A couple years ago, what had been the south wall of the Turner Supply Company sported a double mural collaboration between Nathan Brown and Chris Zidek, who signs his work Zidekahedron, which I featured in the post From me to you. But this is go-go Nashville, Turner Supply has moved on, and the new tenants wanted something else. Actually, two tenants wanted something else, the local branches of the chains Patagonia and Superica. The original mural had a Brown piece on the left (west) side of the wall, with Zidek’s piece on the right (east). Now there’s no Zidek piece, and a new Brown piece is on the right, on the side of Patagonia, while there’s a hand-painted sign on the left on the side of Superica, which I’ll feature whenever I figure out who the artist is (It would be nice if it were credited anywhere by Superica, but I haven’t found such credit yet). The new Brown piece, while very much reflecting his style, does seem to evoke mountains, bringing to mind the great outdoors Patagonia wants you to associate with their brand. It’s also another example of a national brand sporting a local mural, though this not such a stretch for the brand image of Patagonia. This wasn’t an easy photo to shoot, as there is a building right across the road which makes it very difficult to get a straight-on picture, which is necessary because of the wooden slats. I had to hold the camera to my side and take a bunch of pictures hoping I got the right shot. A lot got left on the cutting room floor! I also had to do two different shoots, because the first time, I didn’t realize anything was under the wood slats!
Located at 601 Overton Street. The mural actually faces Mansion Street, on the south side of Patagonia. You can put some coins in the meters along Overton, but many of the nearby paid lots have one-hour free parking to encourage shopping in the Gulch, so make it part of your Gulch crawl and enjoy the art!
This may at first just appear to be a picture of an old brick building, found on 8th Ave South just south of the railroad bridge, a building which until recently housed the Downtown Antique Mall. Look closer though, and a faded set of signs emerges. Damage on the taller part of the building has erased part of the original sign, and banners, one for the departed antique mall, one advertising the building for lease, hide much of the long thin signs down the length of the building. (There’s a clip from Google Street View below that doesn’t have the leasing sign.) They advertise a firm that was called G.P. Rose & Co. According to the 1919 edition of Grain and Farm Service Centers, Vol 43 (scroll down to the bottom of page 1143, the linked page) G.P Rose & Co. was founded in 1884, the successor to Smith & Rose. The company featured direct access to the L & N and the N.C. & St. Louis Railroads (there are still tracks behind the building, and rail traffic still passes by regularly) and was powered by three 35 h.p G.E. engines (in 1919, anyway). There were two buildings at the time that could hold a total of 95 thousand bushels and handled wheat, oats rye, field seeds, and cowpeas. As the signs on the building say twice, “A Feed for Every Breed.” It’s quite conceivable the sign goes back to 1884. If so, it would have been originally painted 136 years ago. It’s also possible the sign is somewhat younger or was substantially altered at some point – being sure will take more research. But it’s very likely to be one of the oldest painted signs in Nashville, if not the very oldest. Nashville was a much smaller place back then, as can be seen from the 1889 G.M. Hopkins Atlas of Nashville, and there aren’t many candidates left. For instance, you can see a few faded letters high up on 423 Broadway, present home of the downtown version of Mellow Mushroom, which seem to read “—WELL BROS & Co” that may be from the late 19th century, but that’s about it for Lower Broad and its cross streets. The 1889 Hopkins Atlas also explicitly shows G.P Rose, though back then 8th Ave was called Spruce Street (see the excerpt below). I also found on eBay a collection notice signed by Mr. G.P. Rose himself, dated April 29th, 1885 (which I bought!) – you’ll find it at the bottom. It would be really nice if this sign was spruced up. That will likely depend on the building’s next tenant, assuming it’s not torn down.
Located at 606 Eighth Ave South. It’s possible to park for a while in the space just south of the building, between it and Norris Architecture next door. Otherwise, you’ll need to park on the other side of 8th Ave.
Sometimes I present brand new art on this blog, or things very few people have seen, and sometimes it’s something everyone has long known about. The dog and children mural near 6th and Church downtown is definitely one of those. There are reasons. When I first started this blog (around the time this mural was created in 2016) I found the big murals downtown a little intimidating to write about. Eventually, I got over that, but the dog mural remained an issue. It’s impossible to photograph the entire mural head-on unless you are ten feet tall (I am not) or you own a drone (I don’t), and I was never satisfied with my photos. Even the artists’ photo of it on their Instagram account, clearly taken on a ladder, clips a bit of it off. Who are the artists? Well, there is only one signature on this mural – “Herakut.” That, however, turns out to be a team of two German artists, Hera (Jasmin Siddiqui) and Akut (Falk Lehmann). Animals and children populate a lot of their work, certainly in their murals, often with some kind of commentary. Here in their Nashville mural, a giant dog has rescued a little girl from an addiction to her phone, one that still grips her brother – but the dog will take care of that too in time. Not surprisingly for a giant mural by international artists in Nashville, this mural was sponsored by the Nashville Walls Project. On their site, you can see some images detailing the production of this mural, and even a dog that might have helped inspire it.
Located at 204 Sixth Avenue North. This is downtown, so lots of parking, little of it free. There is, in fact, some free street parking on this block of Sixth – maybe you’ll get lucky!
Because I’ve been doing a lot of travelling lately, I was out of town for the third-year anniversary of this blog, which happened on June 30. Much has happened since the second anniversary of this blog. For one, the outdoor art scene continues to blossom here in Nashville. New murals appear seemingly every day, and at my usual three-posts-a-week pace I’ll never catch up! And the world has noticed. Do a quick Google search for “Nashville street art” or “Nashville murals” or related searches, and you will find dozens and dozens of articles, blog posts, and various guides to whatever the author considers to be the best, the prettiest. or most “Instagramable” murals. And while this blog doesn’t show up very high in those searches, traffic has been steadily improving. The first year, the blog got a few hundred views a month. In the second, 1000-1500 views a month. In the third year, that number hovers in the low 2000s. Still small fry, but the moving in the right direction. And unlike any of those articles or “guides,” I really am trying to chronicle it all!
Many of the observations I made in the post I wrote about the second year anniversary remain true. The relationship between art, tourism, and gentrification remains strong. It’s still true that most art, particularly murals, is found on local businesses, not chains. Nashville business owners are getting the message – murals generate foot traffic, and they encourage people to take a picture and “check in” at the business, which amounts to free advertising. And art very much still breeds art. Businesses and building owners are encouraged to seek out artists for their site when they see their neighbors doing the same thing.
Having recently traveled to New Orleans and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I can say that our mural/outdoor art scene compares well to those areas. One mistake we did not make, which until recently New Orleans had, was to put onerous permitting limitations on art. I would also say that while there are definitive art districts, in particular 12 South and Downtown, we do a good job of spreading art out – just look at my map.
I continue to be concerned about the impact of gentrification, notably on the less celebrated artists who have decorated Hispanic and Black-owned business. In particular, the work of the artist I have dubbed the “Unknown Buchanan Street Artist(s)” is endangered. That’s one reason I do this blog, to archive what is an inherently ephemeral form of art.
For now, this will continue to be a Davidson County-only blog. When I think of some of the massive collections of work I have yet to chronicle, notably the Elliston Place garage and the dozens of musician portraits in Berry Hill, it’s hard to think about expanding. For that matter, I have dozens of files under the heading “Future Blog Posts,” most of which I need to do more research for or reshoot photos (I have gotten very picky about the pictures I use.) But visiting the Metroplex (as Dallas-Ft. Worth is known), I realized if I lived there I would have to do an area-wide blog, and I think I will have to do so here as well in time. The surrounding counties have developing outdoor art scenes of their own, often by the same artists who work in Davidson County. It’s really the same scene, and singling out Davidson County is somewhat artificial.
The header photo is the mural at Chromatics. The artist who made it, TACKZ, recently contacted me, which reminded me that, to my knowledge, only the refurbished Painter Man at the Hard Rock Cafe on Lower Broad is older. The Chromatics mural is a true survivor, dating back to 1993. We definitely have a very different outdoor art scene than we did in 1993. We actually have one now! I intend to continue to chronicle it as best I can.
This photo is at an odd angle because of how narrow the alley is that hosts these three murals. The lie on the back (east) side of the Industrial Fire and Safety Inc. building on Ash Street in the Pie Town section of SoBro. The first two are by Audie Adams, who as part of Thoughts Manifested was a major contributor to the murals on the north and west side of the building as well. (See Part 1 and 2 below.) Somehow, Adams got a much better angle on the “wasp” mural than I did. Some of that may have been a better camera, but lying on the ground helped too! The brown mural at the end is by Jeff Bertrand. The image of the woman with a starry headdress shows up in some of his other pieces. Since I took these photos, a piece of fencing went up blocking this alley from the north side, perhaps to discourage homeless individuals from sleeping here. If you look close in the slide show below you’ll see there is no mural next to the last shot of the wasp mural. That’s because I photographed it first, in April 2017, when it was by itself, and took the other photos that October 2017 (I am nothing if not current!) after all the murals were finished.
Located at 608 Ash Street. The new Division Street extension complicates access somewhat. The mural above faces into a parking lot and alley on the north side of the building, on the opposite side from Ash. It’s easily accessed through the parking lot entrance on Ewing Ave between Middleton St and Fogg St, or down the alley that forks off of 6th Ave a little south of Lafayette Ave. Parking here is easy.
I was genuinely fooled. I thought it said “My happy place,” and I named the photo file “Happy mural.” Nope, that says “hoppy,” not “happy.” Which makes sense as its an image of hops and this is at the Demonbreun Street location of Tailgate Brewery. The piece is signed A. Lord, which turns out to be Drew Lord, who is Tailgate’s art director. Good for Tailgate for having an art director. There is a massive mural at their 7300 Charlotte Pike location that I would guess is by him also, and there seems to be a lot of indoor art he’s done as well. I’ll post the Charlotte mural whenever I can get out there bright and early before the parking lot fills up with cars. The mural above is dated 2017, but I think I never noticed it
Located at 1538 Demonbreun Street. The mural is in a small parking lot next to the traffic circle where the Musica statue is. There is parking in this area, but most of it is either pay lots or belongs to nearby businesses. Grab a brew and enjoy the art!
Filling a window in Banker’s Alley is this colorful face, called “Gaia.” It’s a product of Skye Walker, who has recently produced three murals in town that I know of. Besides this one, he created the large mural featured in Keep a breast and another large mural on Gallatin Road I will be featuring soon. All three murals are part of Walker’s Sea2Sea Mural Tour, which you can follow on his Instagram page. (Check the hashtag #sea2seamuraltour.) Kelly Yazdimodeled for the mural, and Ashley Seagroves of Studio 208 worked on the logistics of getting the mural made. It’s painted on wood panels inserted into the window. “Gaia” is the ancient Greek Earth goddess, as well as a term used to refer both to the Earth’s biosphere and the concept that the Earth can be viewed holistically as a living organism. All three interpretations seem to fit this image.
Located at 218 Third Avenue North, on the outer wall of Black Rabbit. It’s almost halfway between Second and Third Avenue, in an alley that lies halfway between Chruch and Union. It’s steps away from the mural featured in A rainbow of pride. This is downtown – plenty of parking, almost none of it free.
The music venue The Listening Room Cafe has had many incarnations. Founded by Chris Blair, it first appeared in Franklin in 2006. Blair moved it to Cummins Station in 2008, and again to its current location on 4th Avenue un 2012. And it is on 4th Avenue that we find on a stark white wall this sign featuring The Listening Room’s logo, created by Michael Cooper of Murals and More. On the bottom right of the photo, you can see his usual signature, which as always includes his phone number.
Located at 618 4th Avenue South. There is some limited parking at the Listening Room and some street parking on Elm Street. As the mural faces a parking lot, your best bet is to visit early in the day, well before show time. Enjoy the music and enjoy the art!
As long as the moon shall rise, as long as the rivers flow
As long as the sun will shine, as long as the grass shall grow
Located at 144 Fifth Avenue North, the address of the L & C Garage. It lies directly behind the Downtown Presbyterian Church. Obviously, there is parking, but as this is downtown, so none of the nearby parking is free.