One New Mural and an Old Mural That Needs Your Help

Emporium Mural (Sofia Lacin and Hennessy Christophel, 2016), Knoxville, October 2016

Emporium Mural (Sofia Lacin and Hennessy Christophel, 2016), Knoxville, October 2016

After David’s mural article yesterday, it put me in mind of our other murals. We have a number around town and I’ve written about them before, but it’s been six years. A lot has changed since then. I also learned we have a new one and one that needs our help. Of course, one has disappeared since that first article.

Postcar from Knoxville (Bobbie Crews, Ken Britton, Walt Fieldsa, Curtis Glover and Randall Starnes, 2013)  , Corner of Gay and Summit HIll Knoxville, October 2016

Postcar from Knoxville (Bobbie Crews, Ken Britton, Walt Fieldsa, Curtis Glover and Randall Starnes, 2013) , Corner of Gay and Summit HIll Knoxville, October 2016

One mural which has been added since that article is that on the side of the Visit Knoxville, Visitor’s Center Building. Designed and painted by local artists Bobbie Crews, Ken Britton, Curtis Glover, Randall Starnes and Walt Fieldsa in 2013, I’ve heard very little but good things said about it. I can also say it has served as an attraction on its own as I’ve observed numerous visitors to the city photographing that side of the building.

Miller's Bldg Mural (G. Bryan Peck, 2000, Knoxvlle, October 2016

Miller’s Bldg Mural (G. Bryan Peck, 2000, Knoxvlle, October 2016

I didn’t mention a couple in that first article, though they were already present. G. Byron Peck’s excellent 2000 rendition of a building face in the courtyard between Tomato Head and the Square Room is much less visible now than it was then. Previously visible from across the square, it is now obscured by trees except for the view from the foot of the mural. It’s unfortunate, in that it was designed to provide an optical illusion of a building directly through that space.

Knoxville Music Mural (Kathy Wilder Brown, 2007), Rear of 505 Gay Street, Knoxville, October 2016

Knoxville Music Mural (Kathy Wilder Brown, 2007), Rear of 505 Gay Street, Knoxville, October 2016

Another I didn’t mention at the time, was the mural – or more accurately series of murals – on the back side of the Conley Building. The “Knoxville Music” mural, in four parts, was created by Kathy Wilder Brown and students in 2007. Intended as a commentary on historic segregation in Knoxville, you’ll notice the balcony filled with dark faces over the bluegrass musician.

London Streetscape (Frederick Gardner 2008), 123 Central Street, Knoxville, October 2016

London Streetscape (Frederick Gardner 2008), 123 Central Street, Knoxville, October 2016

London Streetscape (Frederick Gardner 2008), 123 Central Street, Knoxville, October 2016

London Streetscape (Frederick Gardner 2008), 123 Central Street, Knoxville, October 2016

London Streetscape (Frederick Gardner 2008), 123 Central Street, Knoxville, October 2016

London Streetscape (Frederick Gardner 2008), 123 Central Street, Knoxville, October 2016

London Streetscape (Frederick Gardner 2008), 123 Central Street, Knoxville, October 2016

London Streetscape (Frederick Gardner 2008), 123 Central Street, Knoxville, October 2016

London Streetscape (Frederick Gardner 2008), 123 Central Street, Knoxville, October 2016

London Streetscape (Frederick Gardner 2008), 123 Central Street, Knoxville, October 2016

The London Streetscape designed and painted by Frederick Gardner in 2008 is quite exceptional. I’ve never studied it until now and it’s quite difficult to photograph due to its size and the proximity to the Crown and Goose (so you can’t get distance). I’ve included a number of photographs here so it might be seen in detail. It’s quite exceptional, but it will likely need some love in the not-so-distant future to continue to hold its color.

History of Knoxville Music Mural, Redesigned by Leigh Burch (2016), Knoxville, October 2016

History of Knoxville Music Mural, Redesigned by Leigh Burch (2016), Knoxville, October 2016

The Knoxville Music History (Walt Fieldsa, 2000), of course, has been lost since that article. Illustrating so many prominent figures from Knoxville music history, it was a real treasure which, unfortunately, was lost when Leigh Burch (who had since purchased the building) had it painted over.

The most recent addition to our downtown mural stock is less visible from the street. Completed in August of this year by artists Sofia Lacin and Hennessy Christophel, it is quite different from others you’ll see around town. Depicting an abstract collage of urban images, at once universal and rooted in Knoxville, the mural is located on the lowest floor of the Emporium and utilizes not only a large underground concrete surface, but incorporates the columns framing the space.

Emporium Mural (Sofia Lacin and Hennessy Christophel, 2016), Knoxville, October 2016

Emporium Mural (Sofia Lacin and Hennessy Christophel, 2016), Knoxville, October 2016

I spoke to Liza Zenni, Executive Director of the Arts and Culture Alliance, who expressed hopes that when the Jackson Avenue viaduct work is complete, perhaps this underground corridor beneath Gay Street will be more accessible and the mural might be enjoyed by larger numbers of downtown residents and visitors. As it stands, you can see it by entering the Emporium and walking down and under the steps. It’s definitely worth the walk and, I can assure you, my photographs don’t really capture it the way it can be seen in person.

Finally, in the 2010 article, I included the Old City Train Mural (Walt Fieldsa, 2001) located in the courtyard behind what is now Lonesome Dove. If you follow the link to the previous article, you’ll see that the subsequent six years have not been kind to the mural. Considerably faded, it clearly needs help if it is to be sustained.

Train Mural (Walt Fieldsa, 2001), Central Street in the Old City, Knoxville, October 2016

Train Mural (Walt Fieldsa, 2001), Central Street in the Old City, Knoxville, October 2016

Train Mural (Walt Fieldsa, 2001), Central Street in the Old City, Knoxville, October 2016

Train Mural (Walt Fieldsa, 2001), Central Street in the Old City, Knoxville, October 2016

Patience Melnik, Executive Director of Keep Knoxville Beautiful, is spearheading an effort to restore the mural at an estimated cost of $4,500. On the Indiegogo site, she specifically references the loss of the History of Knoxville Music Mural as an impetus for saving this one, expressing the shock felt at the loss of the other mural.

In an interesting parallel, the building ownership of this mural has also changed since it was first installed. The difference is that these owners, Laura and Shawn Lyke, who have lovingly restored their Old City Building, are very interested in retaining the mural. Kudos to them for their stewardship.

So, can you help? It’s needed badly and it’s a great cause to keep an Old City icon looking great for another fifteen years. Please follow this link and donate as you able. If everyone reading this gave $25, we could fund it today. Please consider it.

Comments

  1. I might note that the faux reflection on the Miller’s Building is not just “a building”, it is an image of the market house that burned in 1959.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      It is the reproduction of a building face, as I said, oriented toward the square. I didn’t mention the faux reflections, but, as you say, one of the “reflections” is of the Market House. The other (at the bottom) is the arch now standing in the courtyard. It is, as you indicate, a nice tip of the hat to something that no longer exists.

  2. Linda Smalley says:

    HI urban guy, we toured the murals some years ago when there was a map of all of them in the NS. Any chance you could list the addresses in your blog of the current ones? Thanks for the good job you do in keeping us informed about Knoxville.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      It’s possible there will soon be a new brochure. I know one is being developed. I can ask if the information will be available online. If not, I could likely do that for you. Remind me if I forget. šŸ™‚

  3. I know this one is a little bit out but don’t forget the mural under the interstate on N. 6th Ave in the Parkridge area.

  4. Morning Alan. Thanks for the mural updates. I do enjoy them as I make my way around downtown. On a side note and related (sort of) as murals…any news on the Strong Alley project? Looking forward to this downtown addition. Strong Alley will highlight all the art murals there. Perhaps after the restroom work at Market Square Garage is complete work will begin at Strong Alley.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      Actually, they have started the structural work (replacing some KUB lines, I think) and they are supposed to begin the amenity touches after that finishes. I’m not sure the timeline, but it is underway.

  5. I moved to the area from St. Petersburg Florida. One of the amazing initiatives the city took on was the promotion of murals in the downtown area as part of the revitalization of downtown. Artist from all over have sponsors and now they have tours and are recognized nationally for the amazing transformation of the downtown area. I love that our great city promotes/supports our local artist and revitalization of our downtown. It is one of the reasons I fell in love with Knoxville. Keep it going!

    • Hella…I’ve been living in St. Pete for eleven years and, as Alan here well knows, would like to move to Knoxville. I, too, have fallen hard for this city and its surroundings.

      Seeing your comment, I’m moved to offer you my email addy, should you perhaps be willing to start a low-level dialogue, as to how you’d accomplished your move. Particularly: if you’re still working, how you lined up employment (what’s a good recruiting agency, for instance).

      I’m at llewis4444@gmail.com and Alan here will vouch for me, from our personal contact. Thanks. Btw…you’re right, as to the St. Pete murals and that city’s support of the artists. They are uplifting, indeed.

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