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The Delgado calacas

In a small shop in the collection of galleries and other businesses at 919 Gallatin Ave is a business with a long history. Delgado Guitars had its start as a family business in 1923 in the city of Torreón, Coahuila, in north-central Mexico. Over the last century, the family and the business moved many places, eventually winding up in Nashville. And over those years Delgado Guitars has maintained both instrument making traditions and Mexican cultural traditions. Thus the very Mexican subject of calacas and calaveras found in the mural on their front door. Calacas are the skeletons, often in fancy dress, that are so important in Mexican art, particularly in representations of the Day of the Dead, while the calaveras are brightly painted skulls also common in Mexican art. They have a long history, as political satire, but also as a reflection of Mexico’s roots in Mayan, Aztec, and other Amerindian cultures. The artist who produced this work comes from another part of the world. Olasubomi Aka-Bashorun was born in Lagos, Nigeria and grew up in Oklahoma. He now has a gallery in The Arcade, the DBO Gallery. While the Delgado mural is a different theme from much of his work, its bright, strong colors are very much like his other paintings. This mural verges on hidden art. Not only is it impossible to see from the road, but also, since it’s on a door, you won’t see it when Delgado Guitars is open! So you’ll need to come twice, right? Certainly you will if you want to see both the guitars and the mural.

Calacas mural street art Nashville

Calavera mural street art Nashville

Located at 919 Gallatin Avenue. There is a fair amount of parking available at the venue.

 

Black and white mystery

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Sometimes my investigative skills fail me. This arresting mural is found on a concrete wall that helps form a private yard behind the Sun Diner and the Patsy Cline Museum. The Johnny Cash Museum is next door, and the wall actually attaches to the back corner of Tequila Cowboy (based on that website, no one over twenty-eight ever goes inside Tequila Cowboy). When I first saw it, I figured my work was already done, that I would quickly figure out who Alton Ross is, and what he has to do with skulls. I found nothing. There are Alton Rosses out there, but none I could find a connection to here. No connection to any of the neighboring businesses turns up. A few folks have posted pictures of themselves standing in front of this mural. One guy used a lot of punk rock hashtags with his photo, but that led nowhere. So, if you know what this is about, let me know!

Located behind 105 Third Avenue South (Sun Diner), at the end of the alley/parking lot that heads south from Broadway between Broadway Brewhouse and Tequila Cowboy. If you are on the 100 block of Fourth Avenue South and look across the parking lot to the Patsy Cline Museum sign, the mural is below that sign.

Boo!

Skull mural street art Nashville
One of the odder murals in town is this one, at the entrance to what had been the Slaughterhouse on Sixth Avenue. Skulls, lots and lots of skulls. It’s hard to say how long this will be here. There are two merged buildings here, and the other one is for sale. It’s not clear if this part is included, but even if not, it’s hard to imagine that property a stone’s throw from the convention center is going to keep a skull motif for long. For its part, Slaughterhouse itself has moved out to Lebanon Pike. I’d say this is definitely endangered art.

UPDATE: The mural has been dismantled as the building undergoes construction, but its pieces are still there, helping to block entrance to the site.

Located at 423 Sixth Avenue South, behind the Central Police Precinct building. You can probably park long enough for a quick peek in the lot of the office building across the street, but this is downtown, so good luck.

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