Mark Making announces the installation of the most ambitious, artistically forward project Mark Making has ever attempted. Entitled “Big 9 Legends,” it depicts some of the most prolific Chattanooga musicians to ever grace 9th Street, once a center of blues and jazz music in the southeast, officials said.
The installation will be Tuesday from 9 a.m.-noon at the west side of Live and Let Live Barbershop, 736 E. ML King Blvd.
The musicians featured in the mural were chosen by surveying the Martin Luther King neighborhood for input and then narrowing down responses with a team of musical historians, including Dr. Clark White, a professor with the Anthropology, Sociology and Geography department at UTC, and Mr. William Price, a bassist and member of many bands who played the “Big 9” circuit.
Prominently showcased are Bessie Smith, Frazier Benefield, Mary Bessie Brown, Dorothy Courtney, Cortez Greer, Tiny Kennedy, Wilfred Middlebrooks, William Price, Johnny Screane, Willie “Papa” Stubb, and Rick Upshaw, among others.
To create the mural, teens from Partnership for Families, Children and Adults and Children's Home/Chambliss Shelter created collages of the musicians using photos, texture and drawings. Artists Frances McDonald and Judy Mogul then carefully crafted the posh night club scene using 2- and 3-D effects. A 60’ x 18’ mural, the piece is a joint endeavor between Mark Making, the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults, and Children's Home/Chambliss Shelter.
The project was funded in part by the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga.
The collage style was inspired by the work of Romare Bearden, one of the most formative artists of the 20th Century. Bearden was chosen not only for his artistic significance, but his political and social influence as well. A well-known painter and collagist in his own time, Bearden was a champion of civil rights and the founder of several schools for minority artists.