Local Distiller Sponsors Creation of Mural at Daddy Billy’s

Photos provided by Odinn Media

Just days after Sophi Odling completed her mural Shift at Rigney HomeCraft, Oklahoma City artist Kris Kanaly arrived in Tullahoma in November to start working on the city’s next piece of public art. Known for his 8-bit, retro-funky paintings, Kanaly drew inspiration from Tennessee as the birthplace of the blues and country music, fusing his signature style with icons from around the state to create Ballad of Tennessee for the back patio of Daddy Billy’s just off North Wall Street.

“I was inspired by all the things that Tennessee is known for, as well as facets unique to its landscape,” the Oklahoma City-based artist explains. “When I’m about to paint a mural in a new place, I think about the community and how they’ll connect with the art. While I have my own stories, characters, and themes in my art, I like to mix in icons and things that matter to the local people.”

Kanaly’s public art blends these stories and objects with otherworldly landscapes that look like they were plucked from a video game. In Ballad of Tennessee, viewers will find Smoky Mountain landscapes, rivers, caves, waving wheat, a black bear, and a shout-out to roots music mixed with other iconography.

“I love playing with mysterious themes like space, UFOs, portals, stars, and pyramids, all things that show up in my art inspired by my artist name, Pyramid Guy,” he says. “I got that name back in my early days of doing street art and graffiti before murals became a thing. I call the world in my art Galactiverse.”

Scott van Velsor, vice president of DMA-events, explains that Kanaly’s Plaza Walls mural program in Oklahoma City catalyzed DMA formation.

“We met Kris in 2018 while he was giving us a personal tour of his Plaza Walls mural program,” van Velsor states. “We were immediately struck by how the artists that came to participate in the annual street art festival were invited to create original art based on their personal flavors of interpretation and pizzazz.”

“Our program has embraced the concept of allowing professional artists to do what they do best: to create within their own ideas instead of ours. The results are so much better if we stay out of the way in the creative process.” van Velsor continues. “Having Pyramid Guy—who helped shape our own public art program—compose a masterpiece in his style in our hometown feels like closing a cosmic circle, and we couldn’t be more thrilled about having this new mural as part of our public beautification work in Tullahoma.”

Ballad of Tennessee was sponsored by Cascade Hollow Distilling Co., maker of George Dickel products, and a Tennessee Arts Commission Rural Arts Project Support grant. The Tennessee Arts Commission offers a variety of opportunities to encourage participation in arts activities in communities across all 95 counties. Residents who purchase the Arts Tennessee Specialty License Plate for their vehicle help support mural projects like these across the state.

About the artist

Kristopher Kanaly is a muralist from Oklahoma City. With an extensive family history in the arts, hailing back to his great-grandfather’s Colonial Art Gallery, Kanaly grew up in a family of artists, collectors, art dealers, and graphic designers, an influence that propelled him into a career in art and graphic design. With a heavy focus on street art and graffiti, Kanaly’s work has earned accolades through multiple awards, publications, and books. National retailers like Vans and Warby Parker have licensed it. His art is regularly exhibited in various regional galleries, including numerous outdoor murals and “street art” applications across the U.S. and Canada.

Kanaly is also co-founder of the widely acclaimed Plaza Walls mural project in Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma Mural Syndicate, a nonprofit entity meticulously devoted to the advocacy, curation, and financial support of public art initiatives. Since 2015, Plaza Walls has invited hundreds of muralists worldwide to create and install original art on just about every surface of the city’s artsy Plaza District during the nonprofit’s annual Mural Expo each September.

About DMA-events, Inc.

Tullahoma-based journalists Kristin Luna and Scott van Velsor started 501(c)(3) DMA-events in May 2018 to provide free access to art to rural communities throughout the South. They’ve since curated the installation of more than 50 large-scale murals in cities across the state, including Manchester, McMinnville, Viola, Lawrenceburg, Tracy City, Knoxville, Maryville, Sweetwater, Madisonville, Centerville, Columbia, Nolensville and Nashville. Ballad of Tennessee is DMA’s 16th outdoor mural in Tullahoma, in addition to two interior pieces at Tullahoma Virtual Academy and Beechcraft Heritage Museum.

Lucky Knott

Lucky Knott

One of Southern Tennessee's most experienced and recognized news broadcasters and play-by-play sportscasters. News and Sports Director for Rooster 101.5 FM, 93.9 The Duck and Whiskey Country 105.1, and 95.9. He is currently the play-by-play voice of the Coffee County Red Raiders (31 years) on The Rooster 101.5 and can be heard M-F broadcasting our local news. Lucky has done play-by-play for 3,932 (and counting) sports events on Radio & TV. He also served four years as the Public Information Officer for the Coffee Co. Sheriff's Dept. and taught Radio/TV for six years at Grundy County High School.

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