Dan Knowles

Local artist Dan Knowles presents a new 40-foot mural in the downtown east alley, next to the Paris Board of Public Utilities. Knowles depicts the history of local electricity use in the mural, which he painted with his apprentice Ariel MacDonald. Kathy Ray, executive director of the Downtown Paris Association, said plans for additional art in another alley are underway thanks to a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission.

A new 40-foot mural has been unveiled for the east alley in downtown Paris as a part of the local Back Alley Paris visual arts project.

The mural, titled “ELECTRICITY, A River Cycle,” painted by Dan Knowles and his apprentice Ariel MacDonald, is the fifth phase of the Back Alley Paris project.

The mural, in the alley just west of the Paris Board of Public Utilities building on East Washington Street, is made up of four depictions of the history of electricity in the area, showing four distinct periods in local electrical advancement.

The first, titled “Before,” shows what the Tennessee Valley looked like prior to the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933.

To the right of that is “The Building of the Kentucky Dam,” showing the construction period from 1938-1944.

For “The Era,” showing life with electricity from the 1940s through the 1960s, Knowles referenced advertisements from the time period to depict a young housewife in her new electric kitchen and a couple being sold a television, depicting John F. Kennedy speaking in a presidential debate.

The final piece, “Today,” shows how the advent of electricity affects our everyday life. This piece features a collage of local citizens, including The Post-Intelligencer’s own Evonne Williams and Bill McCutcheon, using electricity around town.

The Back Alley Paris project began with the phase one alley, next to the downtown fountain plaza at the southwest corner of South Market and West Wood streets, which was completed in 2015.

Phases two, three and four are in the west alley, featuring “Windows of the West Alley,” “Voyage Diachronique,” and “Phantoms of the Crete Opera House,” as well as a 28-foot Eiffel Tower.

Kathy Ray, executive director of the Downtown Paris Association, said the DPA has already been approved for a new grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission for a sixth phase of the project. 

“We will continue in the north alley with murals dedicated to Doctor (E.W.) Grove in 2020 through a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission,” she said. “We believe the unique back alleys and historical views will lead visitors to the front doors of our downtown area creating economic revitalization for downtown merchants and property owners.”

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