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Paint Memphis festival returns after murals were vandalized

“Our theme this year is community. We’re stressing the unity in community,” said Karen Golightly.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Sometimes it is easy to give up and walk away, but a local art group has chosen the harder route of persistence. Paint Memphis is back, better and stronger. Their work is the art of resilience.

“I keep knocking on doors and getting more walls. We’re making it happen,” said Karen Golightly, Paint Memphis Executive Director.

Their actions are speaking louder than word. Each year, artists across the country paint murals on buildings for their annual festival. Last year, the festival was cancelled due to COVID; however, artists painted murals anyway only to be met by another villain.

“We were in the final weeks of it. Someone came out and started tagging ‘Karen’ all over some of the murals in two different locations,” said Golightly.

“Karen” was spray painted over the artists’ works.

“There’s sort of a code that you don’t go and tag over somebody else’s who put all this time and effort into it,” said Golightly.

It is a code broken that now has a fix with the return of the festival this year.

“We’re going to code them with anti-graffiti coating,” said Golightly. “Any sort of tags on them can be scrubbed off.”

Some murals have been fixed, but for those that have not, artists will come back this year to complete those restorations.

“Our theme this year is community. We’re stressing the unity in community,” said Golightly. “Everybody sort of missed this opportunity to collaborate, really get to know each other and network. This year, everybody will be masked and vaccinated. If you’re coming for the general public, you have to wear a mask even though it’s outside.”

Attendees will be watching safely as more than 160 artists paint with a stroke of vengeance against the pandemic and the “Karen vandal.”

“It’s our biggest year yet,” said Golightly.

The Paint Memphis festival will take place October 9th from 12pm to 7pm at 660 South BB King Blvd.