Donors of new gifts to Clayton Center entitled to unique artwork

Dr. Clay Crowder has donated more than 35 pieces of his art work that will be given to new donors to the Clayton Center through March 27.

Dr. Clay Crowder has donated more than 35 pieces of his art work that will be given to new donors to the Clayton Center through March 27.

In addition to an evening of fabulous entertainment, area residents have one more reason to attend the Clayton Center for the Arts Grand Opening Gala scheduled for March 27 - and another reason to support the fund-raising campaign for the Clayton Center.

New cash gifts donated that evening will entitle donors to select a unique hand-turned bowl, vase or other artwork crafted by Dr. Clay Crowder. More than 35 pieces will be available, ranging in value from $80 to $1,000. The value of the gift to the Clayton Center will determine the piece of artwork the donor can select.

The collection will debut March 27 in the La Dolce Vita Gallery/Gift Shop in the main building of the Clayton Center. Staff members will be present to assist donors from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Pieces not claimed after March 27 will remain in the gallery and gift shop, which is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Crowder, a retired pediatrician, is donating more than $10,000 worth of work to the Center. Many of his pieces were made from the wood of a sweet gum tree felled on campus in 2007 to accommodate the construction of the new Clayton Center. The pieces range in size and shape.

“Initially, I had no real plan for the use of these trees. The process of turning is always a slow process of drying, observing, thinking and later beginning to cut some parts of the trees,” explained Crowder. “Only late in 2009 did I begin to think of the value of putting these multiple pieces to use in the Center.”

Prized for their natural beauty and artistic qualities, Crowder’s pieces make magnificent use of natural imperfections such as stains, twisted and gnarled grains and holes in the wood. Accentuating these by turning, he creates single one-of-a-kind pieces that can never be duplicated.

“Dr. Crowder has taken local woods - many of which are directly from the Maryville College campus and, specifically, the old Fine Arts Center site - and created beautiful pieces of art,” said Holly Jackson-Ludlow, vice president for advancement and community relations. “It is obvious that each piece has been created with such care and craftsmanship. What a wonderful way to allow people in the community to have a small piece symbolic of the rich history and beauty of East Tennessee, Maryville College and the Clayton Center for the Arts.”

Crowder said that his relationship with Maryville College began with his father, W.C. Crowder, M.D., who was a devoted alumnus (Class of 1928) of the College.

“Both of my parents were musicians who encouraged my singing with instruction at the College and attendance at the musical events, which I still enjoy greatly,” Crowder commented.

A student of woodworking for more than 50 years, Crowder has studied the craft with experts from all over the world and has completed several courses at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg. He began to teach his craft approximately 10 years ago and says he has come to value teaching as much as turning.

He is a member of the Smoky Mountain Woodturners in Knoxville, the Tennessee Association of Woodturners in Nashville, the Carolina Mountain Turners in Asheville, N.C., and is a juried member of the East Tennessee Woodworkers’ Guild in Maryville, where he has been a juried presenter in the Master Woodworkers’ Show on at least four occasions.

For more information, contact Jackson-Ludlow at 865.273.8884 or

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