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A return to the alley

Almost a year ago (I took these pictures last March) a set of UH crew tags replaced the UH crew tags that once been on the backside of Main Street Liquors and Main Street Market, and which I featured in Back in the alley. The style of these new tags is distinct from the earlier ones, but UH is a versatile crew. This alley and nearby spaces feature several examples of their work. Sadly, one of their best, a trippy mural which I featured in Panda sky, which was on the back of what used to be Make Nashville and is just steps from the tags above, has recently been largely destroyed in a renovation project to its building, 947 Woodland. Change is a constant, and that’s certainly true for outdoor art in Nashville. One change – the building these tags are on used to also include a repair shop called Transmission Exchange. Now it’s been replaced with Crazy Gnome Brewery. The Five Points area used to be the place in Nashville you got your car repaired. That legacy is almost gone.

Main Street Tags graffiti street art Nashville

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Located at 944 Main Street. The installation is in fact in the alley, which can be accessed from 10th Street or McFerrin Avenue. There is some parking in this alley if you are just visiting.

 

A Lady of Jefferson Street

 

Several months ago, this striking portrait by the artist who goes by JamersonSGC appeared on Jefferson Street – and led to me getting a photo credit from the Frist Art Museum. Frist held an exhibit in Fall 2019 about the murals of North Nashville called, appropriately, “Murals of North Nashville Now.” (The exhibit is closed, but I think you can still get the book.) It featured indoor works by a number of artists who have appeared on this blog and included a slide show of many of the murals of North Nashville. This is where this wall comes in. Jamerson’s piece sits alongside “A Soul Break” by Thaxton Waters, a mural that’s about a year older. It so happened I had shot Water’s piece before this portrait went up, and the museum wanted a “clean” shot of “Soul Break” without Jamerson’s face for their slideshow – and voila, I got a photo credit at the Frist. Thanks, Low Key Art! (That’s Jamerson’s usual tag, as you see here.) Oh, the mural? Well it’s certainly a powerful portrait, and I have no idea who it is supposed to be but it’s a face that’s had to ignore.

UPDATE: The artist contacted me. The portrait is a stylized version of a photo of a young Diana Ross. I can see it now.

Diana Ross portrait photo

Located at 2615 Jefferson Street, on the old Eyecatchers building. The mural is on the east wall, facing towards the interstate. There is a gravel lot right in front of the mural you can park at. If it’s closed off, you can try the alley behind or park across the street.

Melrose Forever

Sitting near the busy intersection of Kirkwood Avenue and Franklin Pike on the backside of Melrose Mini Mart sits this tribute to three Tennesse R&B greats: Clifford Curry, Dobie Gray, and Bobby Hebb. Curry lived in Knoxville, and he recorded in Nashville, while Ray was born in Texas and lived in Nashville as an adult, and Hebb was a life-long Nashvillian. Curry was a master of Carolina Beach Music and was inducted into the Beach Music Hall of Fame, and is perhaps best known for “I Can’t Get Hold of Myself.” Gray and Hebb had bigger, iconic hits you all know but may not know who was behind them. While Gray had other hits, it’s “Drift Away” he’s best known for, though younger audiences may know the 2002 duet/remake with Uncle Kracker better than the original 1973 edition. Hebb is the guy behind “Sunny.” That link, by the way, is to a stripped-down live version, since y’all already know what the studio version sounds like. You can hear it in your head right now, yes? All three men have passed in recent years; Hebb in 2010, Gray in 2011, and Curry in 2016. The mural is by Steve Ford, a Nashville artist who sells his work at Lazy Lane Graphics, and specializes in “Southeastern Sports Art,” i.e., art about your favorite college football teams from the South. As far as I know, this is his first mural in town.

Located at 2609 Eighth Avenue South (Franklin Pike). The mural is on the north side of the building, facing towards downtown and the Dollar General at 2605. You can usually park in the parking lot between the two stores, but any day but Sunday, cars from the auto repair place attached to Melrose Mini Mart are likely to be parked in front of the mural.

Blek, Barista, and Beethoven

It’s not often that a graffiti artist gets written up in the local news, his arrival in town excitedly heralded by local arts groups. But Blek Le Rat is not just any graffiti artist. He’s an internationally known French street artist, known to some as the “godfather of stencil,” that is, the use of stencils to make images on walls. He toured the U.S. south in late 2018, creating works in the Texas cities of Waco, Houston, and Austin, and also here in Nashville. He left stencils at Montgomery Bell Academy and the one above at the Germantown branch of Barista Parlor. In this video interview with WPLN, he explains that he came to Nashville because it is the capital of music and because he thinks his work would be ignored and unappreciated in a more outdoor art-dense city like New York. The subject is a young Beethoven, who Blek presents in more modern dress, imagining how the old master might present himself to the Nashville of today and its music. He also thinks “the real America is in Nashville, a city like Nashville.” The video is worth watching because it captures a lot of his process as he produced the Beethoven portrait. It’s not as simple as spraying a stencil! The picture below gives you a sense of context.

Bleck Beethoven mural

Further down the wall is the work of another stencil artist, For Becks, who is local. I’ve featured his Lego Men before. Here we see one of his “Like” stencils, which are popular on Instagram, including this one.

Barista Like mural street art Nashville

Located at 1230 4th Avenue North. Both murals actually face the 300 block of Monroe Street. The Blek piece is obviously at the corner with 4th, while the For Becks piece is almost all the way down at the other end of the wall, near the back of the building. Street parking is available on 4th.

An icon under the bridge, a revision

I have featured the wall under the Dr. D.B. Todd Jr. Boulevard overpass on Herman Street twice before. Originally, it was when the first image on the wall appeared, a portrait of Jimi Hendrix that I featured in a very early post to this blog, An icon under the bridge. That piece was done by Dough Joe of Norf Studios. Later, Norf Studios added two more portraits of Nikki Giovanni and Miles Davis, which I featured in An icon under the bridge, revisited. Now a fourth portrait has appeared, of Tupac Shakur. This is not a Norf Studios piece, but one by JamersonSGC, who frequently signs his work “Low Key Art.” You can see all the portraits together below, and the tag “Mr. Woo,” which I’ve seen in a couple places not far from this wall. If there is any further activity on this wall, I will be sure to keep everyone posted.

Icons mural street art Nashville

Located below the Dr. D. B. Todd Jr. Boulevard overpass on Herman Street, between 18th and 19th Avenues. There is street parking on these streets. Your best bet is probably 18th. Just south of this bridge you’ll find a lot of mural and graffiti art.

City Pets

This is a very new mural, finished just about a month ago. I see it on my way to work, but had not been able to photograph it until recently because of all the bright, sunny days we’ve been having – and all the shadows that go with them! This parade of pets on the side of City Pets Animal Care is the work of Leah Boorse. From the looks of her page, human portraiture is her main theme, but she also does a lot of pet portraits, which makes her a natural to bring art to a veterinary care center. Besides pets, there is a very obvious homage to the “I Believe in Nashville” murals by Adrien Saporiti of DCXV Industries in the center of the mural. (The only one of those murals on my blog so far is actually a copycat!) I photographed this mural at an angle because of a chain-link fence that interferes with a straight-on view (see below). And up above the mural, Boorse painted the City Pets logo on a second-floor window (see below).

Boorse has done some other murals, notably a quite different one from this in Deep Ellum. Deep Ellum is a neighborhood of bars and restaurants just east of downtown Dallas that can only be described as “mural intense.” Think 12 South on steroids. As for the City Pets mural, I scrolled through City Pets’ Instagram page to see if the models for these portraits could be found there and saw no obvious candidates, but plenty of cute pets. City Pets opened in this location about three years ago, when outdoor art in this area was a lot less common. Now it fits well with the expanding outdoor art scene along the Jefferson and Buchanan Street corridors, and come to think of Charlotte as well, a few blocks south. It’s also further evidence of just how common it is becoming for Nashville businesses, notably local Nashville businesses, to see art as a key component of what they do.

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Located at 1016 Jefferson Street. It’s possible to park next door in the parking lot fo Ware’s Barbershop, but a fence prevents direct access to the mural. For that, go to Rev Dr Enoch Jones Boulevard one block north of Jefferson to access City Pets’ parking lot.

Day Dreamin

While Eddie’s Cee Bee on Lafayette has been closed for some time, the artist JamersonSGC continues to use the building as a canvas. This impressive collection of human and animal portraits emblazoned with the words “Day Dreamin” is found on the back of the building where the old loading dock sits unused. Jamerson (who labels much of his work “Low Key Art”) sometimes likes to edit and reshape his work. See for example the evolution of Low key bee into The full bee (an update). In an original draft (see below), instead of the two people an elephant and possibly a second zebra were taking shape. All that remains of those two animals is the elephant’s tusk, which is engraved with Egyptian hieroglyphics and links the woman and man together. As the fate of the Cee Bee building is uncertain, the long term prospect for this mural is anyone’s guess. But watch this space – Jamerson might decide to revise it again!

Animal Portraits mural street art Nashville

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Located at 109 Lafayette Street. The mural is on the east side of the building, facing Clairborne Street. There is parking in the area in front of the mural, and in the lot on the other side of the building.

Basquiat on West End

Basquiat mural street art Nashville JamersonSGC

West End is not the kind of territory you find a lot of outdoor art in – too much Vanderbilt, too many chains and high-end businesses. But on the backside of the West End Rite Aid next to the spot that Joy’s Flowers recently vacated (and is now labeled “Gyros Kitchen,” though the restaurant doesn’t seem to have opened yet), there is now this exuberant tribute to Jean-Michael Basquait. Basquait was an American artist of Puerto Rican and Haitian descent who died in 1988. He has been deeply influential in American art, graffiti, and hip hop culture. Ironically for a highly political artist who critiqued American power structures and inequality, one of his works became the most expensive work by an American artist ever sold at auction. “Untitled” (1982) sold for $110.5 million in a 2017 Sotheby’s auction. This portrait by the artist JamersonSGC may be based on an Andy Warhol photo held by the J. Paul Getty Museum. A lot of Jamerson’s work is in the Lafayette/Napier Homes neighborhood, but recently his work has also appeared here on West End, on Jefferson Street, and on Charlotte Avenue.

Located at 2416 West End Avenue. That’s the address of the Rite Aid. The mural is on the east side of the building. This is not an easy neighborhood to park in, though there are a number of nearby businesses whose lots you can use for a short period of time.

Nations Wall – Part 9

Mobe Oner mural street art Nashville

This is the ninth in the series on The Nations Wall, a massive set of murals on the west-facing wall of Music City Tents and Events, organized by the Nashville Walls Project. It’s the ninth piece going from left to right (roughly north to south). This one is by Mobe Oner, aka Eric Bass, a prolific Nashville muralist. I first saw this image not as a giant mural, but as an oil painting at the Rymer Gallery, when they did a show of Nashville muralists. That painting, called “Fireflies,” can be yours for $3000 (scroll down a bit).

Images of the entire wall with all the murals together can be found in Part 1.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 10

Located at 5901 California Ave, Nashville, TN 37209. The murals actually face the 1300 and 1400 block of 60th Avenue North, across from the intersection with Pennsylvania Avenue. Street parking is possible nearby.

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