“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Knoxville in Knox County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)

Robert Birdwell



— Knoxville History Project —

Robert Birdwell Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, May 10, 2019
1. Robert Birdwell Marker
Inscription.  A Knoxville native, Robert Birdwell grew up in the Lonsdale area before moving to Kingsport, Tenn. The GI Bill allowed him back to move back to Knoxville to study at the University of Tennessee and from there he attended the University of Iowa's respected School of Art.

The Tennessee Valley Authority provided Birdwell with a 30-year career as a staff artist and muralist. He also maintained a personal studio downtown, first on Church Avenue, then at a corner studio in the Peter Kern building on Market Square, years before it became a hotel. After retiring from TVA, Birdwell taught art at Maryville College.

Birdwell often drew inspiration from urban settings with downtown Knoxville his favorite painting location. With the Knoxville Seven, he experimented with degrees of abstraction but also focused on watercolor paintings of downtown Knoxville in a realist style.

Just before his death at 91, Robert Birdwell attended the Knoxville Seven retrospective exhibition at the Knoxville Museum of Art in 2016. Upon his passing, his daughter Ann recalled her father's fondness for Knoxville. "He loved Market Square and all the people
Marker detail: Robert Birdwell image. Click for full size.
Courtesy Knoxville Museum of Art
2. Marker detail: Robert Birdwell
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in it. He sketched the little ladies selling flowers and vegetables. Mrs. Ford, who sold cottage cheese, and Myrtle Price, who sold corn and peaches. They'd see him coming, and they'd start straightening their hair. They just loved him."

This painting is featured in the Knoxville Museum of Art’s permanent exhibition,
Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee
Special thanks to the Knoxville Museum of Art

Downtown Art Wraps are coordinated by the Knoxville History Project, an educational nonprofit with a mission to research and promote the history and culture of Knoxville. KHP's educational articles and publications feature colorful characters, bizarre tales, interesting buildings, curious traditions, as well as seriously influential local events. Learn more at

Erected by Knoxville History Project.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, MusicEducation.
Location. 35° 57.974′ N, 83° 55.144′ W. Marker is in Knoxville, Tennessee, in Knox County. Marker is at the intersection of Wall Avenue and South Gay Street, on the left when traveling west on Wall Avenue. Marker is located beside the sidewalk,
Robert Birdwell Marker (<i>wide view • right & left perspectives • Wall Avenue in background</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, May 10, 2019
3. Robert Birdwell Marker (wide view • right & left perspectives • Wall Avenue in background)
A View of the City (Gay Street),
1962, Oil on canvas
at the southwest corner of the intersection. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Knoxville TN 37902, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. St. James Hotel (within shouting distance of this marker); Elvis Presley (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Cormac McCarthy (about 300 feet away); David Madden (about 300 feet away); James Agee (about 400 feet away); Cowan, McClung and Company Building / Fidelity Building (about 500 feet away); Knoxville's Market House (about 500 feet away); Archie Campbell / Chet Atkins (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Knoxville.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Knoxville History Project
Also see . . .  Knoxville History Project. Downtown Arts Wraps take plain traffic engineering boxes and turns them into stunning canvasses portraying the artwork of some of the important Knoxville or East Tennessee artists from the past. Art Wraps engage the public to discover the city’s rich artistic heritage. (Submitted on June 5, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 16, 2019. It was originally submitted on June 4, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 259 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on June 5, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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May. 19, 2022