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History in color

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When I first saw this Thoughts Manifested mural on the west wall of Plaza Art, (or PLA-ZA, as it says on the sign in front) I knew it had some cultural references I didn’t quite recognize. Sure, I knew about the artist who goes by “Kid Oak” and who puts up the acorn-hatted boy all over town. And I figured the hockey player was from one of our many pre-Predators teams. But although the images looked familiar, I was fuzzy on some of the references. Bryan Deese’s Instagram page helped set me straight. I should have known the boy with the donut was from the Donut Den, as I love their donuts. And though Twitty City became Trinity Music City some time ago, I had been to Conway Twitty‘s legendary Christmas light show years ago when I was a Vandy grad student, and I should have recognized the Twitty bird. The hockey player represents the Nashville South Stars, who played here 1981-1983. Too early for me, though I did catch a couple Nashville Knights games in the early ’90s (the hockey team, not the Lingerie/Legends Football League team). The dancing peanut is from The Peanut Shop in the Arcade, which got its start as a Planters Peanut store in 1927 but became independent in 1960. And there is, of course, the Prince from Prince’s Hot Chicken. There are catfish in the Cumberland River, and then there are those other Nashville catfish. The birds are symbols Thoughts Manifested uses in many of their murals, while Montana is the name of a spray paint company (whose cans you can buy at Plaza). L&N is the old Louisville and Nashville railroad, which was one of the major lines coming through Union Station, while CSX is the railroad company that ultimately absorbed L&N and has a regional headquarters here. Plaza Arts lies close to the still functioning CSX tracks. Wow, that’s a lot of links!

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Located at 633 Middleton Sreet in Pie Town. The mural is on the west side of the building, facing Seventh Avenue South. There is parking at Plaza and street parking on 7th. Load up on art supplies and enjoy the art!

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Chet Atkins, C.G.P.

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Though a little off center from the main downtown tourist center, this work draws in the tourists who want their picture taken with the great Chet Atkins, if only in bronze. This lost wax sculpture titled “Chet Atkins, c.g.p.” is the work of Nashville artist Russell Faxon, and went in in January 2000, a year and a half before Atkins’ death. Various music luminaries paid tribute at the unveiling, including Eddy Arnold, who said, “I’m delighted to be here because I met Chet back in 1896.” Atkins himself promised everyone that, “I’ll come to your outing if you have one.” The statue was paid for by Bank of America, the major tenant in the building that looms over the Atkins tribute. So what’s that “C.G.P” about? Certified Guitar Player, a designation Atkins gave out to those players he thought “excelled far beyond the normal line of playing.” Only five men, plus Atkins himself, got the title. There is of course that empty stool, placed there so you could have your picture taken with the man. Many tourists do, and local folks who just need a place to sit can also be found on the stool. I’m sure Atkins would be happy to play for any of them.

Side note: I was so astonished to find the statue devoid of humans, I parked in a hurry and raced to take pictures. You can see my little red car in the header above, and there’s a better shot below in the photo of the back side of the sculpture.

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Located at 414 Union Street. The sculpture sits in a small triangular plaza at 5th and Union, in front of the Bank of America Building. This is downtown, so plenty of parking, virtually none of it free.

Bottoms up!

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Jackalope Brewing Company got its start in Nashville in 2011. It got its mural in 2013. And a few weeks ago I got a picture of the mural without cars in front of it! It turns out the secret to getting car-free pictures of murals associated with bars and breweries is to show up early in the morning. I have seen this mural many times, as I am a regular at meetings of Science Club Nashville, which meets at Jackalope’s every second Tuesday (usually) at 6:00 to hear local scientists talk about their work. It’s a lot of fun – I recommend the talks and the beer. The mural is a Bryan Deese project. I didn’t realize that at first and had to do some research to figure it out because the mural is unlike a lot of his other work. Check out his other projects I’ve blogged about – you can find him on the categories tab.

Located at 701 8th Avenue South. The mural is on the north side of the building. There is very limited parking at the brewery, but some of the last remaining free parking downtown is on the nearby streets – good luck! There’s also a paid lot nearby on 9th Avenue. Come enjoy a beer, and on certain nights some science, and enjoy the art!

Staying power

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I don’t post all the graffiti I see. A lot of it isn’t interesting enough. This skull is modestly interesting, but what gets it a blog post and a pin on the map is visibility. This has to be one of the most visible pieces of “wild,” uncommissioned graffiti art in town, outside of the tags on some of the interstate underpasses and highway billboards. It ranks presumably below the “MOIST” on the Riverfront Condominiums brick tower that can be seen from the Jefferson Street bridge for the number of people who see it each day, but given its prominent location on the Rosa Parks Boulevard underpass that whisks people from the north side to Church Street into the heart of downtown, a lot of people see it every day. Certainly, anyone using the TSU downtown campus parking lot sees it frequently. And it does have staying power. It’s been there at least a year. It would seem the Lofts owners are not deeply interested in removing it. If they do, I would recommend replacing it with commissioned art. Otherwise, something less interesting is likely to take its place.

Located at 301 Rosa Parks Avenue. Though at first glance this seems to be painted on a retaining wall, it would actually seem to be part of the Lofts at the Reserve complex. The mural actually faces Rosa Parks Boulevard, one block west from Rosa Parks Avenue. It is best viewed either from YMCA Way in front of the TSU parking lot, or, if you are adventurous, you can walk down the underpass road (Rosa Parks Boulevard) from Church Street. There is metered parking on YMCA Way.

Well Mr. Twain, there’s always this place!

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Supposedly Mark Twain, often photographed with a cigar, once quipped, “If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in heaven than I shall not go.” So perhaps he would have liked Primings Cigar Lounge and Bar, which opened in the summer of 2016. According to their website, Primings seeks to appeal to serious cigar connoisseurs, and it has its share of liquor as well. The mural, a Music City Murals work by Anthony Billups, includes the hashtag #handcraftthemoment, which is used by Four Roses Bourbon. Four Roses bottles are featured in the mural, and yes, it is on the menu. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jack Nicholson, Salma Hayek and Michael Jordan, all known for their love of cigars, grace the mural. There is also a small mural featuring a bottle of Four Roses and a cigar on the north wall (see below).

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Located at 701 4th Avenue South, at the corner with Elm Street. There is some free street parking on Elm, and there is a paid lot across the street from the main mural, which faces 4th. The bourbon and cigar mural faces Elm Street, on the corner.

Jump in, the water’s fine!

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I’ve been meaning to blog about this one for a long time, but the identity of the gentleman in this Michael Cooper (Murals & More) piece stymied me. The identity of the woman was easy to figure out. That’s Anne Brown, owner of The Arts Company, a gallery on Fifth Avenue. I should have known who the gentleman was. He is, after all, “The man behind the Sounds new ballpark.” That’s Ronald Gobbell, architect and president emeritus of Gobbell Hays Partners, an architectural firm that owns the building.

Located at 215 5th Avenue North. The mural actually faces St. Cloud Alley, on the back (west) side of the building. St. Cloud intersects with the 500 block of Church Street. This is downtown, so lots of parking, none of it free. There is a paid lot right in front of the mural. On the other side of the lot is Forget the past and a couple other murals I haven’t blogged about yet. Make it all part of your downtown art crawl, held each first Saturday of the month.

Forget the past

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I have to say I’ve been a little intimidated to post about the big downtown projects. Not entirely, but this is “official” stuff organized by people who know what they are talking about as opposed to what they can find on Google. Plus – it’s really hard to get good pictures of the downtown murals. So much traffic, so many cars, terrible shadows. But here we go. This 2016 piece is by Tyrone Wright, an Australian artist who goes by RONE. (His art is easier to view on his Instagram page.) It’s a Nashville Walls Project production – I talked about them in Guitars and automobiles (and I need to set up a category for them). I use the title “Forget the Past” because there is a 2015 RONE print by that name that is very similar to the piece above, which I’ve not been able to track down a name for. RONE does a lot of these giant faces of mysterious women. They certainly catch your attention.

Located at 530 Church Street. There’s a parking lot right in front (common for downtown art), but like most of the nearby parking, it is not free. There is free parking for patrons of the downtown branch of Nashville Public Library you see in the background, but you need validation. So do some research and enjoy the art!

Must have been a cool party

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This is an ad for a party. A party you probably missed. Though the video makes it look like it was fun. The party was put on by Concept 56, a Jägermeister sponsored (hence the deer) program which “puts together a team of 5 talented creatives, aged 21 and up, to go through a process of 6 months during which they design and produce the event of a lifetime.” Otherwise known as a party. The party took place October 8 of last year, so how long this art stays up is anyone’s guess. I’ll call it endangered art. There are pictures of the event and the performers on Concept56’s Instagram page, even one of the mural being painted. This piece is unusual in being painted on three roll-up doors. It is possible one or more might be rolled up when you visit.

Located at 822 Third Avenue South, home of ST8MNT, “a boutique Nashville brand agency,” and across from 3rd and Lindsley. After hours and on the weekends when nearby businesses are closed there’s plenty of parking, though maybe not as much when there’s a show at 3rd and Lindsley. Get your brand boutiqued and enjoy the art!

Legends

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There is plenty of public art that takes some work to find. This is not an example of that. Located prominently at the western end of Lower Broad, this mural of some of the best-known country and Nashville musicians, put in last December, is hard to miss. Given that it’s essentially an advertisement for the Legends Corner bar, that’s kind of the point. It’s no doubt a major backdrop for selfies and portraits. The artist is Tim Davis, a painter, muralist and wall finisher whose business is based in Mt. Juliet. Based on the gallery of murals on his website, most of his work is actually indoors, with this being an obvious exception. Unlike most outdoor murals, this one is a set of panels attached to the wall. And take a look at it on Google Street view – Google’s algorithms have hilariously blurred many of the faces.

Located at 428 Broadway. The mural actually faces 5th Avenue North, on the west side of the building. This is downtown, in the heart of the tourist zone. Plenty of parking if you walk a ways, none of it free. You’re better off taking a taxi or rideshare. Make it part of your next bachelorette party, and enjoy the art!

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