While in search of the erstwhile mural mentioned in Metropulse, I ran across two other murals. I must have seen them both before, but I never really thought about them until now. I have to say I really appreciate the sponsors and artists who give us murals. I like a beautiful, undefiled brick wall as much as the next guy, but well-placed murals are a real lift to the urban ambiance, sort of like a talented busker on Market Square adds to the experience. I wonder how many people stop to enjoy them. Maybe I’m worse than average in that regard, but on this particular day, I stopped to enjoy.
Here’s the first:
Knoxville Historic Train Mural, Central Avenue, Knoxville, October 2010
The name of the mural is “Knoxville Historic Train Mural” and the artist’s are Eva Allawos, Walt Fieldsa and Randall Starnes. The donors are too many to name, but they include the East Tennessee Foundation, The Tennessee Arts Commission and Kristopher Kendrick among others. I really like the mural, portraying, as it does, perhaps a more hopeful era when the presence of the train indicated progress and the unstoppable evolution of a culture. Of course, it also doomed the buffalo, the plains Indian and contributed to the coal filth that settled over everything in the early years of the last century. But we’re being positive, here.
So what are my questions? Is this a particular scene or event from Knoxville’s train history? Is this a particular train from our history? Are the people portrayed in the mural real or imagined? Is the mural from a photograph? If none of the above, then how about some general information about Knoxville’s train history? I’d just appreciate a little something accompanying the mural shedding a little light on the subject. By giving it that name, it seems a little history is in order. It’s sort of like finding an historical marker that says “Davy Crockett,” with no elaboration. Or maybe I’m just nerdy enough to think like this and I’m alone.
Then there is this mural:
Knoxville Music History Mural outside Barley’s, Jackson Street, Knoxville, October 2010
Now this time, I’m quite certain I’m correct. This mural is entitled “Knoxville Music History” and the artist is Walt Fieldsa. Others credited include local icons and people I respect greatly: Wayne Bledsoe and Jack Neely. Given that those two were involved, I suspect some pretty strong historical rigor was applied and that the people portrayed are probably all actual people. But who? Wouldn’t it have been helpful to identify them? A list with one or two sentences about each one would make for an enjoyable thirty minutes, rather than a lingering glance and “That’s cool,”then moving on.
Left End (Facing) the Knoxville Music History Mural, Jackson Street, Knoxville
Starting on the left we can, of course, all identify Dolly for a couple of reasons. R.B. Morris is over her left shoulder reciting poetry. To R.B.’s left, past the unknown (to me) lady in the fur, I’m that would be the Everly Brothers. I think Rachmaninoff is seated at the piano.
Right End (Facing) Knoxville Music History Mural, Jackson Street, Knoxville
I would guess that is Donald Brown on the winding keyboards and Clifford Curry is probably the most recognizable in the painting after Dolly (white suit and jheri curls). Roy Acuff is standing beside him and I’m guessing the dandy with the handlebar mustache and fiddle is Fiddling Bob Taylor. I’m guessing some of the others are Brownie McGhee, Mother Maybelle and Chet Atkins, but I’m not sure.
Can you pick out others? Does anybody know Wayne Bledsoe?