The works of nine phenomenal artists are currently on display by the Arts and Culture Alliance at the Knoxville Emporium Center on Gay Street. This gallery will be open for viewing by scheduled appointment Monday through Friday during regular business hours, while Wednesdays are open for walk-in viewing.
Though it will be closed on Monday, Sept. 7, visitors are encouraged to go and browse the artists’ works between now and September 25. Furthermore, these works are for sale, and you don’t want to miss out on the potential perfect piece.
That being said, the gallery is divided into five sections: Robert Felker and Allen Monsarrat’s “Magic in Everyday Life;” works created by David A. Johnson and Christopher Mitchell; “Birds of Seven Islands” by Ken Jenkins, Ron McConathy and Clay Thurston; Tracye Sowders’ “Sheltered Wanderlust” and “Linked” by Ryan-Ashley Anderson.
Starting left of the entrance, Tracye Sowders’ “Sheltered Wanderlust” is a peek into a fantastical world of watercolor, where vibrancy is ever present and hot and cold contrast marvelously.
Many of the pieces, such as “Thea Witch Cardinal,” depict women surrounded by surreal splashes of color, decorated in jewelry. They often are either sleeping or staring back at the viewer, all of them making one ask what kind of world they come from.
There is a spiritualism that is present among all the pieces, whether its in the abstract imagery of what might be nature, the soul or something in between, or even in the animals surrounded by nature.
There are also pieces that present our own world in the same vibrancy. These are watercolors of cafes and drinks, basic, everyday locations or objects, but juxtaposed next to the fantastical. Such placement shows the transience of the surreal and the natural that only fluidity of water can capture.
To the right, Ryan-Ashley Anderson’s “Linked” showcases her jewelry making in unique ways, linking objects together using techniques one wouldn’t expect. For this gallery, Anderson uses a mixed-media approach to push her craft ever forward.
Anderson’s work is delicate, and her experience shows in every piece. The best feature for the set, however, is in the way that she combines each material to develop her unique artistic expression.
Her section is settled right by a window, so the light of the late-day sun peers in and casts its beams across her jewelry. Such light reflects off the metals that were used and often catches the eye from the upper sections of the Emporium Center.
From the left side of that upper section is “Birds of Seven Islands.” There, viewers can browse through the many hyper-defined photographs of birds native to Knox County that make their home at Friends of Seven Islands State Birding Park.
Though not all two-hundred something distinct native species are represented in the gallery, there is a diverse array of gorgeous birds in snapshot. Some had been photographed in motion, soaring through blue skies, while others chirped on berry branches. Both fierce birds of prey and fragile, common birds are present, and all provide a life and beauty of their own.
“Barn Owls” by Ken Jenkins is particularly alluring as the wide, black eyes of two owls stare with tilted heads toward the lens. A rustic, inquisitive aura exudes from it that makes one look back at the owls with an equal curiosity.
To the right of the upper section, the photography by David A. Johnson and Christopher Mitchell is displayed.
Johnson’s photography of the Standard Knitting Mill is oddly surreal. There are numerous pieces that give one the feeling of gazing into an alternate reality, where the natural dilapidation of the mill has warped its architecture in mind-bending ways. The floors ripple like waves and walls seem to melt like wax from a candle stick.
There is a subtle beauty that has developed from the mill’s abandonment that Johnson has captured to marvelous effect.
Meanwhile, on the diagonally opposite walls, Christopher Mitchell captured life in the moment.
His photographs, almost all in black and white, depict humans of varying backgrounds in their daily lives, some posed, some ostensibly candid. The prominent use of black and white mutes the differences between them all, but also promotes the similarities. Humble is perhaps the best word to describe these snapshots in time.
On the lower floor, “Magic in Everyday Life” by Robert Felker Allen Monsarrat captures the urban and rural sectors of Knoxville and other locations around the world, though many aren’t far from home.
Just as the title implies, the pieces show the peacefulness of nature, the simplicity of tight, urban pathways, the human experience and the beauty that can be found in the simplest of locales.
Felker’s “Tree of Forgiveness,” a massive oil painting on canvas, is the most stunning of his own works. His skill at blending autumn colors and capturing the details of the natural world are all too stunning. Often his environments appear blocky, yet it can be difficult to discern them from our own reality due to the incredible lengths of detail he riddles the pieces with.
The basic landscapes, while both lacking human activity, are full of natural energy that one can’t help to admire.
Meanwhile, Allen Monsarrat chose to depict humanity amidst his high-walled urban roadways. Though some are empty alleyways, “Pohkara Illuminated” depicts congested roads at night with the brake lights of cars and motorcycles reflecting against the dark road.
There’s a fundamental beauty in the mundanity of all the locations represented. Just as the title of the gallery suggests, the magic of the everyday is the forefront of the experience. Monsarrat’s paintings and pastel speak to the viewer at a fundamental level, because they reflect the human experience that all of us have lived within, creating a nostalgic relatability that can’t be captured in words.
Simply put, the Knoxville Emporium Center is a must see thanks to the prolific array of exquisite, soul-prodding art it has on display. Furthermore, the pieces available for viewing are changed regularly, with the next opening in early Oct.
Entrance is free and open to the public on Wednesday’s from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the price for the respective art is listed beneath its other information.