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.
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.
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.