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

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Rainbow, Interactive

A well established trend I’ve written about several times before is the ever-growing importance of outdoor interactive art. While one can stand in front of any work of art and get your picture taken, these are pieces specifically designed for that. Easily the best known one in Nashville, the one that really got the trend started here, is the wings mural by Kelsey Montague down in the Gulch that often has lines of people leading to it who are waiting their turn for their photo. As Montague says about her work, “My murals specifically invite people into a piece and then invite people to share their experience online.”

Since doing the wings mural, Montague has returned to Nashville to do other interactive murals, most recently in a tour of the South that brought her to Nashville in September. This is one in the Capitol View complex is one of two pieces she did on that visit (the other is in Green Hills and I’ll feature it later). The place your are supposed to stand is obvious, beneath a rainbow that evolves into flowers before morphing into a flock of birds, themes common in Montague’s work.

Montague told Fox 17 that the mural is meant to honor front-line workers in the pandemic.

This mural is meant to honor the front-line workers during this pandemic for all of their sacrifice and for keeping our country going. It also is designed to be hopeful. Rainbows, to me, have a spiritual component and mean there will come a day when this pandemic no longer haunts us – a new beginning is coming. We just need to hang on.”

While not far from the wings in the Gulch (some developers and real estate folks like to call this area “North Gulch,” even though there’s no gulch here), sitting on busy Charlotte, it is not likely to attract as much attention – though it has gotten the attention of a hedgehog, and that’s what matters.

Located at 1010 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. (This stretch of Charlotte was recently renamed.) That’s the address of the Publix in Capitol View, and this mural is on the back, street-facing side of Publix, facing south towards the Gulch. Parking is available in the parking garage that Publix opens into, and there’s a pedestrian entrance to the parking garage right next to the mural.

Veterans Day, 2020

Today is Veteran’s Day, when we honor those who have served our country in uniform. The November 11 date is in recognition of the original Armistice Day that ended the fighting in the First World War. For the Veterans of Foreign Wars, it is in many ways always Veteran’s Day, and in that sense the bold flag on local VFW Post 1970 honors veterans every single day.

It’s the work of Scott LoBaido, who bills himself as “The Creative Patriot.” He has painted versions of his flag murals in all fifty states, particularly on VFW, AmVets and American Legion posts. In 2017, Tour of Honor, an annual motorcycle riding challenge that raises money for veteran’s charities, chose LoBaido’s murals as the destinations for its tour. On that page you’ll find a link for an Excel sheet of all the flag murals at these various posts that Tour of Honor was aware of in 2017.

Tucked away in one of the folds at the far right of the flag is an image of a Purple Heart, the medal bearing the image of George Washington that is given to military personnel wounded or killed in battle.

Medal Honor mural Nashville street art

A heartfelt thanks to all of our veterans.

Located at 7220 Charlotte Pike. Although the address is simply Charlotte Pike, the building sits on a short road that parallels Charlotte Pike for a while, Old Charlotte Pike. The mural is visible from the main road. Obviously from the photo at top, there is plenty of parking so long as an event is not taking place at the post.

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.

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