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Cristy Dunn’s Tom Ashley mural unveiled on Saturday

By Lacy Hilliard
Cristy Dunn is a woman of many talents. A lifelong resident of Johnson County, Cristy is proud of her Appalachian heritage and is currently dedicating her time to creating a bit of immortality for some of Johnson County’s formative musical residents throughout Appalachia’s rich old-time music history.
The Musical Heritage Mural Project is a dream that has been residing deep within Cristy’s sketchbooks for over 10 years. The first mural in a series of three pays homage to legendary clawhammer banjo player, Clarence “Tom” Ashley.
The unveiling was well attended by members of the community, political officials, and members of the many organizations and businesses that helped make this project possible. The project is being funded by a grant from the Arts Fund of the East Tennessee Foundation and the following were extended personal gratitude from Cristy Dunn at the event: Temple Reece and Faye Bowman from the Arts Council, Karla Prudhomme, Dottie Harmon, Lois’s Country Cafe, WMCT, Joe Wilson, the Johnson County Community Foundation, Danny Herman, Johnson County Bank, Elizabethton Federal, Tri State Growers, Danny Herman Trucking, Mountain City Funeral Home, Roby and Dottie Howard, Bob and Lois Dunn, Dorothy Harmon, Joe Dean Ashley, Dr. Don and Carole Tarr, and the Town of Mountain City.
Following the unveiling, a reception was held at Lois’s Country Cafe. Attended by over two hundred people, the crowed was welcomed at the reception by Minnie Miller who gave a short speech about Tom Ashley. Following Mrs. Miller’s welcome, Tommy Moore, musician and grandson of Tom Ashley, as well as Joe Wilson who was named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts also welcomed members of the community. In conclusion, Kenny Price accompanied by Kyman Matherly on guitar displayed some of Tom Ashley’s signature clawhammer banjo tunes.
The next mural scheduled in the series will be displayed on the side of the Muse Hardware Building in Downtown Mountain City and will depict the story of Tom Dooley’s capture and will feature G.B. and Frank Grayson. This Tom Dooley mural will be considerably larger in size than the Tom Ashley mural and is set to be unveiled sometime in late summer. The series will conclude with a mural featuring Clint Howard, Fred Price, Doc Watson, and others.
Cristy wears many hats and gives selflessly of her time and talent throughout the community. As art teacher at Johnson County High School, Cristy inspires the youth of Johnson County and nurtures their creativity. Rarely accepting praise or credit for her many endeavors, Dunn is as worthy of a mural as her subjects in the Musical Heritage Mural Project.
To keep track of Cristy’s progress, visit her Facebook page at and keep an eye on The Tomahawk for details about the Musical Heritage Mural Project as the project develops.