by Candace Newson
I’m no stranger to playing tourist wherever I live. It’s easy to get into a routine of visiting the same places everyday, but it’s amazing how much you can learn if you step outside of your comfort zone. Prior to Nashville, I lived in New York for several years and my weekends were always filled with strolling through different neighborhoods. Naturally, my move to Nashville birthed a new wave of exploring. Recently, I thought to add a hop-on hop-off tour using the Music City Circuit to my “tourist at home” to-do list. The most appealing aspect of the Music City Circuit is the fact that it’s free. If you’re like me and you don’t use public transportation for your daily commute, but you’re known to visit downtown on the weekends or even weeknights, the Circuit bus is a viable option. I parked my car near my first stop and was able to get in and out of downtown all day without incurring parking fees. Depending on the time of day, the Circuit stops as little as every 15 minutes at up to 25 convenient locations. For this trip, my focus was public art projects. I’m a huge fan of public art and Artober Nashville is a great time to check out Nashville’s art scene.
Stop 1: Nashville Farmers’ Market
The Nashville Farmers’ Market on Rosa Parks Boulevard is a frequent stop for many Nashvillians. If you work downtown it’s a great place to go for lunch for a variety of food options and local goods. Next time you’re there, pop outside to the farm sheds for local produce and and while you’re outside, take a look around and find Corn and Tomato by Dan Goosetree and Paige Easter. The sculpture perfectly represents the fresh fruit and produce available at the market and both pieces serve as bike racks.
Stop 2: Nashville Walls Project (Cornerstone Building, 530 Church Street)
Murals are my personal favorite when it comes to public art. Nashville has done a good job with implementing murals all around the city. Most recently, The Nashville Walls Project enlisted artists from all over the globe to paint pieces downtown. A few of my favorites are at 530 Church Street on the Cornerstone Building: These are just a few of my favorites: Untitled by Curiot, Teresa by Rone and One Day I will Rescue Your Brother, Too by Herakut.
Stop 3: Nashville Public Library
The downtown library is surrounded by all kinds of art. Library Doors was created by Nashville artist, Alan LeQuire. Make sure to stop by during library business hours to see the scenes of native plants and animals of Tennessee. When the library is closed the reverse side of the doors is a more classic design.
Directly across the street from the library lives one of my favorite downtown Nashville sculptures. Emerge, by Matt Young, is a bike rack created in the form of 2 huge padlocks emerging from the ground. Everyday items in unlikely places always catch my eye.
Speaking of everyday items, it might seem likely to find books at the library, but a 20-foot tower of stone books – not so much. La Storia della Terra, was sculpted by German husband and wife sculptors Anna Wilmsen and Wolfgang Kubach. It’s made up of twenty-six books, one for each letter of the english alphabet and it makes for a great backdrop for all the avid readers out there.
Stop 4: The Arcade
Sneak between 4th and 5th Avenues and Church and Union Street to spot my next stop, Happy Times at The Arcade by Michael Cooper. This mural is depicts several fun scenes and I love how it gives what would be a typical downtown alley a nice facelift. Step inside the Arcade
Building on 5th Avenue you’ll find several art galleries and shops. My favorite time to visit is during the First Saturday Art Crawl. The turnout is always great and I’ve never left without meeting someone new. Remember to pop in the galleries directly across the street as well, The Arts Company, Rymer Gallery and Tinney Contemporary.
Stop 5: Riverfront Park
I’ve driven past Riverfront Park several times, but due to lack of parking I’ve never actually been able to stop and enjoy it. Thanks to the Music City Circuit, I was dropped off right at First Avenue at Riverfront Station allowing me to walk around and take in the view of the river. Closer to Ascend Amphitheater, I was able to get a closer look at the big swiggle as I’ve always called it. It’s actually a piece of public art better known as Light Meander, by Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan, inspired by the curves of the Cumberland River. I feel like it’s Nashville’s version of The Bean or Cloud Gate in Chicago. Both pieces are made of highly polished stainless steel, perfect for a selfie. Get a little closer to the sculpture and check out the guitar picks along the bottom.
The works of art highlighted here are just a fraction of the public art available in Nashville. Visit the Metro Nashville Arts Commission for a full listing of works included in the Public Art Program and if you ever need a partner to explore, reach out to me on Instagram: @ArtOverSelfies.
When she’s not hopping on and off the Music City Circuit and taking pictures of art around Nashville, Candace Newson is the online media manager for Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee.