This is the third in my Old City Knoxville series. Last week at sunset I was looking up at the Commerce Building on Gay Street, wishing that modern architects understood the appeal of arched windows, and loving the way brick ages. I had hardly even noticed what the text on the banner said — I was thinking that between the brick and the banner I could get a very “University of Tennessee Orange” color scheme. Serendipity – it was about celebrating art!
This series has become an adventure in painting with the color palettes of old brick. I am becoming more and more enamored of the brick “pentimento,” those vintage painted signs that can still be seen on many buildings, advertising “shoes and rubbers” or “the best part of the meal”, some in layers over each other. Here in the Old City, it’s like searching for ghosts from Knoxville’s Industrial past, peeking between old factories and new skyscrapers to find clues of who used to work and live here.
Knoxville local developers have made a good faith effort to revitalize the neighborhoods yet keep the architectural “old city” feel. We have been staying here downtown now for going on three months, and loving that art is indeed celebrated, and so is fine dining, not to mention we can walk everywhere, or take a free trolley. That being said, I can also see the unintended consequences: every time one of these grand old buildings gets renovated into condos or upscale retail or office space, another artist has to find a different and affordable studio or gallery space, because yeah, most artists can’t afford the upscaled rent. That means moving ever further into the abandoned industrial (and sketchy, in the personal safety meaning of the term) areas, or out into the vast strip mall wastelands of Kingston Pike. Ouch.
Here’s a glance at all three in the Old City series together – please remember that you can click Buy Now to get your own prints for just $18 each!
Kerry, I like your perspective on this and the colors really make it stand out! As they start renovating these towns and cities the real estate starts skyrocketing and the artists are once again on the move. One of our local towns did the same thing but did build one rental complex that is just for artists with studio space in each apartment. Only artists can apply and the rent is based on income…a good move but not nearly enough for all who want to live there.