Bon Jovi & Heller Forge New ‘Heart’ of Nashville
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Bon Jovi & Heller Forge New ‘Heart’ of Nashville

Local artist Paul Heller details how he crafted a resplendent “rock star” sculpture down to the tiny blood droplets and used a 40-foot lift to install the outsized art piece.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

Heller’s centerpiece hanging sculpture at JBJ Nashville.
Heller’s centerpiece hanging sculpture at JBJ Nashville.

When famed musician Jon Bon Jovi opened a new venue, he went to the heart of the entertainment district in Nashville: Broadway Street. When esteemed Nashville designers Anderson Design Group wanted a centerpiece sculpture for their club, they came to Atlanta artist Paul Heller. This unique project is part of a trend to demolish run-down “honky tonk” clubs to rebuild as high-end establishments with large live music venues, attractive rooftops, and quality food.

The new Jon Bon Jovi (JBJ) Nashville includes a three-story atrium live music venue that is the tallest and largest along Broadway Street. At the center of the atrium hangs a seven-foot-wide iconic sculpture of JBJ’s famous “Winged Heart with Dagger,” a logo used on his tours and as the cover of his “Greatest Hits” album.

Paul Heller created this 200-pound behemoth with the help of a great Atlanta team, including Jason Webster, a talented wood artist, and innovative engineer and professional painter Jordan Scales. First, they formed the three-foot wide, two-foot-deep sculptural heart from 24 layers of progressively larger plywood using automated CNC technology.

Paul Heller at JBJ Nashville in the “heart” of the Broadway Street entertainment district.

Next, Heller mounted hundreds of mirrored red tile pieces that were applied concentrically from a heart at the center of the sculpture. Heller estimates there are more than 500 mosaic pieces, many of them custom cut to fit the curving form. Heller emphasized, “Attention to artistic detail was paramount in this piece, and this commitment is a characteristic of all my creations.”

The wings and dagger portions are crafted of wood and carved to create depth. The blood droplets at the bottom of the sword are hand blown red glass that glimmer when lit. The lower portion of the dagger is made of metal leaf to enhance an authentic sword appearance.

Once completed, the creation was carefully transported from Atlanta to Nashville and installed using a huge 40-foot boom lift. “This piece will be seen and photographed by hundreds of people every day, so it had to be perfect,” stated Heller.

Nashville has been particularly welcoming to Heller and has become the largest market for his mosaic and illuminated glass art. In addition to JBJ Nashville, he has creations in two other live music venues, two hotel lobbies, and several homes. Opening in June 2024 is The Local, a live music venue in Hendersonville, Tenn., 30 minutes outside of Nashville. Here, Heller will have three large pieces: an eight-foot Hollow Body (2X) guitar, a five-foot-wide abstracted piano form, and a four-foot diameter circular logo with the club’s name.

Jason Webster alongside the iconic massive piece.

Paul’s art journey is evidence that it’s never too late in life to pursue a new undertaking. “I started this at 55 years old with essentially no formal art training. I took one very basic mosaic course at Spruill Center for the Arts in Dunwoody. From there, my passion, carpentry background, and creativity took over as I kept developing this unique art form. I’m a self-taught folk artist,” he stated.

Heller’s early years included working three summers at Captain Tom’s boat rental near his family’s lake house in Wisconsin. Oddly enough, these carpentry and fiberglass skills learned from building and repairing boats and piers gave him the base skills to problem solve just about anything.

His unique art form of illuminated 3D glass art combines three very different disciplines. Carpentry is used to make 3D forms out of plexiglass, fiberglass, and wood. Glass cutting and some custom coloration techniques are used to create intricate stained-glass shapes. Electronics using LEDs create vivid and colorful radiating light that viewers find captivating, intriguing, and beautiful.

This eight-foot Hollow Body guitar by Heller hangs at The Local in Hendersonville, Tenn.

Heller has two other local installations: Atlanta’s largest infusion center, Piedmont Cancer Institute, with a hope-themed, 9’ x 6’ mural entitled “When You Choose Hope, Anything’s Possible,” a Christopher Reeve quote. This includes two glowing butterflies flying towards a daisy and a small flower bud to symbolize hope and rebirth.

At Temple Kol Emeth, Heller has a lit glass 10-foot shofar that is a replica of the temple’s new logo celebrating its recent 40th anniversary.

For more information about Heller’s art, please visit

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