New Mural Going Up Near Central and Broadway (Plus the latest photos from Elkmont Exchange)

Rendering of Pending Mural on Bearden Place (Photo Courtesy of Scripps Network and Keep Knoxville Beautiful)

Murals are spreading all over town and I’m loving it. The most recent to appear is located in Old North. It’s at the corner of Irwin and Bearden Place. If that doesn’t ring a bell, it’s in Downtown North and it’s a block off Central and a block off Broadway, directly behind the interesting new structure going up on Broadway which will soon be the facade for Elkmont Exchange. It’s also directly across the street from High Resolutions.

You can actually catch this mural being completed today by volunteers from Scripps Networks Interactive. It’s part of Scripps Networks Global Volunteer Day. They designed and sponsored it and are working with Keep Knoxville Beautiful on the project. The building owners (SMJT, LLC  -Segal Drummond, Mike Mangione, Joe Fox, and Tyler Fogarty) donated the space.

Mural in Progress at Irwin and Bearden Place, Knoxville, September 2017

Mural in Progress at Irwin and Bearden Place, Knoxville, September 2017

I’ll confess to liking the design, as is true for most of the murals around town, but it’s the subject of the mural that I love even more. I consider myself decently well versed regarding Knoxville music history and this is a connection of which I was completely unaware. From the press release:

The mural commemorates Musician and Songwriter Harry McClintock, who was born in Knoxville in 1882. It showcases elements from his famous song, “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” which was written in 1928. The mural was designed by Paul Seylar, Creative Director for Scripps Networks Interactive.

“The Big Rock Candy Mountain is a song written about an ideal. And just like the song, this neighborhood has survived and remade itself over time,” said Paul Seylar, Creative Director for Scripps Networks Interactive. “What could be more appropriate for a neighborhood? It speaks of a place where everything is good and right. We’re proud to serve the Knoxville community, where great things happen all the time, including again today in this neighborhood. At Scripps, we try to live by the motto ‘Live. Love. Give.’ and working on this project allows us to do all three.”

Mural in Progress at Irwin and Bearden Place, Knoxville, September 2017

Mural in Progress at Irwin and Bearden Place, Knoxville, September 2017

It’s definitely a joint effort. The work to this point – assembling scaffolding, priming walls, tracing the mural’s outline and assembling supplies were all completed by staff and volunteers for Keep Knoxville Beautiful. Hollies and Magpies (just around the corner) will feed the volunteers who, today, will bring the spray paint to bear. Artists will soon do some final touches and Keep Knoxville Beautiful volunteers will seal it for protection from graffiti and weather.

Patience Melnik, Keep Knoxville Beautiful Executive Director issue the following statement:

“This will be the third mural our organization has helped to create, and we are thrilled to be partnering with Scripps Networks Interactive on it. Our community is really lucky to have this creative powerhouse in town, and we commend Scripps for giving their time and financial support to create something so eye-catching and dynamic for this neighborhood. Murals are vehicles for enlivening public spaces, bringing people together, and creating beauty—even on forgotten little corners. Being a part of this collaboration goes a long way toward helping our organization fulfill our mission to make a more beautiful Knoxville.”


So, go by and check out the work today if you get a chance. More work will be completed later, but today will be the fun day. Also, look around while you’re there. It’s a spot that would have been seen as somewhat desolate not so long ago. Now it is surrounded by established businesses like High Resolutions, Striped Light, Central Collective, Marie’s, Magpie’s, Holly’s Corner and the soon-to-be Elkmont Exchange. It’s exciting to see little nodes popping up, filling in and connecting to one another.

Exterior of Elkmont Exchange Under Construction, 745 North Broadway, Knoxville, September 2017

Exterior of Elkmont Exchange Under Construction, 745 North Broadway, Knoxville, September 2017

While in the area, I couldn’t resist taking a couple of shots of Elkmont Exchange with their fascinating facade. I’m excited to see what they’ve done on the inside. They should be opening in the not-too-distant future. Should be fun.

Programming note: I’ll have Vance Thompson, Founder and Director of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra on the radio (WUTK, 90.3 FM/ ) at 10:00 AM Sunday morning. We’ll talk about jazz in the city and the orchestra’s upcoming season. I’ll also be joined by Jimmy Buckner of the Scarecrow Foundation to talk about the upcoming Gator Hator Week activities all around town. He and I will also tell you precisely what will happen during the Florida/Tennessee Game. (Right.)


  1. The “ladies who like to party” who hang out on Central looking for their next trick will look nice standing in front of that new mural.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      That’s a funny image, actually. Interestingly, to me, as someone who has walked and driven up and down Central a lot over the last seven years of writing this blog, I think the number of “party ladies” is diminishing. Still there, but not so many. With new businesses like Elkmont Exchange and others increasing foot traffic in the area, I suspect new party locations will be sought. Just my opinion. Maybe I’ll ask a few to pose in front of the mural next time I’m that way so we can capture two eras colliding.

  2. You mentioned almost every business in the area, except the one who’s parking lot you took the pictures from, Renaissance Terrace Assisted Living. Renaissance Terrace is owned and operated by Senior Citizens Home Assistance Service, Inc. (SCHAS). SCHAS is a non-profit that has been providing non-medical home care for senior citizens, and those with disabilities, to 20 counties in East Tennessee since 1970. SCHAS corporate offices are located in Renaissance Terrace. I think it’s important to mention SCHAS because we recognized the potential in the area and invested in the community by opening the first assisted living in the area, Renaissance Terrace, in 2009. We are thrilled with the new vibe Elkmont is bringing to the area and to have them as our next door neighbor. Thank you to the volunteers from Scripps Networks Interactive for helping to make our neighborhood more beautiful!

  3. M. Janice Mitchell says

    I have always taught “Big Rock Candy Mountain” to my music students in schools and my private vocal students but thought I was the only one who knew the song and still used it! Now I can send them to look at the mural!!!!!!

  4. Jennifer Coppock says

    Very cool! I wondered what the plan was for that building. Saw that it was being painted white by KKB volunteers on Wednesday. It’s right next to the Glowing Body, another wonderful established business that should be mentioned.

  5. Cool, a good destination for a walk. It will be interesting to see if more pedestrians start to appear out that way. Usually when I walk there I’m the only one on the sidewalks even though Magpies etc are open.

    Maybe the dramatically renovated buildings at the corners of Pruett/Central and Lamar/Broadway will add enough new businesses to generate foot traffic.

  6. If you could mention the artist that are creating the mural it would be appreciated.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      From what I understand, I mentioned the people involved. The designer, in this case, would be the artist. If there was someone else involved it wasn’t made clear to me.

    • I can add KKB has been working with Liz at Jerry’s in Bearden in matching the designer’s color specs. From what I’ve seen they’re planning to use the same paint Curtis Glover and several other artists have used around town like the Greetings mural next to K Brew.

      If that’s still the plan the end result promises to be similarly vibrant and true to the design. In any case it looks like a great community effort.

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