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nashville public art

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July 4, 2020

Happy Fourth of July everyone! Of course, this year, the 4th is a little different. 2020 has not been an easy year, and we are only halfway through it. Maybe this stern-faced eagle by the artist JamersonSGC (who often signs his work “Low Key Art”) is exactly what we need. Its gaze seems a little disapproving, reminding us of our civic duty, implying that we haven’t quite measured up. Or maybe I just read it that way in the face of – waves hand around – everything that’s been happening. Sometimes being a citizen is easy, and sometimes it is hard, and in 2020 it isn’t easy.

Jamerson has engulfed the whole building in art. The eagle is found on the back of Marley’s Market and Restaurant on Lafayette Street, roughly the south side of the building. On the east side, the left if you are standing at the entrance, is a brown-and-black American flag. And wrapping across the front and the west side of the building is an American flag with an African-American man’s portrait. I’ve seen convenience stores with flag murals before, but nothing on this scale.

Again, have a happy and safe holiday weekend. And think about what that eagle might be trying to tell you.

Located at 141 Lafayette Street. There is parking at the market.

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a lot lately, so much so that the tragedies memorialized in this mural, part of it only a few weeks old, have been superseded by even more.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.

Not all heroes wear capes

Masked doctor mural Nashville street art

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.

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.

Bullets, beef, and beer

You might think that whoever commissioned this mural would be a bar or even a butcher, maybe even both, given the subject matter. But in fact, it was commissioned by Shooter’s Guns, Ammo and Range, which is exactly what it says it is. The artist is Michael Cooper of Murals and More, using the trompe-l’oeil style he often works in. According to Cooper,

“They were looking to turn the blank, boring wall on the side of their building into something more exciting, and we were happy to make it into a fun storefront mural that incorporates their awning and doorway and turns it into the entrance of an Irish Pub!”

If you’re wondering why there’s a fence right in front of it, what appears to be a long-dead Jack in the Box lies next door, and the fence rather ineffectively is supposed to keep people off that property. Obviously, I ninjaed my way in – by going through a rather large gap in the fence.

Pub mural street art Nashville

Butcher mural street art Nashville

Located at 573 Murfreesboro Pike. The mural faces south, towards Foster Ave. There is parking in front and behind Shooters. The back parking is accessed off Cleaveland Avenue, on the north side of the building.

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