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nashville public art

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Violin dreams

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Looking like Don Quixote with a fiddle, this metal gentlemen with eyes searching the skies certainly seems to have weathered a lot of abuse at the hands of the elements – or maybe he was made that way. He sits by the side of the road outside of Dreamstreet Studios in Berry Hill, a business I’ve been able to find very little information on. This Buzzfile page suggests it is also called Dreamstreet Morganville Industries and is owned by Dennis Morgan. A little internet sleuthing turns up a book called “Pumpkin Head Harvey” by the Dennis Morgan who is in the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and which was published by Dreamstreet Studios. So that mystery is solved, but not the question of who made this. There are two palm prints and what looks like “20 011 04” written in the concrete base but might instead be “2001 1 04” – or something else. Don Quixote might know, but he’s not telling.

Located at 2830 Dogwood Place. Unfortunately, it’s practically illegal to park in this part of Berry Hill. While there is a great deal of outdoor art, there is almost no street parking anywhere nearby and no sidewalks. Most of the local businesses have prominent “no parking signs.” I’ve been yelled at for parking at a closed business on the weekend. There is a small park on Columbine Place with a few spaces, but it has a sign reminding you it’s a misdemeanor to park at the park if you are not using the park.  This is not a neighborhood friendly to outsiders. There are just a few street spaces on Heather Place in front of Vui’s Kitchen and behind Baja Burrito. You might try Baja’s satellite parking lot on Columbine if it’s off hours, or the strip mall on the 700 block of Thompson Lane.

The Dog

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Outside of Lewis Country Store on Ashland City Highway, you can find this metal gunslinger. It’s something of an ode to 2nd Amendment rights, as the plaque quotes the amendment and admonished us to “Come and take it.” The store owner, Renee Lewis, has been known for taking provocative stands. Regardless, it’s a fun piece, made by Ryan Barbour of Barrel House Metal and Woodworking in Clarksville. The materials are reclaimed scraps from Richmond Machine Service, also in Clarksville. Look close – you may have already figured out the snake is made of metal, but so too are the plants. The plaque also lets us know that the statue is called “The Dog” and is dedicated to the memory of Ronald Douglas Doggett (1948-2000).

Located at 5106 Old Hickory Boulevard, at the corner with Ashland City Highway. The store and the statue face the highway. The store has plenty of parking. Load up on food and sundries and enjoy the art!

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.

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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Cock-a-doodle-do!

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What is with chicken wing places and big metal chickens? It definitely seems to be a thing. Indeed, the chicken above, found atop McDougal’s Chicken on White Bridge Road, looks remarkably like one of the two chickens found atop Smokin Thighs near the fairgrounds. They might both be products of A Rustic Garden, which will sell you chicken statues made from recycled metal from about $139 to nearly a thousand dollars. From the looks of it, if this is where they came from, both McDougal’s and Smokin went with less expensive models. Hey, let’s all get one!

Located at 316 White Bridge Road. Plenty of parking, though not so much at peak hours. Maybe McDougals’s will last longer than some of the other restaurants that have inhabited this spot!

Memorial Day

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As it is Memorial Day, it’s a good time to present art honoring the fallen. The United States Colored Troops Monument (2006) by Roy Butler sits on a low hill in the Nashville National Cemetary. The cemetery was founded in 1866 to bury Union dead, though it has long been open to veterans of all conflicts. Some two thousand African American troops from the Civil War era are included in the burials here. The idea to build the USCT monument in part came from two African American veterans and USCT reenactors, William Radcliffe and Norman Hill. Hill at the time was head of the Tennessee Historical Commission, which became one of the major donors to the project. Also involved were the United Association for Black Veterans and Creative Artists of Tennesee. Butler used Radcliffe as the model, wearing his reenactment gear. You can learn more and see a video about the statue here.  This monument is one of only sixteen in the country dedicated to the USCT and only one of two found in a national cemetery.

Located at 1420 Gallatin Road South. To find the statue, go under the railroad bridge in the middle of the cemetery and then look to the left. The statue is central to the southern part of this half of the cemetery. There are only a handful of proper parking spaces, but it is easy to park along the roads in the cemetery. Please be respectful.

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Smokin’!

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If you go to Smokin Thighs, I hope you like chicken. Like, really, really like chicken. There are some non-chicken sides, and I imagine most of the drinks don’t have chicken in them, but you never know. But it’s not the smoked chicken inside but the metal ones up top that gets Smokin Thighs on this blog. Two metal fowl and two winking waitresses adorn the restaurant (and if you find their food truck, the winking waitress is found on it, too).

Located at 611 Wedgewood Avenue, within sight of the west entrance to the fairgrounds. Plenty of parking. Grab some wings and enjoy the art!

 

Swoosh!

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While a lot of art one finds in the open has been done for love, it can certainly help to have patrons. Here, the developers of The Flats at Taylor Place, SWH Partners, decided to add some drama to their modern apartment complex in Germantown. For this, they turned to John Medwedeff, who produced “Confluence” (2014) for them. It certainly makes a statement. Check out Medwedeff’s page – you’ll see he has a certain style. He knows what he’s good at and sticks with it.

The address of the apartment complex is 1515 5th Avenue North. Not that you are likely to miss it, but the statue lies between The Flats and 5th and Taylor, across from where Van Buren Street dead ends into Fifth Ave. Many apartments and condos and restaurants in the area, but street parking is plausible. Get a reservation at 5th and Taylor, or maybe view your next apartment – and check out the art!

There be dragons among us

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All you have to do in Nashville to find public art is just drive around. To find something you haven’t seen before, just take a corner you haven’t taken before. There’s a good chance you’ll find something. I’ve done a lot of that the last few days and have a fair amount of new material. Now, Eli the Dragon here is not new. It’s been gracing the front of the Nashville Children’s Theater since 2007. It’s just new to me. I admit I have been remiss and not gone to any productions at the theater, and it was only a trip to the Metro offices at the Howard School behind the theater that alerted me to this piece. It’s by Zophia Ann Kneiss, and has won an award from no less than the American Galvanizers Association for excellence in hot-dip galvanizing! Bet not many of you can say you’ve won such an award. The theater uses a dragon as its mascot, so the statue makes lots of sense.

Located at 25 Middleton Street, right out in front of the theater as you can see from the picture. Plenty of parking as long as there’s not a show, or you can park round back at the Howard School, and some street parking is available. And hey, don’t be like me. Catch a show sometime!

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