Some people associate graffiti with crime and economically depressed areas which is why it’s funny to me that a lot of the graffiti I find—I’d even say some of the best graffiti—tends to pop up in Nashville’s nicer neighborhoods. Take, for instance, the Hillsboro Village area which puts the “hip” in “hipster”. Or maybe the “ster”, whatever that means. It’s got fancy boutiques, a funky local coffee shop, an indie movie theater, a used bookstore, and a nice park nearby. It’s adjacent to Vanderbilt University, and it’s home to many university staff and faculty. And it’s got Friedman’s Army Navy Store, a place that specializes in camping and other outdoor equipment and where I’m pretty sure my high school chums got the weathered army jackets they wore in all kinds of weather. You can’t get much hipper, or maybe more hipster, than that. And then there’s this storage container currently taking up multiple spaces in Friedman’s parking lot.
That’s some impressive work. Not the container itself, I mean, although that is pretty good engineering. I’m talking about the graffiti. Here’s a closer look.Someone, possibly several people—this identifies it as the work of Fish Club, a tag I’ve seen in other places—put some real effort into this.
What does graffiti really say about a neighborhood? I’m tempted to compare Hillsboro Village to London’s Soho, New York’s Greenwich Village, or even Florida’s Key West, places that, because of low rent, attracted starving artists whose presence made the places a destination, a locus for hip and hipster alike, making them desirable and driving up prices. I’m not sure if that’s an apt comparison, although the area has seen worse days. The Villager Tavern used to be home to a rough crowd whose only weakness was sunlight. Its conversion to a friendly neighborhood bar that’s even been known to host poetry readings could be a metaphor for the changes wrought on the area itself. The appearance of graffiti, though, suggests there’s still a dangerous edge, something wild, something about the area that’s still hip.
I always marveled at how complex and beautiful some grafitti can be. I also wondered what those artists might be able to create if placed in a “trditional” art studio? Would the talent carry over? Probably yes.
There are a few artists–Haring, Basquiat–who started out doing graffiti and went on to become successful artists, so the talent really can carry over. That’s why it’s always kind of sad to me to see some really exceptional graffiti, or, worse, to see it get wiped out, like a mural of exotic flowers that someone painted under a highway overpass that was then painted over. There are some great graffiti artists who oughta be in galleries.
I appreciate everything contained in this post, Chris.
I always appreciate the contents of your comments.
My husband had 2 great apartments in Hillsboro Village. One no longer exists. It was called The Commodore. Across from what used to be Harris Teeter. The other was about 2 blocks from The Belcourt.
Those must have been great places to live: very close to all the cool stuff going on. There might even have been times when he’d see no line at the Pancake Pantry.