June 15, 2023


The first moving picture was created 145 years ago today.

In today's report: For years, the Mabry-Hazen House Museum focused its historical scholarship on the prominent Knoxville families represented in its name. But the 1858 house holds more stories than theirs, and its executive director, Patrick Hollis, has spent the last several years trying to unearth as many as he can. What he's found — the fragmentary records of the home's Black faces and names, its enslaved people and domestic servants — make up the core of special Juneteenth tours the house will again offer for free this weekend. We talked to Hollis about his work and the challenge for historians of reflecting as many perspectives as possible.

Meanwhile, this week's Knox Found uncovers a motley and coruscating convocation of consonants and vowels, hewn from some benighted slab and mewling in their wanton syllables like a chorus of feral inbreds abandoned by their maker. Do you know where it is?

Speaking of Juneteenth, there are several events scheduled over the weekend to mark the emancipation holiday:

  • At 10 a.m. Saturday, there will be a rededication of the statue of author Alex Haley at Haley Heritage Square in Morningside Park, marking 25 years since its initial unveiling. Special guests will be Anne Haley Brown, Haley’s niece, and storyteller Theresa G.
  • From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, the local "food justice collective" Rooted East Knox will present "Rooted in Earth" at the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum. It will include gardening demonstrations and celebrations of food.
  • On Monday, the annual MLK Parade — which moved from January to June a few years ago — will step off from Chilhowee Park at 10 a.m. and proceed down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Dr. Walter Hardy Park.
  • Also Monday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the Beck Cultural Exchange Center will have a special day of exhibits and vendors at its home at 1927 Dandridge Ave.

Businesses seeking to network and pursue business with Knoxville city government are invited to the 14th annual Business Opportunities Breakfast, 7:30-11 a.m. Wednesday, June 21, in the Jacob Building at Chilhowee Park.

City government spends millions of dollars each year on products and services required to support its many departments. The annual breakfast provides local businesses that provide those products and services a chance to engage directly with purchasing officials, Pamela Cotham, the city’s assistant purchasing agent and small business and diversity outreach manager, said in a statement announcing the breakfast.

“This is an invaluable event for area businesses, particularly small, women-owned, minority-owned, service disabled veteran-owned and businesses owned by people with disabilities,” she said.

The program will include a welcome from Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon, followed by presentations by city departments and these partner agencies:

  • Knoxville’s Community Development Corp. (KCDC);
  • The Public Building Authority (PBA);
  • Knoxville Area Transit (KAT); and
  • Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB).

Department directors and Purchasing Office staff will be on site to discuss specific projects planned for the next 12 to 18 months, the anticipated dates work will be going out for bid, and bidder qualifications. 

Attendance is free, but pre-registration (available here) is requested. 


John Gearhart has been named director of the Environment, Safety, Health and Quality Directorate (ESH&Q) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, effective June 19.

According to a news release, Gearhart will lead the safety and operational infrastructure that enables the laboratory’s science missions while protecting workers, the public and the environment. ESH&Q provides expertise and programs to support nuclear safety, promote occupational health, control work hazards, meet regulatory requirements, manage waste responsibly and ensure quality performance.

“John’s commitment to teamwork and his engagement across the laboratory will be important in continuing to strengthen ORNL’s operational excellence, specifically through the Safe Conduct of Research principles,” interim ORNL Director Jeff Smith said in a statement.

Gearhart has served as the chief operating officer for ORNL’s Isotope Science and Engineering Directorate since 2020, providing oversight to nuclear and radiological facilities with critical national missions, including the production of medical isotopes and fuel for deep space exploration.

“ESH&Q professionals drive safe, effective operations that make ORNL’s signature science possible,” Gearhart said. “I look forward to leading the organization in further integrating safety and quality into the lab’s exceptional culture and performance.”

Prior to joining ORNL, he led the management and operations functions for the U.S. Navy’s scientific research and development portfolio as assistant chief of naval research at the Office of Naval Research.

Bats right, votes right: U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, collected two runs batted in last night at the annual Congressional Baseball Game. Batting in the sixth inning of a seven-inning game, Burchett lined a single to left field and brought home two runners on base.

The runs were added insurance for an already sizable lead for the Republican team, which ended up winning the game 16-6 over the Democrats.

Burchett wore number 435 — the total members of the House of Representatives — which one of the Fox News broadcasters covering the game called "the greatest number perhaps in the game."

You can watch Burchett's plate appearance here — the at-bat comes at about 2 hours and 36 minutes.

The interparty contest is a tradition going back to 1909 and raises money for charities in the Washington, D.C., area. The Republican romp gave the GOP its third straight win in the series.

People flying in and out of McGhee Tyson Airport are members of a fairly exclusive cultural set — visitors to an art exhibit that only they (with exceptions) can see.

The Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority and the Arts & Culture Alliance are presenting Arts in the Airport, an exhibit of works by 45 East Tennessee artists. The artwork will be exhibited in the secure area behind the security checkpoint through October. 

Three of the artists received cash awards:

  • Best of Show: Lil Clinard for her watercolor Pawleys Island Pier.
  • Award of Merit: David Gilliam for his photograph Hitchhiker.
  • Award of Merit: Michelle O’Patrick-Ollis for her coffee and pencil painting That Dog is a Nuisance.

“The 2023 Arts in the Airport exhibition presents a captivating array of artworks, offering travelers and art enthusiasts a chance to immerse themselves in the extraordinary talent and creativity of local artists,” Claudio Gómez, executive director of the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Tennessee, said in a statement.

While not the same as seeing the art in person, the works can be found online here.

Though the exhibit is behind the security gate, non-flying visitors may arrange to view the art by appointment by calling Becky Huckaby, director of public relations for the Airport Authority, at 865-342-3014.

Meanwhile, people don’t need a boarding pass to check out the works in this year’s Art in Public Spaces Sculpture Exhibition. Dogwood Arts is placing 26 featured sculptures in prominent locations throughout Knoxville, Oak Ridge and Alcoa. Combined with eight permanent pieces, the exhibit will contain 34 sculptures on display through June 2024.

Artists from 13 states are participating in the exhibit. Knoxville locations include Krutch Park, Emory Place, Maker Exchange, UT Gardens, Zoo Knoxville, The Muse, and the Northshore branch of ORNL Federal Employees Credit Union. 

The pieces are available for purchase. A list of sculptures, prices, sponsors and locations can be found here.

Since the Art in Public Spaces program began in 2007, Dogwood Arts has installed more than 290 sculptures in public spaces in the greater Knoxville area. 

A Founding Fan.