Knoxville Emporium Center September Exhibit Art Review: A Mind-Blowing Experience | Entertainment

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 appointment Monday through Friday during regular business hours, while Wednesdays will be open for viewing without an appointment.

Although it is closed on Monday, September 7, visitors are encouraged to view the artists’ works by September 25. Plus, 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: “Magic in Everyday Life” by Robert Felker and Allen Monsarrat; works created by David A. Johnson and Christopher Mitchell; “Birds of Seven Islands” by Ken Jenkins, Ron McConathy and Clay Thurston; “Sheltered Wanderlust” by Tracye Sowders and “Linked” by Ryan-Ashley Anderson.

Beginning to the left of the entrance, Tracye Sowders’ “Sheltered Wanderlust” is a glimpse into a watercolor fantasy world, where vibrancy is ever-present and hot and cold contrast beautifully.

Many pieces, such as “Thea Witch Cardinal”, depict women surrounded by surreal splashes of color, decorated with jewels. They often sleep or stare at the viewer, each of them making one wonder what kind of world they come from.

There is a spiritualism that is present among all the pieces, whether in the abstract imagery of what could 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 vividness. They are watercolors of coffees and drinks, places or basic everyday objects, but juxtaposed alongside the fantastic. Such placement shows the transience of the surreal and the natural that only the fluidity of water can capture.

On the right, Ryan-Ashley Anderson’s “Linked” showcases her jewelry making in a unique way, linking objects together using techniques you wouldn’t expect. For this gallery, Anderson uses a multimedia approach to advance her art.

Anderson’s work is delicate and his experience shines through in every piece. The best feature of the set, however, is the way it combines each material to develop its unique artistic expression.

Her section is set up right next to a window, so the late-day sunlight peeks in and casts its rays onto her jewelry. Such light reflects off the metals used and often draws attention from the upper sections of the Emporium Center.

On the left side of this upper section is “Birds of Seven Islands”. There, viewers can peruse the many hyper-defined photographs of Knox County native birds that call Friends of Seven Islands State Birding Park home.

Although not all of the approximately two hundred distinct native species are represented in the gallery, there is a wide range of stunning birds in snapshot. Some had been photographed in motion, hovering in the blue sky, while others chirped on berry branches. Both ferocious raptors and fragile common birds are present, and all offer life and beauty of their own.

Ken Jenkins’ “Barn Owls” is particularly alluring because the large black eyes of two owls gaze up with their heads tilted toward the lens. A rustic and curious aura emanates from it which makes one look at the owls with equal curiosity.

To the right of the top, the photograph of David A. Johnson and Christopher Mitchell is displayed.

Johnson’s photograph of the Standard Knitting Mill is oddly surreal. There are many rooms that give the impression of contemplating an alternate reality, where the natural dilapidation of the mill has distorted its architecture in a mind-blowing way. The floors undulate like waves and the walls seem to melt like the wax of a candlestick.

There is a subtle beauty that developed from the abandonment of the mill which Johnson 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 from diverse backgrounds in their daily lives, some posed, others ostensibly candid. The prominent use of black and white blurs the differences between them all, but also promotes the similarities. Humble is perhaps the best word to describe these snapshots in time.

Downstairs, Robert Felker Allen Monsarrat’s “Magic in Everyday Life” captures the urban and rural sectors of Knoxville and other places around the world, though many aren’t far from home.

As the title suggests, the pieces show the tranquility of nature, the simplicity of narrow urban pathways, the human experience, and the beauty that can be found in the simplest places.

Felker’s “Tree of Forgiveness”, a huge oil on canvas painting, is the most stunning of his own works. His skill in blending fall colors and capturing the detail of the natural world is equally astonishing. Often his environments seem blocky, but it can be difficult to discern them from our own reality due to the incredible amount of detail with which he sifts through the rooms.

The basic landscapes, although devoid of human activity, are full of natural energy that one cannot help but admire.

Meanwhile, Allen Monsarrat chose to represent humanity amidst his high-walled urban pavements. Although some are empty alleys, “Pohkara Illuminated” depicts congested roads at night with the brake lights of cars and motorbikes reflecting off the dark road.

There is a fundamental beauty in the banality of all the places depicted. As the title of the gallery suggests, the magic of everyday life is at the forefront of the experience. Monsarrat’s paintings and pastel speak to the viewer on a fundamental level, as they reflect the human experience we have all lived in, creating a nostalgic relativity that cannot be captured in words.

Simply put, the Knoxville Emporium Center is a must-see thanks to the prolific array of exquisite and thought-provoking artwork it exhibits. Additionally, the plays available for viewing change regularly, with the next opening in early October.

Admission is free and open to the public on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the price of the respective art is listed under its other information.