One of the first works of art which inspired this blog was this whimsical bike rack designed by Jenna Boyko Holt. It was installed in 2014 as part of the Metro Arts program of artist-designed bike racks that ran from 2010 to 2015. I’m not sure why I’m only getting around to it now, but there’s a picture of it in a collection of photos I made on day of art in my own neighborhood that was in many ways the genesis of this blog. It is in fact called “Handlebar Mustache,” appropriately enough. Here’s the design Colt originally submitted to Metro Arts. It was a little shinier when it first went in, but otherwise it has been gracing Porter Road for about six years now.
I often say I never see bikes attached to the Metro Arts bike racks, but the photo I took of it five years ago proves that’s wrong.
Today I wouldn’t even bother taking that picture because I like “clean” shots for the blog. Here’s the bike rack from one end, which may give you a better idea of how it is meant to be used.
Located at 715 Porter Road, the complex that includes Pomodoro East. It lies directly in front of Brightside Bake Shop, and is quite visible from the road. Their is ample parking at the complex, and street parking in the neighborhood on the other side of Porter.
When this set of metal arrows designed to be used as a bike rack first appeared outside the late, great The Post East, I assumed it was part of the Metro Arts Artist-Designed bike rack collection. It certainly looks like it does. Of course, I should have known better, as the arrows were installed in May 2017, while the last Metro-Arts sponsored bike rack was installed in 2015. But who keeps track of such details? A tell-tale clue is the lack of a plaque describing the work and naming the artist – Metro Arts is very good about doing that. Fortunately, the Post East has not deleted its Instagram page, where they credit the artists they commissioned to do the arrows, Ferrin Ironworks. Ferrin Ironworks has been on this site before – check out the fence they made that’s featured as part of Dancing in the alley. I have to say that like the Metro Arts bike racks, I rarely see these arrows being used for their intended purpose. Right now they are hosting a banner indicating that Frothy Monkey East, which has taken over the space, is currently open under pandemic conditions.
Tucked away on the back side of Block E of the massive Capitol View project is this charming mural of a kid on a trike by Music City Murals. Though sort of hidden in an alleyway between the building and a raised railway track, the subject is appropriate, for there’s a short tunnel just across the alley that leads to Frankie Pierce Park, a green space that includes a children’s playground that was built as a public-private partnership between Capitol View and Metro Parks. Pierce was a civil rights activist who played an important part in the women’s suffrage movement in Nashville. The mural is one of three that Music City Murals has done for Capitol View, the other two in much more visible places. They’ll be on the blog soon. The hardest part of researching this (since I already knew who had done this unsigned mural) was working out exactly where it is on a map. Google Maps, as of this publication, has still not fully incorporated this relatively new development project. Google wants you to believe this patch of land is on the border between “North Gulch” (ugh) and Hope Gardens, but long-time locals know that it’s Hells Half-Acre.
Located at 500 11th Avenue North. That’s the address of Block E of the Capitol View development, the building the mural is located on. The mural is found in an ally/driveway that separates Block E from the raised railroad that lies to the east, in the direction of the Capitol. The alley runs between Nelson Merry Street and LifeWay Plaza. The mural faces south, towards Nelson Merry, and is about in the middle of the block. There is plenty of parking available in the complex’s garages.
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.
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.
Early Tuesday morning, March 3, 2020, a powerful tornado touched down at the John C. Thune Airport and the tore through North Nashville, going parallel to Jefferson Street but a little north, then ripped through the southern part of Germantown, jumped the river and tore down Main Street and through Lockeland Springs and beyond. In “What we lost in the storm” I chronicled as best I could what outdoor art had been lost and damaged in East Nashville. On Thursday I had an opportunity to explore Germantown and North Nashville, including the Jefferson and Buchanan Street corridors.
I was deeply concerned that these art rich neighborhoods would also have seen many losses, as I knew from reporting that the general destruction was similar to Main Street and Five Points, where much of the damaged art in East Nashville is found. I am very happy to report that this is not the case. With a couple of minor and one serious exception, all concerning pieces I have never blogged about before, the outdoor art of Gernamntown and North Nashville escaped the ravages of the tornado.
Above, you can see a blue tarp on the wall of the Christie Cookie Company building at Third Ave North and Madison Street. It covers an area where the bricks peeled off the wall. When I saw it on Thursday, there were already workers repairing the building (hence the Port-a-Pottie). I don’t know what it will take to repair the wall, but I have little doubt that Christie Cookie will replace the sign if repairs require it to be destroyed. I know that both Seth Prestwood and Eastside Murals have doneversions (scroll down) of this sign, but Christie only shows a couple of tiny pictures of the artist who did this one. Failure to credit sign makers is a common error of companies large and small.
At Green Fleet Bikes, located at 934 Jefferson Street, their mural by Dough Joe is fine, but the tornado smashed the welded sculpture of junk bikes the graces the yard. To my, surprise, I never photographed it when it was intact. These two clips from Google Street View give you a sense of what it looked like in April 2019, though I believe it had been added to since and was larger than what you see here.
When I talked to Green Fleet’s owner as he and staff cleaned up the debris from the storm, he told me passers-by thought the smashed up version of the sculpture was all their good bikes mangled up and crushed together by the storm! The original was done by an artist who the owner could only describe as “an artist from Wedgewood-Houston” and had been added on to by staff overtime. The bus in the background, painted by Andee Rudloff, survived the storm unscathed.
The greatest loss in outdoor art on the west side of the river is the loss of the R&R Liquor Store sign. R & R Liquor, located a little over a block from Green Fleet at 1034 Jefferson Street, had a decades-old three-dimensional sign not unlike the one at Weiss Liquor on Main Street that was also lost. Nashville’s inventory of this style of sign continues to shrink. No doubt they are expensive to make and replace. Again, I never took a picture of it intact, so I include here a picture clipped from Google Street View.
We can be grateful that the art-rich neighborhoods of Germantown and North Nashville did not lose more, but of course, the damage to people’s homes and businesses was still tremendous. Nashville has a long way to go to rebuild. I know this town, and I know art and artists will play a key role in that rebuilding.
Between 2010 and 2015, Metro Arts sponsored a series of artistic bike racks by local and regional artists that are now scattered around town. One of the first to go in was this one, The Riders (2010) by Seth Conley. Being based at the foot of the Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, it’s seen by thousands of commuters and tourists every day, even more on a game day. The sculpture is something of a cheeky visual joke, a set of peloton riders racing along to which you to can attach your very stationary bike. (A peloton is a pack of riders who take turns riding in front, where they are fully exposed to the wind, while those behind draft off of them.) I’ve featured a few of these bike racks on the blog before – rarely do you see any bikes attached to them. Those scooters in the back, however, had been neatly placed all around the bike rack when I went to photograph it. They beeped at me a lot when I moved them. The artist, Conley, took a little work to verify, in part because none of his other work looks anything like this. But on his artist Facebook page, where you can see much of his art, there is a picture of the work when it was barely halfway done. Conley hasn’t updated that page since 2018, perhaps because his current job likely keeps him busy – Senior Creative Art Director at Wizards of the Coast, the home company of both Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering. (His Instagram page is a little more up-to-date.)
Located on the 400 block of First Street South, just south of Nissan Stadium and of Victory Avenue, across the street from the east end of the Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge. This is in the middle of a giant parking lot. The only part that is reliably free is the part labeled “Cumberland Park Parking” right across the street from the bike rack.
This mural is something of a survivor. It’s the work of Andee Rudloff, who’s done a number of murals and other art around town. It first went up in November 2016 (check that link for a list of several sponsors) on the backside of what used to be Eastside Cycles. The owner of Eastside sold the business early this year (see the pinned post) to MOAB Bikes. Meanwhile, the empty lot next door became Vandyke Bed and Beverage. What had been empty space on the one side of the mural became a wall. Both that wall and the parent building got a paint job, but the mural survived. However, at some point, it was damaged. I have forgotten the circumstances, but sometime last year Rudloff returned to repair the damage. The black and white bicycle rider in the middle covers the damaged area. Below, you can see what the original looked like. Given that the new owners are bike people, maybe this mural can keep rolling one.
Located at 103 South 11th Street, at Five Points. The mural is on the backside of the building, facing the Art and Invention Gallery. There is paid parking right at the mural, but with a bit of luck, you can find free street parking within a block or so.