The Emporium Center Seeks Mural Artist

The Emporium Center Seeks Mural Artist


 (865) 523-7543

 Unknown, Tennessee, Unknown

PLEASE NOTE:  This opportunity is a Request for Proposals and requires submission of a design concept along with additional information.

The Arts & Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville seeks proposals from artists or artist teams for a permanent work of art to be located on the west wall of the underground section of The Emporium Center in downtown Knoxville. The selected artist or team will receive $10,000 to complete the project, including design, materials, equipment rental, site preparation, and installation.

Eligibility: This opportunity is open to all artists or artist teams over the age of 18. 

Site context:  Built in 1898 as the original home of a prestigious furniture company (Sterchi Brothers), the Emporium Building later housed businesses as diverse as the Postal TelegraphCable Company, Hall-Tate Clothing Company, Henegar-Dooley Shoe Company, a sewing machine factory, and a wholesale goods distributor. After decades of being empty, the Emporium re-opened following renovations during the summer of 2004. Located at 100 South Gay Street, the 28,000 square feet of flexible use space houses multiple art galleries showcasing local and regional artists, the administrative offices of the Arts & Culture Alliance, and offices for six arts and culture organizations. Additionally, the center houses the studios of nine individual artists plus rehearsal, classroom and meeting space.

Site details: The artwork will be visible to all visitors of The Emporium Center. The proposed site is located on the lower level of The Emporium Center, behind clear glass doors and windows. The underground sidewalk beneath Gay Street may eventually be open to the public as development of an underground corridor progresses following work on Jackson Avenue projected to be complete in 2018. The site includes the entire back wall that is visible from inside The Emporium Center; a raised step that runs along the entirety of the visible back wall; and two pillars that frame the back wall and are located a few feet in front of it. The dimensions are: Back wall: 20.33’ wide x 9.75’ tall (198 square feet) Raised step that runs along the front of the back wall: 1.5’ deep x 1.3’ high (40 square feet) Two pillars that frame the back wall each measure: 8’ around x 9.4’ high (150 combined square feet) Total available space: 388 square feet. 

Materials: If a mural, it must be created using the following materials:

  • Acrylic gesso primer
  • 100% acrylic resin paint from either Golden Company or Nova Color Paints
  • Top coat of satin or semi-glass acrylic varnish applied via airbrush sprayer
  • Anti-graffiti coat of either Soluvar or Repello

If not a mural, materials must be waterproof and affixed to the concrete walls or floor in order to be permanent in nature.

Wall Preparation: All walls must be pressure washed; if paint residue is on the existing wall, a trisodium phosphate blast must be applied to remove any old paint, etc. If the wall is holding back soil (a retaining wall), muriatic acid may need to be applied to help prevent moisture from coming through from the soil and damaging a mural.


  • March 10, 2016: Announcement of RFP
  • May 2, 2016: Deadline for submissions
  • May 20, 2016: Review proposals and select winning artist(s)
  • June 2016: Artwork installation
  • July 1, 2016: Artwork unveiled to the public

Review the full RFP for complete information and submission instructions.