The Visit Knoxville Visitor Center Mural painting has come to an end. With this monumental project ending, a lot of our blog followers have been asking about the people behind the mural. Well, wonder no more! We sat down this week and caught up with our artists to find out where they’ve been and how they got here.
Bobbie Crews is one of Knoxville’s most recognized visual artists and is the artistic designer of our mural. Crews’ portraits, other fine art and murals are included in private and corporate collections nationally, in Bermuda and Africa. Her favorite mediums are oils and watercolors, and her paintings are displayed in Federal and city buildings, the University of Tennessee, Vanderbilt Hospital, and in other public and private collections. She also works as a courtroom sketch artist, hosts life drawing sessions for other professional artists, and gives presentations for interested groups. Crews earned her BFA from the University of Tennessee School Of Art. Bobbie Crews Studio is located in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee in The Emporium Center and you can find her work at www.bobbiecrews.com The four men who worked diligently over the past 10 weeks of this project assisting Bobbie Crews and her vision were Ken Britton, Walt Fieldsa, Curtis Glover, & Randall Starnes.
Ken Britton, who is originally from Pasadena, California, has been working in Knoxville since the 1980’s. He has been a part of 4 mural projects in Knoxville and has had a professional career as a local painter. For his artistic work, he mostly paints fantasy realism but has dabbled in many different variations of art and music as well. He will be opening his own gallery in a few months called “501 Arthur” – a reborn art house which will display his own work exclusively to the public. Britton is known for carrying his old school walkman to work every day. He told us this week that he has hundreds of old radio shows on cassette and enjoys getting into his work while listening to the wildly charismatic shows like, Amos and Andy, Escape and The Shadow. He told us he enjoyed working on the mural and all of its many pieces, but particularly enjoyed the visuals of the Knoxville postcard piece and firework display.
Walt Fieldsa is a journeyman artist whose mural work stretches back into the 1980’s. Originally from Miami, Florida, Fieldsa traveled all over the world in his youth. He studied art at Boston University and eventually settled in to East Tennessee leaving his artistic mark all along the way. His most notable and recognizable murals are icons of the Old City depicting the history of Knoxville music and the Historic Train Mural adjacent to the train tracks. His work can also be seen locally at the Ijams Nature Center, Jackson Avenue Underground, Maryville, and as far away as England.
Curtis Glover was born in Charlotte, NC but grew up in Texas, mainly in Houston and Dallas. He has worked on other murals in the area and has done work for local restaurants and private residences as well. He describes his work as his passion and that it has allowed him to be able to express himself in his own way. He prefers to do mixed-media collages on canvas using acrylic and describes his style of art work as, “consistent with surrealism with many layers of paint.” When we asked Glover what his favorite part about working on the mural was, he replied, “Being able to contribute something to the city I live in. My goal is to make things beautiful in this city and I have done just that by being part of this team. People see this everyday when they walk downtown. I'm proud to be a part of it and made a few friends along the way. Bobbie, Ken, Walt, and Randall were great to work with.” He is currently working at The District Gallery as well as running his business, “Curtis Glover Creative” after hours and on the weekends.
Randall Starnes is originally from Kentucky but has lived in Knoxville for 25 years now and considers this city his home. He has worked on 4 murals in the Knoxville area and has worked in the field of art with everything from illustration to house restoration. Starnes started his art career in the armed forces as an illustrator for a military newspaper while stationed in Germany. He is a “dimensions” man and enjoys the fine details of the pieces he works on. He told us this week that he gets inspiration from all kinds of things he sees and will keep a sketchbook handy in case something catches his eye like a symbol or figure he would like to form into a piece of work. He told us he often likes to take pieces of things he has seen and form it into one new idea in his works.
Visit Knoxville is extremely proud to have supported our talented artists and will continue to shine the light on the growth of our city’s organic art endeavors. In fact, the Visitor Center mural is “dedicated to the artists, musicians, and visionaries that continue to make Knoxville a great place to work, live, play, and visit.” Pay close to attention to the Knoxville Mural Project and all of the other arts organizations that are shaping our community! For now please stop by the Visitor Center on the corner of Summit Hill and Gay Street in downtown Knoxville and enjoy this amazing work of art in person. Take a picture and share it everywhere!