Nashville is the heart of country music. Walk anywhere in the city and you’ll hear live music -- on the street, in bars, restaurants, even in the airport! But there’s even more artistry to love in Music City: the city’s murals.
The mural scene has taken off in Nashville thanks in part to the Nashville Walls Project, which promotes both local and internationally known artists to make their mark on city walls. With dozens of murals in the city and the surrounding suburbs, it’s hard to see them all, so here’s a list of the top five that shouldn’t be missed.
1. I Believe In Nashville
917 Woodland Street (East Nashville)
There are technically three of these murals in different parts of the city, but the one on the wall of popular music venue The Basement East in East Nashville has become a symbol for a grieving community because it somehow survived a powerful tornado. The March 2020 EF-4 twister ripped through the area overnight, killing 25 people. Surveying the extensive damage in the morning, crews found the music venue destroyed except for the wall displaying the I Believe in Nashville mural. It’s since become a calling card for a resilient community.
Even before the tornado, this mural is looked at as the unofficial logo for uplifting Nashville. Street artist Adrien Saporiti started painting the murals in 2012 after the devastating Nashville floods of 2010, with the first one in the bustling 12 South neighborhood. The second mural is on Marathon Music Works, with the third, and smaller, one in East Nashville.
2. Silo Mural
1407 51st Ave N. (The Nations)
Painted by famed Australian street artist Guido Van Helten, this mural symbolizes the core of Nashville. Standing 15 stories tall, the gigantic painting is of Lee Estes -- a man in his 90s who’s lived in the neighborhood his entire life. He is known locally for his tireless volunteer work and dedication to the now up-and-coming community.
The silo mural is part of a revitalization of an old grain building. In addition to the painting on the old silo, there is also a mural depicting two boys from the neighborhood’s community center. Estes grew up going to that center and still volunteers there today.
3. What Lifts You
302 11th Avenue S. (The Gulch)
Undoubtedly some of the most photographed murals in the city are the What Lifts You wings in the Gulch -- a hip area next to downtown Nashville. The mural, painted by famed artist Kelsey Montague, features a large set of wings next to a smaller set. You will often see a line wrapped around the building of people wanting to snap that iconic picture alongside an inspiring piece of artwork.
While the wings are popular, Montague also has two other murals in Nashville, both along the same theme of What Lifts You. There is a mural of a hot air balloon in East Nashville (1034 W Eastland Ave) and a rainbow mural downtown (1010 Dr. M.L.K. Jr Blvd). Montague has her famous wings on walls across the world, including in the Netherlands, Australia, and Singapore.
4. Dragon Mural
1801 21st Avenue South (Hillsboro Village)
One of the oldest murals in Nashville, the dragon mural spans nearly a city block in the trendy Hillsboro Village area next to Vanderbilt University. Artists David Glick and Adam Randolph originally painted the mural in 1995 based on a beloved statue in a nearby park, Fannie Mae Dees Park, also affectionately known as “Dragon Park.”
The dragon art got a facelift on its 20th anniversary in 2005. Local volunteers, including children from the nearby elementary school, took their brushes to touch up the fading artwork.
5. It’s Gonna Be O.K.
3020 Charlotte Avenue (West End)
I think we need this one after a hard year. Stretching 75 feet, the It’s Gonna Be O.K. mural in Nashville’s West End neighborhood is a bright and cheery reminder that it’s well … going to be OK! Nashville-based artist Sarah Tate painted this mural and is known for her whimsical style with meaningful, and sometimes funny, statements. This mural is becoming a popular spot to grab an uplifting picture.
After visiting this fun mural, head just across the street to visit Centennial Park. The urban park has a nice walking trail, lake, dog park, and at the center, the Parthenon -- a replica of the Parthenon in Greece.
Pro Tips: A great way to see and learn about Nashville’s murals is to take an official tour. Nashville Mural Tours will take you to popular murals, as well as some off the beaten path. You can also take a virtual tour of some of Nashville’s murals from the comfort of your own home.
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