Happy birthday

Last Friday Art Walk draws crowd

Crowds braved the cold temperatures on Jan. 30 to support the Last Friday Art Walk in downtown Maryville.

A special features during the one-year anniversary of the Art Walk was the kick-off of the public fundraising phase for the Civic Arts Center being built on the campus at Maryville College. The center is a joint venture between the college, the public and two cities of Maryville and Alcoa and carries a $47 million price tag.

Maryville Arts Coalition executive director Katie Gamble said the Art Walk in January went well and praised the response the organizers received for the Civic Arts Center fundraising program, which was held in the penthouse at Davis Street Lofts.

“We still had lots of people come out despite the cold,” said Gamble. “We had a wonderful turnout for the Maryville College program. It was fantastic. A lot of folks who hadn’t been to an Art Walk in the past year turned out. The word is getting out, and we’re moving right along.”

For the February Last Friday Art Walk on Feb. 27, a wide variety of artists will be featured, including Amy Campbell’s paintings at Boyd Thomas and Vickie Kallies Lea and her daughter Marta Lea with mixed media at the Davis Lofts.

Ruth Harper is a fiber artist who will be showcased at the Knitting Nest. Lyda Plemons is going to have landscapes at Arts.Alive gallery.

“She’ll be giving away free mini-prints to visitors,” Gamble said.

The Palace Theater has the Union Grove Middle School visual arts and technology classes for its featured artists. “They will do presentations. The Palace always supports the elementary, middle school and high school age groups, which is great,” said Gamble.

Other downtown businesses will also be hosting artists and a full schedule and map will be in Blount Today next Thursday. Blount Today is Last Friday’s Art Walk media sponsor.

Gamble said the walk is growing as volunteers are working on projects to help it move forward.

“I feel like we’re building a reputation for ourselves,” she said.

Gamble said diehard art fanatics come no matter what the weather. “We appreciate them so much. The newcomers, the people who are just finding out about Art Walk or who decide to give it try are growing each month. It’s going to be one of those things that they decide to catch when it’s nice and warm and pretty,” she said. “All we can do is keep on trying and never give up.”

Gamble said she would like it if the Art Walk grew faster, but a small budget slows down the process.

“I’ve got a great board, and I’m getting new board members all the time. We’re trying to accomplish a whole lot that’s never been done, and I feel like we’re doing well,” she said.

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