Thursday, July 31, 2008

This Modern Life

At lunchtime yesterday, I went out to do my duty and save the ailing economy by visiting the Big Box Electronics Store to buy a case for my camera. I couldn't find one that was appropriate (meaning I couldn't find one in leopard print), so if the economy collapses with a stupendous crash, you can blame me. 
However, as I trudged back to my truck in abject despair, I saw this sleek modern tableau just waiting to be photographed. I shot it just moments before a Geek appeared to drive his Squad car away at a disturbingly high velocity for being in a parking lot.  Thank goodness I didn't have to fumble with a silly camera case, or I'd have missed the shot.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Prometheus Bound

I watched the dismantling of the sculpture show in Krutch Park over the weekend. All kinds of trucks with flatbeds, cranes, and pulleys arrived to winch up the sculptures and haul them away.  But I liked this one the best: the big orange "O", which turned out to be one of the most popular sculptures in the show, kept it simple. For a mere $19.95, you could roll it into a U-Haul, strap it down, and drive it away. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Changing Its Spots

I shortcut down this alley a lot when I'm in a hurry. It's dirty and smells kind of funky, and the pigeons perch up on the old fire escape, rustling their feathers and pooping on the groundlings. But some days when the light reflects off the windows above to create leopard spots of sunlight, some days it's beautiful.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dreadful Indignities

Knoxville had its share of tragedy yesterday when a gunman opened fire during a children's play at the Unitarian church, killing two adults, and wounding seven more adults. You can read about it here if you wish. I am not a member of that congregation, though I have been to their sanctuary on many occasions to hear and enjoy concerts. My heart goes out to the congregation.
I had planned to post these photos of one of the historical markers along Volunteer Landing at the waterfront, and decided to keep to the plan. These large marble rocks have historical quotes carved onto them that give you a sense of Knoxville's frontier history. Below is the quote I chose for today, which is now a double-edged sword. The devil may well reside in Knoxville, but the people here are resilient in times of crisis and can handle the old coot. 
" In the infant town of Knox the houses are irregular and interspersed. It was county court day when I came. I saw jesting, singing, swearing, women yelling from doorways ... whiskey and peach brandy were cheap. The town was confused with a promiscuous throng of every denomination -- blanket-clad Indians, leather-shirted woodsmen, gamblers, hard-eyed and vigilant. I stood aghast. My soul shrank back to hear the horrid oaths and dreadful indignities offered to the supreme governor of the universe. There was what I never did see before on Sunday, dancing, singing, and playing of cards.
It was said by a gentleman of the neighborhood that the devil is grown so old that it renders him incapable of  traveling and that he has taken up in Knoxville and there hopes to spend the remaining part of his days ... as he believes he is among friends."
 -- traveller James Weir, 1798

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Bard Returns

I've always thought that Shakespeare is a wonderful thing. "What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason." Hundreds of years after this was written, and the very first actor playing Hamlet recited it on stage, it still makes modern audiences think. And Shakespeare is versatile - you don't have to be the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-Upon-Avon to stage one of his plays, say, for example, Love's Labours Lost, which the RSC is performing this summer. In fact, you could very possibly be the Tennessee Stage Company of Knoxville, Tennessee performing this same play on the stage at Market Square this summer in front of a plywood Globe Theater. A high hope for a low heaven, as they say in the play.
The Shakespeare on the Square festival takes place over the next few weekends, alternating Love's Labours Lost and The Merchant of Venice. I'll probably be posting a few more shots of our intrepid thespians during the festival. So pack a picnic, pull up a lawn chair, and enjoy.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


It was just a feeling, but something seemed a bit sinister about the peach smoothie that I purchased at the farmer's market. 

Friday, July 25, 2008


At 7 a.m. the sun looks like it's going to roll straight down Clinch Avenue and come to a gentle bumping halt at my feet. Unless a delivery truck runs me over first.
You want skies? You got 'em if you want 'em at Sky Watch Friday. Go! Now!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Office Hours

On a nocturnal stroll by the Crystal Building around 10 p.m., I noticed the lights were on in a few windows. I hoped it was the night cleaning crew, and not some poor souls who had to work extra late. At any rate, it struck me as an awfully lonely scene, so I shot it in black and white.
Do you ever have to work late at your job?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Brian's Cathedral

As I mentioned yesterday, the first round of artworks to appear on the graffiti wall were not copies of famous works by known artists, but original visions by not-so-famous artists. In the past week, one of those originals has reappeared.
Brian Pittman, a local architect and historic preservationist, pulled out a black marker and began sketching on the wall one day while waiting on some friends to arrive. This sketch revealed itself as a gothic cathedral, not one that we know, but one that sprang purely from his imagination. Over the next few days, people began to write encouraging comments to him beside his art, so he came back and finished the work - a glorious cathedral with fantastic spires.
Then it was lost with all the other art in a sea of brown-red paint.
But the experience led Brian to create more works on paper that now hang framed in a local shop on the square. Admittedly, this new work is part advertisement, but still, I'm glad to see original art return to this wall for the passersby to enjoy. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Where the Mural Ends

Here's the rest of the graffiti wall, showing how our anonymous artists got into a Dali frame of mind on the last mural. I do like the stark transition between the mural and the detritus of old posters and staples over peeling paint on the same wall. Tomorrow I'll show you a new artistic  development that's appeared on the wall in the past few days.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Graffiti Wall

Knoxville has sanctioned public art around town, but it also has a lot of street art, unsanctioned and appearing mysteriously overnight or over time. The boarded-up storefronts on Wall Avenue downtown, right around the corner from Market Square, are known to many people as the "graffiti wall".  It collected the usual kinds of graffiti, a chronicle of who loves whom, peoples' initials, and so forth. But then local artists began to paint the wall, creating an ethereal mural of different styles and visions. People started visiting Wall Avenue just to see the art.
Unfortunately, an overzealous city program to remove tagging and other graffiti painted over all the beautiful art, leaving a red-brown wasteland.
But new art has come back to the wall. Here are some of the latest murals, by artists unknown. I'll show some more in the next few days. 
 Of course, since anarchy reigns in the world of graffiti, these murals often have more graffiti layered over them, which presents an interesting conundrum. Do you think that counts as "vandalism", or are all things fair in love and graffiti?
Thanks to St. Louis Daily Photo for the inspiration for this topic (some months ago, but I finally got around to posting it).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Too Darn Hot

The temperature is crawling up to 97 F (36 C) today, people, and there's an air quality warning too. So I need to think some cool thoughts and stay indoors. Snow is cool - so here's an archive  shot of flurries on the square taken in February '08. 

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wine Bar

Now that I've taken an interest in photography, I sometimes - oh, who are we kidding, I often - try the patience of my long-suffering companions when I see something interesting. This photo has a few of my favorite things: a patio on the square on a summer night, a glass of riesling, and  interesting things to look at (and a patient companion just out of range of the shot).

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sky Watch Sunrise

I can't say I'm up before the sun, at least not during summer. But I do catch a few nice sunrises during my morning walk.
If you'd like to see more skies than you ever dreamed possible, come visit the brand new home of Sky Watch.  Be sure to thank Tom and the Sky Watch team for a job well done.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Juggling Sanity

I couldn't resist posting another photo of the jugglers because this little girl was watching them the whole time with an expression that clearly indicated that she thinks these men have all lost their minds. Plus, you might notice that this juggler has three hands.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Seriously, I never quite know what I'm going to see on Market Square on any given evening. It might be nothing, or it might be jugglers. Those pins look like they should be shooting lasers from their ends, or something equally dramatic. But alas, they were just ordinary pins.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


There's a huge renovation project going on at 4, 6, and 8 Market Square. The Cornerstone Foundation, a non-profit Christian group, has bought the buildings. A coffee house. performance venue (for secular music and church services), and residences for a Fellows program are being built inside these historic buildings. Cornerstone is hoping to create a community center, something that everyone in town can enjoy, whatever religion or background you have. Here's the plaster worker filling the molds that, when taken away, will read "Four Market Square" in raised letters.

Monday, July 14, 2008


It looks like just another day at a construction site. But this construction site affects hundreds of  thousands of people every day. You are looking at Interstate 40, a major east-west artery across the country. One mile of I-40 by downtown Knoxville has been completely closed for reconstruction and won't open again until 2009. The project is called SmartFix, but many people around here call it something rude. Traffic has been routed to the I-640 bypass around Knoxville. The project will widen the Interstate and eliminate the dangerous left-hand merge from downtown onto the highway. 
Luckily, I don't have to travel on I-40 much for my local business. Do you have to travel on highways much in your daily routine?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Living Spirit

Yesterday, Krutch Park was the scene of a traditional Native American powwow, presented by Indian Creek Productions, a non-profit educational organization whose mission is to teach people about American Indian culture and history. A powwow, according to the pamphlet distributed by the organization, is a gathering of tribes and families for celebration, songs, dancing, and storytelling. Powwows foster a feeling of community and keep oral history alive.
Knoxville is in the center of what had historically been the land of the Cherokee Nation. Many natives of Knoxville and East Tennessee can claim some Cherokee ancestry.
This powwow included representatives of many tribes. At one point during the dancing demonstrations, the audience was invited to come into the dancing area and participate. This is one of the photos I took during that dance. This woman was so dignified and graceful. I think this portrait shows her spirit.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Night Is Young

The evening had just begun at the 4620 jazz club. The bartender was setting up for a busy night. The blue neon bar was serenely empty, but wouldn't be that way for long. I caught the moment from my outpost.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Little Black Cloud

Did you ever see someone who looks cranky or sad and hear people say, "she has a little black cloud hanging over her head"? Well, I certainly didn't feel cranky or sad this week, but when I looked up, there was a little black cloud hanging over my head. And since I had my camera, I can give you the photographic evidence. But I'm not too concerned; I see blue sky behind my little black cloud.
To see other celestial marvels from folks who apparently have more cheerful dispositions than I do, visit  Sky Watch Friday. It's guaranteed to make you smile.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

One Hundred

Well, I made it to my 100th post. Honestly, I wasn't sure I'd make it this far. But the time has flown by and I've enjoyed documenting my city, learning about photography, and meeting other CDPBers through my comments box. Thanks to all who took the time to stop by and comment. I salute you, and Knoxville, with a perfectly poured pint of stout from the new Crown and Goose gastropub in the Old City entertainment district downtown. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Through the Looking Glass

The S&W building has seen the ebb and flow of downtown life for the past 72 years. Here is what it sees now, reflected in its front window: the Krutch Park Extention, on the site of a former parking lot, and people going about their business at the noon hour - office workers, street people, college students - and silly photographers.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


The S&W building is one of the few Art Deco buildings existing downtown, and until preservationists stepped in to help, it was going to be torn down and replaced with something unimaginative and dreary. According to Knox Heritage, our local preservation group, it was built in 1936 when the S&W Cafeteria moved from its original location next to the Tennessee Theater. At that time, it was the most modern building in town. The cream and turquoise terra cotta facade and the original metal awning are in good condition. If you click to enlarge the photo, you can enjoy the details of the Egyptian influenced Deco patterns, and you'll see the construction lights in the upper opening. Developers are using original drawings to recreate the restaurant inside. Work has just started, and I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ghost of the S & W

The S & W Cafeteria on Gay Street in downtown Knoxville has been gone since 1981, when people and businesses abandoned downtown in favor of suburban malls. From its opening in 1927 up through its heyday in the 50s and 60s, the S&W was a popular fixture of the downtown business district, the place to see and be seen. After it closed, the inside was stripped, but the Art Deco shell remained. Here you see the remnants of the mastic on the front window that held the S&W's Art Deco logo.
But wait! The S&W building has had a reversal of fortune in the 21st century, saved by preservationists and a partnership between the city and private developers. Tomorrow I'll show you the beginning of the resurrection of the S&W.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


The sun is shining through the haze of summer in East Tennessee. The Tennessee River meanders along, the Smokies wait for you in the distance. It's time to recover from the holiday. 

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Blue Plate Special

Every weekday at noon, local radio station WDVX hosts a free hour of music called the Blue Plate Special. Country, bluegrass, roots, gospel, or blues are what you'll hear, broadcast live on the air at the performance stage of the DVX downtown studio. Sometimes musicians show up unannounced to play - often in town to play a paid concert later that evening. Yesterday the Cruz Contreras Band brought their spirited country sounds to a standing room only audience (Cruz is behind the microphone). WDVX is a listener supported non-profit station whose mission is to spotlight the musical heritage of the Southern Appalachian region of the U.S. As they say : "no government funds, no ads, not NPR." They stream live on the web, so go on, treat yourself to some great regional southern music.  

Friday, July 4, 2008

Soft Swirl

It's the Independence Day holiday in the U.S., and for many that means picnics, fireworks, and that favorite of summer, ice cream. Here's Mr. Freezo in the Happy Hollow section of Old North Knoxville to help you visualize your ice cream fantasies with the soft swirl of vanilla clouds in the sky.
For more fabulous photos of the sky above us, let Tom be your guide at Sky Watch Friday @ Wigger's World. You know you want to. 

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I'm making concessions this summer. For the long holiday weekend, I'm staying at home and finding amusing things to do around Knoxville. Like perhaps going to some free live music concerts. Or perhaps making a big bowl of macaroni salad and having a picnic in a local park. Maybe watching the fireworks show Friday night. Or maybe after saving the eleven gazillion dollars in gas that I'll save by staying close to home, I'll blow it all on a large popcorn and a drink at the movies.
What are your plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Henley's Arch

When I'm walking under the great concrete arches of the Henley Street Bridge on the waterfront, I often feel like I'm in an abandoned cathedral where only the pigeons and graffiti artists worship.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Theme Day: Don't Even Think About It - "No" Signs

The Market Square Interactive Fountain used to be a kind of lawless water park before this "NO" sign appeared a few months ago. I can only imagine that the Powers That Be in city government had to write the rules because they'd seen these things happening. And for the sake of public health and safety, I'm all for these No Statements - but I think the little kid behind the sign is still trying to figure them out. 
172 CDPB blogs are participating in July's theme day. Click here to view thumbnails for all theme day participants.