A 30-foot-tall painting of a baby reading the iconic 80’s children’s book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom showed up on a railroad-facing wall in downtown Tullahoma last week. After local nonprofit DMA-events received an Arts Build Communities grant through the Tennessee Arts Commission last summer on behalf of the Coffee County Literacy Council, the organization tapped Nashville-based artist Eric “Mobe” Bass, with whom they’ve worked several times in the past.
“When approached by DMA about doing a literature mural, my mind started racing. That could literally be almost anything,” Eric says. “I have wanted to paint my son Rainn since he was born—he has always been such an inspiration for me. So when his mother Anna put him in a little reindeer outfit and sat him in the bed with a book, I saw the joy in his eyes. I pulled out my camera and captured what I think was a perfect moment of pure bliss brought on by literature. I placed him on a fluffy cloud and illustrated letters coming from the book trying to capture what I thought his little imagination was thinking.”
Tullahoma-based Ascend Federal Credit Union stepped in to provide the additional funding needed to move the project forward, and Eric arrived on Dec. 1 under a veil of darkness to sketch out the image on the wall with his painting partner Kyle “Folek” Barton. The duo worked around the clock the following two days, finishing up the piece they’ve named Rainn on Friday, Dec. 3 just as Santa was gliding across Jackson Street to end the Christmas parade.
“Incredible,” remarks Caren Gabriel, Ascend President and CEO, of the mural. “I am so proud that Ascend was able to play a part in bringing such a vivid and vibrant presence to our downtown community. Kudos to Kristin Luna and her team for bringing to life in our town an image of curiosity, hope and wonder, and thank you for letting Ascend play a role in displaying this piece to our neighbors and community partners.”
About the Coffee County Literacy Council
The Literacy Council was founded in 1988 with the guiding purpose to provide education for those who don’t have a high school diploma, as well as supply resources and materials like books to the schools in Coffee County. Two years ago, the council launched a program in the county jail to provide classes to the incarcerated, many of whom were without a high school diploma. To date, more than 100 inmates have successfully completed the course and graduated; when they leave prison, they have a credential to help them get a job, which aids their families and the local economy while simultaneously reducing recidivism.
Due to a mall renovation, the Book Shelf—the public-facing arm of Coffee County’s Literacy Council that funds many of the nonprofit’s efforts—was relocated to a city-owned building at 114 SW Atlantic St. in April 2021. In September, the City of Tullahoma sponsored a project that enabled DMA to put a fresh coat of paint on the secondhand bookstore’s building and adjoining cinderblock wall, which belongs to Sharon and Norman Blair of Memories Antiques. The Blairs have been partners in previous mural projects and again donated their wall for this community public art project.
About Eric Bass
Nashville native Eric “Mobe” Bass is one of the most prolific artists in the Southeast. His artistic process began as a child rooting from real life experience and heartbreak; now, his primary source of inspiration for his richly diverse subject matter comes from being a father, as well as exploring nature, hiking and rock climbing. His art is characterized by realistic portraiture and a playful use of light sources. Eric’s works are displayed in several private residences throughout the world, as well as on hundreds of public walls in Nashville and other cities across the United States. This is his third mural in Coffee County for DMA-events.
About DMA-events, Inc.
Kristin Luna and Scott van Velsor started 501(c)(3) DMA-events in May 2018 as a way to harness and inspire the imaginative spirit found in all of humanity by removing some of the barriers to entry of the creative process. In April, DMA-event’s Walls for Women program was awarded the Daughters of the American Revolution’s state public relations and media award for commitment to historic preservation, education and patriotism consistent with the DAR mission. All of DMA-events’ murals can be found here: http://bit.ly/DMAMuralMap.
For more information, interviews and images, please contact DMA-events President Kristin Luna at firstname.lastname@example.org or 931-808-9165.