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nashville public art

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All aboard! The Sylvan Supply Train Mural

Train Mural Nashville Street art

After Madison Mill closed its factory off Charlotte Avenue and moved to Ashville, NC in 2015, the dilapidated campus of buildings it left behind remained empty for several years. With its abundant walls and concealed spaces, it became a favorite target for graffiti taggers.

In 2016, Stonehenge Realty Group proposed turning it into a mixed-use project with retail and 400 apartments, but this stalled after significant objection from residents of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, where the old factory is located. The following year, Stonehenge proposed a new project to be called The Millworks on Charlotte that would only be offices and commercial space, minus the apartments. This project also failed to come to fruition, and it seemed the site might simply be torn down.

However, in 2018, Third and Urban, a real estate development company out of Atlanta, took over the site with their own plans for a retail and office complex. Before serious construction took place, the soil itself needed to be rehabilitated after sixty years of industrial production. But this time the efforts to develop the site finally bore fruit, and in August 2020, it opened as Sylvan Supply.

Which finally brings us to our mural. This dynamic portrait of an L&N Railroad engine barreling down on us is by the prolific local mural team Eastside Murals, who lately have been signing their work “Out East Boys.” According to the artists, the design was inspired by the rail lines that run alongside the complex and even go inside the buildings, no doubt put there to ease the delivery of wood and the shipping out of products when Madison Mill was churning out dowels for 60 years. The mural sits on the wall of a parking garage which faces down a long corridor in the middle of the complex. The effect is very much like a train hurtling down a tunnel, coming straight for the viewer.

This isn’t the only mural at Sylvan Supply. Indeed, this retail/office complex is something of an outdoor art gallery, much as it was when it was covered with graffiti art. I’ll be writing about the other pieces later, but just explore a bit and you’ll find the other art.

Located at 4101 Charlotte Avenue, at the corner with 42nd Avenue. The parking garage lies at the back end (south) of the complex, the part farthest from Charlotte Avenue. The corridor splits the main part of the Sylvan Supply down the middle. If you are coming from 42nd, just walk away from 42nd into the complex, and you will find it.

Local art comes to Kroger

I have written many times on this blog about how national chains don’t do local art. They have their centralized branding, and that’s that. Good luck finding any local outdoor art anywhere near Rivergate Mall. It can, in fact, be done, but that example is on a local business. Lately, however, things are changing. Top Golf is a recent example, and of course, the local version of Cracker Barrel’s faux-local chain Holler & Dash has its mural. (Cracker Barrel recently bought Maple Street Biscuit Company and plans to rebrand all of its Holler & Dash sites, so that mural may be in danger.) But Kroger is not pretending to be local and is a much more traditional firm than Top Golf, so a big, giant, neighborhood-celebrating mural for its grand reopening done by local artists, Eastside Murals to be precise, is a significant development. I’ve noted that more and more local companies are seeing outdoor art as part of the cost of doing business in Nashville, and maybe now at least some of the big corporate firms are also beginning to get that message. I’ve also noted that art breeds art, and Main St/Gallatin Pike from 5th Street to Trinity Lane is one of the most art-dense neighborhoods in Nashville. The Eastland Kroger sits right in the middle of that stretch. This particular mural came about as a result of Kroger collaborating with The Studio 208 owner Ashley Segroves, who’s been a strong advocate and promoter of mural art in Nashville for several years. Says Seagroves:

Kroger worked with The Studio 208 and Eastside Murals to collaborate for a uniquely East-side vibe. The coolest part of the story is that one of the artists, Sterling [Goller-Brown], grew up behind me on Eastland Ave. I watched him learn to play drums. Full circle and so fascinating since Kroger wanted to stay as local as possible.

The most obviously local part of the mural, besides the words “East Side” and the train trestle bridge from Shelby Park, is the map. If you are used to maps having north at the top, you’ll be a little confused. North is actually to the left, where the grapefruit and peaches are. On the flipped map below, the red “K” in the center of the red circle is where Eastland Kroger is. The map is a little abstract, so ignore the inconsistencies.

Eastland Kroger Map Mural street art Nashville

Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come. The visual fabric of Nashville would be greatly improved if more national chains followed Kroger’s example.  Also, I must note this Channel 4 story about the Kroger grand reopening. It says only that the mural was done by “a local artist.” Really? It’s actually signed. Please everyone, unless an artist wants to remain anonymous, or is genuinely impossible to identify, credit them for crying out loud.

East Kroger mural street art Nashville

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Located at 711 Gallatin Avenue. The mural is on the south side of the building, facing Eastland Avenue, behind the pharmacy. It’s a grocery store, so lots of parking is available.

Off the wall (Part 5)

OTWTRainFull

Choo choo! No sooner do I post a new mural from the Off the Wall project on Charlotte, more appear. This one has actually been up for some time and is a product of the UH crew, a prolific local graffiti and mural crew. You can see some of their work in posts like And we’re back! The image is a homage to the tradition of tagging both trains and the bridges and walls that part of the track system. Also, there are nearby tracks, including one that goes through Abbot West Storage, whose wall the mural is painted on. For information on the Off the Wall project, see Part 1. See the pin for Part 1 on the map.

OFTWTrainLeftOTWTRainRight

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14

Located at 3020 Charlotte Avenue. Your best bet for parking is perhaps across the street at Cross Fit Nashville or street parking on 31st Avenue north of Charlotte.

Choo-choo!

InglewoodHardwareTrain

This is another of those “why I have I waited so long to post about this one” posts. Certainly, anyone in the habit of driving north on Gallatin in East Nashville is familiar with the train on the side of Inglewood Hardware, more properly known as Inglewood True Value. (The first link is to local store’s Yelp page, the second to corporate.) This is obviously an Eastside Murals piece, professional home of Ian Lawrence and Sterling Goller-Brown. The mural went in last year. Why a train? Perhaps because of the train tracks that run back behind the store. It does provide good color on a very busy road, and makes the store hard to miss.

Located at 3214 Gallatin Pike. The mural is on the south side of the building. There is parking in front and on the mural side of the building. If you park in front, you’ll be backing up onto Gallatin when you leave. Load up on home improvement gear and enjoy the art!

 

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