New murals honor fallen soldiers and Chattanoogans on MLK and McCallie

Ashley Barnes, Chattanooga, Tenn. – Kevin Bate’s McCallie Avenue mural of the fallen five brings new light to a devastating story.

Photo by Anna Prater
Photo by Anna Prater

Bate said after having his son he rarely painted, until one day he looked around the house and could only find house paint. He began painting again using house paint and put some of his paintings up at Mojo Burrito.

Bate said a man saw his work at Mojo Burrito and asked him to join the mural project.

On July 16, 2015 a man opened fire at a U.S. Navy Reserve killing four marines and one sailor.

Bate said he related most to Carson Holmquist, one of the marines killed.

Holmquist had a son about the same age as Bate’s son. Holmquist’s family waited 244 days for Holmquist’s arrival home from deployment.

Bate said hearing about the marine’s family waiting so long for his arrival home is what struck him most.

He said, “It destroyed me to think that’s the last that he’s ever going to see his father.”

Photo by Sara Serownek
Photo by Sara Serownek

Bate uses exterior house paint to create his murals. He said Behr and Home Depot supplied him with all of his paint and tools.

He had a couple volunteer days where people in the community came out to support him.

On one of the volunteer days, Food City and the manager of Home Depot provided lunch for everyone.

He said, “Big thank you to all the people who have come out and helped.”

Bate started the mural in August and there is no set end date at the moment. He had over 30 rain days throughout the process that kept him from being able to paint.

He said the end date will ultimately depend on the weather.

He hopes people who come across the mural will remember these victims instead of the shooter.
Bate said, “We need to stop putting these people’s names and faces in front of the world to see. I think the victims need to be the focus of this.”

His message is to focus on the victims rather than the shooters in events like this.

“There are five things I think people should remember about July 16 and there is one I think they should forget,” Bate said.

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Mural trend seeks to engage public on MLK

by carmen o’hagan
contributing writer

Familiar faces scale the walls of the AT&T building on MLK Boulevard in downtown Chattanooga.

A 40,000-square-foot mural, by renowned artist Meg Saligman, is in progress at the 300 E. MLK Boulevard. Painting started in July and is expected to finish towards the end of November.

All four sides of the AT&T building are painted in vibrant colors depicting Chattanooga citizens, past and present.

“All of the people that are in this mural are Chattanoogans,” said Ana May, program assistant with Public Art Chattanooga, the division of the city that commissioned the work. “They are people that Meg or her crew spoke with and took photos of or are from Chattanooga’s history.”

The mural is privately funded through the Lyndhurst and Benwood Foundations. Though it started off with a price of $200,000, it has now grown around $300,000, according to May.

“We started talking about a mural about four years ago,” May said. “We knew we wanted Meg Saligman.”

May cited Saligman’s public engagement process as one of the reasons for the city’s choice of artist. One of those engagement aspects is public paint days, which were arranged this summer for locals to work on pieces of the mural. It was essentially like a large-scale paint-by-numbers, May said.

Five local artist apprentices are also involved in the project. May said they will be able to take their experiences and create more murals around the city.

“The awesome thing about the mural is that it’s telling the story of MLK Boulevard,” May said. “There are a lot of plans for projects on MLK. This is kind of the monumental one.”

“It softens the street from where it’s had a bad rap in the past to where it’s built itself back,” said Phillip Lawson, facilities manager at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center. “I think it’s an icon in the redevelopment of MLK.”
“This mural speaks of the history of that neighborhood and gives them a voice,” May said. “We’ll use this to tell a story and get a focus on a part of town that really needs it.”

“I can see it when I turn the corner on Georgia Avenue,” Lawson said. “It’s the first thing that catches your eye.”

Hayden Seay

Hayden Seay

Features Editor

Majoring in communication and history, Hayden just wants to write. He is currently writing his first novel, but also plans on delving into historical and political writing. He avidly reads and plays video games, and will debate over which breed of cat is the most adorable. To read more of his work, click here.

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