gamut (2006-06)

We should have expected that Wall Avenue, the one-way street that defines the north end of Market Square, would eventually become well-known for a wall. This wall is on the south side of Wall, between Market Square and Gay Street. On some protective plywood over an especially stubborn renovation project, the long building that fronts on the Square’s northeast corner, is Knoxville’s equivalent of the Wall of Freedom. You’d expect a wall to get covered in band announcements or graffiti. You might not expect art, but whether we deserve it or not, that’s more or less what we got. Nothing was commissioned, but without plan or warning art started showing up on the walls maybe two years ago, in pen and ink, in chalk, in oil. Some of it’s elegant, some of it’s punk. Some of it’s beautiful, some of it’s obscene. And along with the art is philosophy, poetry, and snotty impieties. It’s not all good, but much of it is. We’ve seen worse hanging in galleries and above sofas. All of it’s right out there were you can touch it. Some of it has been defaced with a mustache or a jeering comment, but considering how many thousands of semi-inebriated people have stumbled down this sidewalk in the last two years, altogether less than we might have expected. Owned by the vigorous West/Trent family, we suspect it won’t be long before this wall will be replaced with mundane conveniences like windows and doors. For now, though, we can enjoy the art. Photographer Sheena Patrick had a look, for those who haven’t had a chance to see it, and for the record. — Jack Neely