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The Gulch Dog Park, Part 2 – Jason Skinner

This is the second in the series I’m doing covering the murals in the dog park in The Gulch. In the summer of 2019, MarketStreet Enterprises, the city-appointed master developer of The Gulch, opened a contest for new murals for a dog park that was then still under development. The new dog park lies at the top of a hill on the west side of the The Gulch, overlooking I-40, just uphill from the Turnip Truck. The artists who won the contest are largely new names in the mural world of Nashville, expanding the roster of our local muralists.

Skinner Mural Nashville street art

This one is the second from the right (that is, the second going from north to south), inside the part of the park set aside for small dogs. It is by Jason Skinner, with an assist from the “For Becks” artist. At first I didn’t think this mural was signed, but it does say “bougettes and arrows” in several places, which is Skinner’s Instagram handle (“bougette” is an old French word for a pouch or bag.) Both artists work primarily in stencil, and there are various stencil designs on this mural. Arrows feature strongly, as does what appears to be a set of buildings. There are also some parachutists, a few Conway Twitty Twitty Birds, and a security camera. The heart-shaped balloon is by the For Becks artist.

There are also a couple of sayings on the mural. “The grass is always greener” is probably an allusion to the fact that this mural is on a fence. It is fact greener on the other side, where there are large bushes. We are also told that, “Change makes you interesting, being interesting makes you change.” There are some spots labeled “AD SPACE,” but there are no ads. Two large rocks sit in front of the mural, which is why I’ve added the angled photographs. You can also see from them that the mural wraps around the sides.

In this closeup of the heart-shaped “For Becks” balloon, you can also see what appears to be the face of an alien. Keep an eye out for stenciled balloons, Leggo men, and ice-cream sticks around town signed “For Becks.” They show up in a number of places.

For Becks Balloon Nashville Street art

Located at 1216 Pine Street, at the top of the hill. That’s the address of the dog park. This mural is actually closer to an alley that lies between Pine and Laurel Street, at the north end of the dog park. It faces east towards 12th Avenue South. This is The Gulch, so plenty of parking, none of it free. Well, not if you stay too long. Most Gulch parking is free for the first hour or even longer. Check the signage at each lot and garage.

Part 1

The Gulch Dog Park, Part 1 – Cassidy Bidwell

Having just ended one series, I start a new one. But this one will be shorter than the “Fences of Fame” series, as The Gulch Dog Park only has six murals and a couple of interesting signs. In the summer of 2019, MarketStreet Enterprises, the city-appointed master developer of The Gulch, opened a contest for new murals for a dog park that was then still under development. The new dog park lies at the top of a hill on the west side of the The Gulch, overlooking I-40, just uphill from the Turnip Truck. The artists who won the contest are largely new names in the mural world of Nashville, expanding the roster of our local muralists.

Working from the north to south (north is towards Broadway, south is away from Broadway), the first mural we come to is by Cassidy Bidwell. Bidwell is a local graphic artist and illustrator. Her illustration work, like that seen in this mural, tends to be brightly colored and has a strong pop-art vibe. Though I don’t know when she first created it, the central design of this mural, the record on a record player with the slogan “Lookin Pretty Music City,” first appeared on her Instagram account last May. In that post she lamented how quiet Nashville had become in the early days of the lockdown, and looked forward to it becoming normal. While it certainly hasn’t gotten back to normal, Nashville is definitely nosier right now.

Based on pictures from the announcement of the contest, I think the rock was already in place before the mural went in. This is a smaller part of the park, which is divided into two sections, one for small dogs (where Boswell’s mural is), and one for larger dogs at the south end of the park.

Located at 1216 Pine Street, at the top of the hill. That’s the address of the dog park. This mural is actually close to an alley that lies between Pine and Laurel Street, at the north end of the dog park. It faces east towards 12th Avenue South. This is The Gulch, so plenty of parking, none of it free. However, most Gulch parking is free for the first hour or even longer. Check the signage at each lot and garage.

Part 2

16 Bit Bar+Arcade

Not all bars in Nashville are honky-tonks. At least one is an arcade. It’s natural that in a tourist town like Nashville, with so many bars, business owners will try all kinds of things to grab our entertainment dollars. 16 Bit Bar+Arcade in Nashville is actually part of a small chain. It draws in customers with its collection of 80s and 90s arcade video games and pinball machines.

It’s appropriate then that it be decorated with a mural based on one of the great classics of the genre, Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong and Princess Pauline are seen at the top, but there’s no sign of Mario. He was probably crushed by one of the barrels of beer and whiskey Kong has. Pauline yells “Get over here,” 16 Bit’s catch phrase, not the “Help” she does in the game. The steel piers Mario had to climb now spell out “NASH TENN.” As the mural is unsigned, it took a little research to find the creators, but it turns out to be a production of Eastside Murals, one of the most prolific mural teams in Nashville.

As of this writing, there’s a Netflix documentary series available, High Score, which includes a long discussion of Donkey Kong’s history. I enjoyed it, though one reviewer found it heavy on nostalgia, weak on real reporting.

Located at 1102 Grundy Street, just as it says on the mural, at the corner of 11th Avenue North. The mural faces Comers Alley, on the west side of the building, away from downtown. This is the Gulch, so not a lot of free parking, but there is some free street parking west of 11th. Paid parking is also available.

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!

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