As I promised, yesterday, here is a view of another alley project undertaken by the Artist Alley Revamp Project. This alley project represents an expansion of the previous work into another section of town and a new alley. It is important to note that the organizers of this project and the artists involved get nothing in return for their efforts beyond the fun of working together and the satisfaction of knowing their art made our city a bit better.
The Java Alley is interesting in that, as far as I know, it has no historical name. Armstrong/Strong Alley contains two names of very important Knoxville families who likely had some connection to that space. Here, not so much.
It’s easy to pass by and not realize this is a full-blown alley. Java Old City has done a good job making use of the portion of the alley outside their coffee shop, with flowers and tables that render the area pleasant enough to appear to have been designed for the purpose. That isn’t, however, the case.
An examination of the alley reveals several other doors on each side, some of which serve as primary entry points for residences. As I took photographs several residents came and went. The end of the alley is actually a bend. More art hides just around the corner where the alley opens up into a junk-yard/ garbage area. With some imagination and desire on the part of the owners it could be a very cool, welcoming space.
The art in this alley seems to interact more with the viewer and with the immediate environment. To the unsuspecting passerby, the first signal that something is afoot is the scantily clad woman in the very back of the alleyway. She exonerates the viewer to, “Stay Classy, America.” Other messages are placed within the art throughout the alley.
Other pieces of art curl around windows or simulate elegant light poles holding up an old fixture where grunge and darkness have prevailed. A cat peers through an actual window at a bird that might or might not be inside. A genie holds a box – is it the mail box mounted on the wall or is it a painted illusion?
Fantasy elements also abound. An ominous creature asks, “Are we not men?” A dragon peers at a mermaid. A flower looms over the caption, “Unless.” An alligator hovers over the alley just beneath an old fire escape. A colorful, magic mushroom covers a door while a tree seems to grow around an actual window in the wall.
Is it worth the walk through the Old City? Yes. It is definitely worth the walk. Some of the artists have signed their work. Take note send them a thank you. They aren’t usually that hard to find online. As I’ve said before in other connections, these people have made our city a bit better. We all need to do our part if we want it to continue to be a great and ever improving neighborhood.