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nashville public art

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

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Music in black and white

Altru Creative mural street art Nashville

Usually, if I’m having trouble researching an artwork, it’s because I don’t know who the artist is. But the signature for Eastside Murals is very clear here. No, what took some digging was figuring out what Eastside’s client, Altru Creative, actually does. Check out that website. Music business, check! But what they do in the business isn’t all that clear, even if you read all their blog posts. However, their Facebook page is more helpful, as they’ve checked the categories Advertising Agency, Media Agency, and Music Production Studio on the “About” section. Those categories would seem to include promoting music shows and festivals while working primarily in the worlds of house, electronica, dance, hip-hop, and R&B. That triangle in the middle is their logo, and their name is tattoed on the DJ’s hand, so it seems this counts as a sign as well as a mural. It’s Nashville, so of course, there’s an image of the Batman Building, but also a crane with a wrecking ball, which is also very much a symbol of today’s Nashville.

Located at 1036 West Kirkland Avenue. The mural faces the road. There is a large gravel parking lot, and street parking is available.

G.P. Rose & Co.

This may at first just appear to be a picture of an old brick building, found on 8th Ave South just south of the railroad bridge, a building which until recently housed the Downtown Antique Mall. Look closer though, and a faded set of signs emerges. Damage on the taller part of the building has erased part of the original sign, and banners, one for the departed antique mall, one advertising the building for lease, hide much of the long thin signs down the length of the building.  (There’s a clip from Google Street View below that doesn’t have the leasing sign.) They advertise a firm that was called G.P. Rose & Co. According to the 1919 edition of  Grain and Farm Service Centers, Vol 43 (scroll down to the bottom of page 1143, the linked page) G.P Rose & Co. was founded in 1884, the successor to Smith & Rose. The company featured direct access to the L & N and the N.C. & St. Louis Railroads (there are still tracks behind the building, and rail traffic still passes by regularly) and was powered by three 35 h.p G.E. engines (in 1919, anyway). There were two buildings at the time that could hold a total of 95 thousand bushels and handled wheat, oats rye, field seeds, and cowpeas. As the signs on the building say twice, “A Feed for Every Breed.” It’s quite conceivable the sign goes back to 1884. If so, it would have been originally painted 136 years ago. It’s also possible the sign is somewhat younger or was substantially altered at some point – being sure will take more research. But it’s very likely to be one of the oldest painted signs in Nashville, if not the very oldest. Nashville was a much smaller place back then, as can be seen from the 1889 G.M. Hopkins Atlas of Nashville, and there aren’t many candidates left. For instance, you can see a few faded letters high up on 423 Broadway, present home of the downtown version of Mellow Mushroom, which seem to read “—WELL BROS & Co” that may be from the late 19th century, but that’s about it for Lower Broad and its cross streets. The 1889 Hopkins Atlas also explicitly shows G.P Rose, though back then 8th Ave was called Spruce Street (see the excerpt below). I also found on eBay a collection notice signed by Mr. G.P. Rose himself, dated April 29th, 1885 (which I bought!) – you’ll find it at the bottom. It would be really nice if this sign was spruced up. That will likely depend on the building’s next tenant, assuming it’s not torn down.

GP Rose sign street art Nashville

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Located at 606 Eighth Ave South. It’s possible to park for a while in the space just south of the building, between it and Norris Architecture next door. Otherwise, you’ll need to park on the other side of 8th Ave.

Urban Juicer, Eastside Edition

If you think about it and are a little generous, you can say that the twisted straw on this mural spells out the word “urban.” Which makes sense, since this mural sits on the side of the Gallatin Road version of a local juice bar chain called The Urban Juicer. If you look at that website, you’ll see long, super twisty straws are part of their branding, so this colorful version hinting at all the different kinds of juice you can get fits right in. It’s by David Wright of Manecoon Sign Company, who rarely signs his work, but if you peruse that Instagram account, you’ll see that his art is all over town. The picture above doesn’t capture the whole work, as there is also a The Urban Juicer logo and slogan off to the side, but that would have made a bad header photo for this post (see below). Maybe give The Urban Juicer a try – they were voted Best Juice Bar in the Nashville Scene’s Best of Nashville poll in 2019.

Urban Juicer Mural street art Nashville

Located at 1009 Gallatin Ave. The mural is on the south side of the building. Note that the parking lot it faces is not The Urban Juicer’s parking lot. There’s is in front of and behind their building. There is also street parking on Sharpe Avenue, just to the north.

Hanging Around

Ready for a pun? Hanging Around is a custom frame shop. And if you look at the mural, you can probably guess it’s found at the corner of 8th Ave S. and Lynwood. Back in May, the store acquired a new work by Kristy Oakley, of Where the Art Is. Oakley has produced community murals before, and while this is more focused on the store, it has some of the same elements of familiar local sights she has used in those murals. The skyline is roughly what you would see a block or so north of Hanging Around as you crest the hill on Eighth heading downtown, including the State Capitol and the Sheraton building, though large trees block out the view of the Batman Building at that spot. Look closely at the mural and you’ll see Oakley has put in a couple extra plugs for herself. Besides the main signature, there’s a “Where the Art Is” bumper sticker on the van and the luggage tag says “Kristy Oakley.” There’s hot chicken in the van and references to our local sports teams, and of course a guitar. The frame is reminiscent of a similar though less crowded one in one of her Donelson community murals.  (This is the other one.)

Hanging Around Mural street art Nashville

Located at 1508 Eighth Avenue South. The mural is on the north side of the building, facing Lynwood Avenue. There is street parking on Lynwood.

A colorful HOME

This is a story of a missing mural. I am certain that next to the front door of HOME there was once a small mural that contained music motifs, including a saxophone, that I both photographed and posted about. I can find no evidence of either. That’s how much art is out there – even stuff I drive by every day I can lose track of. This mural, found on the east side of Center 615,  is relatively new – it went in a few months ago – and is by Atlanta artist Kevin Bongang. He’s done at least three other pieces in Nashville in this same colorful style, including one of the Off the Wall murals on Charlotte. As for the host of this mural, HOME stands for “Helping Our Music Evolve,” and it’s a music industry incubator, where music professionals can connect, collaborate, and get access to production facilities, office and rehearsal space. Now if that ain’t modern Nashville, nothing is.

HOME mural street art NashvilleHOME Main Mural street art Nashville

Located at 615 Main Sreet. The mural is on the lower floor on the east side of the building, facing North Seventh Street. Street parking is available on 7th. The mural does face a small parking lot, and there are often cars in front of. Maybe try very early in the morning.

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.

Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co.

Nashville locals know that there’s only one place to get locally made, bean-to-bar chocolate – Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co. They are widely praised and, more and more, widely distributed, at least in the Nashville area. And like a lot of local businesses, they have some great art. The large mural was done up as an old-fashioned sign, which fits with their grinding techniques that go back to the early 1900s. It also fits with the history of the building as a furniture maker for many years and before that an H. G. Hill grocery store, a local chain dating back a century that has since largely become a real estate company, tuning their old properties into gold. The mural was designed by Sideshow Sign Co. , whose principal designers are Luke Stockdale and Madeline Westfall, and it was produced by Telicia Lee. Sideshow has designed a lot of signs Nashvillians would be familiar with, such as the CMT sign and the signage for Barista Parlor. Lee’s work is primarily cloth backdrops for photoshoots, and on her Instagram account, you can see a lot of celebrity photos taken in front of her backdrops (and plenty of regular civilians as well). Sideshow is also responsible for the rest of Olive & Sinclair’s branding, such as their signs and their iconic chocolate bar wrappings. The wall with the main mural is also home to a @forbecks Lego Man (It’s to the left of the mural above – see below). Olive & Sinclair is also in the habit of decorating their windows. I’ve included a few examples below, in a couple of which you can see your intrepid blogger’s reflection. I can not recommend Olive & Sinclair enough. If you live in Nashville, you probably already know. If you don’t, put it on your list for your next visit.

For Becks Lego man street art Nashville

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Located at 1628 Fatherland Street. The mural faces 17th Street N. There is street parking available.

The birds of Nadeen’s

Along the main drag in Hermitage is a classic American cuisine restaurant called Nadeen’s Hermitage Haven. And it has one of Hermitage and Donelson’s relatively small group of murals. There is certainly outdoor art on the east side of Davison county, from funny sculptures to community murals to local shoutouts. But its outdoor art scene is growing a little more slowly than in the Nashville core – not as many tourists, lots of chain businesses, and these neighborhoods being much more residential than the core are the main reasons. Nadeen’s is a local business, and they hired Brandon Donahue, a fellow TSU professor as I must always mention, to bring art to their walls. I must confess that I moved some furniture to make this picture possible. While the blue furniture fades into the mural, the yellow furniture (see below) does not. Of course I put it back! So head out to the far east side, as there is indeed art out there to be found if you keep your eyes open.

Nadeen's Haven mural street art Nashville

Nadeen's Haven mural street art Nashville

Located at 3410 Lebanon Pike. There is parking on-site, though if Nadeen’s is open, it’s likely to have cars parked in front of the mural, so check the hours. There are signs on the door warning you not to park at the market next door. Grab some grub and enjoy the art!

Hunt Supply Co.

When is hidden art not hidden art? When it’s only visible from an alleyway, but that alleyway has a fair amount of foot traffic. Hunt Supply Co. supplies all your skateboarding needs and is found in an alley a couple doors back behind Beyond the Edge in the Five Points district. According to Google Maps, the alley is called “#929 Alley.” As a long-time resident of Lockeland Springs, which borders Five Points, this is news to me. Hunt Supply has been in place for a few years, long enough to acquire multiple stages of art. For some time, there was an Emily Miller wheat-pasted and skateboarding paper wolf just below the sign (see at the bottom). The current work is by David Wright of Manecoon Sign Company and an artist he credits as @_wanted_1 on Instagram (that account has no pictures or information). It features a western scene, which may or may not have much to do with skateboarding, but the wolf at the end mimics Miller’s piece. If you check out the Instagram page of Jason Hunt, the store’s owner, you’ll see a fair amount of wolf imagery, and the shop dog, Harley, has something of wolf-like look. There’s a large sign in the back which was also done by Wright.

UPDATE: This building and all its art was destroyed by the March 3, 2020 tornado.

Located at 118 South 11th Street D. The “D” means “behind.” There is a path that reaches from 11th to Hunt Supply, but the real front of Hunt Supply, and the main mural, faces the alley. The alley can be reached from the 1000 block Woodland Street between Five Points Pizza (at 1012) and Boston Common, aka Batter’d & Fried (at 1008 A). It can also be accessed from the 1000 block of Russell Street, next to the YMCA Community Action Program building at 1021, or from the paid parking lot next to Beyond the Edge.

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