Highway billboards and The Nashville Sign are displaying artists' work for free during the pandemic

Posted at 7:55 AM, May 07, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Artists who have had to cancel shows and close studios because of COVID-19 are getting a hand-up.

Advertising and billboard companies are displaying artwork for free, including on Blackbird Media's The Nashville Sign.

"It just seemed natural to partner with ArtPop and display local artists and their artwork on this special canvas or screen which is unlike any other in the market," said Mark Peterson, Chief Operations Officer for Blackbird Media.

ArtPop Street Gallery teamed up with three companies to display artwork belonging to five Nashville artists. They are Blackbird Media, RBX Media and OUTFRONT Media. ArtPop supports local artists by promoting their work on available media space in more than a dozen cities.

"I've never dreamed about anything like this," said artist Alison Fullerton.

Fullerton's hot wax painting series Native Women Warriors is on display.

"We are all needing to overcome some sort of aspect of the pandemic in our lives and the native women warriors, they overcome a lot," Fullerton said.

An infrared photograph by David Morel is looping on the billboards.

"One of the things for photographers that they don't get to do these days is they don't usually print their work or they don't usually print it as much as they should," Morel said. "The billboard is the ultimate print. It's the size of a truck! It's really incredible to see your work that size and presented to the world."

Jairo and Susan Prado make mosaics. The billboards are showing an image of a mosaic they made for a kitchen.

"To have this kind of exposure around the city, it feels bigger than life," said Jairo Prado.

The Prados have had clients cancel during COVID-19.

"This really could not have come at a better time," said Susan Prado. "It has helped us to gain visibility and pivot and create more opportunities for ourselves at a time when that is just not the case for so many other people."

Danielle Duer is a fine art painter who grew up in Nashville.

"When I was a little girl, I said I would buy a billboard and put my art on it in hopes to make more art," said Duer.

Duer's illustration featured on the billboards was inspired by the healthcare professionals working during the pandemic.

"There are so many different opinions about what is going on right now, but I think most people can agree that medical workers are sacrificing something and should be thanked. I think that's a message that is a good one and I'm happy to express and have help expressing that."

The art will be displayed on the billboards through the month of May.