Business matches muralists with bare walls

Business matches muralists with bare walls

October 29th, 2011 by Holly Leber in Life Entertainment

A mural featuring a river view of the Hunter Museum decorates the exterior of Craig McNamara's N'Awlins restaurant on South Broad.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

For a long time, Carlos Harrison had no use for art.

"A year ago," he said, "if I walked into a room full of art, I wouldn't have felt anything."

Then he met freehand artist Robin Tchoe.

"Robin helped me see art for what it is, and ever since then I've been real big on art," he said. "Now when I walk in a room and there's art in it, I feel different, whereas before it was 'that thing on the wall.'"

With the help of Tchoe and with the realization of the meaning a painting or sculpture or sketch can hold, Harrison forged forth to create Nationwide Murals, a Chattanooga-based company that creates murals for business or upon commission. Harrison works with seven artists, including Tchoe, who also did work for Raw Sushi Bar on Market Street

Recently, Nationwide Murals worked with N'awlins Chattanooga Cajun and Creole Restaurant on South Broad Street.

Craig McNamara, a co-worker of N'awlins, said he and his partners had put an ad on Craig's List searching for muralists.

"We wanted to change the face of the building to let people know it was no longer the little soup luncheonette it had been," he said. Formerly, the building housed Soup's On.

McNamara said the hope had been to create a Bourbon Street theme on the exterior wall, to reflect the New Orleans theme of the restaurant. Upon learning doing so would be considered "signage" or advertising, and would subject them to a charge from the city, the N'awlins and Nationwide teams decided to represent Bourbon Street inside and Chattanooga outside. Tchoe painted both works.

The exterior mural depicts a Chattanooga landmark -- The Hunter Museum -- as well as the Tennessee River and MacClellan Island.