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Bending Normal

This piece, “Bending Normal” (2017), by Brooklyn artist Marcus Manganni, has stood in front of The Packing Plant (a building with several small art galleries) since September 2017. If you visit during the First Saturday Wedgewood-Houston art crawl, you’re likely to see people walking around, taking pictures, or just studying the different ways it catches the light from different angles. What you see when you see it, what you get when you shoot, depends entirely on where you are standing, what time of year and what time of day it is, and most certainly what the light is like. You can see from the light and reflections in these photos that I took them last winter. Shoot them now, and that half-finished building would now reflect as finished. No two pictures of the piece will ever be the same. And that’s probably the point. As Manganni noted in an interview with The Tennessean and as he was quoted in The Nashville Scene, “Bending Normal” is a direct response to the statue of Nathaniel Bedford Forrest by Jack Kershaw that’s visible from I-65  south of downtown. Other than saying his piece “sends the exact opposite message” of the Forrest sculpture, Manganni doesn’t directly explain how it is in opposition to Kershaw’s piece. My suggestion is that the very ambiguity of “Bending Normal,” that what it is and what it looks like is fluid, despite its hard crisp lines, is precisely that “opposite message.” “Bending Normal” poses more questions than it answers, while Kershaw’s piece asserts its truth and dares us to say otherwise. Certainly, Manganni’s piece is up for much richer interpretations than the statue of Forrest. (And it occurs to me – the Forrest statue is in Davidson County. I guess I have to put it on the blog. “No art left behind” and all that.) You can check out Manganni’s own photos of “Bending Normal” here.

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Located at 507 Hagan Street, at the corner with Gray Street. When it’s not art crawl, parking in the gravel lot across the street is easy, and there is parking along Gray Street as well. During art crawl, I recommend getting there early (6:00ish) or plan on parking farther away.

A refurbished stalwart citizen

One of the very first posts on this blog was A Stalwart Nashville Citizen (July 3, 2016), highlighting the sign of Ironworkers Local 492 on Dickerson Road. But back then, our man in blue was simply gray and had a fair amount of rust as well. Sometime in the last year, 492 obviously thought it was time to spruce the guy up with some fresh paint! And it being Labor Day, it’s an obvious time to celebrate his sharp new look. Now his uniform, tools, gloves, and boots are much easier to make out. And with the new paint job, he will continue to watch over Dickerson Pike (and remind frequent drivers that Trinity Lane is just around the curve) for years to come.

Ironworkers sculpture street art Nashvile

 

Ironworkers sculpture street art Nashville

 

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At 2424 Dickerson Pike. The union office has a large parking lot, and unless the union workers are practing in the lot, you should be able to park there.

500 Pink Elephants

Well, actually there is only one pink elephant, at least on Charlotte Avenue. But this is the 500th post on this blog, and I thought it was a good moment to post something different! And a good time to take a little vacation of sorts, because this time, WPLN did all my research for me. To be more precise, Sara Ernst, a former multimedia reporting intern at Nashville Public Radio did the research for the podcast Curious Nashville. You can read her story about the elephant, or listen to a podcast episode about various Nashville animal stories, including the pink elephant. Pinkie is currently the mascot of University Motors – you’ll find her on their website, and emblazoned on the shirts of their staff. She’s not the first elephant to reside here. Back when this spot was McPherson Motors, an even larger pink elephant greeted drivers on Charlotte. Even though the original elephant and McPherson Motors were gone for years, there was enough local nostalgia for the old one that when University Motors moved to the site, it seemed inevitable that they too had to have an elephant. But seriously, read Ernst’s story!

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Located at 6005 Charlotte Pike. Perhaps the best place to park is the Dollar General next door.

Dancing in the alley

In the alley that lies between Second and Third Avenue downtown, on 200 block, there is art. Most of it is courtesy of Herb Williams, who produced a series of dancers on doorways in the alley, as well as an abstract piece in one of the windows. Collectively they are called “Taking Flight,” and are based on images of dancers from the Nashville Ballet. They are filled with butterflies, not unlike his “Deer Dissolve” mural less than a block away, that’s part of the gallery featured in Guitars and Automobiles. This series came about as a result of a project by the Downtown Partnership, which led neighbors through a visualization session with images and samples of other city alleys and streets to see what might be possible in this alley. This led to repaving the alley and removing trashcans, as well as installing the murals and the wrought-iron fence, which was sponsored and designed by Anderson Design Studio and built and installed by Ferrin Ironworks. Ferrin also did the metal rose attached to the fence. The pictures above, read left-to-right and top-to-bottom, start at the northwest part of the alley and go down the back of Third Avenue, then turnaround and head back north on the back of Second Avenue. (The same order as the series in the slide show below.) In order, they are 216 Third Avenue North (turquoise on black and the abstract piece), 214/The Lofts at Noel Court (yellow on red), 212/Saturn&Mazer Title Services (shades of green with a raised knee) and 208/The Studio 208 (leaping man with yellow sticker). Going up the back of Second Avenue North, we see 215/The Hammonds Group (metal rose and leaping turquoise woman), 217/Anderson Design Studio (red and yellow on brown), and 219/The Market Street Building (shades of green on light grey).

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Located between Third and Second Avenue along the 200 block. Access is about halfway down either block, or from Church Street. This is downtown – plenty of parking, almost none of it free.

Anchor in the Storm

Anchor sculpture public art Nashville

Of all the works sponsored by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, this is one of the more unusual. It becomes more understandable once you read about it on Metro Art’s website. This piece, “Anchor in the Storm” (2013), by Betty and Lee Benson, commemorates a moment when a quarry saved the local neighborhood. During the 2010 flood, 700 billion gallons of floodwater poured into the Reostone Quarry (located on Robertson Avenue just a few blocks from the sculpture), water that would have otherwise innundated the nearby neighborhoods of Charlotte Park, The Nations, and Crowley Wood. The rock, from the quarry, was carved and donated by the quarry’s owners,  Rogers Group. The log structure is a raft, representing the neighborhoods saved by the quarry. Of course, I imagine it mostly serves as some interesting whimsey for small children to climb on. (The mural on the water tank behind is by Eric Henn. Read about it in This one is BIG!)

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Located at 6105 Morrow Road, i.e. West Park. The sculpture is just a few feet from Morrow Rd, in the northeast corner of the park. There is plenty of parking at the park, and there is nearby street parking.

 

Readers

Readers Bronze Statue Front Nashville Green Hills Library

I’ve driven past the Green Hills Library many times, but only recently noticed this statue, even though it was installed in 2000. Sometimes art blends into the background. And it seems appropriate for what will be my last post until after Christmas, a grandfatherly gentleman and a young child enjoying a moment together over the love of reading. The piece is by Russ Faxon, who has some other pieces in town, including the sculpture featured in Chet Atkins, C.G.P.. Commisioned by the library, the sculpture was funded by the Sally and Allen Beaman Foundation, from the same family that owns Beaman Toyota.

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Located at 3701 Benham Avenue. The sculpture lies on the northeast side of the library, facing the road. There is free parking at the library. Grab a book and enjoy the art!

Tennessee World War II Memorial

WW2Main

It’s Memorial Day, and so it’s a good day to look at one of the more striking war memorials in Nashville, the Tennessee World War II Memorial found on the grounds of the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Like the rest of the park, it was built to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the 1796 founding of Tennessee, though it was not finished and dedicated until November 11, 1997 (Veteran’s Day). The primary feature, which children (and adults!) love playing with is the eight-ton carved stone globe, which rests on a cushion of flowing water and can be easily pushed into different angles, though it rotates on its own due to the flowing water. In front of the globe is a stone platform littered with stars honoring the 5,731 Tennesseans who died in WW2. Ten pillars, five on each side, line the east and west of the platform. Reflecting the direction one travels to get to Europe or Asia from Tennesee, the ones to the east depict moments from the war in Europe, while those on the west depict moments from the war in the Pacific. To the south is a long bench with the names of seven Tennesee recipients of the Medal of Honor. A time capsule lays buried in front of that bench.

Many minds and hands went into designing and building this monument. General Enoch Stephenson led a committee of veterans, originally appointed by Governor Ned McWherter, which oversaw design and construction. The memorial was designed by Tuck-Hinton Architects, Ross/Fowler,  and EMC Structural Engineers. The memorial was built by Hardaway Construction. (Many thanks to the American Legion who gathered much of this information.)

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Located at 600 James Robertson Parkway (which is the address of the park). The memorial specifically is found on the north-west side of the park, along the 1000 block of Seventh Avenue North, and is about a block and half south of the 600 block of Jefferson Street. It lies across the street from the future home of the Tennesse State Museum, currently under construction. There is free parking in the park. This is a memorial, so please be respectful.

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Capitol relics, Bicentennial Mall

CapitolRelicsBM1

Walk down the Walkway of Counties on the east side of the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and at the halfway point you’ll find these mysterious fragments of limestone Ionic columns. There is a stela nearby that tells the story of these fragments. They were part of the original facade of the Tennessee State Capitol building. The Capitol, built between 1845 and 1859, was designed by William Strickland. It was built out of limestone pulled from a quarry near what is now 13th and Charlotte. The limestone deteriorated over time, and the original columns were replaced in a major renovation in the 1950s. The old columns were stored near the state prison on Centinneal Boulevard until the construction of Bicentennial Mall in 1995. Some were taken to the northwest side of the Capitol building and arranged by Charles Waterfield, who had worked on the original restoration. Others came to the Mall, though there’s no indication who arranged this set. Both the stela at the Mall and a sign at the Capitol say the arrangements are a tribute to those who built the Capitol. What neither acknowledges is the role of slave labor in constructing the Capitol. According to an article by Thomas Joseph Broderick IV,

In the spring of 1846, fifteen slaves, all men, were loaned to the state government by A.G. Payne, a Nashville stone mason. For nearly a year they carved out the Capitol’s cellar, their skilled labor worth nearly twice as much as the unskilled labor of free men.

In all the discussion of monuments and who we should and should not recognize, one thing is clear – there are many missing monuments. It would be a simple thing to add a sign at each site noting the labor of these fifteen men, leaving us with one fewer missing monument. See below for views from other angles, and for the four capitals that are found around the central column fragments.

Located on the 900 block of 6th Avenue North, about halfway between Harrison and Jefferson Street. There is plenty of parking in the park, including free two-hour parking almost directly across from the columns.  (The ones on Capitol grounds can be reached by entering the parking lot at Charlotte and Rosa Parks Avenues and driving to the very end of the lot.)

Chet Atkins, C.G.P.

ChetAtkinsFullRight

Though a little off center from the main downtown tourist center, this work draws in the tourists who want their picture taken with the great Chet Atkins, if only in bronze. This lost wax sculpture titled “Chet Atkins, c.g.p.” is the work of Nashville artist Russell Faxon, and went in in January 2000, a year and a half before Atkins’ death. Various music luminaries paid tribute at the unveiling, including Eddy Arnold, who said, “I’m delighted to be here because I met Chet back in 1896.” Atkins himself promised everyone that, “I’ll come to your outing if you have one.” The statue was paid for by Bank of America, the major tenant in the building that looms over the Atkins tribute. So what’s that “C.G.P” about? Certified Guitar Player, a designation Atkins gave out to those players he thought “excelled far beyond the normal line of playing.” Only five men, plus Atkins himself, got the title. There is of course that empty stool, placed there so you could have your picture taken with the man. Many tourists do, and local folks who just need a place to sit can also be found on the stool. I’m sure Atkins would be happy to play for any of them.

Side note: I was so astonished to find the statue devoid of humans, I parked in a hurry and raced to take pictures. You can see my little red car in the header above, and there’s a better shot below in the photo of the back side of the sculpture.

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Located at 414 Union Street. The sculpture sits in a small triangular plaza at 5th and Union, in front of the Bank of America Building. This is downtown, so plenty of parking, virtually none of it free.

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