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

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16 Bit Bar+Arcade

Not all bars in Nashville are honky-tonks. At least one is an arcade. It’s natural that in a tourist town like Nashville, with so many bars, business owners will try all kinds of things to grab our entertainment dollars. 16 Bit Bar+Arcade in Nashville is actually part of a small chain. It draws in customers with its collection of 80s and 90s arcade video games and pinball machines.

It’s appropriate then that it be decorated with a mural based on one of the great classics of the genre, Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong and Princess Pauline are seen at the top, but there’s no sign of Mario. He was probably crushed by one of the barrels of beer and whiskey Kong has. Pauline yells “Get over here,” 16 Bit’s catch phrase, not the “Help” she does in the game. The steel piers Mario had to climb now spell out “NASH TENN.” As the mural is unsigned, it took a little research to find the creators, but it turns out to be a production of Eastside Murals, one of the most prolific mural teams in Nashville.

As of this writing, there’s a Netflix documentary series available, High Score, which includes a long discussion of Donkey Kong’s history. I enjoyed it, though one reviewer found it heavy on nostalgia, weak on real reporting.

Located at 1102 Grundy Street, just as it says on the mural, at the corner of 11th Avenue North. The mural faces Comers Alley, on the west side of the building, away from downtown. This is the Gulch, so not a lot of free parking, but there is some free street parking west of 11th. Paid parking is also available.

Keep Dreaming

One thing the pandemic has not done is slow down the mural movement in Nashville. As a result, I’m getting even farther behind in cataloguing all that is out there. This trippy mural at Honytree Meadery is only a few months old, and it’s the work of Kim Radford, who over the last year or so has become quite prolific and is responsible for a lot of the new murals.

This one has a bit of backstory. Mindmilk is a mental wellness brand owned by Centric Creative Group, itself a brand-marketing agency. Back in September, Creative Centric sponsored a mural scavenger hunt. They even partnered with ROAR to create augmented reality experiences for each mural through the ROAR app, and this mural was part of the hunt. Maybe some of the participants also used this blog to help them find murals? Maybe.

Mindmilk includes dream interpretation as part of its services, and Radford’s mural seems very much to come from the world of dreams, and tells us to “Keep Dreaming.” Of course, this is also a meadery, and honey bees feature in the mural, even wrapping around the corner towards Honeytree’s front door.

Mindmilk Mural Nashville street art
Mindmilk Bees mural Nashville street art

This mural replaces a previous mural on this spot I never blogged about. It was a mural promoting Nashville SC, our local Major League Soccer team. While they promoted the mural on their social media, I was never able to track down the artist. This is my regular plea to businesses. Muralists are not simply journeyman workers, and acknowledging them can actually help promote your business, as those people who follow the artist will become aware of your business and possibly think better of it. I think the biz speak for that is “synergy.”

Nashville Soccer Mural street art

Located at 918 Woodland Street. The mural is on the east side of the building, facing away from downtown. Honeytree has some limited parking, and you can probably get away with a short stay in the lot in front of the mural. Grab some mead and enjoy the art!

Third and Lindsley Part 2 – Music Starts Here

There are three murals at Third and Lindsley, and all of them are by the artist who signs her work Blue Hayden Art. While one of them is a sign on a retaining wall, two of them are of what has become a common genre in Nashville, the mural explicitly designed to be the frame for a portrait, a mural that is only truly complete when someone stands in front of it to get their picture taken. I’ve taken the title of the post from a slogan written on the mural. While the one I previously wrote about is meant for multiple people, this one is more open to solo shots (though it can certainly accommodate more than one).

One notable distinction to this mural is that is not just a mural, it also sculptural elements. Right out in front of the outline that suggests either an upright bass or a really huge head of hair is a microphone implanted in the concrete. It’s pretty obvious what it’s for!

Music Microphone mural Nashville street art

Third and Lindsley re-opened on October 1, and are doing in-person shows. They even used this mural to help announce their re-opening on Twitter. Let’s hope it goes well for them. It’s hard to imagine Nashville without Third and Lindsley.

Part 1

Located at 818 3rd Avenue South, at the corner with, you guessed it, Lindsley Avenue. This mural faces Lindsley. There is very limited street parking, and a pay lot. During the day on weekends it’s easy to park at neighboring businesses.

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery

Around the corner from one of the more spectacular murals in town is the façade of Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. Nelson’s is a revival of a family business first founded in Nashville after the Civil War by Charles Nelson. It became one of the only high-volume distilleries in Tennessee, and was distributed widely until the state of Tennessee instituted prohibition in 1909. A hundred years later, two of Nelson’s grandsons restarted the business in Marathon Village. You can read about its history here.

The central logo is based on a logo found on bottles from the original business, reading “Green Brier Tennessee” instead of “Nelson’s Green Brier.” (The name comes from the location of the original distillery in Greenbrier, TN). The sign, or really collection of signs, is by Bryan Deese, a prolific Nashville muralist. Like a lot of signs, it has no signature, but Nelson’s credits him on their Instagram page, and includes a couple of shots of him working on it, one which makes clear he had an assistant. Not every business does that, credit sign makers (and sometime not even muralists) so good for Nelson’s.

An odd aside – as I was leaving from shooting (and buying a bottle!) a truck pulling a large flat-bed trailer festooned with flags pulled up. On the trailer was a preacher, railing into his phone (shooting a video) against the evils of alcohol and the audacity of Nelson’s having its doors wide open (not the ones in the picture). They were open for COVID safety, presumably. The spirit of Prohibition than fist shut down Nelson’s is still around.

Located at 1414 Clinton Street, at the corner with 16th Avenue North. There is some street parking on Clinton, and some nearby paid lots.

Walls for Women: Miss Wynta-Amor Rogers

I’ve been featuring a lot of older art of late, so here’s something new. DMA (it stands for “Do More Art”) is a collective dedicated to promoting outdoor art, namely murals. Their first big project is called “Walls for Women,” which has seen murals go up all over the state this summer in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women’s suffrage, and of course it was Tennessee’s ratification of the amendment on August 18, 1919 that enabled its passage. All the artists for the project have been women, and the murals focus on women and issues from women’s lives.

The Nashville entry is by Sarah Painter, who did the portraits, and Cymone Wilder, who did the lettering. Painter is a Florida artist, while Wilder is based here in Nashville. Their mural is named after its young subject, Wynta-Amor Rogers, a seven-year-old Long Island girl whose participation in Black Lives Matter protests resulted in a viral video.

Wynta Mural Nashville street art

The mural features the quote “They buried us but they didn’t know we were seeds.” That quote is also featured in a big community mural off Main Street I wrote about in We Are Seeds. It’s a variation on a line from the Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos.

Wynta Mural Nashville street art

The larger project is spread out across Tennessee and has many sponsors. The primary sponsor for this mural was Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, on whose wall in Marathon Village the mural is found. The curator for the project is Kristin Luna, one of DMA’s founders. In her blog announcement of the artists for Walls for Women, you can see just how white and plain this wall was before. It very much cried out for art. (Scroll down to near the bottom of the post.) Apparently this is the largest mural in the project. As far as I know, the portrait of an adult woman does not reference a specific person.

Wynta Mural Nashville street art

Because of trees in the park across the street, it’s impossible to take a clean image of the mural straight on, but below is my best effort.

Wynta Mural Nashville street art

Located at 1414 Clinton Street. That’s the address of the distillery. The mural faces the 600/700 block of 16th Avenue North, and the portrait of the adult woman sits at the corner of 16th and Clinton. There is some street parking on Clinton, and paid parking is also found on Clinton.

Wynta Mural Nashville street art

Beer Strong (New Heights Brewing)

How can a mural on a little-used side street be seen by thousands of people every day? If that little-used street faces the interstate. Up on a knoll along Carrol Street, this Eastside Murals work faces I-40, on the south side of the downtown loop, at the very north end of Chestnut Hill. I only knew of it recently because I’ve been staying home a lot and I stay off Nashville interstates as much as I can under any circumstances. Because of the tight sightlines, it’s impossible to get a traditional straight-on photograph. I took the photo at the bottom of this post from across the interstate, through a fence (near Mulberry and 5th). If it looks a little fuzzy, it’s because I blew it up a great deal.

New Heights Mural Nashville street art

The mural features the logo and motto of New Heights Brewing Company. New Heights was founded by people who came from San Diego, CA, and the logo includes not only the Nashville skyline (with its iconic Batman Building), but also San Diego’s North Park Water Tower. The Chestnut Hill neighborhood New Heights is in of course has its own iconic water tower, at 4th and Chestnut. The mural doesn’t actually lie on New Heights’ building, which is located about half a block away down 5th Avenue. The building it is on, which has a large three-dimensional sign in its front yard that says “GPI,” is currently vacant.

New Heights Interstate

Located at 915 5th Ave South. The mural faces Caroll Street, facing north towards downtown. It’s most easily accessed using either 6th Ave South coming from downtown, or coming from Oak Street, off of 4th Avenue South. Street parking on Carrol is prohibited, but for the moment you can park in front of the GPI building.

Losers and the Pandemic

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a mural for the downtown branch of  Loser’s Bar and Grill done by Manuel Fuentes. That mural, on the south side of the building, was a great example of the murals in town specifically designed for people to stand in front and get their picture taken. I wrote about it at the beginning of the shutdown and commented on the irony of it not really being used at the time. Here we are about three months later, and the lockdown has eased, even as cases are rising. There are restrictions on venues like Losers, and their downtown branch remains closed. From their Facebook page, it appears their Midtown branch is open on reduced capacity and is featuring live music. Interestingly, they advertise that both locations have new UV-light systems in their airflow systems to reduce contaminants. Welcome to the emerging new normal. To their credit, they aren’t one of the places cited for violating the current pandemic rules. Someday, this will all be over.

Located at 111 Fourth Avenue South. The mural is on the north side of the building, at the far end of the parking lot if you are coming from 4th. It faces towards Broadway. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

 

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