nashville public art

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



There be dragons among us


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!

Oh give me a home

Buffalo statues street art NashvilleDown at the very southern end of Dickerson, there is a herd of buffalo. Sure, they’re bronze, but still, we’ve got buffalo! Installed in 2009 as part of a joint Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency and Tennessee Department of Transportation funded revitalization project for Dickerson Pike, they harken back to the road’s origin as a trail used by buffalo to get to nearby salt licks. They are certainly an eye-catching addition to the neighborhood. The artist is apparently a person or company named  “Cembrock,” but I can find no more information on that.

Located on the traffic island just south of the intersection of Dickerson and Grace, where First Street and Dickerson merge. Access is tricky, as you have to cross Dickerson on foot to get to the island. The nearest parking is at the Nia House Montessori school, but when school’s in session you’ll need to park at the convenience store at the intersection with Grace.

Buffalo statue street art NashvilleBuffalo statue street art NashvilleBuffalo statue street art NashvilleBuffalo statue street art Nashville

Let me show the way 

Citizen statues public art NashvilleUsually, I would use photos taken in the light of day, but with Thomas Sayre’s “Citizen,” that would miss a lot of the charm, as they are lit up at night. This is “official” public art (it’s a Metro project), but not stuffy, for the statues are interactive, with giant cranks at their bases you can use to turn the statues around and point them where you please. Apparently, there were long lines back when they were installed in 2010, but they are more lonesome now, so go give them a spin!

Located in the unimaginatively named Public Square in front of City Hall at the corner of Third and Union, overlooking the river. This is downtown, so good luck with parking. Bring money! Make like a tourist and get a selfie with them as part of a Lower Broad crawl.

Justicia, Libertad

Justice and Liberty statues street art NashvilleOzment Law does not hide its politics. With a major emphasis on immigration law, it’s not surprising that the agency is not supportive of Donald Trump. As of the day of this post, the sign out front makes that very clear, taking him to task for profiting off of tax subsidies. What gets Ozment on this blog, however, are the two statues that guard the doorway, labeled Justice and Liberty, with their Spanish translations.

Located at 1214 Murfreesboro Pike. Plenty of parking. And even if your immigration status is solid, they do other kinds of law as well.

A word, a wing

Bird & Books statue street art Nashville
One of the first pieces to make me start to think about public art in Nashville is this bit of whimsy. I don’t know the people who live at 705 Setliff, but I do know they like public art, at least in their front yard. I wonder about the neighbors. Certainly, it makes directions easy. “We’re two doors down from the books with the birds and the Newton’s cradle. What? Oh, you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it.”

Located at 705 Setliff Place, just north of Eastland, a couple blocks west of Rosepepper and Jenni’s and Ugly Muggs. Some street parking on Setliff, easier if you’re willing to walk a bit. This is a private home, so be respectful.

Put another shovel on the fire

Shovel sculpture public art Nashville
It’s Labor Day, so I’m going to be lazy and use this photo that popped up in my Facebook memories from last year. This is official Metro-funded public art, part of a series of works called “Watermarks” commissioned in the aftermath of the 2010 flood. “Tool Fire” (2013), situated on the Shelby Park Greenway near the pedestrian bridge, commemorates the volunteers who helped clean out homes, and the tools they would pile at the street for other volunteers who came later, according to the artist, Christopher Fennell. Not everyone is a fan, but for anyone climbing up the spiral to the bridge, it means you made it to the top, and it’s a nice place to sit.

Located just steps to the west of the Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge, on the Shelby Bottoms (west) side. The closest parking is on the other side of the river, at the trailhead on Two Rivers Parkway at Wave Country Wave Pool and the Two Rivers Skatepark. Or rent a bike at Shelby Park and head up the greenway and give that hill a try!

Going, going,….?

Gibson Guitar sign Nashville street art
Gibson Guitar is selling the building at 1117 Church St., so the fate of this giant guitar and the guitar mural on the other side (see below) is uncertain. I’m putting them both in the category “endangered art.” If you have any insights or inside information, please post in the comments.

The mural is on the west side of the building, best seen from Church St, though at present a construction fence complicates the view. Park below the bridge and take the stairs — they come out right in front of the building. The guitar, on the southeast corner, is a little harder. The land closest to it is inside a locked fence. If you can’t get in, the parking lot across from Chauhan Ale and Masala House on Grundy St is your best bet, where I took my photo.

Gibson sign mural street art Nashville

Run, run, run!

Wilma Rudolph statue Nashville TSU
How public is art on a campus slowly being encircled by fences and gates? Well, even if the TSU campus were locked up tight, this lady would be visible from the road. Built about six years ago, at 46 feet tall the Olympic Statue (sometimes called the Olympian Statue or the Olympic Torch Runner Statue) was created by TSU art professor Jane-Allen McKinney. It honors the long history of TSU Olympians, notably Wilma Rudolph, who won three gold medals for running events in 1960 and a bronze in 1956. The names of TSU Olympians are inscribed on the base.

Located on the TSU campus, off Dr. Walter S. Davis Blvd., near the Gentry Athletic Complex. Virtually impossible to miss.

Olympian statue Nashville TSU

A saint among us

Religion has, of course, always been a major force driving humans to create art, and the Catholic Church has long been one of the world’s great art patrons. St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and School is hardly the only church in Nashville that has invested in public art, just the first featured on this blog. There will be more!

Joseph, carrying his traditional carpenter’s tools, can be found at 1225 Gallitan Pike South, just north of the cemeteries that are themselves just north of Briley Parkway.

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