There are certain areas, not just in Nashville but anywhere there are people, where it just seems that anything that sits still long enough will get graffitied. It’s as though it grows up from the ground, or precipitates out of the air, although I know there’s a person, or persons, behind every work of art. And it takes time to make anything, and usually a lot of time to make something complex and large, which is why this really intrigued me.
Whoever made this must have spent a lot of time on it, and it required a lot of planning—like bringing a ladder, or maybe if it was made by several people someone got up on somebody else’s shoulders, or maybe it was just one really tall person. I even considered the possibility that it was a commissioned mural since it’s in the Nations neighborhood which has a lot of public art, but it’s also one of those areas where anything that’s around long enough gets graffitied. Well, almost everything. I’ve noticed that in spite of graffiti’s association with crime and shady characters most artists respect public murals. This particular piece also popped up in my Instagram feed of Nashville graffiti, and RASMO is a local tag. This respect for murals is, in a way, a break with graffiti’s early history. The word “graffiti” comes from the Italian graffio, “to scratch”, because tourists—originally ancient Greeks, I think, so I’m not sure why the Italians get the blame—would go to monuments like the pyramids and scratch their names and maybe a message like, “cool ‘ramid, would visit again” into the rocks.
It was difficult to get a single good shot of it in part because of the pole in front of it, but also because there was a pickup truck with a boat parked in front of it so I couldn’t really back up enough to get a good view. A funny thing happened while I was there. A guy in a blue Ford Fairlane convertible—an early model with fins–stopped and asked if I needed any help. “No, I’m just taking some pictures,” I said. He waved and drove off, and I watched him go, thinking that he, or at least his car, was from another time.