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

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Candy Hearts

I have written in the past about the relationship between bachelorettes and murals, but this is the only mural I’m aware of that is very specifically for and about bachelorettes. The usual relationship, which I first became fully aware of because of a 2018 Buzzfeed article about the Nashville bachelorette phenomenon, is fairly simple. A business puts up a mural to attract tourists, mainly bachelorettes, who get their picture taken in front of it and check in on social media. This encourages neighboring businesses to do the same thing, and before long all the tourist districts have lots of murals.

But this mural has a different story. It was sponsored by both The Bach Party, a bachelorette party-planning service, and Finnleys Boutique, a local fashion chain geared towards young women, of the same demographic as most bachelorettes. Finnleys and Bach provided a design, which was produced by Bryson Leach, a Columbia artist. The candy hearts all have phrases one might associate with the stereotypical Nashville bachelorette (that’s actually a  very benign article) and on Bach’s Instagram account, you can watch a video montage of folks in front of the mural, about 95% of whom seem to be bachelorettes. It’s perhaps an inflection moment in the mural movement in Nashville, but unfortunately for Bach and Finnleys, it went up in early February, just a little more than a month before the shutdown.

I wanted to push back on Bach and Finnleys using the #CandyHeartGulch hashtag. This is the first I’ve heard of Eighth Avenue being part of The Gulch. But the Gulch Bussiness Improvement District set up by the city in 2008 includes everything south of Broadway and between the interstate and the railroad tracks, which takes it down Division Street all the way to Frugal MacDoogal. Way back when no one went to The Gulch except to go to The Station Inn, The Gulch was 11th and 12th south of Broadway, and no one else wanted any part of it. Well, the city may say MacDoogal’s is in The Gulch (funny, it’s on a hill) but I don’t care what any developer says, there is no such thing as “North Gulch.” It’s Hell’s Half Acre, thank you.

Located at 601 8th Avenue South, immediately south of the railroad underpass. The mural faces north towards Broadway. This is downtown, so parking is generally not free, though if you scour around, there are a few free places nearby. Also, the highrises in The Gulch proper a couple blocks away have free parking for an hour or more.

The green leaves of the Gulch

It’s a strange time to be writing about outdoor art in Nashville. This mural by California artist Ian Ross and sponsored by the Nashville Walls Project is about three years old. I’ve tried photographing it before, but even early on a Sunday morning, there always seems to be cars in the parking lot in front of it, blocking the mural. It’s a giant pay lot in the heart of the Gulch, a hotspot for Nashville tourism. But this is the time of coronavirus, and most of the tourists are gone, including around noon on a Saturday when I took this. Even at the famous wings mural by Kelsey Montague, only a couple of people were getting their picture made when I drove by and no one was waiting, when usually the line is a block or two long.

Ross Mural Nashville street art Gulch

Ross’s mural is a riot of green, swirls of paint suggesting leaves and flowers. It’s enormous and even wraps around the building on the top. There’s a video on Vimeo that shows Ross working on the mural, and it seems it was a little brighter when it was first made, though that may just be the light. Interestingly, though this project was sponsored by the Nashville Walls Project, it doesn’t appear on their website. Ross also works on canvas and is represented locally by The Studio 208. If we ever have First Saturday Art Crawl again, currently canceled because of the virus, maybe you can drop by and see some of his work.

Ross Mural Nashville street art Gulch

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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The building the mural is on says “Cummings Signs,” but they are no longer located there.

Located at 200 12th Avenue South. Well, that’s the official address of the building. The main mural faces 11th Avenue South, on the block between Laurel Street and the Demonbreun Street bridge, which sails over 11th. The pieces of the mural that are shown in the second slideshow are found at the corner of 12th Avenue South and Demonbreun. To get to them from the main mural, take the exit at the far left of the second photograph on this page, and turn right on 12th. This is the Gulch, so lots of parking, all of it in pay lots and garages, but most of it is free for an hour or more.

Come together, again

More than a year ago, I wrote about a then brand new mural by Brian Wooden on Gallatin, and mentioned that it had a twin that I wrote “will probably be on this blog someday.” Well, that someday is today. As with the “Come Together” mural on Gallatin, this one is part of a national campaign against gun violence called “End Gun Violence Together” sponsored by Blake Mycoskie and the company he founded, the shoe and apparel company TOMS. The Gallatin version is on a black wall, and it’s mostly white and grey and for contrast. Here Wooden has opted for a blue version, to make it pop out of the white wall better. There are many more murals based on this design around the country, and you can find many examples on the Instagram page of Tyler Ramsey, an artist who is helping TOMS promote the mural campaign. None of the sites associated with the campaign seem to have information about who created the original design.

Come Together Nashville Mural street art

Located at 123 12th Avenue North. The mural faces an alley at the back of the building,  coming off of Grundy Street. If you are at the entrance to Chauhan Ale and Masala House, walk towards the interstate. The large gravel parking lot nearby is usually reserved for valet parking. There’s street parking on 12th after 6 pm and under the bridge to the north all day. Street parking is also available on Grundy.

 

The new art of Patagonia

A couple years ago, what had been the south wall of the Turner Supply Company sported a double mural collaboration between Nathan Brown and Chris Zidek, who signs his work Zidekahedron, which I featured in the post From me to you. But this is go-go Nashville, Turner Supply has moved on, and the new tenants wanted something else. Actually, two tenants wanted something else, the local branches of the chains Patagonia and Superica. The original mural had a Brown piece on the left (west) side of the wall, with Zidek’s piece on the right (east). Now there’s no Zidek piece, and a new Brown piece is on the right, on the side of Patagonia, while there’s a hand-painted sign on the left on the side of Superica, which I’ll feature whenever I figure out who the artist is (It would be nice if it were credited anywhere by Superica, but I haven’t found such credit yet). The new Brown piece, while very much reflecting his style, does seem to evoke mountains, bringing to mind the great outdoors Patagonia wants you to associate with their brand. It’s also another example of a national brand sporting a local mural, though this not such a stretch for the brand image of Patagonia. This wasn’t an easy photo to shoot, as there is a building right across the road which makes it very difficult to get a straight-on picture, which is necessary because of the wooden slats. I had to hold the camera to my side and take a bunch of pictures hoping I got the right shot. A lot got left on the cutting room floor! I also had to do two different shoots, because the first time, I didn’t realize anything was under the wood slats!

Patagonia Mural street art Nashville

Patagonia Mural street art Nashville

Located at 601 Overton Street. The mural actually faces Mansion Street, on the south side of Patagonia. You can put some coins in the meters along Overton, but many of the nearby paid lots have one-hour free parking to encourage shopping in the Gulch, so make it part of your Gulch crawl and enjoy the art!

From me to you

ZidekBrownMain2

Some unusual presentation for a (somewhat) unusual mural. This Nashville Walls Project mural across the street from the Gulch version of Barista Parlor is really two murals joined together, and is also found in a cramped alleyway where it’s impossible to get a full direct shot. Thus my header photo is a merged shot, one from the left, one from the right, each featuring one of the different artists. On the left, one of the colorful geometric math problems Nathan Brown is known for. On the right, a human figure in the characteristic style of Chris Zidek, who signs his work Zidekahedron. This mural took some time to complete. I went by several times to see if it was finished. If there were paint supplies left next to the wall, I figured it wasn’t. I did, however, catch Brown at work one day – you can see that in the slideshow of close-ups below.

UPDATE: This art has been replaced. There is now a Nathan Brown piece where the Chris Zidek work was located, and a hand-painted sign where the Brown piece used to be. You can find the new Brown mural in The new art of Patagonia. I’ll post about the sign at a later date.

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Located at 601 Overton Street. The mural actually faces Mansion Street, on the south side of the Turner Supply Company building. Mansion Street is not much more than an alley and has prominent No Parking signs. You can put some coins in the meters along Overton, but most of the nearby paid lots have one-hour free parking to encourage shopping in the Gulch, so make it part of your Gulch crawl and enjoy the art!

 

Acoustic skyline

AcousticSky

Sometimes I have to really dig to get the skinny on some piece of outdoor art. Sometimes I come up with nothing. And sometimes the Tennessean does my work for me. This Division Street mural, found on the side of A+ Storage, is the work of Harpeth Middle School teacher Allison Johnson. It went up back in November 2016 (so this is not exactly breaking news). The A+ owner saw her work hanging in 3rd and Lindsley, where Johnson works part-time, and commisioned the work. The hashtag #4theloveof music615 leads ultimately to her Instagram page, while 4TheLoveofMusic is the name of her Etsy page. If you look very closely below the word “gulch,” there is a tiny signature for Drew Johnson, Allison’s brother, who helped her do the mural.

Located at 911 Division Street. The mural is on the west side of the building. It faces a large paid parking lot, which, like many of the paid lots around the Gulch, advertises one-hour free parking. Make it part of your Gulch visit and enjoy the art!

One mural down, one mural up

ZidekMural

Some time ago, many months ago, I remember driving down 12th Avenue past Whiskey Kitchen and catching out of the corner of my eye a large mural of a human figure. I thought, “Need to come back and photograph that.” I was slow about it, and when I finally went back I was quite surprised when instead of a human figure, I saw this geometric mural instead. Had I imagined the other mural? Had I misremembered its location? No, just testimony to the ephemeral nature of outdoor art. The piece above is by Chris Zidek, who signs his work Zidekahedron. He’s been featured here before, in such pieces as the octopus in Uncovered! And he has other new work which I’ll be posting about soon. This particular piece was sponsored by the local office of Google Fiber, which as I have mentioned before has been busy sponsoring outdoor art. The human figure was a piece by Brian Wooden, he of the headless well-dressed men. The picture below is a February 2017 Google street view image. You can also see it on Wooden’s Instagram page. Art comes, art goes.

Located at 118 12th Avenue South. The mural actually faces the 1100 block of McGavock Street, downhill from 12th. Most of the parking in the immediate area belongs to local businesses, though there is free one-hour parking a few blocks south in the Gulch proper, as well as paid lots. Make it part of your visit to one of the bars and restaurants within view of the mural!

WoodenMural

Sometimes you have to be obvious

WhatLiftsYou

While I do try to discover little-known works, I am also trying to be comprehensive on this blog. There aren’t many Nashville murals better known than this one. Maybe the “I Believe in Nashville” murals. I’m not sure what other contenders there are, though the Legends Corner mural that’s gone in recently on Lower Broad is no doubt showing up in a lot of tourist selfies. This piece is by Kelsey Montague, who has been putting in wings murals all over the world as part of her “What Lifts You” campaign, with a little help from Taylor Swift. There’s even an app if you can’t make it to one of her wing murals. Her Instagram account makes clear that even when she’s not painting wings, she has a knack for selfie-ready art. The Nashville version went in last April and was sponsored by Market Street Enterprises.

Located at 230 Eleventh Avenue South, on the south side of Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe, across the alley from AccessorEyes. There’s one-hour free parking in most of the pay lots in The Gulch. The nearest free street parking is a few blocks away.

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