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nashville public art

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

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Riding!

Tucked away on the back side of Block E of the massive Capitol View project is this charming mural of a kid on a trike by Music City Murals. Though sort of hidden in an alleyway between the building and a raised railway track, the subject is appropriate, for there’s a short tunnel just across the alley that leads to Frankie Pierce Park, a green space that includes a children’s playground that was built as a public-private partnership between Capitol View and Metro ParksPierce was a civil rights activist who played an important part in the women’s suffrage movement in Nashville. The mural is one of three that Music City Murals has done for Capitol View, the other two in much more visible places. They’ll be on the blog soon. The hardest part of researching this (since I already knew who had done this unsigned mural) was working out exactly where it is on a map. Google Maps, as of this publication, has still not fully incorporated this relatively new development project. Google wants you to believe this patch of land is on the border between “North Gulch” (ugh) and Hope Gardens, but long-time locals know that it’s Hells Half-Acre.

Tricycle Kid mural Nashville street art

Located at 500 11th Avenue North. That’s the address of Block E of the Capitol View development, the building the mural is located on. The mural is found in an ally/driveway that separates Block E from the raised railroad that lies to the east, in the direction of the Capitol. The alley runs between Nelson Merry Street and LifeWay Plaza. The mural faces south, towards Nelson Merry, and is about in the middle of the block. There is plenty of parking available in the complex’s garages.

Hold Fast (An Off The Wall project)

One of the projects that inspired this blog was the Off the Wall project on Charlotte organized by Tinsley Dempsey. Fourteen murals along the wall protecting  Abbot West Storage from Charlotte and wrapping around as the wall turned and ran down 28th Avenue North led to a lot of blog posts. (The first one is here, and has links to all the others.) The first of those murals went up in 2016, and the last one a little over a year ago in April, 2019. Now there is a postscript. This new mural is on one of Abbot’s storage buildings, facing 31st Avenue North, just off Charlotte. It’s the product of Tarabella Aversa (who in the past has gone by Tara Marie Aversa) and went up in late April of this year, with the sponsorship of Dempsey. Its flower motif is familiar from Aversa’s other work, such as the mural featured in Flowers of Walden.  Its message of strength resonated in the aftermath of the March 3 tornadoes, which did so much damage to Nashville and nearby communities. But a lot has happened since then. Aversa has since linked it to the cause of justice embodied in the protests that arose in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. The mural’s mix of delicate beauty and fierce strength with a message of perseverance will no doubt be relevant for many causes to come.

Located at 3020 Charlotte Avenue. This mural actually faces 31st Avenue North and is easily visible from Charlotte. Your best bet for parking is perhaps across Charlotte at Cross Fit Nashville, and there is street parking on Felicia Street one block north of the mural.

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.

Four years and counting

Today is the fourth anniversary of this blog, and I present a work of art no Nashvillian has ever seen. Ok, not a very good joke, but the “Musica” sculpture by Alan LeQuire has been a notable absence from a blog with the motto “no art left behind.” It is in fact one of the most commented-on works of art in Nashville, ever since it went up in 2003. The nakedness of the figures has been a main point of discussion, and at various times pranksters have put clothes on them. Recently, they were briefly masked. Perhaps less known is that the traffic circle they sit in is the Buddy Killen Circle. Killen was an important Music Row producer and publisher before his death in 2006. (Pictures of “Musica” in the round can be found at the bottom of the post.)

I don’t think I knew what I was getting into when I started this blog. It’s become a little something of a second job, though I wish I could tell all the folks trying to sell me blog-related services, this is a strictly non-profit hobby. I started at just the right time. Although this is certainly not a murals-only blog, the explosion in the Nashville mural scene is what has sustained it. Four years ago, murals were mainly on auto repair shops, in back alleys, and other out-of-the-way places. Then they migrated, slowly at first and then a rush, to the street-visible walls of local businesses. In the last several months, national chains have begun to enter the mural market, though not yet at full steam. Why has all this happened? In part, it goes back to an early push by Chamber East (the East Nashville branch of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce) and the high-profile example of the works promoted by the Nashville Walls Project. But it is also about a slow-developing movement reaching critical mass. One store-owner gets a mural and gets a lot of attention, and then neighboring businesses want one. Then it starts a few blocks down. Next thing you know, we have several full-time muralists in town and a few people leading mural tours for a living. While I have you here, I’ll tell you my little hobby horse: The artists who do mural work for Latino and other immigrant businesses are some of the most prolific artists in town, they’ve been doing long before anyone else got started, and they deserve to be recognized as real artists!

The blog has grown slowly in activity over the years. The first full year, 2017, 600 views a month was common. In 2018, it rose to around 1500 a month, to a little over 2300 per month in 2019. 2020 has been weird – a 3000 view month in both March and June, with a big crash in the months in between. That may have something to do with the demographics of my readers. Google tells me that my readership skews heavily female, and the largest group of readers are women aged 18-34 – you know, the bachelorette demographic? Who weren’t in town much during the height of the shutdown? By the way, those bachelorettes are another major reason for the mural explosion, as murals pull them in and that drives street traffic, music to any business owner’s ears.

And slowly but surely, Google has taken notice. If you search for “nashville public art,” I’m usually near or at the top of the page. With “nashville murals” and “nashville street art” you can now actually find me, though you still have to work your way through a few pages of links to all the “Here are the best 20 murals for your Instagram shot” articles to find me. For years though, this blog just didn’t show up at all in those kinds of searches. Progress!

The blog needs revamping. The biggest project I have in mind is thoroughly revising the Categories tab. I set up those categories on day one having no idea what I would need, and most of them I never use. I’d like them to reflect better what’s on the blog and be more useful to readers. That’s going to be a big job because I hit 600 posts back in April, but it’s on my list. I know that picture-heavy as it is, the blog can load slowly at times, and I need to work on that as well. Speaking of milestones, the map will have 600 pins on it soon, so look for me to finally post about another major work of art missing from my blog when that happens.

I’m going to keep at it, and sometime, possibly later this year, I’m going to start including work from the surrounding counties. In the meantime, keep reading, and get out there and enjoy the art!

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“Musica” is located in the middle of Buddy Killen Circle, where Music Square East, Division Street, Demonbreun Street, and 16th Avenue South meet. There is paid parking in the building between Demonbreun and Division and elsewhere nearby. Street parking is available on some nearby blocks.

Colors of Creativity

Sanger Mural Nashville street art

A few weeks ago, I posted about a graffiti mural by Troy Duff, aka Duffomatic. Duff did that work as part of the 2018 “Hands on Creativity” festival sponsored by Plaza Art. You can see a small piece of it in the background of the picture above. This second mural was also part of that festival. Plaza Art ran a contest in which students from Watkins College of Art competed for the right to do this second mural, which was won by Maggie Sanger. She produced her mural at the same time Duff was making his (the last week of October, 2018) and had help from Dough Joe, aka Yusef Hubb. Of course, this is a moment to remember that in just a couple of months, Watkins will merge with Belmont University. Students and faculty were largely unhappy with this move, and tried to stop it, but to no avail. Watkins has been around for more than a century, and its loss is a sad one for Nashville. Its legacy is its students, like Sanger.

Located at 621 Middleton Street. Nearby parking is easy. The mural is on the west side of the building, facing Plaza Arts.

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.

Love, Nashville

In times like this, sometimes a simple message is the best. This mural, which is the product of Madeline Lederman, is just a few weeks old. It sits on a building behind the Charlotte Avenue post office, a building which at times has attracted graffiti. Lederman is a teenager, and I’m pretty sure she’s the second youngest artist I’ve featured on this blog, after Drew T. Morrison, who I wrote about in The drops of Saint Stephen. There’s definitely a Sixties vibe to Lederman’s piece, which is totally in keeping with the one-word message “LOVE,” something that shows up a lot in Sixties iconography. Lederman was recently featured in WPLN’s “Dispatches from Quarantine” series, where she expressed her struggles with separation from school and friends. Here at least she has found a creative outlet. This appears to be Lederman’s first mural. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more work from her.

Located at 4414 Park Avenue. That’s the technical address, as this is the back side of a storage building belonging to the house with that address. However, to view the mural, you need to go to the US Post Office at 4501 Charlotte Avenue. The mural is across an alley at the rear of the post office. Parking is available at the post office, and the mural is quite visible from the parking lot.

Losers and the Pandemic

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a mural for the downtown branch of  Loser’s Bar and Grill done by Manuel Fuentes. That mural, on the south side of the building, was a great example of the murals in town specifically designed for people to stand in front and get their picture taken. I wrote about it at the beginning of the shutdown and commented on the irony of it not really being used at the time. Here we are about three months later, and the lockdown has eased, even as cases are rising. There are restrictions on venues like Losers, and their downtown branch remains closed. From their Facebook page, it appears their Midtown branch is open on reduced capacity and is featuring live music. Interestingly, they advertise that both locations have new UV-light systems in their airflow systems to reduce contaminants. Welcome to the emerging new normal. To their credit, they aren’t one of the places cited for violating the current pandemic rules. Someday, this will all be over.

Located at 111 Fourth Avenue South. The mural is on the north side of the building, at the far end of the parking lot if you are coming from 4th. It faces towards Broadway. This is downtown – lots of parking, almost none of it free.

 

Lips

I wanted to call this blog post Lipps, Inc., but that’s an actual thing. Every once in a while I have to write about one of those murals that is in a billion Instagram posts, and everyone has seen, so it’s news to no one, and this is one of those times. The motto of the blog is “No art left behind” after all, and I am trying to catalog everything. This is yet another Eastside Murals piece, the versatile team that has been signing their work “Out East Boys” for a while. The design is by Donald Robertson, which explains the “Donald” written on the edge of the mural. On his Instagram page, you can see that while he doesn’t just do lips, they are a major theme in his work. Also, the “Donald” on the mural looks like his regular signature for his works, so I imagine he did that part himself.

The building is on the side of a UAL outlet, otherwise known as  United Apparel Liquidators, in Hillsboro Village. They are also found on West End, where I wrote about a bold version of their logo painted on the back wall of the building. There’s a little “ShopUAL” Instagram logo on the large window at the street end of the mural.

I photographed this mural on one of the first days of Nashville’s shutdown when there were still a few tourists around. Two women were taking their pictures in front of it and thought I was trying to do the same thing. They wanted me to give them my phone so they could take my picture in front of it for me. I politely declined, and at this point in time, I still would.

Lips Mural Nashville street art

Located at 1814 21st Avenue South. The mural faces an alley on the north side of the building, across from Fido. This is Hillsboro Village, so a fair amount of parking, almost none of it free. In non-COVID times, parking at peak hours can be very hard.

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