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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.

Three years and counting

Because I’ve been doing a lot of travelling lately, I was out of town for the third-year anniversary of this blog, which happened on June 30. Much has happened since the second anniversary of this blog. For one, the outdoor art scene continues to blossom here in Nashville. New murals appear seemingly every day, and at my usual three-posts-a-week pace I’ll never catch up! And the world has noticed. Do a quick Google search for “Nashville street art” or “Nashville murals” or related searches, and you will find dozens and dozens of articles, blog posts, and various guides to whatever the author considers to be the best, the prettiest. or most “Instagramable” murals. And while this blog doesn’t show up very high in those searches, traffic has been steadily improving. The first year, the blog got a few hundred views a month. In the second, 1000-1500 views a month. In the third year, that number hovers in the low 2000s. Still small fry, but the moving in the right direction. And unlike any of those articles or “guides,” I really am trying to chronicle it all!

Kind mural street art Nashville
As it was last year, the subject of the most popular post on this blog.  Read about it in The Kind Way.

Many of the observations I made in the post I wrote about the second year anniversary remain true. The relationship between art, tourism, and gentrification remains strong. It’s still true that most art, particularly murals, is found on local businesses, not chains. Nashville business owners are getting the message – murals generate foot traffic, and they encourage people to take a picture and “check in” at the business, which amounts to free advertising. And art very much still breeds art. Businesses and building owners are encouraged to seek out artists for their site when they see their neighbors doing the same thing.

Cash mural street art Nashville
Despite, or perhaps because it no longer exists, the subject of the second most popular post on this blog. See The Johnny Cash Mural

Having recently traveled to New Orleans and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I can say that our mural/outdoor art scene compares well to those areas. One mistake we did not make, which until recently New Orleans had, was to put onerous permitting limitations on art. I would also say that while there are definitive art districts, in particular 12 South and Downtown, we do a good job of spreading art out – just look at my map.

I continue to be concerned about the impact of gentrification, notably on the less celebrated artists who have decorated Hispanic and Black-owned business. In particular, the work of the artist I have dubbed the “Unknown Buchanan Street Artist(s)” is endangered. That’s one reason I do this blog, to archive what is an inherently ephemeral form of art.

Restaurant mural street art Nashville
One of the “Unkown Buchan Street Artist(s)” murals that may be threatened by gentrification. See Catered Art.

For now, this will continue to be a Davidson County-only blog. When I think of some of the massive collections of work I have yet to chronicle, notably the Elliston Place garage and the dozens of musician portraits in Berry Hill, it’s hard to think about expanding. For that matter, I have dozens of files under the heading “Future Blog Posts,” most of which I need to do more research for or reshoot photos (I have gotten very picky about the pictures I use.) But visiting the Metroplex (as Dallas-Ft. Worth is known), I realized if I lived there I would have to do an area-wide blog, and I think I will have to do so here as well in time. The surrounding counties have developing outdoor art scenes of their own, often by the same artists who work in Davidson County. It’s really the same scene, and singling out Davidson County is somewhat artificial.

Bird Mural street art Nashville
Still my answer when people ask me about my favorite mural in Nashville. In part, because you are very unlikely to find it on Instagram. See A bird in the bush

The header photo is the mural at Chromatics. The artist who made it, TACKZ, recently contacted me, which reminded me that, to my knowledge, only the refurbished Painter Man at the Hard Rock Cafe on Lower Broad is older. The Chromatics mural is a true survivor, dating back to 1993. We definitely have a very different outdoor art scene than we did in 1993. We actually have one now! I intend to continue to chronicle it as best I can.

The Delgado calacas

In a small shop in the collection of galleries and other businesses at 919 Gallatin Ave is a business with a long history. Delgado Guitars had its start as a family business in 1923 in the city of Torreón, Coahuila, in north-central Mexico. Over the last century, the family and the business moved many places, eventually winding up in Nashville. And over those years Delgado Guitars has maintained both instrument making traditions and Mexican cultural traditions. Thus the very Mexican subject of calacas and calaveras found in the mural on their front door. Calacas are the skeletons, often in fancy dress, that are so important in Mexican art, particularly in representations of the Day of the Dead, while the calaveras are brightly painted skulls also common in Mexican art. They have a long history, as political satire, but also as a reflection of Mexico’s roots in Mayan, Aztec, and other Amerindian cultures. The artist who produced this work comes from another part of the world. Olasubomi Aka-Bashorun was born in Lagos, Nigeria and grew up in Oklahoma. He now has a gallery in The Arcade, the DBO Gallery. While the Delgado mural is a different theme from much of his work, its bright, strong colors are very much like his other paintings. This mural verges on hidden art. Not only is it impossible to see from the road, but also, since it’s on a door, you won’t see it when Delgado Guitars is open! So you’ll need to come twice, right? Certainly you will if you want to see both the guitars and the mural.

Calacas mural street art Nashville

Calavera mural street art Nashville

Located at 919 Gallatin Avenue. There is a fair amount of parking available at the venue.

 

The Listening Room

Listening Room mural sign street art Nashville

The music venue The Listening Room Cafe has had many incarnations. Founded by Chris Blair, it first appeared in Franklin in 2006. Blair moved it to Cummins Station in 2008, and again to its current location on 4th Avenue un 2012. And it is on 4th Avenue that we find on a stark white wall this sign featuring The Listening Room’s logo, created by Michael Cooper of Murals and More. On the bottom right of the photo, you can see his usual signature, which as always includes his phone number.

Located at 618 4th Avenue South. There is some limited parking at the Listening Room and some street parking on Elm Street. As the mural faces a parking lot, your best bet is to visit early in the day, well before show time. Enjoy the music and enjoy the art!

As long as the grass shall grow

Meulman mural street art Nashville

On this blog, I have been a little slow on documenting the big murals downtown, and this is one of the last I’ve gotten to. Like many of these murals, this one is part of the Nashville Walls Project. It was created in 2016 (aren’t I timely?) by the Dutch artist Niels Shoe Meulman. It’s done in a style he calls “Calligrafiti,” mixing elements of graffiti and calligraphy. In this case, it was also a messy process, as you can see from the photo series on the NWP website. The words come from the chorus of a song written by Peter LaFarge and performed by Johnny Cash, “As Long as the Grass Shall Grow.” It’s found on Cash’s 1964 album, Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian, a concept album about the history and problems of Native Americans. It’s a reference to the broken promises in many of the treaties signed between the United States and Native Americans.

As long as the moon shall rise, as long as the rivers flow
As long as the sun will shine, as long as the grass shall grow

Located at 144 Fifth Avenue North, the address of the L & C Garage. It lies directly behind the Downtown Presbyterian Church. Obviously, there is parking, but as this is downtown, so none of the nearby parking is free.

The Gold Rush, R.I.P

Gold Rush Mural street art Nashville

News has just come down that The Gold Rush, a fabled bar long=resident at Elliston Place, has closed for good. It’s a bit of a stunner for anyone who knows the history of this neighborhood, but change in Nashville stops for no one. So the fate of the wagon train mural on the back of the building is uncertain. Coincidentally, I got this car-free picture just a week or so before the news broke. Because The Gold Rush’s website and social media is also shuttered, I’ve been unable to really research the origin of this unsigned mural. If anyone knows who made it, drop me a line. Someone has written across the Sun in the mural, “You are not a rock star. Shut up. Be humble.” (see below) I don’t know if that’s original or not. Also in this parking lot, there is a small mural of a marijuana plant on the east side, and on the west, some graffiti art (actually on the wall of The End), at least part of which was done by Troy Duff. There is a small image of a crying cat (?) partially obscured by the graffiti art. In the slideshow below, I’ve included a full version of that image I took some months ago, along with the other art around the parking lot.

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Located at 2205 Elliston Place. The art lies faces the alley behind the bar, on the north side. Most of the nearby parking is either in a pay lot or uses a parking meter.

Galaxy Club

Galaxy Club mural street art Nashville

At the time of this posting, Galaxy Club on Murfreesboro gives every impression of being closed, with part of its parking lot torn up and the sign out front taken down and lying against the building. But a recent Instagram post suggests that it’s still a going concern, just beset with construction issues at the moment. So what I thought would be a post about the likely imminent destruction of this piece once a developer grabbed the property is nothing of the kind. The sign/mural is signed “Nacho,” which is not a signature I’ve seen on a mural decorating a Latino business before. Certainly, it’s one of the only space-themed outdoor murals in town. The only other one I can think of is Galactic Gardens, which features mostly flowers but does have space imagery as well.

Located at 1204 Murfreesboro Road, just a little north of Briley Parkway. During the day when the club is closed, there is lots of available parking.

Get your tickets!

Tickets mural street art Nashville

Sometimes, art sneaks up on you. I’ve driven by this wall of giant ticket stubs at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium/Musician’s Hall of Fame and Museum many times and it took a while for it to register as art. If you peruse the many, many articles out there about the “20 Murals You Must See In Nashville!” you’ll be hard pressed to find it. Yet given all the concertgoers who pass by it, it has definitely been in a lot of Instagram shots. Indeed, it seems a little unnatural to post a daytime photo of it because nighttime is when people usually saddle up next to it for a photo, though Nashville Ballet was there in the daylight a couple years ago for some publicity shots. The mural seems to have gone up probably in 2016 and certainly wasn’t there in 2013. The oldest ticket shown is from an April 4, 1965 Peter Paul & Mary show, while the newest is a Lady Antebellum ticket for a February 22, 2012 show. Both are found in the collum next to the doors,  near the top. The mural is printed, not painted. There are individual giant stubs inside.

Tickets mural street art Nashville

Tickets mural street art Nashville

Located at 417 4th Avenue North. The mural actually faces James Roberston Parkway, on the auditorium’s east side. This is downtown, so parking is nearby, none of it free.

Crying Wolf, Part 1

Crying Wolf Full

I’ve been trying to get away from these multi-part posts as they are a pain, but there is just too much going on at Crying Wolf to cram into one post. I had long despaired of featuring this mural, as there are so often cars in that parking lot, but I got lucky recently. This mural went up in April 2017, as part of the “Do the Road” project – “A Traveling Artist Residency Program in an RV” – sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon. Hence all the outlines of the PBR symbol scattered on the mural. This one is the product of four artists, Kit Mizeres, Lauren Asta, Ramiro Davaro-Comas, and Denton Burrows. There’s a fence in the back that was done by Ratchi NYC that was part of the same project that I’ll feature in another post. All are from out of town, which helps to bring diversity to the outdoor art scene in Nashville.

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Located at 825 Woodland Sreet. The mural faces South 9th Street. Obviously, there’s parking at Crying Wolf, as well as some limited street parking. You may have to walk a bit. Try early in the morning if you want to take in the whole mural.

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