Artists plan to uplift M.L. King Boulevard with art

Artists plan to uplift M.L. King Boulevard with art

August 6th, 2015 by Yolanda Putman in Local Regional News

Tyrone Chain fills in paint-by-numbers sections on paper at a public painting session Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015, on the 4th floor of the Chattanooga Public Library in Chattanooga, Tenn. Painting sessions will be held all month for members of the public who want to assist in painting the 40,000 square foot mural on the exterior of the AT&T Building on Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Gallery: Artists plan to uplift M.L. King with art

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Public Art Chattanooga Director Peggy Townsend believes art can uplift a community.

Her organization raised more than $200,000 to commission the largest mural in the city on M.L. King Boulevard.

The street, also known as the "Big 9," once thrived with businesses. Art enthusiasts believe they can revive it again.

"The power of art really can change a community," Townsend said. "We've seen it happen in other parts of our community and this is just another example of that, but this time people can participate."

About 15 people painted at the Chattanooga Public Library downtown near the end of the painting session on Wednesday evening.

That group is among some 400 public painters who have participated since the public paint project started in July.

Philadelphia-based muralist Meg Saligman started the project about a year ago. She interviewed people and researched the community before creating the mural, a gigantic 40,000-square-foot piece that will cover the entire AT&T building on M.L. King Boulevard.

The theme of the mural will center around black history and the evolution of the neighborhood, said Lizzie Kripke, project manager.

Mural team member Regine McDavid, who manned the sign-in sheet at the public painting event, said taking part in the event made her feel like she was a part of history.

"This is a perfect opportunity to be a part of a revival for M.L. King neighborhood," she said.

Katie Byrum of Chattanooga came with her two children, 9-year-old May and 7-year-old Charlie.

Her family honks at the artist when driving by the mural and they wanted to be a part of it, Byrum said.

"It's a chance to beautify, to lift up a part of town in a way that speaks to everybody," she said.

Alex Vaughn says the mural will draw people together. He painted with his 9-year-old nephew.

"The more we work together, the better the environment for all of us," he said.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at or 757-6431.