Spotlighting the arts

Inaugural Last Friday Art Walk brings more than 250 to downtown

Fine Arts Blount knows how to throw a party. More than 250 people visited downtown businesses and enjoyed art in its various forms Jan. 25 during the inaugural Last Friday Art Walk.

Sponsored by the Blount arts group Fine Arts Blount and spearheaded by member and artist Katie Gamble, the event got off to a great start that created an energy and excitement downtown that thrilled organizers, especially as the weather was frightfully cold.

Participating businesses, which number more than 15, included hair salons, restaurants, coffee houses, theaters, bars, studios, retail stores and downtown businesses. Each offered either visual or performing art -- sometimes both -- at their place from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Some hosted a reception for exhibiting artists and guests enjoyed refreshments ranging from hot cider and cookies to wine and cheese.

Gamble said the plan is for the event to emulate the First Friday’s Art Crawl done each month in Market Square, Knoxville. In Maryville, the Last Friday Art Walk is planned for the last Friday of each month.

Gamble said, “The night spoke for itself! It was magic! Maryville has been waiting for something like this.”

Gamble was at the host business, which was Fine Arts Blount for January, and said she didn’t get to walk around downtown until the Art Walk was winding down. Still, she said, “The parking lots were full, people were everywhere, the energy and excitement was in the air, and you could see it on every person’s face. It was great.

“If you were there Last Friday, I just want to say thank you!

Coming out, despite the cold, shows just how much our community is excited about this. If you didn’t come out, I highly recommend you start making plans for February ...it’s only going to get better!”

Photographer Elizabeth Smith showed her work at Professional Hair Designs located beneath Two Doors Down on East Broadway Avenue. “Growing up here and seeing it blossom the way it has is amazing. I don’t know what else to say. The people who put this together, they are really doing a great service for Maryville,” Smith said. “There’s so much talent in Blount County. It’s a great opportunity to them show their work and do it in their hometown.”

Jacob Stanley is a UT student who uses everyday objects to create art. He had chairs stacked into the form of an arch in the walkway between Preservation Plaza and the Two Doors Down club.

“I stack them together and don’t use glues or adhesives,” he said. “They’re held together with tension and compression. It’s basic physics and engineering,” Stanley said of his sculpture.

At Studio 212 on East Harper Avenue, sculptor Emily Greene, a UT grad student, used sculptures to portray the organisms in the human body such as tumors, cysts and cancers. “This is my interpretation of those things,” she said.

Nick Spagnuolo said the event was long overdue for Maryville. “I think it’s amazing. It’s about time we progressed and started doing something different,” he said.

Artist and musician Doug Harris said giving more venues for the arts and music creates more of a draw to attract visitors to spend their money in Maryville. “You turn something into a destination location, and they’re putting money into the economy,” Harris said.

Artist and Brackins’ co-owner Linda Brackins said the event attracted a crowd. The club was featuring the work of Everett Hirche, a glass blower.

“I love it. It makes people aware of local talent. We had a great response tonight,” she said.

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