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The Riders by Seth Conley | © Stacey Irvin / Metro Nashville Arts Commission
The Riders by Seth Conley | © Stacey Irvin / Metro Nashville Arts Commission

The Best Public Art in Nashville

Picture of Leena Kollar
Updated: 22 December 2017

One drive through Nashville is all you need to see the abundance of artistic talent that resides in the city. Besides the musical talent, there are several places to find more unusual forms of art—pieces that showcase the creative capabilities of artists throughout the area. These are some of the best displays of public art you’ll find in Nashville.

Air Wave

This sculpture, found in the city of Madison just outside of Nashville, is made of powder-coated steel and pays homage to the musical community in the city. A pair of air pumps flanks an oscillating airwave to resemble radio airwaves. Artist Suzy Hendrix, who created the design, works in many forms of media, including art glass, epoxy, concrete, and aluminum.

Air Wave by Suzy Hendrix, Madison Police Precinct, 400 Myatt Dr., Madison, TN, USA

Capital

Modeling the Tennessee state flag, this piece uses the three stars that represent the three different landforms in the state—mountains, highlands, and lowlands. These regions are bound together inside an unbroken circle, symbolizing the strength and resiliency of the Volunteer State.

Capital by Luke Tidwell, Bicentennial Mall, on the east side of Farmers’ Market, Nashville, TN, USA

Citizen

Created by artist Thomas Sayre, Citizen was installed in 2010 on the front lawn of the downtown public square and courthouse. It features two 30-foot-tall (nine meters) sculptures with a crank device at the bases, which allows people to point each figure’s arms towards points of interest in the downtown area.

Citizen by Thomas Sayre, Public Square, 3rd Avenue North and Union, Nashville, TN, USA

City Irises

A native of Natchez, Mississippi, artist Jessica Eichman created City Irises to add colorful playfulness to a public space in Nashville. The Tennessee state flower is the iris, and this piece showcases irises in a way that allows people to use their imagination. The idea behind City Irises was for people to stand next to it and imagine they are an ant, a beetle or a tiny person. The concept began as a drawing; Jessica then worked with a metalsmith and industrial fabricator to create the 10-foot-high (three meters) flowers, which were constructed of galvanized steel.

Handlebar Moustache

With a studio in the quirky area of East Nashville, Jenna Colt came up with the idea of Handlebar Moustache when she realized that the hipster community in the neighborhood had a fascination with facial hair. The whimsical creation was crafted in conjunction with fabricator Ric Howse. Jenna decided to go with raw galvanized metal to construct the multi-purpose masterpiece, which has been used by skateboarders as a jump spot, and by moms to lock up their strollers.

Lotus

Artist Michael Allison’s goal with his piece Lotus was to design a bike rack that was artistically fascinating but also practical. The rack uses recycled bike frames, which appeals to Michael’s dedication to sustainability. By using locally sourced materials, Michael was able to create art that coincides with his other work, most of which is crafted with recycled metal and glass. He wanted to remind the public that biking is a healthy way to commute and explore Nashville and to communicate that the piece is available to the public for locking bicycles.

Lotus by Michael Allison, Fannie Mae Dees Park, 2400 Blakemore Ave., Nashville, TN, USA

Lyrical Rider

With a love for bikes and Nashville, Anthony Novak created Lyrical Rider by uniting both into one lyrical design. It was fabricated by a custom metal fabricator who modeled Anthony’s original sketch, in which he used epoxy putty and silver spray paint. Anthony has been a professional sculptor, restoration artist, and fabricator since 1986, with works on display at several places in Nashville. He is one of very few sculptors in the area proficient in cast stone.

Lyrical Rider by Anthony Novak, Coleman Park Community Center, 384 Thompson Ln., Nashville, TN, USA

Microphone

The work of Franne Lee, Keith Harmon and Mc Hill, Microphone is perfectly placed at the end of Music Row. The piece reflects the musical vibe in Nashville, and it was selected by the Americans for the Arts 2011 Public Art Network Year in Review.

Microphone by Franne Lee, Keith Harmon and Mac Hill, Northeast corner of Demonbreun Street and Music Row, Nashville, TN, USA

Soundboard Sliders

Commissioned by Metro Arts for a sculptural bike-rack program, Duncan McDaniel designed Soundboard Sliders as a symbol of Nashville’s music industry from the perspective of sound engineering. By mixing sculpture with a bike rack, artist Duncan promoted cycling and public art, which are both important to the Nashville lifestyle. The work is, fittingly, positioned near Belmont University, where many audio engineering students study. Soundboard Sliders was Duncan’s first public art project. He is also a professional visual artist and works as an art handler for the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, and the Tennessee State Museum.

Soundboard Sliders by Duncan McDaniel, 12 South, 2318 12th Avenue South, Nashville, TN, USA

The Riders

When the Metro Nashville Arts Commission put out a call looking for artists to create works of art that would double as bike racks, Seth Conley, a Nashville native, couldn’t pass up the opportunity. He wanted to create a bike rack that would allow people’s bikes to become part of the art when locked to it. With The Riders, he did just that. The work was designed to be modular and can be scaled, depending on how many bikes need to be stored. Not only does it incorporate bikes into the design, but it also gives them a sense of motion.

The Riders by Seth Conley, East end of the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge, Nashville, TN, USA