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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.

Bubbles at Capitol View

This is one of four murals either by or involving Anthony Billups of Music City Murals that are found at the Capitol View complex: this one, the ones I featured in Spread Love and Riding!, and a set of murals at Frankie Pierce Park he collaborated on with Olasubomi Aka-Bashorun, which I will feature soon. I thought I’d put this one up now because, more so than most outdoor art, it’s inevitably temporary.

I did not realize when I posted Spread Love that both it and the bubble mural are on panels covering the windows of an empty retail space. Rather than have the windows look like part of construction site, the management at Capitol View opted for art. But of course, someday that space will be rented, and the panels will come down. I imagine the pandemic has slowed interest from retailers and restaurateurs for the time being. Note the padlock above the train engine, and you’ll realize there’s a door in this mural.

Of course, since they are on panels, it’s entirely possible that both murals will be repurposed. Hopefully, Capitol View will find some use for them once the space is rented.

The mural may not have been specifically designed for people to get their picture in front of, but there is an obvious pose! (Especially if you can jump.) The train references the rail line just a block east, and the jumble of buildings from Nashville’s skyline is roughly what you would see if you could look east to downtown without obstructions.

Skyline mural Nashville street art

Located on the 400 block of 11th Avenue North, right next to the Clean Juice at 412 11th Ave N. There’s some street parking on 11th and nearby, and you can access free parking (meant for the businesses in the building) off the alley on the east side of the building, towards the State Capitol.

Spread Love

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a Music City Murals work found a little hidden away at the Capitol View project in a post I called Riding!. This is another of their works, just around the corner and much more visible. Unlike the “Riding!” mural, this one is signed, not just by Music City Murals, but also specifically by one of their artists, Anthony Billups. I had seen this mural on social media a few times in the last few months (it was put up back in January), but perhaps because Capitol View is not completely rented out and Google still hasn’t fully incorporated this massive project into its maps, folks were a little vague as to where to find it. If you think of the downtown Publix on Charlotte as the “front” of the building in question, this is on the “back,” on Nelson Merry Street, next to the entrance of the Residences at Capitol View.

The hands incorporate several Nashville icons, such as the State Capitol, the Batman Building, Nissan Stadium, and the Sheraton Hotel with its distinctive round top. The imagery certainly lends itself to the message of “Spread Love,” as the mural is titled. Billups himself used it in a heartfelt post about Nashville’s resiliency in the face of the March 3 tornadoes. When I went to photograph it, I had to wait for a couple who seemed to be clearly taking engagement photos in front of it (Mazel tov!). No doubt it will be the backdrop for many similar photos.

Spread Love Hands mural Nashville street art

Located at 1015 Nelson Merry Street. You can access free parking (meant for the businesses in the building) off the alley on the east side of the building, towards the State Capitol. Some street parking is available.

Out into the open

The March 3 tornado that tore through Nashville did a lot of damage to art on the east side. But temporarily at least, it has brought one work out into the open. The building that housed the Nashville Urban Winery was heavily damaged in the storm, and recently it has been demolished. When the winery was intact, it had a large covered patio at the front. From the street, this mural by Bryan Deese was visible inside the patio, but it was also shrouded, and usually had lots of tables in front of it. I debated putting it on the blog, but each time I thought about it I wound up going with something else. Then suddenly it was fully in the light. It survived the destruction of the building because it sits on a wall shared with Jerry’s Artarama, currently closed due to tornado damage.

The mural’s themes make sense for a Nashville winery, evoking the great wine nations of France and Italy. The trellis shape is the base of the Eiffel Tower. It frames a row of vines from a vineyard, the facade of Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Roman Colosseum. In the center of course is Nashville’s own Eiffel Tower, the Batman Building.

Urban Winery mural Nashville street art
The Nashville Urban Winery mural when the building was intact.

Soon, the cleared lot this mural looks out on will become a construction site. For that matter, the building it sits on is in need of serious repair. So the fate of this mural is highly uncertain. Let’s call it endangered art. I should note it’s also currently inside an area sealed off by a locked fence, but there is a gap between the building and the fence, right at the edge of the mural. You didn’t hear that from me.

Located at 715 Main Street, an address that currently has no building. More accurately, it’s on the east side of 713 Main, the Jerry’s Artarama building. For now, you can park in Jerry’s Artarama’s parking lot.

Strength and mourning

Nashville and the world have been through a lot lately, so much so that the tragedies memorialized in this mural, part of it only a few weeks old, have been superseded by even more. The mural is by Nashville artist JamersonSGC, who often signs his work “Low Key Art,” and it went up in stages on the back wall of Tito’s Market and Seafood as different tragedies played out. First, on the left, Jamerson created a memorial for Kobe Bryant sometime in February, not long after Bryant’s death in January. It features a nickname Bryant chose for himself, Mamba. The image is based on a photo by John Soohoo that first appeared in a Rolling Stone article about the hype over Bryant’s early career. Interestingly, an artist in Brooklyn had a similar idea.

Tennessee Mural Nashville street art

The rest of the mural was added in the aftermath of the March 3 tornado. Look closely at the Nashville skyline embedded in the Nashville Predators logo, and you’ll see that it includes a tornado bearing down on the city. You know it’s Nashville because it has Nashville’s Eiffel Tower, the Batman Building. Atop the Predator is a Northern Mockingbird, Tennesse’s state bird. “Tennessee Strong,” along with “Nashville Strong,” are both slogans that have been seen in more and more places in the aftermath of the tornadoes and the crises which have followed. Below the slogan is a logo of my employer, Tennesse State University, as well as the logo of the Tennesee Titans (with a tornado added) and the central shield from the Tennessee state flag.

Praying Girl Mural Nashville street art

At the far right, we find a young girl in prayer, which needs no explanation. This is not the first mural Jamerson has painted on this wall. Back in 2018, he put up a large Mother Earth mural that was subsequently painted over. On the side and front of the building, Jamerson has recently painted some food murals which I will feature later.

Located at 13 Lafayette Street, at the intersection where Lafayette, 2nd Avenue South, and McCann Street come together. Parking here can be difficult. The market has some limited spaces in front, and it is sometimes possible to park for a short time in the small yard in front of the mural. Street parking is available a little farther south on 2nd Avenue.

The AT&T Sculpture

This work took a little bit of sleuthing because it is not labeled. It’s certainly not secret. It lies at 4th and Commerce, at the foot of the Batman Building (aka the AT&T Building), almost directly across the street from the Ryman Auditorium. Certainly, it’s well known to people who work downtown and has been seen by a lot of tourists, and in 2005 it was featured on the cover of the Nashville Business Directory. It turns out that it’s a creation of Lin Swensson, who happens to be the daughter of the architect who designed the AT&T Building, Earl Swensson of ESa. It’s thirty-five feet tall and was unveiled on October 12, 1994. As the Tennesse Department of Community and Economic Development was one of the building’s original tenants, the sculpture was meant to be an abstract representation of Tennessee’s economic growth. The best way to describe it is with the artist’s own words:

The design consists of a granite spire tapering at the top – around the spire is an image of the state of Tennessee.  Out of the state of Tennessee image is a stainless ribbon representing energy emerging, twirling up to meet three kinetic rings representing the world.

The installation was quite a process that involved closing streets and heavy machinery. Swensson herself is apparently still sculpting, but based on her website, it appears her main focus now is healthcare art consulting.

This slideshow takes you on a clockwise walk around the sculpture.

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Located at 333 Commerce Street. The sculpture is in a small well just off the corner of 4th and Commerece. There are benches where you can sit and observe the sculpture, or more likely, have lunch. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

Heartbeat of Nashville

This is what I like to call a “working mural.” Like the mural on the back side of Baja Burrito, there’s little chance you will ever find this mural not surrounded by the evidence of the business it adorns, in this case, Village Wines, Spirits and Beer. Boxes that once held bottles of wine or liquor are common. Here we see stacking trays and cleaning and loading equipment, and a couple of planters for some reason. For a long time cars, probably belonging to employees, were usually parked here. Maybe because of the pandemic and maybe because the store is under new management, the cars at least are gone. It’s the work of Emily Celeste Alexander and is almost three years old. (Seriously, I’ve been driving by it for a couple years and there were always, always cars parked in front of it.) With a prominent metronome labeled “Heartbeat of Nashville,” it has many well-known Nashville themes, such as guitars and the Batman Building, but also something different, a “Tennesee Butterly,” based on the Tennesee flag and the black-and-white colored state butterfly, the Zebra Swallowtail. The mural actually wraps around the building a bit, something I didn’t notice the first time I photographed it, which is why the arrangement of liquor-store gear and garbage is a little different in the picture below. You can see the mural without obstructions on Alexander’s Instagram page.

Heartbeat Mural music street art Nashville

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Located at 2006 Belcourt Avenue B. The mural faces north, towards the 1900 block of Wedgewood Avene across a small alley. If you are there to shop at Village Wine, there’s free parking. Otherwise, this is Hillsboro Village, so parking is rarely free (though you can get away with it in the pandemic shutdown).

Glen Campbell, Rhinestone Cowboy

Here is more art in a time of pandemic. It’s unusual for me to have back-to-back posts about works in the same neighborhood, but there is something compelling about Lower Broad right now. The epicenter of Nashville’s tourism industry, it’s normally packed with people and raucous with sound – music, laughter, and the shouts and whoops from bachelorettes on pedal taverns. These days, it’s a ghost town, with only cops and the homeless, and two or three determined tourists. The Glen Campbell Museum and Rhinestone Stage only opened last month. On their Instagram page, they excitedly announced their first customers on February 1. By March 23, like much of the district, they were forced to close their doors by the pandemic.

Along the way, they got a spiffy mural, courtesy of Anthony Billups and Dean Tomasek of Music City Murals. On the museum’s Instagram page, you can see an image of it as a work in progress. It depicts Campbell dressed in rhinestone finery in a desert scene, where the Nashville skyline rises on the horizon like a distant mesa. “Rhinestone Cowboy” was, of course, Campbell’s signature song. While it is tempting to think that the line “I know every crack in these dirty sidewalks of Broadway” is a reference to Lower Broad, that’s unlikely. The song was written and first recorded by Larry Weiss, a New York native who wrote it shortly after moving to Los Angeles, so it’s much more likely a reference to the one in New York.

Interestingly, the mural is not technically on the museum, which is on the second floor of the building that houses the Nashville branch of Rock Bottom Brewery, and it sits in Rock Bottom’s patio.

Campbell Mural Nashville street art

Located at 111 Broadway, at the corner with Second Avenue, across the street from Hard Rock Cafe. To get up close to it, you’ll need to enter Rock Bottom. The entrance to the museum is on Second Avenue. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

A bull on Charlotte

This bull with the peony in his mouth perched high above the Cumberland appeared on the outer wall of Elemental Arthouse’s factory store a few weeks ago. Why this bull is apparently standing on one of the arches of the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge is unclear, but images of animals, often surreal, are common in the work of the artist, Jessica Fife. A bull with a peony in his mouth also evokes the story of Ferdinand, the peacefull bull who had no interest in fighting, wanting only to smell all the pretty flowers. Elemental Arthouse has more to do with iron bridges than peaceful bulls. They bill themselves as people who “turn homes and businesses into a work of art,” though wood and metalworking. Signs, furniture, and all kinds of decorative designs are made in the warehouse building this small storefront it attached to. The hashtag that both EA and Fife use for this mural is “#bullsitwall.” I tried to come up with a clever blog title around that but didn’t come up with anything I was comfortable using. Apparently, the plan is that EA will make a bench to go in front of the mural so people can sit and have their photo taken. Hence, “bullsit.”

Fife, who teaches art at Austin Peay University, also has written that she has recently bid on more murals in Nashville, so hopefully, we’ll be seeing more of her animals in odd places!

Bullsit mural street art Nashville

Located at 4206 Charlotte Avenue. The mural faces west, away from downtown. Street parking is available on 42nd Avenue, and to some extent on 43rd. The mural lies between these two streets.

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