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What we lost in the storm

 

In Nashville, and communities to the east, homes and businesses have been shattered and destroyed, lives lost. Much of what has been broken will take months to rebuild, if ever. Families without homes, employees without paychecks. In the face of that, what’s a little art?

In the last few years, there has been a mural renaissance in Nashville, and it’s been my honor to chronicle it. Arguably, it really started in East Nashville over four years ago, with Chamber East doing much to cajole eastside businesses to take a chance on art. And many ultimately did, so many that the east side, from Fifth and Main to well up Gallatin Road, became the most art dense neighborhood in Nashville. Art is part of this neighborhood’s identity. So when a tornado plowed down Main and through Five Points and beyond very early Tuesday morning, it inevitably took a lot of art with it.

One image more than any other has been the symbol of the tornado damage, Basement’s East’s fallen wall of concert murals with its still intact version of the I Believe in Nashville mural (based on a design by Adrien Saporiti of DCXV Industries). A simple image that speaks to the neighborhood’s musical heritage and its enduring strength.

Basement East mural street art Nashville tornado

Other losses attracted fewer news cameras, but were still quite devastating. This pile of painted concrete blocks is all that’s left of the murals that once wrapped around Hunt Supply Co., a skateboard gear supplier whose building completely collapsed.

Hunt Supply mural rubble

Before the storm, it looked like this:

Hunt Supply Mural street art Nashville

Hunt Supply and Gold Electric Tattoo across the alley are something of neighborhood secrets. You need to know to walk up the alley behind Beyond the Edge to find them, or what’s left of them now. The front side of Gold Electric once had a really fun mural, now shattered in the wake of the storm.

I never blogged about it, nor learned the artist, because I was waiting to get a “clean” picture of the other Gold Electric mural, a memorial to founder Mike Fite. Employee cars were always parked in front of it. Sadly, on the night of the tornado, one was still there and was seriously damaged.

Fite memorial mural street art Nashville tornado

Not so secret was the “Do the Dew” mural by Eastside Murals on the old Family Dollar, just steps away from Gold Electric Tattoo. The building was probably slated for demolition and “mixed-use” development, but it was still a shock to see such a bright and colorful wall collapse, along with the rest of the building. Look close at the rubble and you can see a section of the mural. 

Eastside Murals also created the largest mural that was lost to the tornado. Molly Green at McFerrin was a total loss, the building left in ruins, the ice-cream-colored walls painted by Eastside reduced to rubble.

The alley between Main and Woodland has also been for some time a place filled with art. Almost all of it is by the UH graffiti crew. It included well-made graffiti tags, trippy caricatures, and even a surreal sky. The surreal sky, which I dubbed “Panda Sky,” had already been damaged by construction, but now just a slip of it is left. The hypnotic “Under Hypnosis,” of which the word “under” has collapsed, is by the artist Sterbo.

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One of the most devastating losses is a work that first appeared on this blog in a piece called “A True Survivor.” No, it’s not a mural, but it’s still a work of art that has been part of the eastside’s image for decades. The Weiss Liquor sign crumbled in the storm and with it a lot of history.

Right behind this building is another piece I never got around to blogging about, in part because it had been partially painted over by another piece I’ve only tangentially blogged about, the giant concert mural by Jason Galaz on the back of Crying Wolf. A fence painted by someone who’s signature I never figured out was partially painted over with a list of concert performers by Galaz. Regardless, the fence collapsed.

A more total loss was a large piece of art about art. The facade of Jerry’s Aratama had been covered in art by Hannah Holgate and Marshall Hall, right down to the parking lot itself. The parking lot art is fine, including the signs, but the facade of the building collapsed, largely destroying the mural.

Two more total losses are found in the alley behind Smith and Lentz Brewing. There was a lovely, bizarre fence by Andee Rudloff and Max Grimm that belonged to the house behind Smith and Lentz. Only a single post remained when I checked on it Wednesday. And on the backside of Smith and Lentz was another Eastside Murals piece I never blogged about, I think because it didn’t seem too public behind the bar’s fence, now ripped down by the storm. You can see what it looked like intact on Eastside’s Instagram page.

The featured mural of the eagle at the start of this post is by  Kim Radford and lies on the east wall of Elite Bonding. I never got around to writing about it because I was saving it for a patriotic holiday. (While it’s relatively intact, the work Radford did on the other side of the building is largely gone, the wall having collapsed. Here’s what the eagle looked like undamaged.) I suppose there’s a lesson to be learned about impermanence and not assuming everything will always be what you expect. Another example of this is the East Nashville “EN” murals, which are sponsored by Chamber East. I’ve never put one on the blog for some reason. The one by Troy Duff at Burger Up is intact, but given the state of the building, it’s hard to say if it will last.

East Nashville Burger Up

Tuesday, after the storm, I had more visitors to this site than I’m used to. People wanted to know what it all used to look like, to see what had been lost, to remember what things that had been broken looked like when they were intact. If you want to help artists who have been hurt by the storm, start here. Here is a page with more general information about volunteering and donating for tornado relief.

East Nashville will rebuild, it will prosper, thought scars will remain. And I predict that Nashville’s artists will be in the thick of it.

The new art of Patagonia

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!

Patagonia Mural street art Nashville

Patagonia Mural street art Nashville

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!

The drops of Saint Stephen

Saint Stephen mural street art Nashville

This work is by the youngest artist I’ve ever featured on this blog, save those murals that were collaborations between adults and children, such as my most recent post. Drew T. Morrison’s website doesn’t give his exact age, but a friend who knows the family tells me that Morrison is eleven or twelve years old. On his website and his Instagram account, you can see he’s already quite accomplished, and also that this piece is much calmer than most of his other work. It’s found in the outdoor seating area of Saint Stephen, the new Germantown restaurant owned by James Beard Award-winning chef RJ Cooper. Before Cooper took over the site, it was home to a restaurant called Mop/Broom. Mop/Broom also had a mural on this wall, by Nathan Brown. I never managed to get it on the blog or even photograph it, but it is preserved on Brown’s Instagram account (that’s a multi-photo post, so be sure to scroll through). A new owner often means new art, that’s not unusual.

Located at 1300 Third Avene North. The mural is in the patio on the back (north) side of the building. Street parking is available, but you might have to walk a block or two.

A new anthem

One of Nashville’s newest murals is not 100% new, as it incorporates traces of a previous mural. Which makes sense, as this is a new mural to celebrate a company’s rebranding and reorganization. ole media Management (no, that’s not a typo, they used lower-case letters in their name) recently became Anthem Entertainment. The new name is that of a company ole recently bought, which had been founded by Rush’s manager Ray Danniels. If you look below, you’ll see what the old mural looked like, and you can see that Tara Marie Aversa, who did the new mural, cleverly incorporated the central part of that earlier, more austere mural in her much more exuberant new work. (I have not been able to determine who made the original.) Like her work for Walden, this piece is overflowing with flowers, but here the flowers are background, with the stars of the Tennesee state flag given pride of place, as in the previous mural. As befitting Anthem’s role in the music business, there are also instruments and a microphone, and a silhouetted man who looks a lot like a young Johnny Cash to me.  (Image taken from this article.) Check out Aversa’s Instagram page, where you’ll find a series of posts detailing the process of creating this mural.

Ole mural street art Nashville

There was also an ole sign on the front of the building that is also now gone.

ole sign street art Nashville

Located at 462 Humphreys Street. The mural is on the east side of the building and actually faces Martin Sreet, Street parking and parking at the business is available.

East Nashville: You Are Here!

Welcome mural street art Nashville

For a long time, before the mural boom in Nashville, one of the only murals in town I was aware of was this one, the “East Nashville: You Are Here!” mural at Five Points, on the north-facing wall of what used to be Eastside Cycles and will soon be MOAB Bikes. The decision to paint over it in mid-2016 with a new mural was controversial at the time and even prompted some vandalism (you can see the new mural at that link). I’m writing about it today because of a post to the East Nashville Facebook page (that’s a closed group) by the original artist (whose name I had never known before), Nathaniel Allen. Of course, I’ve been using this mural as the banner for my blog since the inception, but since I didn’t know the artist, I never got around to posting about it. This blog is not just a guide to what’s out there now (and it’s incomplete as such a guide), but also an attempt by me to record the history of outdoor art in Nashville and create an archive for lost art. At least 10% of what’s on this blog no longer exists, and I do at times blog about pieces that are gone, though at three years later this is the farthest back I’ve gone to recover lost art. If you can’t open that Facebook post above, I can assure the decision to paint over this mural remains quite controversial, but it’s hardly the only mural in Nashville to be lost, and there will certainly be more. Allen posted on his own Facebook Page a couple of posts detailing the process of producing the “East Nashville: You Are Here!” mural you might want to check out.

Formally located at 103 South 11th Street, at Five Points. It’s worth walking around this area, as there is a lot of art in the Five Points area now. There is paid parking at Five Points, but with a bit of luck, you can find free street parking within a block or so.

Hidden skyline

Skyline mural Nashville street art

I had been aware of this mural for several months, as it’s on my route home for work. At first, I didn’t write about it because I thought it might be unfinished. But as a few months passed, I figured it must be done. Then the problem was taking a picture. The lot in front of it was overgrown, partially obscuring it. Then the lot was cleared, but a bulldozer and big pile of dirt blocked the view. Finally, the lot was cleared a week or so ago, and I got the photographs I needed. I planned to write about it soon. But just yesterday I saw an Instagram post from Mobe Oner showing that he and some fellow artists had painted a serious of graffiti-style murals over this one. You can see just a few bits of the old one sticking out. Otherwise, this skyline is probably visible only here, and perhaps on the phone of whoever made it. (It’s unsigned.) This blog is in part an archive. Several pieces I’ve written about no longer exist, and this is the third or fourth time I’ve written about art that was already gone. I’m glad I got these photos! The scene is a bit of a fantasy. The view would be from across the river near the Seigenthaler pedestrian bridge, and no such line of trees is there.

Skyline Detail

Located at the corner of Herman Street and 19th Avenue North, on the east side. Street parking is available. There is a lot of art on this group of buildings. The fate of the new murals, which I’ll blog about fairly soon, is uncertain, depending on the development future of this lot. They may get blocked from view.

UPDATE: Here’s the art that replaced this mural.

Last year’s heartthrob

HeartMural.jpg

There’s a new mural in the 12 South neighborhood that’s been cropping up a lot on social media lately. People stand in line to get their picture taken in front of it. This is not it. But this is the place. When I do a Google image search for “Nashville mural,” this mural pops up first. Now, you might get something different, but it’s still likely to come up high on the list because for a long time, this Eastside Murals piece promoting the American Heart Association’sNashville at Heart” campaign featured in a whole lot of Instagram photos. Today, May 31, 2018, there is a marker on Google Maps for the “Nashville at Heart Mural.” Not too many murals get that level of recognition. But one day you’re at the top of the charts, and the next week you can’t get a gig at the Holiday Inn. Now “Nashville at Heart” has been replaced with an even jazzier mural. Do a search for #PeaceLoveGoodDeeds – you’ll find it. I suppose I’ll put it on this blog someday if I can get myself out of bed early enough to be there at dawn before the lines form. That’s how I got the picture above.

Located (formerly) at 2707 12th Avenue South, at the corner with Dallas Avenue, on the south wall of the Corner Music building.  This is 12 South – parking isn’t easy, though if you are willing to walk a block or two, there’s free parking on some side streets. You might want to ride share over. While this piece is gone, the surrounding neighborhood has lots of interesting art. Many will have lines – Just a few gents is unlikely to have one. Be original.

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