Knoxville art culture is on the rise, but so is graffiti

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- One walk through downtown is all it takes to stumble upon outdoor freedom of expression.

"It's positive, it's bright, and just even for the aesthetic beauty of it, it's well worth having. It's like walking into an outdoor gallery," Knoxville local Karl Mohlman said.

Local mural artist Curtis Glover believes the art scene around town is definitely on the rise.

"It's making some pretty good headway, and I like the direction it's going, especially being in the business," said Glover.

But next to unique and one of a kind murals and artwork, you'll see graffiti, and plenty of it. Glover said although everything can be considered art and beauty, taggers need to spend more time spreading positive messages instead of vandalizing.

"Possibly channel that rush of energy, that adrenaline rush of doing something illegal into something productive and profitable for them," Glover said.

The tagging doesn't just affect passersby, but also businesses stuck in the middle of the mural paintings and random graffiti.

"I don't even know what this means, but I just assume it's negative," said Gabe Zamora, Downtown Grill and Brewery employee, pointing out a piece of graffiti. "You go around to another corner and you see these beautiful murals that people actually come here for to take pictures with, and then you come here and see these, and I don't know, they're just kind of a bother."

Keep Knoxville Beautiful, a local nonprofit group sponsored by the city, is stepping up to help people affected by the tagging, and they want the public to know they're welcome to lend a helping hand.

"So we'll go downtown and tackle maybe 30 little tags a day, in a single day," said Patience Melnik with Keep Knoxville Beautiful. "We take chemical remover to take them off, or if we see a graffitied wall, we'll actually go, get paint matched, and go out with our volunteers to paint over that wall."

The group also gives away free graffiti removal kits to anyone affected by the vandalism. You can get a kit by contacting Keep Knoxville Beautiful at 865-521-6957.