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nashville public art

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

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The Shoppes on Fatherland

One of the more surprising things (to me!) about the development of East Nashville in the last couple of decades has been the success of a couple of different developments of small-sized retail spaces in the Five Points area, including the one called The Shoppes on Fatherland. Turns out that these places that cluster several small businesses in one place are a favorite of both of locals and tourists. Shows what I know about retail and tourism.

The Shoppes themselves are part of a larger collection of properties around the intersection of Fatherland and 11th Street called The Fatherland District (whose website features a nice picture of the “Main Street” of The Shoppes). That in turn is the property of a much larger multi-state company called S&S Property Management with dozens of properties – just in case you thought this kind of development was strictly a local mom-and-pop thing.

Where there is tourism in Nashville, especially where there is tourism and successful businesses, there’s going to be murals. The one featured here went in in late 2020, and it serves not just as a sign but as a giant welcome to anyone coming in to the Five Points district from the south, presumably from Shelby Avenue, one of the main avenues into East Nashville. The kind of branding that in the past might have been done with a billboard or a large sign now warrants a huge mural. This one is by the prolific Eastside Murals, who for some time now have been signing their work Out East Boys, as they have done here.

Shoppes Mural Nashville street art

Now it so happens there is a fence jutting out right where one might usually stand when getting your picture taken in front of the mural, but I imagine the tourists will figure out a solution. This mural is not the only one Eastside Murals has done for this complex. On the west side of the Shoppes, along an alleyway and on the back of a barn-shaped building is a mural they did a few years ago that has a very large “Fatherland District” sign scrolled across it. At the time I wrote about that mural I think I believed it was just as example of neighborhood pride, but now it’s clear that like the mural featured in this post, it’s part of the site’s branding.

Located at 1006 Fatherland Street. That’s the address of The Shoppes as a whole. The mural is on the south side of the complex, on the opposite side from Fatherland Street. It’s visible from the parking lot behind Far East Nashville and from the 200 block of South 11th Street. It lies on the outer wall of Eastside Nails, one of the businesses in The Shoppes. There is street parking nearby and limited parking at The Shoppes, but this area can be hard to park in when it’s busy.

Shed Strong

When looking for outdoor art in Nashville, sometimes it pays to drive around to the back of the building, as I did with the white building off Douglas Avenue that contains, among other businesses, the East Nashville branch of Shed Fitness. Shed Fitness Group is actually a chain, with four of its seven branches in Nashville. It’s been on this blog before, as Tarabella Aversa did a mural for their Germantown branch.

This mural on their Douglas Avenue branch is by Rachel Deeb, a photographer, artist and graphic designer who has also been on this blog before. This is her third mural that I am aware of for a fitness outlet, including Put up your dukes! on the side of the Church Street branch of Title Boxing Club and another mural for MK Fitness on Main Street. Sadly, while the Main Street mural survived the March 3, 2020 tornado, the building it was on was severely damaged and has since been demolished.

Unlike those previous two murals, which were primarily images (boxing gloves for the one, an abstract design for the other) this one leans more strongly to signage, featuring the slogan “Shed Strong.” The kettlebell and dumbbells are an obvious reference to Shed Fitness’s business, while the energetic lines and triangles are found in much of Deeb’s other work, including the the two previous fitness-themed murals. The mural went up last June, not long after the East Nashville branch of Shed Fitness opened. You can watch a video of Deeb creating it (it looks like she did it in one day) on her Instagram page.

Located at 747 Douglas Avenue. The mural is found on the northeast side of the building, which is the far side from Douglas. Enter the parking lot and go around to the back of the building. Obviously, parking is available.

An Elite Eagle

This is not a March 3 tornado anniversary blog post. Well, mostly not. Two days after the tornado, I posted a piece called “What We Lost in the Storm,” about the outdoor art in East Nashville damaged or destroyed by the tornado. A couple days later I also wrote about that happened in North Nashville and Germantown. For the East Nashville article, the featured photo at the top of the blog post, the one you saw if someone shared the article, was of Kim Radford’s eagle mural at Bill’s Elite Bail Bonding Company on Main Street. I noted at the time I had never actually done a proper blog spot about this mural. I am now finally correcting this.

Radford did the Elite Bonding eagle mural in August 2019. I had a chance to talk to her about it then, and my memory is that she told me that the owner wanted something patriotic, hence the eagle. This was one of Radford’s first outdoor murals in Nashville, and she has since gone on to be one of the more prolific muralists in town. For example, most of the murals at Grimey’s are her work.

Because of its themes, I had intended to save the Elite Bonding mural for a patriotic day, like July 4 or Veteran’s Day, and had there been no tornado, that’s exactly what I would have done. That this mural survived with only minor damage is miraculous, and a testament to both the arbitrary nature of tornado damage and the willingness of the business owner, Bill Tomlinson, to repair and restore his building instead of raze it and start over. When Radford originally did this mural, she continued the geometric flag pattern on the opposite, west-facing side of the building. That half of the building collapsed, and the roof was ripped off, but the wall with the eagle survived.

Eagle Mural street art Nashville tornado
The Elite Bonding Eagle by Kim Radford as it appeared on March 5, 2020.

The damage to it is modest. Mostly what looks like damage is actually places that weren’t painted in the first place because something was covering that part of the wall before the storm. There is a stripe that looks like a repaired crack on the right of the mural. In fact, there used to be a gutter there. That stripe was never painted in the first place. The only real damage is a few dings and scratches. A few quite reminders of the storm, if you know what to look for.

I didn’t get any pictures of the completed mural before the storm. For that, you’ll need to check Radford’s Instagram page – here it complete, and there also several shots of the mural in progress. I do have my own nighttime shot of the eagle in progress.

Elite Eagle Mural Nashville street art

Located at 940 Main Street. The mural is on the east side of the building, facing away from downtown. There is plenty of parking here and at nearby businesses.

Lockeland Design Mural

This mural is hard for me to miss, as I only live a block away – though it’s not the closest mural to my house! This is unmistakably the work of Andee Rudloff, along with students of Lockeland Design Center, an elementary school in in Lockeland Springs where the mural is found. You might know Lockeland Design for its strong reputation, or you might know it because it was featured in a Kleenex ad that honored a long-time janitor.

Rudloff is know for her community murals, and she has done several at schools, including two murals not far away at Warner Arts Magnet Elementary.

The Lockeland Design mural sits on the back of a “portable” classroom (it’s been in place for several years) behind the main school building. It’s filled with a number of school-related themes, and from this mural I have finally learned that the school mascot is the Lions. I like how the design makes creative use of the HVAC vents.

The mural also honors the class of 2020. I wondered about that, but because Lockeland Design has recently acquired an Instagram account, I was able to learn that the mural is a legacy product of the 4th grade class of 2020 (LDC is a K-4 school). The design of the mural includes drawings from the Class of 2020, and it went up last November.

Lockeland Design Mural Nashville street art

I managed to get a picture of the mural just after Rudloff had drawn the outline of the design. This is how she does community murals – she draws the outline, and then invites participants to help her fill it with color. Over on Lockeland Design’s Instagram page, you can find a video of Rudloff drawing the design, as well as photos of students helping to complete the project.

Located at 105 South 17th Street. That’s the address of the school. The mural is found on the back side of the school, and can be seen from the 1700 block of Woodland Street. Remember that this is a school. While the backyard is usually open, limit your visits there to when school is not in session. Street parking is available.

Incline

Along the East Bank Greenway, which lies between the river and Nissan Stadium, there’s a stand of trees a little north of the Ghost Ballet sculpture (the red twisty thing in the picture above). At the north end of the trees is a giant gear ring embedded in the greenway, which not many people know is called “Threshold.” At the south end of the stand of trees, just off the greenway in the direction of the river is a less well-known piece appropriately called “Incline.”

Incline Sculpture Nashville street art

It’s a long metal beam with a gear wheel welded to it, that has rusted in the weather. There’s no fanfare to it, it’s just this thing sticking out of the ground, daring you to make sense of it. Like “Threshold,” it’s by Joe Sorci. It’s art based on found materials. Like Ghost Ballet and Threshold, it’s made from objects left behind by the barge companies like Ingram Industries that used to operate on the east bank.

Incline Sculpture Nashville street art

It was installed in 1999, and it’s the product of a grant from the Metro Development and Housing Authority (which may explain the lack of a plaque – Metro Arts is very good about signage). The only reason I know its name is it is recorded in the Metro-Owned Condition Assessment Report, published in 2017. Its condition was listed as good, noting that it’s structurally sound and has insect nests, notably in the gear wheel. (Be careful!)

Incline Gear Nashville street art

There are two other small pieces by Sorci along the stand of trees. Near Threshold, there’s pieces of metal embedded in a concrete viewing ramp. Metro refers to them as an “Industrial Salvage Mosaic,” which apparently is not its formal name. It might not have one.

Industrial Mosaic Nasville street art

The other piece is large metal ring that serves as a bench. I don’t have a picture but will add one later.

Located on the East Bank Greenway, which parallels Titan’s Way. If you are on the river side of the stadium, Incline is almost directly lined up with the corner of Titan’s Way and Victory Avenue, which runs along the south end of the stadium. There’s some free parking for the park on the other side of the pedestrian bridge that lies south of Incline.

Do the Dew, Again

This colorful mural by Atlanta artist Kevin Bongang is not the first “Do the Dew” mural in Nashville. PepsiCo launched their “Do the Dew” global advertising campaign back in 2015, and as part of that campaign they have sponsored a number of murals. In early 2019, Eastside Murals produced their own “Do the Dew” mural on the old Family Dollar near Five Points. That was one of the many murals destroyed by the March 3, 2020 tornado. Indeed, the building it was on completely collapsed.

Almost exactly two years after that first Nashville “Do the Dew” mural went up, Bongang created this one. This is at the Citgo station at Fifth and Main, an intersection that is something of a gateway to East Nashville.  (The other main one would be Woodland and Fifth, near where the giant EAST mural is found.) The bulk of people coming from downtown pass by this spot as they come to the east side. Before this new mural went in, there was a small, rather quirky mural on this wall greeting drivers that focused more on Nashville themes.

Bongang’s mural fills the whole wall and spills around the corners on to the other walls (see below). While highlighting the “Do the Dew” theme, it’s more of a wild pastiche of images, including several birds. The mural faces across the river towards Nissan Stadium, which may explain the football, and the musical notes are likely a nod to Nashville’s status as Music City – or they may just be birdsong. This by the way is not Bongang’s first Nashville mural. He has a few others in town, including one just a few blocks away at Center 615.

Located at 500 Main Street. The mural is on the west wall, facing towards Fifth Street and downtown. There is parking at the Citgo.

Wooden at 1767

For a couple of years, one of the most popular posts on this blog in terms of page views was “Beto Forever,” about a large mural on Gallatin memorializing the graffiti artist Ronald “Ronnie” Bobal, who used the name “Beto” in his work. But no mural lasts forever, and perhaps it was simply time, or the new building owner wanted to go in a new direction, and now that mural has been replaced by this riotous image by Brian Wooden.

Wooden is also known for his images of headless, sharp-dressed men, but here he has given 1767 Designs (a company that makes art and furniture from material recovered from demolished homes) a much more colorful and cartoony work, with a tightly-packed mish-mash of machinery, faces and flowers. If you look on his blog, linked above, or his Instagram page, you’ll see that while he’s worked in this style for a long time, lately he’s been focused on it more.

If you want to know more about how this mural was made, there are a couple of videos on Wooden’s IG page that show him working on it.

Located at 2611 Gallatin Pike. The mural is on the south side of the building. Parking is readily available.

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