The best view of the We Are Nashville installation at 916 Main Street is where the Holleman Transmission building used to stand. It was taken down by bulldozers, in preparation for new development. But the photographic mural features the staff of the local fashion line Molly Green, whose Main Street branch once stood next door to Holleman, and which was almost completely destroyed by the March 3 tornado. We Are Nashville is an anonymous collaborative that for the last two years has been documenting who Nashville is today. They have begun to put up wheat-paste installations of the resulting photographs, with QR codes that lead to their website where you can learn the stories behind the images. The start of their campaign to present these photos and stories to the city coincided with the tornado and its aftermath, so it makes sense that some of the early installations are about the people and stories of the storm.
In the center and the far left, we see the people of Molly Green, standing in the ruins of their Main Street store.
If you were to stand where the photographer stood now, you would see the mural to your direct right, as the Molly Green building has been leveled.
The left side of the mural includes a closeup portrait of Molly Green staffer Heather Johns, but it’s mostly is a portrait of ten-year-old London outside her great-grandfather’s home, David Young Sr. Parts of the home date back to 1870, and if you click on the Donelson story above you’ll see it was more damaged than it appears in this photo.
A little ways away, about where I stood when I took the photo at the bottom of this post, there are three smaller portraits of Molly Green staffers. They are on the backside of Attaboy. The only deaths recorded in Davidson County from the March 3 storm were of two people who left Attaboy just as the tornado was approaching.
These are obviously all temporary. Wheat-paste murals don’t tend to have a long shelf life. Like the recent also temporary installation at Jerry’s Artarama a few blocks away, they both memorialize the damage suffered from the storm as well as highlight the strength of Nashville as a community. There is something else about them that speaks to the temporary nature of all art. Just below the four portraits above stands the only remaining fragment of the largest work of art destroyed by the March 3 storm, the wrap-around mural by Eastside Murals that once covered all of Molly Green.
If Americans are familiar with any Mexican artist, it’s likely to be Frida Kahlo. Her surreal self-portraits that often depicted her physical and psychological suffering appear all over the place, and Salma Hayek even played her in a movie. So it’s no surprise to find her on the side of Plaza Mariachi, a Latin–themed shopping and entertainment center on Nolelesiville Pike. There was actually a festival celebrating Kahlo last July on the 112th anniversary of her birth, in which the mural was unveiled, and which included a city resolution honoring Kahlo.
The work itself is by José G. Vera-González. Vera’s done a lot of work in Nashville, though most of it has been indoors, with at least one exception, the mural featured in La Mexicana Market. It appears to be based on this photograph of Kahlo done by Nikolas Muray in 1939. It includes themes that Kahlo used in her own images. Both butterflies and hummingbirds for instance are found in “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird,” (1940), while flowers are all over her work, though the cala lillies seen here are more a feature of the work of her husband, Diego Rivera. And of course, she has a unibrow. Kahlo put it in all her self-portraits, and it would be disrespectful to leave it out. Pottery, on the other hand, seems to be a signature of Vera’s work.
Located at 3955 Nolensville Pike. The mural is hard to see until you are right upon it. It’s on the south side of the buidling, where Madera Coffee Roasting Company is. There is extensive parking available.
There’s quite a history to this wall on an unassuming building at 5th and Lea downtown. A few weeks ago, a set of murals by Thoughts Manifested and others went in. Before that, there was a set of murals primarily by Marty Riet McEwen, who signs his work “Riet.” Of course, some of Riet’s work was painted over by Abstract Dissent (aka Shane Pierce) for a Johnny Cash mural. And if you look closely at some of the pictures of Riet’s work below, you’ll see he clearly had painted over work that had been there before. Such is the way with outdoor art. I have my map with all its pins, but some spots you’ll see two or three pins, denoting a series of works on that particular wall.
The new set of murals starts on the left with a set by Pako and Audie Adams that includes a promotion of the Red Wolves Coalition, an organization dedicated to the restoration of the red wolf.
Going down the wall, we see a piece by Jon Ragoe Judkins and a new one for Riet, from what I would call his “cute horror” series. (Check out his Instagram page above, you’ll see what I mean.) And at the end, there’s an abstract piece of unknown authorship.
Why I never put the previous murals on the blog I don’t know, but this is what was there before.
Located at 526 5th Avenue South, which is the home of Enchanting Limousines (or was, their website has been suspended). The mural faces north, away from from Lea Avenue. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free. There’s a paid lot in front of the murals.
I don’t often report on very new art, but this seems timely and relevant. The artist who goes by JamersonSGC and signs his work “Low Key Art” only put this up about a week ago. He writes, “You are my superhero.. be safe..#nurse #doctor.” Ironically, this corner on Lafayette Street, a corridor Jamerson has done a lot of work on, usually has people congregating, as it did when I went to photograph this mural. A lot of it comes down to the fact that social distancing is a matter of privilege. Some people because of their income or housing situation really can’t, and some people, like our medical personnel, like our grocery workers and delivery folks (to name a few) have jobs that require them to take risks. We should honor those risks, and seek ways to help the people who don’t have adequate housing, income, and medical care to shelter in place.
Jamerson has some other work on this building I’ll feature later.
Located at 125 Lafayette Street, on the building that houses Southside Market and Deli and Big G’s. The mural faces Lincoln Street. There is some street parking in the immediate area.
Several months ago, this striking portrait by the artist who goes by JamersonSGC appeared on Jefferson Street – and led to me getting a photo credit from the Frist Art Museum. Frist held an exhibit in Fall 2019 about the murals of North Nashville called, appropriately, “Murals of North Nashville Now.” (The exhibit is closed, but I think you can still get the book.) It featured indoor works by a number of artists who have appeared on this blog and included a slide show of many of the murals of North Nashville. This is where this wall comes in. Jamerson’s piece sits alongside “A Soul Break” by Thaxton Waters, a mural that’s about a year older. It so happened I had shot Water’s piece before this portrait went up, and the museum wanted a “clean” shot of “Soul Break” without Jamerson’s face for their slideshow – and voila, I got a photo credit at the Frist. Thanks, Low Key Art! (That’s Jamerson’s usual tag, as you see here.) Oh, the mural? Well it’s certainly a powerful portrait, and I have no idea who it is supposed to be but it’s a face that’s had to ignore.
UPDATE: The artist contacted me. The portrait is a stylized version of a photo of a young Diana Ross. I can see it now.
Located at 2615 Jefferson Street, on the old Eyecatchers building. The mural is on the east wall, facing towards the interstate. There is a gravel lot right in front of the mural you can park at. If it’s closed off, you can try the alley behind or park across the street.
West End is not the kind of territory you find a lot of outdoor art in – too much Vanderbilt, too many chains and high-end businesses. But on the backside of the West End Rite Aid next to the spot that Joy’s Flowers recently vacated (and is now labeled “Gyros Kitchen,” though the restaurant doesn’t seem to have opened yet), there is now this exuberant tribute to Jean-Michael Basquait. Basquait was an American artist of Puerto Rican and Haitian descent who died in 1988. He has been deeply influential in American art, graffiti, and hip hop culture. Ironically for a highly political artist who critiqued American power structures and inequality, one of his works became the most expensive work by an American artist ever sold at auction. “Untitled” (1982) sold for $110.5 million in a 2017 Sotheby’s auction. This portrait by the artist JamersonSGC may be based on an Andy Warhol photo held by the J. Paul Getty Museum. A lot of Jamerson’s work is in the Lafayette/Napier Homes neighborhood, but recently his work has also appeared here on West End, on Jefferson Street, and on Charlotte Avenue.
Located at 2416 West End Avenue. That’s the address of the Rite Aid. The mural is on the east side of the building. This is not an easy neighborhood to park in, though there are a number of nearby businesses whose lots you can use for a short period of time.
This is the ninth in the series on The Nations Wall, a massive set of murals on the west-facing wall of Music City Tents and Events, organized by the Nashville Walls Project. It’s the ninth piece going from left to right (roughly north to south). This one is by Mobe Oner, aka Eric Bass, a prolific Nashville muralist. I first saw this image not as a giant mural, but as an oil painting at the Rymer Gallery, when they did a show of Nashville muralists. That painting, called “Fireflies,” can be yours for $3000 (scroll down a bit).
Images of the entire wall with all the murals together can be found in Part 1.
Located at 5901 California Ave, Nashville, TN 37209. The murals actually face the 1300 and 1400 block of 60th Avenue North, across from the intersection with Pennsylvania Avenue. Street parking is possible nearby.
On this blog, I rarely engage in breaking news. Often I write about art that is months, even years old. But the new mural on Hunter’s Station has been getting a lot of attention (for obvious reasons) and it’s hard to ignore. Plus, I pass it every day! It’s a collaborative work between Jason Galaz and Milton Chavez, based on a design by tattoo artist Adam “The Kid” Wakitsch. There’s a similar face at a different angle on his Instagram page. Galaz often does concert and other promotion murals for Muddy Roots Records, including one going up right now on the opposite side of the building that hosts the Young warlords mural. By nature, these tend to be temporary, replaced for the next show, but this piece may have a little more stability, given it isn’t tied to a particular show or record. Given its immediate popularity, I imagine a lot of folks would be happy to see it stay.
Located at 975 Main Street. The mural faces Tenth Street, directly across from East Side Smiles. There is some limited street parking on Tenth. As Hunter’s Station is incomplete, the parking situation is in flux.