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

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Hold Fast (An Off The Wall project)

One of the projects that inspired this blog was the Off the Wall project on Charlotte organized by Tinsley Dempsey. Fourteen murals along the wall protecting  Abbot West Storage from Charlotte and wrapping around as the wall turned and ran down 28th Avenue North led to a lot of blog posts. (The first one is here, and has links to all the others.) The first of those murals went up in 2016, and the last one a little over a year ago in April, 2019. Now there is a postscript. This new mural is on one of Abbot’s storage buildings, facing 31st Avenue North, just off Charlotte. It’s the product of Tarabella Aversa (who in the past has gone by Tara Marie Aversa) and went up in late April of this year, with the sponsorship of Dempsey. Its flower motif is familiar from Aversa’s other work, such as the mural featured in Flowers of Walden.  Its message of strength resonated in the aftermath of the March 3 tornadoes, which did so much damage to Nashville and nearby communities. But a lot has happened since then. Aversa has since linked it to the cause of justice embodied in the protests that arose in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. The mural’s mix of delicate beauty and fierce strength with a message of perseverance will no doubt be relevant for many causes to come.

Located at 3020 Charlotte Avenue. This mural actually faces 31st Avenue North and is easily visible from Charlotte. Your best bet for parking is perhaps across Charlotte at Cross Fit Nashville, and there is street parking on Felicia Street one block north of the mural.

Love, Nashville

In times like this, sometimes a simple message is the best. This mural, which is the product of Madeline Lederman, is just a few weeks old. It sits on a building behind the Charlotte Avenue post office, a building which at times has attracted graffiti. Lederman is a teenager, and I’m pretty sure she’s the second youngest artist I’ve featured on this blog, after Drew T. Morrison, who I wrote about in The drops of Saint Stephen. There’s definitely a Sixties vibe to Lederman’s piece, which is totally in keeping with the one-word message “LOVE,” something that shows up a lot in Sixties iconography. Lederman was recently featured in WPLN’s “Dispatches from Quarantine” series, where she expressed her struggles with separation from school and friends. Here at least she has found a creative outlet. This appears to be Lederman’s first mural. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more work from her.

Located at 4414 Park Avenue. That’s the technical address, as this is the back side of a storage building belonging to the house with that address. However, to view the mural, you need to go to the US Post Office at 4501 Charlotte Avenue. The mural is across an alley at the rear of the post office. Parking is available at the post office, and the mural is quite visible from the parking lot.

Thistle Farms

For years, drivers headed east on Charlotte from the western suburbs were greeted by a mural of flowers on one wall of Thistle Farms, or more precisely, their cafe. This one isn’t it. There was another one here for years that I never shot because there were always, always cars in front of it. But more recently, Michael Cooper of Murals and More produced a new mural for Thistle Farms that I did manage to shoot without cars. The flowers you see are of course thistles, the organization’s namesake. The best way to understand what Thistle Farms does is to read their mission statement.

Thistle Farms is a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to helping women survivors recover and heal from prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. We do this by providing a safe place to live, a meaningful job, and a lifelong sisterhood of support.

They started by making candles, and now provide clothing, jewelry, home goods, and, at their Charlotte location, a nice place for lunch. The goods are all made by the women in Thistle Farm’s healing and recovery program and the proceeds support the mission. Thistle Farms was founded over 20 years ago by the Episcopalian priest  Becca Stevens, who deservedly is one of Nashville’s most honored citizens, including Nashvillian and Tennessean of the Year, a White House Champion of Change and a CNN Hero. All of this is a measure of how important the work of Thistle Farms is. So buy a candle, get a sandwich, make a donation, whatever you want to do to help.

Thistle Farms Sign

Located at 5122 Charlotte Pike. The mural is on the west side of the building, facing 52nd Avenue North. There’s parking in front of the mural and some street parking is available.

 

The Gathering

Some of the most visible and seen outdoor art in Nashville are the pieces in William Edmonson Park. With busy Charlotte Pike just steps away, thousands of Nashville commuters drive past these every day, and they have become familiar landmarks for many. Of course, the are an intrinsic part of the John Henry Hale Apartments, an MDHA-run affordable housing complex that was completely rebuilt a few years ago and which borders the park. One of them I’ve written about before, Road to the Mountaintop by Thornton Dial at the northwestern end of the park.

Near the other end of the park are these figures by Sherri Warren Hunter, called “Ther Gathering.” The four figures have not always been Charlotte Pike landmarks, however. Originally, they sat in front of The Oasis Center headquarters, when the center was still on Music Row. In 2001, Hunter gathered volunteers from Oasis and from the community, taught them how to cut and set mosaic, and turned the production of the figures into a real community event. After ten years The Oasis Center moved to a site just west of the park, and in 2013 Oasis donated the figures to Metro Nashville Arts. Metro Arts worked with Hunter to restore and move the pieces safely. A U-shaped string of rock benches allow for seating around the sculptures. Sometime since 2013, the unusual “shades” seen below were added.

The Gathering Sculpture Nashville street art

We live in a time when gathering is of great concern. The COVID-19 pandemic has kept people apart, while the protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Milwaukee police have brought people together – and torn them apart as well. Hunter’s piece reflects a simple truth, that we are social beings, and are often defined by our relationships with each other. And of course our pets.

Located at 1600 Charlotte Avenue. The sculpture lies near the northwestern end of the park, facing along a driveway that comes off of 17th Avenue North, near the intersection with Charlotte. The nearest street parking is one block north on Capitol Point

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.

The avocados of Avo

Avo Mural avocados street art Nashville

The mural at Avo, a vegan restaurant on Charlotte, shows up a fair amount on social media. It helps that it’s across the street from the Off the Wall project,  which packs together fourteen high-quality murals in one place. Anyone doing a serious mural tour of Nashville will definitely check that group out, and they won’t be able to miss the raining avocados across the street. Also, its fun, poppy design naturally lends itself to lots and lots of Instagramready photos. Now the mural isn’t signed, but if you dig deep on Avo’s Instagram page, you’ll find a picture of the artist hard at work and credited as @moldymonk – a link which is dead. Good thing I recognized that handle because Seth Prestwood has changed his IG handle to @sayyyeth. And then it clicked – Prestwood also did the very first piece of the Off the Wall project! (That link has links in it to all my posts on the series.) Anyway, go get your Instagram shot and definitely eat your veggies.

Located at 3 City Boulevard #200. The mural is on the north side of the building and faces a large parking lot that lies on the 3000 block of Charlotte Avenue.

The Owl and Rose

On the Charlotte Avenue branch of the local chain M.L. Rose Craft Beer & Burgers (so named because their original location is in the Melrose neighborhood) you can find this mural of an owl and a rose. As in L Rose. Mel-Rose. M(Ow)L Rose. It’s kind of like “M.L. Rose,” and M.L. Rose does use an owl in its logo.  The piece is by two artists who have been on this blog a lot, Nathan Brown and Eric Bass, aka Mobe Oner. The rose is reminiscent of the rose Brown did for Topgolf, though less sharply geometric. The owl has more of the geometric shapes Brown is known for, though for what it’s worth, that side is signed by Mobe Oner. (Which may mean nothing at all.) I have to say I debated whether the owl was, in fact, an owl or a cat until I remembered that an owl is part of M.L. Rose’s branding. To take the picture above, I had to climb a low wall and get up on the landscaping. Below is the best view from the sidewalk. There is a tree that blocks a direct view.

Rose Owl Mural street art Nashville

Located at 4408 Charlotte Avenue. The mural is on the west side of the building facing 45th Avenue North. There is paid parking as well as M.L. Rose’s parking, and some limited street parking in front of the fire station behind M.L. Rose.

Don’t fight, build

There used to be a mural of the Nashville skyline on this wall whose creator I never identified. With this new mural, there is a name – Marlos E’van. According to his Instagram page, this boxing-themed mural is one of three murals he’s done recently in Nashville. I don’t know the location of the other two, but I’ll be looking for them. E’van is the co-creator of the McGruder Social Practice Artist Residency, which is housed in the C. E. McGruder Family Resource Center in North Nashville. Much of E’van’s work focuses on social critique, and according to this Burnaway interview with E’van, his book “Skull Microwave”  was once mistaken by TSA officials as terrorist propaganda. The picture above is not of the full installation, because a covered seating area blocks a full view. To the right of the two boxers there is a motto (see slide show below) – “Don’t Fight With 1 Another, Build With 1 Another” – hence the title of this blog post.

 

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Boxing Mural street art Nashville

Located at 405 Fisk Street. This is a small apartment building behind Fattoush Cafe and Jiffy Lube. Plenty of parking at Fattoush, so grab some grub and enjoy the art!

La Rosa’s birds

While Charlotte Pike is bustling, it remains the mix of old Nashville and immigrant Nashville that it’s been for many years. Full-scale gentrification is hitting north and south of the corridor, particularly in The Nations, but Charlotte retains a lot of its older character. Meaning there’s a lot of local businesses and thus a lot of opportunities for outdoor art. It has the potential to be as prolific as lower Gallatin, but it’s not quite there yet. One artist doing his part is JamersonSGC, who frequently tags his pieces “Low Key Art” (though not this piece). Here his style is more loose and cartoony than the majestic work in Day Dreamin, which is perhaps appropriate for La Rosa Cafe, a night club and hookah bar that also serves up wings and pizza. There used to also be a frightened chicken on the front wall (which may be by someone else), but it has since been painted over (See below).

Located at 6317 Charlotte Pike.  There is plenty of parking here.

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