Graffiti Quest

Tagging east of the Old City, Knoxville October 2010
A recent article in Metropulse mentioned a new mural covering and designed to prevent further graffiti. Still mourning the recent loss of the downtown graffiti wall on Wall Avenue, I set out to investigate. The only clues were that it was east of the Old City and on something called the Fireproof Storage Building and it is visible from the James White Parkway. The name of the building wouldn’t be too comforting to me if I had something stored there. I mean, if they have to put the word “fireproof” in the name, doesn’t that sound like they are protesting just a little much, like a minister who’s favorite sermon is about the evils of homosexuality or the car dealer who uses the words “honest” and “fair” five times in the first five minutes after you meet him? But I digress.
Razor Wire around a stock yard, Jackson and Humes, Knoxville, October 2010

Tracks parallel to Jackson, east of James White Parkway, Knoxville, October 2010

E. Jackson looking east past Florida/Randolph St., Knoxville, October 2010
Walking east from the Old City is somewhat unnerving. The razor wire, empty streets and seemingly abandoned buildings don’t exactly exude warmth and comfort. I found the building in question, but learned that the precise name of the building is the “Fireproof Storage and Van Company.” That raised a new question in my mind: Why the “van” in the title? What kind of company provides storage and rents vans? Or did they build or sell vans? Live in vans by the river? Jack Neely, where are you? It sounds like a question for Doc Knox.

Southwest corner of the building

Close-up of the southeast corner

Finding the burgeoning mural was somewhat anti-climatic. There are actually two large orange swirls, one on either side of the westward-facing wall, just over the lower roof-line.

Northwest corner of the building (look closely)

Northwest corner close-up

I’m assuming the black squiggles were there before the advent of the mural and are slowly being covered by the larger work. Kudos to the person who spotted this in the first place as it isn’t easily seen. I’ll try to check in on the progress of the muralist in coming months.

Tracks looking west, toward the Old City, Knoxville, October 2010

I walked away thinking of this section of Knoxville that seems so desolate to me, though I realize these buildings may hold vibrant enterprises I can’t see nor fathom. It is so close to the Old City, yet it in no way resembles its grumpily vibrant neighbor. Is it possible it could ever become part of the flow of the city? The pending addition of a new upscale bar a block east of Regas on Magnolia seems to be an attempt at movement in this direction, as well as an attempt to bridge the gap between downtown and Old North Knoxville.

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