"Graffiti the world, I saw the writing on the wall"

I suspect Knoxville is pretty good or bad, depending on your feelings about graffiti, compared to other cities. I remember the great cover for Bob Dylan’s “Oh Mercy” that featured a graffiti artist he came across in New York City. We don’t have anything that would make a New Yorker look at us with envy, but, on the other hand, we don’t have a constant battle with taggers and graffiti marring buildings or statues, either.

We have one primary graffiti wall and/or giant community message board, that has been around for years. Interestingly, it could soon be a victim of downtown’s success. The wall is located on Wall Street, which seems perfectly appropriate, on the block closest to Gay. Every type of event anyone wants to hype gets posted here, from the high brow concerts to the lowly blogs and everything between the two. Sometimes legitimate art breaks out on the plywood among the staples and fliers. Knoxville artist Cynthia Markert has been known to leave her signature works featuring 1920’s style women on the wall, even though she now is able to command significant money for her work.

The most consistent artist to present his work there is Brian Pittman whose etchings of cathedrals have drawn gasps of surprise and delight at the wall for years. Interestingly, with the advent of the construction on the front of the building on the Northeast corner of Market Square, the wall’s days may be numbered. It’s hard to imagine the front of the building being beautiful and the side remaining covered in plywood. Where will the artists and the anarchists go when the canvass is removed?

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