Featuring the work of 14 artists, Off the Wall brings a new wave of creativity and inspiration to Nashville.

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Nashville Lifestyles

October 8, 2018

It all started after Tinsley Dempsey heard the phrase “creative place-making” at a Nashville convention.

The phrase can be described as “being creative about how you’re utilizing a space,” whether it’s a patio on which vendors can set up spaces or creating more outdoor walkways and areas. The Georgia native, who has a background in art and murals, marks that as the moment her wheels began turning. Four years later, Off the Wall, a 1,200-foot wall made up of 14 murals, stretches down Charlotte Avenue for thousands of passersby to enjoy each day. 

Dempsey says Off the Wall’s mission is to promote creative place-making, public art, and development.

“I feel like revitalization and using the built environment that’s already there is an important message, and the 

art can be really impactful,” Dempsey says. She also explains the domino effect of beautifying a community, saying, “If an area attracts people in a community, it’ll attract businesses and people walking around, so that creates a thriving community in and of itself.” 

Off the Wall is located near the new ONEC1TY center and could certainly play a role in the area’s growth.

“It was important to me, for the integrity of curating all the different murals that are on there, to involve contemporary artists because I didn’t really see a lot of that here,” Dempsey says.

The first mural was completed in 2014 by artist Seth Prestwood. The last mural, finished on Labor Day, is by Nashville artist Tess Erlenborn, who plays with the idea of dualities in her art: order and chaos; growth and decay. Her mural consists not of bold, punchy colors but, instead, a softer, muted range of pastel pinks and cool blues balanced out with grays and golden yellows. 

“My work is taking ownership over and claiming these feminine symbols and colors and various patterns I find in biology books that represent diseases and decay and making them colorful and light,” Erlenborn says. 

The hazy, dream-like mural by another Nashvillian, Julia Martin, can be placed on the other end of the color spectrum with its mix of aqua blue faces and purple legs.

“The majority of my thinking while working on [the mural] was community, community, community—but I still wanted to have a little edge and be a little abstract,” Martin says. 

In today’s world of social media saturation, Dempsey acknowledges the exposure a platform like Instagram can give to Off the Wall.

“With Instagram, it goes across the world, and people will come to a place to seek something out, to take a picture in front of, and it’s just amazing.”

She hopes the walls become “a revolving gallery of contemporary mural art.” Dempsey wishes for Off the Wall to inspire future projects in Nashville.

“I hope it puts a thought in people’s minds when they are developing. Maybe developers, maybe commercial owners around here take notice. That’s my real hope, and that green space and public art is included with every project that begins here in Nashville.”