“Or does it explode?”
There’s a stretch of Nashville’s Charlotte Avenue, near Richland Park, that’s undergone tremendous transformation in the past few years. It’s gone from empty buildings and slightly seedy businesses to more upscale restaurants and apartments. Fortunately some of the older and friendly places—like Bobby’s Dairy Dip and Headquarters Coffee Shop—have stayed around, for now at least, but that’s another story.
At the center of it, though, is the old Madison Mill industrial complex. Officially vacant since 2015 I think it was stripped bare more than a decade ago. Plans to turn it into apartments and businesses have been made then scrapped, and it’s been popular with graffiti artists. I’ve collected quite a bit there, and I wish I’d collected more.
All the graffiti, at least what’s visible from the street, and probably all that’s inside too, has been painted over. The windows have been taken out and in the last week there have been signs of activity. Madison Mill, it seems, is about to be demolished.
The graffiti that was there is gone, but what will happen to the artists that used it? Often when I look at graffiti I imagine the person who created it. I imagine someone so desperate to express something they were willing to take the risk of being arrested, or worse. For some art is a hobby. For some it’s a compulsion.
What happens to them when they have no place to go?
Before it explodes here’s some of the graffiti I collected at the Madison Mill. Some of it shows real skill.