Nashville, Tennessee is a popular tourist destination known for its vibrant music scene and rapid growth. The physical makeup and offerings in many of Nashville’s neighborhoods are changing every day. No one is more aware of the changing surroundings than longtime Nashville residents and natives. Many report that the city’s growth has been at times both exciting and difficult to endure. While Nashville has long been known for its live music venues, it also features visual art in many forms.
A recent movement to incorporate art pieces in the streets has been spearheaded by an initiative called Nashville Walls Project. Both international and local artists have been tasked with designing and executing large murals in various locations around Nashville. Once such artist has executed a mural that has become a symbol of change in the neighborhood called The Nations. Artist Guido Van Helten chose to acknowledge the neighborhood’s future by honoring the presence of neighborhood’s past. The subject of the 15-story mural on the side of an abandoned silo is 91-year-old Nashville native, Lee Estes.
Nashville Public Radio reporter Amy Eskind penned a May 2017 article about the mural including an interview with its subject. She reported that Estes has been a resident of The Nations neighborhood since the 1920s, and that he can see the mural in which he is featured from the driveway of his home. He can provide an oral history of the neighborhood and his family home, which was once without indoor plumbing. Estes, who is witnessing so much change in his neighborhood, humbly said “I don’t want to be famous. I just want to be remembered.” Van Helten’s work is “meant to implore newcomers to respect the past.”
To learn more about the artists and murals that comprise the Nashville Walls Project, visit their website at http://www.nashvillewallsproject.com. To read the Nashville Public Radio NPR News article published while the mural was still in progress, visit http://nashvillepublicradio.org/post/stunning-silo-mural-makes-west-nashville-old-timer-icon-nations-redevelopment#stream/.
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