nashville public art

Nashville murals, street art, graffiti, signs, sculptures and more



All the stars in the sky (Norf Wall gallery, part 10)


There are certain projects I haven’t quite finished on this blog. I have learned to avoid when I can setting up a series of posts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, etc.) as it’s easy to leave them behind. But some venues have so much work, there really is no other way to go about it. Case in point, the old tire factory on 19th Avenue North, near Herman. Read Part 1 to learn about the festival that made all this art happen. Above is a work by Elisheba Israel, owner of One Drop Ink Tattoo Parlor and Gallery. Like what you see? I’m betting Israel would be happy to set you up with a tattoo based on this mural!

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13

Located at the north end of the 800 block of 19th Street N., at the corner of Herman Street. It’s impossible to miss. Street parking is very haphazard. There is a lot to see here, and also a lot of overgrown weeds (depending on the time of year) so wear the right shoes! See the marker for Part 1 on the map.

The forgotten factory of 17th Avenue


I don’t know much about the abandoned factory on the 800 block of 17th Avenue just south of Herman Street. I know the original deed is dated 1920, and that the property currently belongs to Fisk University. I know also the county assessor’s office values the factory itself at exactly zero dollars and zero cents. The land is a bit more — $326k. It makes sense. The building is probably prohibitively expensive to repair. It’s a shame though – people once made their living here. Now it’s abandoned, crumbling down by the railroad. It’s the kind of place both the homeless and graffiti artists can sometimes be found. I encountered no one when I visited the site, but it is obvious that people sleep here, including in the smokestack, in the very place workers once shoveled coal into the fire. The factory and nearby walls are plastered with tags, mostly from the UH crew, a prolific Nashville group. There’s at least one Betor memorial, so at least a little of this is fairly new (Betor died last December). There are more tags under the adjacent bridge. I’ll feature them in a later post.

Located by the bridge over the railroad tracks on the 800 block of 17th Avenue North. The factory is on the west side of the road. There is a fair amount of vegetation, and if you venture very far, you’ll be out of sight of the road quickly. Street parking is available.



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Down at the corner


The east side has Five Points, where Woodland, Clearview, and North 11th come together. But what do you call a place where four streets and a cemetery entrance come together? Busy – you call it busy. On the north side of the confluence of Clarksville Pike, 13th Avenue North, Clay Street and Dr. D.B. Todd Blvd, and across the street from the entrance to the Temple Cemetary, lies a humble building nearly as busy as the intersection it presides over. At 2012 Clarksville Pike, The Belly Restaurant, Sam’s Market, and Joyce’s Barber and Beauty Salon ensure a steady clientele. And on the west and east sides of the building, we find art. On the west side, a self-referential mural that includes the 2012 Clarksville building, though showing a mural that looks more like the one on the east side (see below). The businesses named are no longer here. Portraits of students fill out the mural. On the east side, a simpler mural, with an intriguing incomplete portrait. And on a low wall to the west of the building, a fading tribute to the Family Affair Diner, which is lost to history, or at least to Google.

Located at 2012 Clarksville Pike, right where it makes a strong turn to the south and becomes D.B. Todd Blvd. Parking available, though if you park in front of the building, you’ll be backing out onto a busy road when you leave.

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Maybe you’d like some art?


At the site of the former Chief’s Family Diner on Buchanan Street, a new restaurant has opened, Mai-Bee’s Southern Cuisine. But this is not a food blog, (most of the time!) so what gets it noticed here is the mural, courtesy of Murals and More, the business home of artist Michael Cooper. Mai-Bee’s is a family owned, family run operation, and the mural and the restaurant honor the memory of the family matriarch. It’s new, and little bare bones, but definitely worth a try. And you get more art bang for your buck, because And her hair was an unfolded flower is right next door! The Buchanan Street corridor is beginning to see a number of new business. How it handles possibilities of gentrification remains to be seen.

UPDATE: This work has been painted over, as the business closes and has been replaced.

Located at 1200 Buchanan Street. The mural faces 12th Avenue North. There is some parking at Mai-Bee’s and street parking is available. Grab some grub and enjoy the art!

Music on two wheels


Since last summer, a collection of musical greats has been freewheeling on the east wall of Green Fleet Bicycle Shop, courtesy of @doughjoe, otherwise known as Yusef Hubb. Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin and Little Richard are all getting a little crazy, though how Hendrix is managing to ride and play at the same time — well, he’s Jimi Hendrix. You don’t question. Hubb, who is part of the Norf Collective, frequently depicts musicians in his work, such as in An icon under the bridge, revisited. The #ridenorf tag references a Jefferson Street Art Crawl from last June. Green Fleet Bicycle Shop, besides being a place to get a new bike or repair your old one, also does bicycle tours of Nashville and will rent you a bike to do a tour on your own. The bike store grew out of Green Fleet Messengers, which is still going strong.

Located at 934 Jefferson Street. The mural faces east. There is some parking at the store, including around back (best accessed from Enoch Jones Blvd.) Not much street parking nearby, so you might have to walk a bit. Hey, you were going to rent a bike anyway, right?

Fly me to the moon (2.0)


This is an Emily Miller piece, she of the guerilla poster art (and more!). Keep an eye out, you’ll see more of her work around town. A lot of it is animal-themed, but here she goes in another direction – up! This particular space traveler is found on the backside of 1006 Buchanan Street. If you look for that address on Google it leads you to Otis James, who makes bespoke clothing. The web page suggests the business is in Oak Ridge, but the Facebook page puts it here in Nashville on Buchanan. Call them, or just order online if you are interested. I might need a new hat. Regardless, this is paper art outdoors so I have to call it endangered art.

UPDATE: I added 2.0 to the title because I realized this is the second time I’ve used that headline.

Located at 1006 Buchanan Street. The mural/poster is on the back wall. There’s a large green space around the building so it’s easy to approach. Street parking is available.

And her hair was an unfolded flower


Located in in the heart of the Buchanan Street neighborhood, this is impressive piece is a Norf Collective creation, signed by Woke3 (also known as Jay Jenkins). The Buchanan Street area has begun to see signs of gentrification. The building this work is on, which apparently used to be an auto body store, is currently unoccupied, its fate unknown. It’s hard to believe a future tenant would want to remove this mural, but I think we still have to qualify this as endangered art. (The title was inspired by a line from a Yeates poem.)

Located at 1114 Buchanan Street, at the corner with 12th Avenue North. Street parking available on 12th. And maybe grab a bite at Mai-Bee’s Southern Cuisine across the street, which sports a mural of its own I’ll feature later.

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Freedom Riders on Jefferson


Particularly because of the work of the Norf Collective, the Jefferson Street corridor has seen a recent explosion of murals and other public art. One of the oldest pieces on Jefferson, which helped kick start the public art movement along this historic street, is a Michael Cooper (of Murals and More) piece at the I-40 underpass. This 2009 piece was a collaboration between Cooper and local high school students. Cooper took drawings and designs from the students and turned them into a coherent mural. After Cooper drew it, students joined in painting it. The mural honors the Freedom Riders. Jefferson, of course, has long been the beating heart of the African American community in Nashville, and students from the three universities along the road, Fisk, Meharry Medical, and Tennesee State, were active in the Freedom Riders and numerous other activities in the Civil Rights era. The placement of the mural is poignant for another reason. I-40, I-65, and I-440 cut the Jefferson Street neighborhood into pieces, doing everlasting damage that the community continues to work to repair. Nashville is hardly the only city where the interstates were built through the heart of African American neighborhoods. It was a common practice. If you have wondered why some protesters have taken to blocking interstates, there’s definitely a history there. This mural has been vandalized in the past, which forced Cooper to coat it with a clear coating that makes vandalism easier to remove.

Located on the southwest side of the I-40 underpass on Jefferson Street, at the beginning of the 2500 block. Street parking is available across the street, though traffic can make crossing hard. Some parking is available at nearby business.


Welcome to the garden

Garden Brunch Cafe mural by Norf Collective

In honor of the Jefferson Street Art Crawl which I visited this evening, some Jefferson Street art. Why, you might ask, is this picture taken at such an odd angle? Well, there’s a fence in the way. A fence that serves no obvious purpose other than blocking a clear view of this mural. This is a Norf Collective piece (their website is down as of this posting – I’ll add the link if it comes back up), done as part of the Jefferson Street Community Health Fair last August. See the Get healthy! post for more details. It’s found on the east wall of the Garden Brunch Cafe (which I recommend), so the depiction of a quiet garden makes sense.

UPDATE: Here’s their Facebook page. And the website is up and running.

Located at 924 Jefferson Street. If you are there for a meal, and why wouldn’t you be, the restaurant has parking in back. You can probably also park next door at Popeye’s or the church behind the Garden Brunch Cafe.

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