free parking on 12th and on side streets.

Re-Spun – The Big Shirt Mural

This mural, which dates back to last April and is found in the heart of 12 South,  took a little research because it’s unsigned. It looks something like the style of a couple of artists I know, but I struck out with them. I just had to wait for the Google crawlers to do their thing and index the right page. Turns out it’s by a California artist who bills himself as The Hyste. He does a lot of signage, and so a fair amount of his work is unsigned. That the artist is from California makes some sense because the mural is on the side of the local branch of the Califonia-based clothing line Marine Layer. Re-spun (the words in the upper left of the mural)  is a line of theirs of t-shirts made from other recycled t-shirts. (Warning: There’s an autoplay video on that link.) This explains the jokey tags on the big mural shirts.

“Made from 43% Country Music Hall of Fame souvenir shirts.”

“Made from 23% old 80s hair band concert tees.”

“Made from 14% Vote for Pedro shirts.”

“Made from 17% free shirts from an energy drink hype squad.”

I can tell you I have none of those teeshirts.

This is actually an example of a national chain retail store putting a mural on their building, though it’s not as surprising as when Kroger did it. I’ll believe that corporate America is fully on board with public art when all the local Walmarts are done up in murals.

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Located at 2705 12th Avenue South. This is 12 South, so a lot of available parking is paid, though side streets are generally free (but give a thought to local residents when you park on those streets).

12 South Edition – NLGOY

In the selfie wars of Nashville, the Gulch Wings may be King, but the “nashville looks good on you series” is certainly a contender. Of course, I recently got a shot of the one on a small building behind Frothy Monkey’s 12 South outpost easily only because the crowds are gone, so chalk this up as another pandemic shot. There’s also one on the Anderson Group Real Estate building on 21st South (which I haven’t put on the blog yet) and my favorite, the big one on Nolensville Pike. They’re all done by the artist who bills himself online as NASH.TN Note the small white block next to the word “good.” It’s a notice asking people to please not take down the banner. In the immediate aftermath of the March 2nd tornadoes, banners reading “volunteering” were placed over the word “nashville” on all three murals, making them read “volunteering looks good on you.” Here it is on the one on Nolensville Pike. Tornadoes,  pandemic, what’s next? Another flood? Nashville needs a break.

There is also a Legos Man by for Becks on the back side of the building and a couple of other small pieces by Raddington Falls. One of them may be responsible for the unsigned stencils on the north side of the small building.

UPDATE: Here’s the one at Anderson Group.

Located at 2509 12th Avenue South. The mural is on a small building in Frothy Monkey’s back yard, which can also be reached by a small alley behind Frothy Monkey that runs between Beechwood and Sweetbriar Avenues. That’s where you’ll find the Legos Man. There is street parking, particularly if you are willing to walk a bit, and a fair amount of paid parking in the immediate blocks.

The Flipside

Things are quiet in the 12 South neighborhood these days, as they are in all of Nashville’s tourism zones. So perhaps it’s a better time for locals to check out the art. This piece lies on the side of The Flipside, a restaurant who’s social media doesn’t seem to acknowledge the pandemic at all. This fun piece is by Gage Lozano, an artist and graphic designer who signs his work N.Gaged. It’s been up for about a year-and-a-half, so by now, many tourists have had the opportunity to stand under those headphones and get their picture taken. Kristin Luna has written recently about how many business owners want “interactive” murals for their buildings, specifically wings, like the famous ones in The Gulch by Kelsey Montague. As she says, all murals are interactive, and even if you want something specifically designed for interaction, it doesn’t have to be wings. For example, it could be headphones, like these, or the ones by Ty Christian at The Listening Room Cafe. It’s a good point. I think intentionally interactive murals are great, but artists need to be allowed the freedom to explore new ideas. This one by Lozano, of course, does a lot more, the flowers making them headphones seem more organic than technological.

The mural is in a tight alley, which explains the weird cropping. Apparently, there was a Predators mural here before Lozano’s went it.

Flipside headphone mural Nashville street art

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There’s also a fun sign on the back of the building, which I couldn’t nail down an artist for, but I know it’s over five years old!

Flipside bike mural Nashville street art

Located at 2403 12th Avenue South. The mural is on the south side of the building, and if you continue down that alley you’ll find the bike sign. There is free street parking if you are willing to walk a ways, and a few pay lots nearby.

Looking Pretty

This particular wall at the corner of Dallas and 12th in the 12 South district has seen a series of murals that Eastside Murals has played a role in. The mural promoting the American Heart Association’s “Nashville at Heart” campaign that I featured in Last year’s heartthrob was their work, as was the mural that followed – which I never blogged about. Oops – search for “#peacelovegooddeeds” on Instagram – you’ll find lots of pictures of it. This one they helped on, but it isn’t their design. The designer and main artist is Austin artist Emily Eisenhart. That it’s her design is pretty obvious from a quick look at her Instagram page. You’ll note the main theme seems to be people wearing blue pants. The mural sits on the side of a building currently occupied by one of the Nashville branches of Madewell, a clothing store that specializes in denim. Eisenhart also did a mural for Madewell in the Williamsburg district of Brooklyn, in the same signature style. The Nashville mural also had a community component. Students from Pearl-Cohn, an entertainment magnet school, came out one day last March when the mural went in and helped paint it. This is probably why under the word “Madewell,” it reads “Created in support of music and art programs in Metro Nashville’s public schools.” On Eisenhart’s Instagram page, you can find several posts about the production of this mural.

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Located at 2709 12th Avenue South. The mural faces south, towards Dallas Avenue. There is paid parking nearby, and street parking if you are willing to walk a bit. It’s fairly easy right now, but it will be harder when the pandemic ends and the tourists come back.

Music Kitty

While Lower Broad is the honky-tonk heart of Nashville’s tourism industry, its hipper cousin is 12 South. It’s a district you find a lot more actual Nashvillians in, as it runs right through a residential neighborhood and has a lot of restaurants and bars popular with locals. So it’s a little less of a ghost town right now, but the lack of traffic again makes it easier to photograph murals, like this one promoting the Nashville Zoo. It was designed by Kate Johns, the Multimedia Designer at the Zoo, and produced by Stephan Sloan, who signs his work Never Xtinct. (Johns is credited on the mural as Kate Sarber, but having recently married, she changed her name. Mazel tov!) Sloan has a number of pictures featuring his progress in making this mural on his Instagram account – here’s the first and the last.

While it doesn’t directly reference them, the mural design is in part inspired by the zoo’s opening of a Sumatran tiger exhibit last Spring. Also known as Sunda tigers, they are seriously endangered.

Music Kitty mural Nashville street art

The Nashville Zoo is, of course, closed at the moment, but is worth your support when it opens. More properly called the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, it has an interesting past, originating as a plantation, later becoming a private wildlife park, before finally becoming a public zoo and wildlife park. It may be the only zoo that includes a plantation home you can visit. Until then, get your tiger fix at the mural on 12th Avenue South.

UPDATE: I missed it at the time, but this was the 600th post on this blog.

Located at 2315 12th Avenue South, on the north side of Trim. The mural faces towards downtown. As it is right in front of a parking lot, you might want to try visiting in the early morning, particularly once the pandemic passes.

Rivive on 12 South

On this blog, I’ve neglected somewhat the 12 South neighborhood. (And yes, my Nashville memories go back to when it was just 12th Avenue South.) It’s one of the most important tourist destinations in Nashville, which means it has a lot of murals and it’s also a hard place to get clean pictures of murals, with all the people and cars. And parking? Uff. But I really should have posted about this one sooner, because it’s one of the better murals in Nashville. It’s not flashy, with a muted palette, but it also looks like nothing else in town. It’s by a prolific local artist I’ve featured many times, Eric Bass, aka Mobe Oner (the name he signs most of his work with, including this). The fox is just beautiful (see the close up in the second slideshow below). Look at the tall tree on the far right. In the summer, and especially in late fall, it will blend with the live trees behind it. This mural also has something of a twin as well, because it’s sponsored by Rivive, a non-profit that looks to raise awareness about and improve river resources in the Nashville area. They also sponsored a mural downtown by Beau Stanton. Both murals are meant to make viewers think about river conservation and about the forces that impinge on rivers. Mobe Oner’s mural is more explicit than the one by Stanton. Here we see not only what the Cumberland River has to offer but also what threatens it. The Cumberland slices through downtown and is the reason Nashville exists. The wildlife depicted absolutely can be found on its shores, very close to downtown, notably in Shelby Bottoms Park. People really do kayak right downtown, and there are boat ramps on the east bank in Cumberland Park. But obviously, the city, with all its industry and people, makes life tough for the river as well. There’s a giant riverside metal recycling plant right downtown, PSC Metals, of which there has long been a discussion about moving it somewhere else, but as yet to no avail. And in the mural, you can see two icons of Nashville – the Batman Building, and construction cranes. The pressures on the river are real, and sometimes it fights back, but it’s certainly a critical Nashville resource, and the more it can be protected, the better.

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Located at 2814 12th Avenue South. Despite the sign, Iyengar Yoga, now called Chestnut Hill Yoga, is no longer in the building. The mural is on the south side of the building, facing Paris Avenue, on which there is street parking. The reality is parking is hard in this neighborhood, given all the tourists. Be kind to the people who actually live here in making your parking choices.

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