Artists to paint largest mural in Chattanooga on M.L. King

Staff Photo by Dan Henry. Local artist Mercedes Llanos, 22, left, and and co-principal artist Lizzie Kripke, 24, from Philadelphia pressure wash the AT&T building off of M.L. King Blvd. in preparation for a mural that will wrap the entire 40,000 sq/foot building exterior. The project which is the Meg Salesman Studios' largest project to date is expected to be finished near Thanksgiving.

Public paint sessions

The public is invited to participate in the mural project on these days:› Bessie Smith cultural center lawn, 5-8 p.m. July 3.› Miller Plaza Waterhouse Pavilion 11 a.m-2 p.m. July 15.› Chattanooga Downtown Public Library, fourth floor, 4-7:30 p.m. July 16.› More information:

Public Art Chattanooga has commissioned a $200,000 mural project on the AT&T building on M.L. King Boulevard.

At 40,000 square feet, the mural will be the largest Public Art-commissioned mural in the city, said Peggy Townsend, director of Public Art Chattanooga, a division of the City of Chattanooga.

Public art tells a story and creates a place where people want to be, she said.

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

Artists started pressure-washing and priming the AT&T building for painting this month. The project has been in the making for at least three years, Townsend said.

Painting starts in July. Organizers expect completion in November.

The mural will cover concrete on all sides of the AT&T building at 300 East M.L. King Blvd. Only the granite portion of the building will be left unpainted, Kripke said.

"We're painting a gigantic painting here," she said.

The community is invited to participate in the project during its public paint days. Paint cloths, similar to color-by-number paintings, will be available to the public. No painting experience is required. The cloths will then be added to the mural using adhesive. The first public painting is scheduled July 3 at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center.

The project is made possible by a partnership with AT&T and funding from the Lyndhurst and Benwood foundations. Sherwin Williams and NES Rentals are also corporate sponsors, according to a Public Art Chattanooga news release.

Public Art Chattanooga selected nationally recognized Philadelphia-based muralist Meg Saligman to create the mural. It also offered an apprentice program that enables seven local artists to assist her and learn techniques for large- scale projects.

Local artists include Hollie Berry, Abdul Ahmad, Anna Carll, Rondell Crier, Shaun LaRose, Mercedes Llanos and Anier Reina.

Saligman and Kripke have been talking to residents since 2014, listening to stories about M.L. King and getting views of how it should be represented. They've painted large murals all over the country, Kripke said.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at or 757-6431.