JCAAC Gala Better Than Ever
By Allison Alfonso | Johnson City Press | March 28, 2008*** Story Published on Tuesday, March 18, 2008 in the Johnson City Press ***
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Arts lovers met at the Carnegie Hotel Grand Soldiers Ballroom Sunday [March 16, 2008] to sample food from the gourmet buffet, listen to music and look at art during the Johnson City Area Arts Council's "Evening of Miniature Masterpieces."
The fundraiser featured art donated by regional artists and a silent auction of regional artists' works. For the cost of a $125 ticket for two, attendees received one of those 4-inch by 4-inch works of art and supported the programs of the JCAAC. One of the JCAAC programs the fundraiser supports is Arts Corps, a free after-school arts education program for underserved children in Washington, Carter, Greene, Unicoi and Johnson counties.
Kathy Hall, event co-chairwoman, said attendance and artist participation exceeded expectations. Many of the same artists participate each year, in part because they get to meet many of the area's art patrons. Both mingled in front of the more than 150 works of art donated by more than 80 regional artists.
"I think that every year this event gets more and more exciting," she said.
Mosaic artist Fran Rathburn said there was a good spirit in the air.
"You can tell the people who come really do enjoy this," she said. "We have a very faithful following, and it's very festive."
People who were interested in trading the art they received wore flashing buttons. Did it bother her that someone might want to exchange her piece?
"You have to understand it's a matter of taste," she said.
Purse designer Mary Buckley Sutton contributed a coin purse made of vintage jewelry and fabric and said it is always a challenge working in such a small size and being creative with it.
"The difficult part is coming up with a totally different design each time," she said.
Mike and Judy Woodruff never miss the event. Judy, a founding member of Mountain Movers dance company, is one who has benefited from JCAAC funds.
"We've got enough of these pictures to fill half a wall, so we really enjoy it," he said.
Mike's concern is that without greater arts exposure and art education for children, the area will never support the arts as well as it could. He would like to see more galleries and arts groups in the area.
Sarah Davis, executive director of the JCAAC, said the event sold out and has gotten a reputation as being a lot of fun.
Anne and Chris Vaughn said they look forward to the event every year because it's a great party.
"I love the excitement of picking something," she said. "I look forward to it every year."
"All I can do is stick figures, and my whole life I wished I could draw," he said.
John and Ellen Wofford drove from their home in Charlotte, N.C., for the event. His family has roots in the region, so driving a few hours to support the arts wasn't a big deal. It was just a priority.
"We consider ourselves to have a good eye for it," he said. "We love to find good things for our house."
"We bought a piece last year in the silent auction, and we've had compliment after compliment," she said.
Anne Sherrill was wearing a shawl she purchased while traveling in Equador. She's had an interest in art since she was a young girl, and being able to travel and visit museums across the world has deepened her love of art and art history. The presence of art creates a stimulating environment, she said.
Artist and musician Lewis Songer said we should never take the quality of the arts here for granted. The diversity of visual artists was on display for all to see Sunday.
"I never cease to be amazed by the quality of artistic talent," he said. "It just keeps getting better."
To see a catalog of works submitted by the artists, visit www.arts.org