East Tennessee’s artistic appeal always on exhibit

East Tennessee’s artistic appeal always on exhibit

0 Comments 📅September 10th, 2015, 16:05

Novelist and Nobel Prize laureate Thomas Mann said, “Art is to the community what the dream is to the individual.”

The Knoxville Convention Center is in the business of bringing communities together – through conferences for professionals, hobbyists and others, as well as through local events that bring East Tennesseans together for business and fun.

Large Deco Horse

Large Deco Horse

We also are proud to bring art to those communities, as the Knoxville Convention Center houses a world-class art collection valued at more than $1 million. The artwork on display represents the appeal of East Tennessee from local, regional, national and international artists.

Our facility includes works produced in the 20th and 21st centuries that were made in this region or inspired by some aspect of life in the Tennessee Valley. In 2002, the city administration assembled a panel of eight experts in the fields of arts, history, culture and architecture to choose the permanent collection, which includes portraiture, woodwork, weaving and sculpture.

Some pieces echo our region’s history of utilitarian art; Scott Palmer’s woven sculpture, “Charmed,” and two of John Jordan’s untitled vases allude to a 19th century practice of basket weaving. Judith Fawkes’ “Knoxville Nocturne” portrays a metropolitan Knoxville.

Others harken to the naturalism of Tennessee, as exhibited by Nancy Jacobsohn’s sculpture, “Large Deco Horse,” and Jim Ann Howard’s painting of a rocky mountain stream, entitled “Appalachian Springboard.” Also, “Bud,” the work of world-renowned sculptor Richard Jolley, is on display.

The collection has grown since its inception. In 2009, the Village Quilters Guild of Tellico Village presented the center with an East Tennessee-inspired quilt entitled “Under Tennessee Skies.” The idea for the piece was inspired by a convention we hosted: the American Quilter’s Society prestigious Quilt Expo.

Under Tennessee Skies

Under Tennessee Skies

The 79-inch by 80-inch quilt took well over 850 hours and almost 17,000 yards of thread to complete. Depicting the East Tennessee mountain skyline and local landscape, as well as incorporating several state symbols and historic landmarks, the piece embodies the rich heritage of our region. We were honored to receive such a special gift to our collection, and the locally made quilt hangs at the corner of the Henley Street and Clinch Avenue concourses.

Several other pieces placed with us recently are on loan from the Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA). Leading up to the May 2014 debut of Jolley’s “Cycle of Life: Within the Power of Dreams and the Wonder of Infinity,” one of the largest figurative glass-and-steel assemblages in the world, the museum was making room for installation of the exhibit and other extensive renovations.

The KMA and the Knoxville Convention Center joined together to place some of the museum’s art in the center’s Clinch Concourse, ensuring that the pieces didn’t have to be placed in storage and would continue to be accessible to the community. It was a successful collaboration, and we greatly value our partnership with the KMA.

For well over a decade, our collection has educated visitors and the community about East Tennessee’s artistic heritage. The work throughout our gallery demonstrates the allure of East Tennessee. This region enjoys incredibly talented and creative artists, ranging from Tennesseans by birth to residents by choice.

The gallery is open during regular Knoxville Convention Center hours and is free to the public. In the center, a brochure is available to assist visitors on a self-guided tour of the collection. We’re launching an updated brochure soon to include some of the recently added pieces. In addition, QR codes have been added to the informational placards for each piece of art, so visitors can use their mobile devices to scan each code and learn more about the artist and the specific piece on display.

We welcome everyone to view this beautiful collection in our backyard. We hope you’ll be as inspired as we are when we walk through the building.

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