Dogwood Arts Collaborates With Artists To Restore and Enhance Beloved Strong Alley Mural
in the Wake of Vandalism

April 15, 2020 [Knoxville, Tennessee]— The Dolly Parton mural located in Strong Alley (also known as Artist Alley in Downtown Knoxville) was recently vandalized, leaving many Knoxville residents and Dolly fans feeling heartbroken and angry. The mural was completed in 2019 by Colton Valentine, a street artist/muralist based in San Antonio, Texas. Since then, Valentine’s work has garnered global attention across social media––with his large scale murals depicting rappers like Cardi B, Soulja Boy, and 21 Savage.

The unfortunate act of vandalism, which also impacted four other murals in Strong Alley, will require restoration but also presents a perfect opportunity to enhance the artwork with new design elements that evoke the spirit of Parton herself. After alerting Valentine of the vandalism and consulting him on next steps, Dogwood Arts asked local artist Megan Lingerfelt to restore and enhance the popular piece. Like Dolly says, “When I’m feeling a little low, I put on my favorite high heels to stand a little taller.

Dogwood Arts will provide funding for the restoration through the Art in Public Places Mural Program;  restoration will begin immediately and will be completed over the next few weeks. Visitors can expect to see a few new design elements (new lips, earrings, maybe even a butterfly or two…) as well as a layer of anti-graffiti coating.  Megan will be collaborating with Colton Valentine throughout the entire process.

According to  Megan, “As soon as I heard Dolly was tagged I knew several other pieces in the alley would have also been hit.  It is known as "graffiti alley" so I am not surprised that people still tag there, though I am disappointed that they chose to target several artworks instead of the less developed walls.  I love the idea that there is a place where artists can go and paint at will - that is really special - but unfortunately we can't expect everyone to respect it.  Colton, the artist who created the Dolly piece, talked with me at length about how graffiti culture promotes the street art we love; they're symbiotic in a way.  Many businesses want murals to draw attention, to support local artists, but also to combat graffiti. When he painted Dolly he covered a really awesome piece; that's the nature of the beast.  Dolly wasn't commissioned, so technically she's kinda graffiti too.  However there is a huge difference between an artist creating something for a neighborhood to enjoy rather than destroying it.  You can't really stop tagging.  You can prepare for it with specialized coatings, be ready to repair it, and hope for the best.”

Megan Lingerfelt has been working with Dogwood Arts, the Downtown Knoxville Alliance, and City of Knoxville on various projects located throughout the downtown footprint in recent years. She has completed a number of murals in Strong Alley, most recently the seasonally-alternating Downtown Knoxville mural on the south end.

The Art in Public Places Mural Program was developed by Dogwood Arts to highlight mural artists working in our region and to encourage other artists to add mural art to their repertoire. The work Dogwood Arts is encouraging in Strong Alley is meant to further enhance the vibrant urban space created by a unique collaboration of artists and property owners that has existed for more than a decade. Artists or property owners who are interested in learning more about the mural program can email The Art in Public Places Mural Program is sponsored by the Downtown Knoxville Alliance, the City of Knoxville, and ORNL Federal Credit Union.