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nashville public art

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#memorial

Kobe Bryant (Nolensville Pike)

Since the death of Kobe Bryant, at least three memorial murals have appeared in Nashville honoring him. I’ve already written about one by JamersonSGC, which I featured in Strength and mourning. Another, which I’ll feature soon, is found on 51st Ave North at This Red Bicycle Coffee. It is interesting that of all the icons that have been lost of late, Bryant has gotten this much artistic attention.

The one above is on Nolensville Pike at the building that houses La Sierra Western Wear. It is by José Fernando Vargas, who has been on this blog many times before. He’s one of the principal muralists who decorates Latino-owned businesses in town. Unlike Jamerson’s mural, which features a young Bryant alone, this mural also includes Bryant’s daughter Gianna, as well as the names of all the victims of the helicopter crash that killed them. As well, the mural includes the jerseys Bryant had in his career, an action shot of Bryant dunking, and one his quotes. A golden basketball rim stands in as a halo over Bryant’s head.

Long ago, this wall had a mural of graffiti art I featured in The Vape USA Gallery, which was painted over some time ago.

Located at 3807 Nolensville Pike, a few hundred yards south of the entrance to the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. This mural faces north towards downtown. Parking is available.

Strength and mourning

Nashville and the world have been through a lot lately, so much so that the tragedies memorialized in this mural, part of it only a few weeks old, have been superseded by even more. The mural is by Nashville artist JamersonSGC, who often signs his work “Low Key Art,” and it went up in stages on the back wall of Tito’s Market and Seafood as different tragedies played out. First, on the left, Jamerson created a memorial for Kobe Bryant sometime in February, not long after Bryant’s death in January. It features a nickname Bryant chose for himself, Mamba. The image is based on a photo by John Soohoo that first appeared in a Rolling Stone article about the hype over Bryant’s early career. Interestingly, an artist in Brooklyn had a similar idea.

Tennessee Mural Nashville street art

The rest of the mural was added in the aftermath of the March 3 tornado. Look closely at the Nashville skyline embedded in the Nashville Predators logo, and you’ll see that it includes a tornado bearing down on the city. You know it’s Nashville because it has Nashville’s Eiffel Tower, the Batman Building. Atop the Predator is a Northern Mockingbird, Tennesse’s state bird. “Tennessee Strong,” along with “Nashville Strong,” are both slogans that have been seen in more and more places in the aftermath of the tornadoes and the crises which have followed. Below the slogan is a logo of my employer, Tennesse State University, as well as the logo of the Tennesee Titans (with a tornado added) and the central shield from the Tennessee state flag.

Praying Girl Mural Nashville street art

At the far right, we find a young girl in prayer, which needs no explanation. This is not the first mural Jamerson has painted on this wall. Back in 2018, he put up a large Mother Earth mural that was subsequently painted over. On the side and front of the building, Jamerson has recently painted some food murals which I will feature later.

Located at 13 Lafayette Street, at the intersection where Lafayette, 2nd Avenue South, and McCann Street come together. Parking here can be difficult. The market has some limited spaces in front, and it is sometimes possible to park for a short time in the small yard in front of the mural. Street parking is available a little farther south on 2nd Avenue.

Precious Jewel

When I recorded the damage to Nashville’s art from the March 3 tornado, I featured a flag-and-eagle mural by Kim Radford. It was at the time one of only a few outdoor murals she had done in Nashville (and which has happily survived the storm, its wall preserved while the rest of the building is being completely rebuilt). Since then, she’s been increasingly prolific. This guitar-and-birds mural appeared just a few weeks ago, at the corner of Douglas and Lischey, just around the corner from another of Radford’s murals. The guitar is adorned with a Maya Angelou quote, from the poem “You are a precious jewel.”

Precious jewel, you glow, you shine,
reflecting all the good things in the world.

The birds in flight reflect this optimistic theme, sailing away from a flowery guitar. The quote may also reflect that this mural is a memorial. At the bottom of the guitar, it reads:

In Loving Memory: Mohhamed Hossein Seyed Sharifi 10/2/94 – 2/19/19. Heaven couldn’t wait for you.

I would note that now having seen a few of Radford’s murals, she reminds me of Eastside Murals. Some muralists, I see their work, and I know immediately who made it. But Radford and Eastside are not easily pigeon-holed, and work in a number of styles. Thankfully, they both sign their art, which makes my work a lot easier.

It’s also somewhat notable that this mural is found on the facade of Douglas Market Lofts, named after the market that used to sit on this corner. It’s really no longer novel for a business, a condo building in this case, to have murals and other outdoor art. No, it’s becoming increasingly the order of the day, a thing that business owners do to try to get your attention and stand out. And that’s good because we get more art!

Radford Guitar mural Nashville street art

Radford Birds mural Nashville street art

Located at 337 Douglas Avenue. The mural faces east, towards Lischey Avenue. There is street parking available on Lischey, on the block south of Douglas.

The Villager Flag – Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, a flag. Not just any flag, but the flag that adorns the facade of The Villager Tavern in Hillsboro Village. The Villager is one of the last holdouts against the gentrification of Hillsboro Village. The smokey bar with dartboards and the pictures of patrons plastering the walls has been in place since 1973. I don’t know who painted the flag originally, but it had gotten in pretty sad shape. I do know however that it was recently restored by Eastside Murals. You can also tell from the photo I linked to that it wasn’t always blocked by a pedestrian crossing sign, but pedestrian deaths in Nashville are a problem, so I’m fine with the sign.

I hope that everyone had a good Memorial Day. Always remember our fallen.

Villager Flag mural Nashville Street Art

Located at 1719 21st Avenue South. There’s plenty of parking in Hillsboro Village, but almost none of it is free.

September 11

It’s the 11th of September, and I doubt I have to remind anyone what memorial this is. On Murfreesboro Road, Michael Cooper of Murals and More produced this 9/11 mural honoring first responders earlier this summer. Many of those responders lost their lives that day, and others have faced long-term health effects. After much prodding (notably from Jon Stewart), Congress recently passed into law a 70-year extension to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, which includes money to help first responders with their health care. Cooper’s mural, which he did with a team of assistants, includes imagery of the Tribute in Light, two shafts of light that are part of the annual commemoration in New York City. It also includes One World Trade Center, the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center. The memorial also fits into its neighborhood as well. Catty-corner across Cleaveland Street is the backside of the Metro Fire Department Engine Company #12 (located at 101 Polk Street). On the other side of Murfreesboro Pike is the recently completed Metro Nashville Police Department Headquarters at 600 Murfreesboro Pike. There is a large, simple plaque honoring police officers killed in the line of duty on the front of the police headquarters. The mural itself lies above Pierre’s Customs (which has no internet presence I can find) and on the side of Labor Smart.

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Located at 571 Murfreesboro Pike, at the corner with Cleaveland Street. The mural faces Cleaveland. Parking is available on this block, but it’s haphazard.

In memoriam

At the corner of Roberston and Lewis Streets on the south side of the J.C. Napier Homes, across an abandoned storefront, is this striking mural. While unsigned, I was able to confirm that it’s the work of the artist who goes by JamersonSGC, who has done so much work in this neighborhood. It is a memorial. Two women are named, Pam Crawley and Dorothy Dixon. There’s also another set of names: Ray-Ray, Doss, Y-Lee and Toolie. JamersonSGC has done religiously-themed work elsewhere. Here we see Jesus in royal purple before a flood of color, and wings that resemble the ones JamersonSGC did on the old Eddie’s Cee Bee Food Store on Lafayette. There’s also a powerful image of a bound hand reaching up to an outstretched crucified hand.

Jesus mural street art Nashville

Jesus mural street art Nashville

Located at 59 Lewis Street, at the corner with Roberston Street. Street parking is available. This is a memorial, so please be respectful.

Tennessee World War II Memorial

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It’s Memorial Day, and so it’s a good day to look at one of the more striking war memorials in Nashville, the Tennessee World War II Memorial found on the grounds of the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Like the rest of the park, it was built to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the 1796 founding of Tennessee, though it was not finished and dedicated until November 11, 1997 (Veteran’s Day). The primary feature, which children (and adults!) love playing with is the eight-ton carved stone globe, which rests on a cushion of flowing water and can be easily pushed into different angles, though it rotates on its own due to the flowing water. In front of the globe is a stone platform littered with stars honoring the 5,731 Tennesseans who died in WW2. Ten pillars, five on each side, line the east and west of the platform. Reflecting the direction one travels to get to Europe or Asia from Tennesee, the ones to the east depict moments from the war in Europe, while those on the west depict moments from the war in the Pacific. To the south is a long bench with the names of seven Tennesee recipients of the Medal of Honor. A time capsule lays buried in front of that bench.

Many minds and hands went into designing and building this monument. General Enoch Stephenson led a committee of veterans, originally appointed by Governor Ned McWherter, which oversaw design and construction. The memorial was designed by Tuck-Hinton Architects, Ross/Fowler,  and EMC Structural Engineers. The memorial was built by Hardaway Construction. (Many thanks to the American Legion who gathered much of this information.)

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Located at 600 James Robertson Parkway (which is the address of the park). The memorial specifically is found on the north-west side of the park, along the 1000 block of Seventh Avenue North, and is about a block and half south of the 600 block of Jefferson Street. It lies across the street from the future home of the Tennesse State Museum, currently under construction. There is free parking in the park. This is a memorial, so please be respectful.

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Always on duty

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I don’t know of any labor specific art in Nashville, but firefighters certainly work hard, so this Labor Day I’m posting about the Firefighters Memorial next to the Schermerhorn Center. The first volunteer firefighter department in Nashville was founded in May 1807, and 200 years later, in November 2007, the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 140 unveiled this memorial which it had sponsored. The piece is signed by RC (“Bobby”) Hunt and Richard Thompson. IAFF 140’s video of the unveiling only mentions Hunt, so he was presumably the principal artist. Both men are listed as artists at Schaefer Art Bronze in Arlington, Texas. Hunt has since passed away. His artist’s website remains up, and the gallery includes this memorial. The memorial may seem to be in an odd spot, but it is the original site of Nashville Fire Station Numer 9, now found a few blocks south.

UPDATE: Of course there’s labor specific art in Nashville. And that’s a post that I’ll update soon, as the art in question has received a very nice refurbishing.

Located at 1 Symphony Place. The memorial itself is on the north east side of the center, on the 100 block of Third Avenue South, in a small alcove just a little south of where the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge connects with Third. This is downtown, so there is lots of parking, none of it free. Most days, the parking across the river on the other side of the pedestrian bridge is free. Make it part of your Lower Broad crawl, your night at the symphony, or your stroll along the river.

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Memorial Day

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As it is Memorial Day, it’s a good time to present art honoring the fallen. The United States Colored Troops Monument (2006) by Roy Butler sits on a low hill in the Nashville National Cemetary. The cemetery was founded in 1866 to bury Union dead, though it has long been open to veterans of all conflicts. Some two thousand African American troops from the Civil War era are included in the burials here. The idea to build the USCT monument in part came from two African American veterans and USCT reenactors, William Radcliffe and Norman Hill. Hill at the time was head of the Tennessee Historical Commission, which became one of the major donors to the project. Also involved were the United Association for Black Veterans and Creative Artists of Tennesee. Butler used Radcliffe as the model, wearing his reenactment gear. You can learn more and see a video about the statue here.  This monument is one of only sixteen in the country dedicated to the USCT and only one of two found in a national cemetery.

Located at 1420 Gallatin Road South. To find the statue, go under the railroad bridge in the middle of the cemetery and then look to the left. The statue is central to the southern part of this half of the cemetery. There are only a handful of proper parking spaces, but it is easy to park along the roads in the cemetery. Please be respectful.

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