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Emporium Center features new exhibitions, June 1-29

paul edelman
Judi Gaston will display two series as part of the exhibition - Image by the artist

The Arts & Culture Alliance is presenting five new exhibitions at the Emporium Center in downtown Knoxville from June 1-29, 2018. A reception will take place on Friday, June 1, from 5:00-9:00 PM as part of First Friday activities downtown. The public is invited to meet the artists and view the artwork. Most of the works are for sale and may be purchased through the close of the exhibition.

Knoxville Photo 2018 in the Main gallery
The Arts & Culture Alliance presents the sixth annual Knoxville Photo exhibition featuring selected works from 34 artists throughout the region. Knoxville Photo was developed to provide a forum for photographers to compete on a national scale and display their work. The exhibition encompasses photographs depicting all subjects and genres, including streetscapes, cityscapes, landscapes, environmental portraiture, portraits, abstracts, and more.

Leigh Mitchell served as juror for the exhibition and viewed images from 78 artists to select the exhibition. Mitchell is a fine art photographer and educator. She was a college instructor for over ten years, teaching Film Photography I and II, Digital Photography I and II, and Photography Appreciation. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in Human Studies from Warren Wilson College and a master’s degree in Studio Art from Western Carolina University. Her work has been in galleries locally and nationally, including The Center for Fine Art Photography (Fort Collins, CO), Rochester Contemporary Art Center (Rochester, NY), Five Spot (Atlanta, GA), The Asheville Art Museum, and The Asheville Area Arts Council.

The following artists’ works will be shown:
• Dave Edens of Madison, AL
• Leon Bell of Owens Cross Roads, AL
• Adam Hutsell of Los Angeles, CA
• Samuel Brown of Dacula, GA
• Caroline Dockery of Asheville, NC
• Sam Hill of Matthews, NC
• Ken Van Dyne of Cincinnati, OH
• Karen Partridge of Dandridge, TN
• David Boruff, Jamar Coach, Bobbie Crews Thurston, Khoa Dinh, Katharine Emlen, Nevin Freeman, Richard Jansen, Hei Park, Lennie Robertson, Caitlin Ryan, and Karla Tucker of Knoxville, TN
• Brooke Craig of Lookout Mountain, TN
• Cat Griffith-Benson of Maryville, TN
• Bobbie J. Hinton of Morristown, TN
• Paula Campbell, Yvonne Dalschen, Lela Moore, Anna Rykaczewska and Jill Vandagriff of Oak Ridge, TN
• Eric Buechel of Pleasant Hill, TN
• Phil Savage and AngelaDawn of Powell, TN
• Julie Oglesby of Seymour, TN
• Spears McAllester of Signal Mountain, TN
• Billie Wheeler of Meadowview, VA
• James E. Meldrum of Beloit, WI

Metal & Mud: Works by Judi Gaston & Robert Gaston in the Balcony gallery
Judi Gaston will display two series as part of the exhibition with her son, Robert Gaston, who will display metal art furniture pieces, small pottery/metal works, and photography.

Each year in the spring, Ijams Nature Center invites volunteers to help clean-up the Tennessee River. Judi Gaston enjoys being part of the environmentally important event and is intrigued by the beauty of objects she finds during the clean-up. The objects form the basis for pieces in a series entitled “Recycle: The Tennessee River Rescue,” which are handwoven with recycled materials, used plastic bags, retired bed linens, packing materials, and more. Her second series, “Recycle: The Study,” results from her husband’s participation in a medical study. Each piece contains some of the used paraphernalia from the study, including cut-up hospital gowns handwoven into a lookalike hospital gown. With other works, plastic newspaper sleeves become the handwoven bodies. Judi Gaston is a fiber artist, designing and weaving wearables that reflect her passion for travel and witnessing various cultures. Her wearables often incorporate vintage or found pieces, linking past with present. She is a member of the Tennessee Crafts Association, The Southern Highlands Guild, and the Piedmont Crafts Guild. Gaston has received many awards, and her work appears in numerous collections. In 2011, she was inducted into the Tennessee State Museum Fashion and Textile Institute in Nashville.

Robert Gaston’s influences and interests include nature and insects, machines, Meso-American and ancient world ceramics, Japanese Sci-fi models, northern European renaissance painting, and African ceramics and architecture, to name a few. His work is simply a reflection of his interests. Robert Gaston grew up in Knoxville and graduated from the University of Tennessee (BFA) in 1989. Since graduation, he has spent most of his time living in Colorado where he runs a business restoring fossil skeletons (dinosaurs, extinct mammals, etc.). For more information, please visit

Amanda Bonar: A Woman’s Touch in the display case
Since the early 20th century, women have been a strong presence in both the American art-pottery movement and the studio movement of artists working alone. This exhibition pays homage to the aesthetic ideals of that era and the women who made it possible. Amanda Bonar’s work focuses on combining intense surface decorations that are inspired by nature and combined with classic vessel forms. Sometimes whimsical, sometimes somber -- all the pieces pay homage to the women gone before who painstakingly balanced life, work, and motherhood while creating something useful and beautiful to behold. Bonar’s pieces are rendered on the potter’s wheel or slab-built by hand with texture and alterations. All pieces are water tight, non-toxic and oven proof.

Amanda Bonar is a former art educator trained at the Pennsylvania State University. She learned ceramics from Dr. Kenneth Beittel, and after many years teaching at all levels of education in both public and private settings, she is now focusing on her own creative processes. She has a private studio in Loudon and is a member of the Foothills Craft Guild and Terra Madre consortium of women ceramicists. She has received several accolades including the 2017 Award for ceramic excellence at the Open Show at the Oak Ridge Art Center. Her work is in several collections in the area and the Northeast. For more information, please visit

Bruce Bunting: The Alphabet Series on the North Wall
The alphabet series was inspired by Bruce Bunting’s desire to program an exhibition and create a larger body of coherent work. He typically works on a small scale, on individual pieces, and he selected the alphabet as the basis for his new series. He scoured the dictionary for inspiring words and antique shops and his attic for parts and pieces. Each of the works incorporate his handmade paper, newly purchased parts and antiques, and some personal objects more than 20 years old. This exhibition represents the largest body of work Bunting has ever made.

Bruce Bunting is a retired automotive engineer and cancer survivor. He has dabbled in art most of his life in the form of jewelry and small sculptures. After retirement, he became more involved in developing his personal style, which combines his enjoyment of building things with his whimsical/macabre outlook. His art also provided an outlet for expression as he went through cancer treatment and recovery. For more information, please visit

Barbara West Portrait Group in the Atrium
The original group formed in 2001 by Barbara West, and after her death, they continued meeting in her name. Members have come from a variety of places including the Knoxville area, other parts of the state, various parts of the US, and even other countries. Their list of occupations is diverse: photographers, teachers, architects, doctors, nurses, scientists, homemakers, and artists. The group’s members range from those who are just starting to explore art to professional artists; all use a variety of media. Although the common thread is art, the group tries to provide a strong sense of community - an important gift as they move through life.

The Barbara West Portrait Group has exhibited at the Farragut Town Hall, Peace Lutheran Church, Ball Camp Baptist, and Candoro Marble. They meet every Wednesday & Saturday from 2:00-4:00 PM in Knoxville-area churches. The open studio is $5 to attend with a live model; no instruction is provided. For more information, please contact Debbie Barnes at 865-661-1213 or visit

Jon Vazeen: Uncommon in the Main gallery (floor exhibition)
Jon Vazeen will exhibit two versions of one of his sculptural creations. Each of the versions is composed of several loose elements. During the June 1 reception, Vazeen will rearrange the elements into a different 2D-3D shapes each hour.

Jon Vazeen recently moved to Knoxville. Besides being a visual artist, Vazeen is a part-time UT faculty and a fulltime inventor. For more information, please visit

The exhibitions are on display at the Emporium Center, 100 S. Gay Street, in downtown Knoxville. Exhibition hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM. Please note, the Emporium will be closed on Monday, May 28, for the holiday. For more information, please contact the Arts & Culture Alliance at (865) 523-7543, or visit the Web site at

Published June 1, 2018

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