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nashville public art

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

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Guitar Skyline

Manuel Fuentes (aka USA Pro Art) is not the first person to create a guitar skyline mural in Nashville. That’s probably Allison Johnson‘s mural I featured in Acoustic skyline. But it’s probably the largest, and it’s certainly bold. The big “Manuel” is presumably the artist’s signature. And don’t adjust your set – check the roofline. It’s straight, but the parking lot has a steep slope.

The mural went up over a year ago, in April, 2019, sponsored by Off the Wagon Tours (aka Nashville Party Wagon), a “transpotainment” company housed in the building. They use a large green tractor to pull a big flat trailer around downtown with perfectly sober guests on board. Well, maybe not exactly. This link will give you an idea. Companies like theirs have been hit hard by the pandemic – currently they are allowed to operate at 50% capacity. With this mural, there are now at least two murals downtown sponsored by companies that cater to bachelorettes and similar tourists. The mural featured in Candy Hearts is the other example.

Fuentes has some other projects in town, but a lot of his work is in Portland, TN and nearby. Check out his Instagram page linked above to see some of it.

Located at 533 Lafayette Street. The building actually faces 6th Avenue South, and the mural is on its south side, facing away from downtown. The rather large parking lot is shared with Hermitage Lighting. Be sure to stay out of the reserved spaces.

Candy Hearts

I have written in the past about the relationship between bachelorettes and murals, but this is the only mural I’m aware of that is very specifically for and about bachelorettes. The usual relationship, which I first became fully aware of because of a 2018 Buzzfeed article about the Nashville bachelorette phenomenon, is fairly simple. A business puts up a mural to attract tourists, mainly bachelorettes, who get their picture taken in front of it and check in on social media. This encourages neighboring businesses to do the same thing, and before long all the tourist districts have lots of murals.

But this mural has a different story. It was sponsored by both The Bach Party, a bachelorette party-planning service, and Finnleys Boutique, a local fashion chain geared towards young women, of the same demographic as most bachelorettes. Finnleys and Bach provided a design, which was produced by Bryson Leach, a Columbia artist. The candy hearts all have phrases one might associate with the stereotypical Nashville bachelorette (that’s actually a  very benign article) and on Bach’s Instagram account, you can watch a video montage of folks in front of the mural, about 95% of whom seem to be bachelorettes. It’s perhaps an inflection moment in the mural movement in Nashville, but unfortunately for Bach and Finnleys, it went up in early February, just a little more than a month before the shutdown.

I wanted to push back on Bach and Finnleys using the #CandyHeartGulch hashtag. This is the first I’ve heard of Eighth Avenue being part of The Gulch. But the Gulch Bussiness Improvement District set up by the city in 2008 includes everything south of Broadway and between the interstate and the railroad tracks, which takes it down Division Street all the way to Frugal MacDoogal. Way back when no one went to The Gulch except to go to The Station Inn, The Gulch was 11th and 12th south of Broadway, and no one else wanted any part of it. Well, the city may say MacDoogal’s is in The Gulch (funny, it’s on a hill) but I don’t care what any developer says, there is no such thing as “North Gulch.” It’s Hell’s Half Acre, thank you.

Located at 601 8th Avenue South, immediately south of the railroad underpass. The mural faces north towards Broadway. This is downtown, so parking is generally not free, though if you scour around, there are a few free places nearby. Also, the highrises in The Gulch proper a couple blocks away have free parking for an hour or more.

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