The Greetings Tour featured on the front page of Knoxville News Sentinel.

King-Sized Postcard

You can see the article online here.

Victor Ving stood on a lift in Thursday’s damp, wind and mist, spray-painting a huge postcard on a North Broadway building.

The New York-based graffiti artist is creating a “Greetings from Knoxville” mural across an exterior wall of Nothing Too Fancy’s 1143 N. Broadway print shop. Even half-done, the brightly colored, 31-by-18-foot mural was easy for motorists to spot Thursday.

The mural’s part of a national project that aims to create Greetings paintings in all 50 states. Knoxville’s image is the 24th created by Ving and photographer Lisa Beggs. The couple met at a 2013 photo shoot for a national clothing brand. Since April 2015, they’ve driven their RV around the country creating the Greetings murals. Future murals include ones in Wilmington, Del., and Portland, Maine this summer. Ving’s dream mural spot – Alaska.

Each aerosol art is based on vintage large-letter postcards made from the 1930s to 1950s. Within each mural’s large letters, Ving depicts scenes from each city.

So, a painting of Neyland Stadium on a fall Saturday fills both the “X” and “V” in the Greetings from Knoxville mural. An image of the Sunsphere fills the “I” and the Tennessee Theatre’s vertical sign the word’s first “L.”  Dogwood blooms, a musician and a riverboat on water are among other images being created in the work.

Work on the mural began Saturday, April 1. Ving flew friend and New York artist Dominic Corry in to help sketch in the drawings and then spray-paint them. He expects to finish the work on the Nothing Too Fancy North Broadway side wall by Sunday, April 12. The artists use urban art spray paint by Montana Cans. Montana Cans is a sponsor for the Greetings murals, Ving said.

Having the mural was the idea of Nothing Too Fancy co-owner and street art fan Dustin Burnett. He found Ving and Beggs 18 months ago through a friend involved with public art in Massachusetts. He hopes the mural will be a spot for people to gather to take photos.

“It’ s a good spot to be seen,” he said.

Burnett was willing to pay for the mural but his wife suggested he contact Visit Knoxville. The nonprofit that works to promote Knoxville and its attractions began part of the project. Visit Knoxville will pay the mural’s $11,600 cost from their budget for public art, said President Kim Bumpas. This isn’t the first mural Visit Knoxville has been involved in. A large Knoxville mural is on the side of its building at 301 S. Gay St.

The idea for the Greetings murals began after Ving created a similar painting on a wall in New York’s Chinatown in 2014. Now, the couple has painted from Connecticut to California. Some murals promote cities like Seattle and Cleveland, Ohio, and Jersey City, N.J. Others highlight events like the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Del., or places like the U.S. Naval Training Station in San Diego or iconic Coney Island in Brooklyn.

The couple are on the road most of the year. Ving likes to plan to create a mural a month. Some, like Greetings from Knoxville, are paid by sponsors. Sometimes, the couple create the mural for free, promoting the city they’re in and their business. They plan return later this year to New York; Ving also co-owns a graffiti mural agency based there.

Ving and Begg hope the murals became spots for photo-taking long after their RV rolls away.

“We want to give back to the cities,” Ving said. “And when we’re gone they take on a life of their own.”