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Chet Atkins, C.G.P.

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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.

A well-traveled rose

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The Frist Museum (more properly known as the Frist Center for the Visual Arts) does not generally keep permanent pieces but rather hosts an ongoing series of new exhibits. One notable exception sits outside – “Rose on 65th Street” by Will Ryman. It may not have originally be thought to be permanent – an article from the Nashville Scene dated May 2012 says it “will remain up through December.” The descriptive plaque states that it was an anonymous gift in 2013, so apparently, someone liked it enough to buy it and donate it to the museum. It was originally part of a series Ryman installed in 2011 along Park Avenue in New York City as a “riff on a Park Avenue tradition of displaying seasonal flowers and ornamental trees.” Look close – it’s more than just roses. Its initial installation on the front side of the Frist facing Broadway was an elaborate process. It is now installed on the opposite side of the building.

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Located at 919 Broadway. The statue is found on the south side of the building, facing McGavok Street at the corner with 10th Avenue. The museum has its own parking, with a half off discount for visitors. Otherwise, you might take it in after you drop off a package at the Post Office in the basement or before quaffing a few beers at the Flying Saucer.

Corn and Tomatoes

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It’s another Metro Arts Commission bicycle rack! Seriously, there are holes in the tomatoes you can slip a chain through. This is half of a rack found on the east side of the Nashville Farmer’s Market at Bicentennial Mall. The other half is below, which you see actually has a bike strapped to it, something you don’t see much with these Metro Arts bike racks. This piece, “Corn and Tomatoes”  was done in 2010 by Lebanon metalsmith Dan Goostree and Nashville painter Paige Easter. Sadly, it is something of a memorial, as Goostree passed away in 2013 at the age of 57.

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Located at 900 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard. The rack actually faces Seventh Avenue,  in front of the main entrance on the east side of the building. There is plenty of free parking around the market, though with current construction, it can be hard to park at lunchtime. Load up on local veggies and enjoy the art!

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Always on duty

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I don’t know of any labor specific art in Nashville, but firefighters certainly work hard, so this Labor Day I’m posting about the Firefighters Memorial next to the Schermerhorn Center. The first volunteer firefighter department in Nashville was founded in May 1807, and 200 years later, in November 2007, the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 140 unveiled this memorial which it had sponsored. The piece is signed by RC (“Bobby”) Hunt and Richard Thompson. IAFF 140’s video of the unveiling only mentions Hunt, so he was presumably the principal artist. Both men are listed as artists at Schaefer Art Bronze in Arlington, Texas. Hunt has since passed away. His artist’s website remains up, and the gallery includes this memorial. The memorial may seem to be in an odd spot, but it is the original site of Nashville Fire Station Numer 9, now found a few blocks south.

UPDATE: Of course there’s labor specific art in Nashville. And that’s a post that I’ll update soon, as the art in question has received a very nice refurbishing.

Located at 1 Symphony Place. The memorial itself is on the north east side of the center, on the 100 block of Third Avenue South, in a small alcove just a little south of where the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge connects with Third. This is downtown, so there is lots of parking, none of it free. Most days, the parking across the river on the other side of the pedestrian bridge is free. Make it part of your Lower Broad crawl, your night at the symphony, or your stroll along the river.

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Play time!

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Shelby Bottoms Park is an enormous and fantastic network of playing fields, greenways, nature trails, and even a small golf course at Vinny Links. The Nature Center is an educational and information center where one can learn about the vast flora and fauna found in the park. Nearby the center is the Nature Play area, an area designed for small children to enjoy the outdoors in a safe environment. Two pieces of art are found in the Nature Play area. The small mural above on a small storage shed features animals that might be found in the park. And above the entrance gate is a crawfish (or maybe you call it a crawdad?).

Located in Shelby Bottoms Park, a little northeast of the Nature Center building. There are various entrances to the park, notably off of Davidson Street and at Lillian and 19th. The closest parking to the Nature Center and the play area is on the east side of the railroad bridge. Just drive under it and park. The center and the play area will be to your left, south towards the river. If you don’t have kids the right age, it’s just off the entrance to the Greenway and the nature trails, so make it part of you next hike!

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Lock it up

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Would you believe this is a bike rack? That’s what Metro Arts says it is. “Emerge” (2010) by Matt Young is one of a number of bike racks Metro Arts has commissioned, including, of course, the rack featured in Bee Cycle. I don’t think I have ever seen a bike attached to any of these racks, but I’m not monitoring them 24-7. Young is a prolific artist, including designing some interesting furniture.

Located in Chuch Street Park, on the 600 block of Church Street, at the corner with Capitol Boulevard, across from the main Nashville Public Library. This is downtown — plenty of parking, not much of it free. The library has 90 minutes free parking with library validation, so grab a book and enjoy the art! (The picture below was taken during the 2017 March for Science.)

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Boom Boom Pow

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Around the world, landmines and unexploded munitions from wars recent and long ago are a serious problem. Every day, people are killed or maimed by this deadly detritus of war. Here in the United States, we think of these things as the problems of other countries, but there have been major wars on our soil, and live ammunition from the Civil War is still out there. In 1999, when excavations for the foundation of the building now known as the Baker Donelson Center were underway, workers discovered a number of Civil War cannonballs, and not dead weight cannonballs, but the kind meant to explode. They were still live and ready to detonate. Fortunately, none of them went off. After munitions experts defused them, Nashville artist Joe Sorci incorporated them into this piece, “Timeless” (2002), which sits in front of the entrance to the Center. Go ahead, bang on the cannonballs. I’m sure nothing bad will happen.

Located at 211 Commerce Street, in Commerce Center Park. The sculpture is right next to the sidewalk. This is downtown Nashville, so lots of parking, almost none of it free. This is also just half a block from Lower Broad, so incorporate it into your next bachelorette party!

Bee Cycle

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It is fantastic that there is dedicated funding to produce works of public art in Nashville. Unsurprisingly, Metro Arts sometimes comes under fire for the projects it funds, because everyone is an art critic, and for perhaps being too focused on downtown. But they’ve also funded a lot of work that has become important to the fabric of this community. It’s hard to imagine the riverfront without the Ghost Ballet, otherwise known as that weird roller-coaster to nowhere. One of the more innovative things Metro Arts has funded is a number of funky bike racks around town, though I rarely see bikes attached to them. This one, called “Bee Cycle,” (November 2016) is the work of Randy Purcell, a local artist. The work itself was inspired in part because Purcell uses beeswax in his paintings. Purcell says the rack is his first work of public art.  Here’s hoping he does more!

Located at the Hadley Park & Community Center at 1037 28th Ave North. The bike rack is located on the south side of the building. If you enter the park from 28th street entrance, the rack is right off the traffic circle on the left side of the building, near the B-Cycle station. Ah, the name of the rack is also a pun! There is parking at the community center and on nearby streets.

Heavy reading

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“La Storia della Terra,” (1999/2001) otherwise known as “the big pile of stone books next to the downtown library,” is the creation of Anna Wilmsen and the late Wolfgang Kubach, German artists who created many other stone book towers. The plaque at the bottom indicates the twenty-six books (representing the letters of the alphabet) are made from stones that came from five continents, and that also seems to have been characteristic of their other works. Actually, Nashville didn’t quite get the full deal, because at least one of the book towers on their gallery page says it has stones from seven continents. You’re not supposed to take rock samples from Antartica except for scientific work, so I’m not sure how they got that seventh stone. Maybe it’s just as well we don’t have any Antarctic rock in ours! The statue was paid for by Judy and Noah Liff. Mr. Liff made his money in recycling and the Liffs donated generously to a number of arts-related causes around Nashville.

Located on the northwest corner of the Main Library downtown, near the corner of Seventh and Church Street. The library’s official address is 615 Church Street, but the building takes up the entirety of the 600 block. It’s hard to miss. The library has its own parking garage, and there is plenty of paid parking in lots and garages nearby. Check out a book and enjoy the art!

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