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Volume 26, Number 5 — May 2019

Arts Calendar

New exhibitions open at the Emporium Center
Samples of work by the artists are avobe and follows.
Additional photos below »

New exhibitions open at the Emporium Center

Date(s):  May 05 - 31, 2019
Venue: Arts & Culture Alliance
Emporium Center
Knoxville, TN 37919

KNOXVILLE, TN — The Arts & Culture Alliance presents five new exhibitions at the Emporium Center in downtown Knoxville through May 31. Most of the works are for sale and may be purchased through the close of the exhibition. Additionally, the Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus and Vance Thompson & friends provides music at the opening.

Grace and Grandeur by Sam Stapleton and John Vavruska in the Balcony gallery

Two photographers born in 1951, Sam Stapleton and John Vavruska, grew up in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains: Stapleton, on the western side in the town of Kingsport, Tennessee, and Vavruska, on the eastern slopes in Waynesville, North Carolina.

Both were heavily influenced by the culture and natural beauty of the southern Appalachians, both subsequently obtained professional degrees from the University of Tennessee and both began their serious pursuit of photography in the early 1970s. When they met in 1976, it was their shared love of photography that provided the foundation for their friendship, and for two years, they shared a house and a darkroom they built themselves. Time separated them: Vavruska was drawn to the American west in the early 1980s, served in the Peace Corps in Nepal, and then settled in Santa Fe where he resides with his wife of 30+ years; Stapleton remained close to his roots in Knoxville, where he too resides with his wife of 30+ years.

Yet with all of their similarities, the two have drifted apart in their photographic vision and now occupy virtual opposite ends of the photographic spectrum. Vavruska has remained primarily in the analog (film) world and has grown in the direction of large format black and white photography, capturing the grandeur of the natural landscape through hand-crafted gelatin silver prints.

Conversely, Stapleton remained with small (35mm) format photography but converted whole-heartedly to digital technology where he continues to focus on the intimate color imagery of the East Tennessee landscape. While one’s images convey a high level of detail and tonal gradation, another’s use the spontaneity of the smaller format to explore the abstract and impressionistic capabilities of the medium. Hence the exhibit, Grace and Grandeur, is presented to share their story, the story of two men with a common photographic grounding that has matured into expressions of widely divergent visions. For more information, visit and

Pairs: Work by the New Image Artists in the main gallery

This fiber and mixed media exhibition, curated by Trudi Van Dyke, features 13 contemporary fiber artists who are juried members of the New Image Artists group. New Image is a group of artists from Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. who come together to share their art and ideas. Members are active studio artists who work primarily with cloth, paper, and alternative materials.

The concept of “pairs” challenged the artists to consider their work as it developed in theme or concept and how one piece could influence the artist to create a companion piece. Unlike a diptych, each new work stands alone, and yet its voice is more fully developed when viewed as a pair that evolved from the subject, materials or some other element of the initial work. When conceiving work for Pairs, the artists experimented with relationships between subject, media and techniques.

The artists began in a creative dimension without boundaries and chose a concept or subject without limits. The first work was planned and sometimes completed when the artist found a way to morph the idea, media or subject into a complementary piece. The resulting pair effectively enables viewers a more in-depth appreciation than a solitary work. For more information on New Image Artists, visit

Knoxville: Special Light by Allen Monsarrat in the display case

In college, Allen Monsarrat first studied architecture but graduated with a BFA with a concentration in pottery. His first art career was as a studio potter in Friendsville, Tennessee, for 25 years, followed by a career in decorative wall finishes, faux painting, cabinetry finishing and the occasional mural project. Never one to sit still, he turned to fine art painting which has developed into a concentration on representational work, including photorealism (paintings intended to look like photographs).

Monsarrat’s source material comes from photographs he has taken, which allows him to carefully design a composition and have plenty of information to include as much detail as he chooses. More importantly, as his reference source, a photograph allows him to study the nuances of color, light and reflection and how they change across a seemingly uniformly colored surface.

Monsarrat uses translucent layers of paint to build depth unachievable with ink on paper. He began working in pastels in 2018, and for this exhibition, he will display oil paintings and pastels that depict iconic Knoxville scenes. For more information, visit

Anna Halliwell Boyd: Forget Me Not (Really) on the North Wall

Her thesis work explores lost connections and the distortion of her personal history. Personal photographs and old school notes are some of the visible remains of relationships she has made in her lifetime.

These photographs display specific moments with other people, many of whom are no longer in my life. By distorting the individuals and places pictured, she is regarding the erosion of these memories and addressing the disconnect from that moment to present day.

The original analog photographs are sanded, erased and painted on with the intent of creating separation between the figures and the viewer, just as they are now separated from me. Forget Me Not (Really) is about the ghosts of our pasts that follow us into the present, no matter how much time has gone by, and no matter how much we may want to forget.

Boyd is a mixed media artist and arts educator from Oak Ridge. She earned her MFA in painting from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2018 and her Masters in Teacher Education from the University of Tennessee in 2013. Her BFA in the 2D Arts with a concentration in drawing was also earned at UT in 2008. During her undergraduate years and first graduate program, she made watercolors, ceramic sculptures, oil paintings, and drawings that alluded to the bizarre, sad nature of witnessing the decay of her grandmother’s mind with Alzheimer’s.

Her recent works use mixed media to convey themes of loss and how the past is recollected. The photographs she took growing up are often resurrected in her work to convey lost connections with others and the distorted nature of memory. Boyd is currently an adjunct instructor at several institutions and exhibits work from her MFA thesis. For more information, visit

Rodney Yardley: Barns, Beer Joints, and Baptist Churches in the Atrium

Barns, Beer Joints, and Baptist Churches ... those are three words that likely mean something to everyone in the South, a ubiquitous phrase that Southern folk know, love, and understand. I was raised in those three places, and still inhabit them with a great degree of regularity. They are places that make me feel at home. They are places that hold many warm and fond memories. They are often places that show up in my favorite dreams, and always in my favorite memories.

Yardley is a self-taught photographer and part-time flaneur from Knoxville. Much of his time is spent trying to capture the feeling of memories and dreams using tools from antique film cameras to modern digital cameras and cell phones.

The exhibitions are on display at the Emporium Center, 100 S. Gay Street, in downtown Knoxville. Exhibition hours are Monday-Friday, 9 AM — 5 PM.

Please note, the Emporium will be closed on Monday, May 27 for the holiday. For more information, contact the Arts & Culture Alliance at (865) 523-7543, or visit the website at

Topics: Art, Exhibits

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