The museum goes mobile in T-minus two and half weeks.
The 14-site excursion will take peddlers through North Chattanooga and the Southside to spot the pair’s trademark wheat paste murals depicting musicians from the local scene.
Tour De Noog will kick off with a two-day celebration featuring art rides, raffle prizes and concerts. Following the March weekend, the murals will remain up for a set viewing period.
“It’s free to see and bike to for 30 days,” Ruiz said. “We are both strong believers in the arts and community wellness. We both sweat on our bikes.”
Art around the corner
LaVoie explained that the inspiration for the project emerged last April around the desire to reach more Chattanoogans and continue growing the audience for her and Ruiz’s work.
“The idea came from [MakeWork’s] 10X10 festival. David’s nephew, [William], is in a wheelchair, and we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if he could easily see what we’re doing in this alley?’” she said, referring to PPRWRK’s artwork site for the festival. “William has two awesome bikes that he can pedal using his hands.”
Both artists, who collaborate to create murals of LaVoie’s whimsical illustrations and Ruiz’s music scene and around-town photography, rely solely on their bicycles as a mode of transportation. He has been without a car since 2007, and she traded four wheels for two last year.
The pair devised Tour De Noog’s course around paths that they frequently use and scouted walls along those routes.
The trek begins on Spears Avenue at Graffiti Gallery, comes up to Cherokee Boulevard, connects to Frazier Avenue, cuts across the Tennessee River, scoots downtown along Market Street and heads for the Southside for a breeze down Main Street.
The businesses that donated one or multiple walls to the art cause include Bluewater Grille, Big River Grille and Brewing Works, The Honest Pint, Sluggo’s, Mean Mug, JJ’s Bohemia and Niedlov’s Breadworks, among others.
Eastman Construction supplied two of the Tour De Noog sites: 213 E. M.L. King Blvd. and 100 E. Main St., buildings that are vacant and either in the process of being for sale or under construction.
Once the more than 20 walls were secured, LaVoie and Ruiz sought out art sponsors to complete the project.
The roster of local art enthusiasts includes The Crash Pad, Yonder, Time Labs, Good Dog, Juncture, Chattanooga Bicycle Transit System and Coca-Cola, among others.
Sponsors chose between five art options for each wall. Ruiz combed the catalogs of his photography venture, 423 Bragging Rights, to compile the sites’ look books. The catalogs include shots of some 300 local concerts.
LaVoie and Ruiz have begun to put up the murals along the route in preparation for the March 23 launch.
From mural to mural
The kickoff weekend will commence at noon on Saturday with a party expo at Sluggo’s with chiropractor Nathan Wooten, the Mmmmm ... Art Show, a Flatland Bike demonstration, the Hula Hoop skills of Chatta-Hoopers and treats from Delicious Eats.
At 3 p.m., the crowd will take to the road for an art ride to Velo Coffee Roasters and continue the party on the Southside. A reverse ride starts at 8 p.m.
The music starts playing at 9 p.m. at JJ’s Bohemia with a bill that includes soCro, Sparkz, Stoop Kids, Ashley and the X’s, and Noted. Sunday’s program, featuring Hearts in Light and Milele Roots, is a similar mixture of art rides, parties and concerts.
The murals themselves will be applied to the building walls using the wheat paste formula—a mixture of paste, flour, water and salt—that PPRWRK employs in all of its art projects. It serves as a creative alternative to paint.
“It’s basically glorified wallpaper,” Ruiz said. “They’re very removable and temporary.”
“They’re like sandcastles,” LaVoie added.
The murals are planned to stay up at their respective sites for a month and then be removed in preparation for the second showcase to feature LaVoie’s illustrations, which is slated for mid-July.
Of the summer show, the artist promised an “imaginative and playful journey through Chattanooga.”