It’s not unusual for Jeffrey Stoner to ride a bicycle in the dark through Cades Cove.
The Kingsport photographer, who will be one of the featured artists for the Trillium Cove Spring Art Walk, enjoys shooting in the Smoky Mountains.
“I fell in love with that whole Cades Cove area a long time ago,” the photographer said. “I spend a lot of time there, and sometimes I will end up there on Wednesday mornings when it is still dark, biking and setting up for sunrise shots. It is hard to beat it, but I’ve had my share of bear encounters early in the morning.”
It is his portfolio of Cades Cove and Smoky Mountain photos that will make up the bulk of his exhibit for the Trillium Cove Spring Art Walk, where he will show his work at Southern Fried Gallery. The Art Walk is 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday,April 29; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 1, at Trillium Cove in Townsend.
Stoner, who says he is in his 50s, grew up in Pennsylvania and worked for years with a company that owned and managed retirement communities and healthcare facilities.
He has loved photography since he used a Brownie camera at age 8, he said. Throughout the years, the hobby developed until galleries started selling his work.
“It started to build, and I found I couldn’t progress with photography if I was flying all over the country with my job. My wife, Bonnie, and I left really good corporate jobs and moved to Tennessee,” he said. “We ended up settling in Northeast Tennessee primarily because of the location. It was an equal distance for me to get to the Smokies and do photography as well as certain places in Western North Carolina and Southwest Virginia.”
It was seven years ago when he made the leap from corporate America to follow his passion. Stoner shoots landscape, wildlife and architectural photography. He was recently honored as one of the photographers profiled in a new magazine called “Still Points Arts Quarterly” out of Maine. “It is an article primarily focused on Cades Cove, but in black and white photography,” he said.
The merchants at Trillium Cove are interested in introducing artists like Stoner to the community and visitors, which is the motivation behind their second Art Walk. The first was held in the fall, and this is the first spring event.
“We plan on doing two a year, one in the spring and one in the fall,” said Amy Rochelle, owner of Southern Fried Gallery. “The spring one is much bigger than the first one. We’ve quadrupled the number of artists and shops with featured artists, and we’ve added a crawfish/shrimp boil and smoked barbecue plus the Picnic Pantry has sandwiches, soups and salads and a great wine and beer menu, so that increased our food options.”
Rochelle said the merchants have been trying to come up with events to encourage people to visit Townsend and see what it has to offer.
“The idea initially came from Sara Berry at Trillium Cove Home and Garden. She had been to the Last Friday Art Walk in Maryville and loved it and thought it was great for supporting local businesses, artists, musicians and all the talent we have in this area,” Rochelle said. “So we tried to come up with a way we could do something that was a little bit different, but still centered around the arts and music. We want everyone to just have a good time in the Smoky Mountains.”
Instead of just having artisans in the shops, artists will also be in outdoor booths on the lawn at Trillium Cove. “We also added a children’s tent sponsored by the Townsend Artisan’s Guild to turn it into more of a family-oriented event so we have something for everybody,” Rochelle said.
Berry said the shopping village has an upscale, artistic ambiance. “Everybody does something different, but we’re all creative and that lends itself to bringing out the arts,” she said.
Berry said the Trillium Cove Art Walk will hopefully be a win-win for everyone. “We hope this will get folks in so they can buy something, and it gives artists exposure so they sell some things,” she said. “It’s growing, and we hope it will eventually be an event everyone plans for.”
Carl Goodman with Cabin Treasures is optimistic because of the growth from the fall to the spring. “Simply the growth itself shows there is an appetite, both by the artists who want to participate and those who might attend and benefit from it,” he said. “The growth itself demonstrates how important it is to both the artists and the community.”
Tiffany Sands, manager of the Picnic Pantry, said, “This is a great opportunity for the artists and locals to come out and enjoy each other’s work. We’re also trying to get new and different foods so it is becoming a really good venture.”
All weekend, folks are invited to tour the artists’ booths on the lawn. From 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, everyone is invited to come meet and mingle with the featured artists and sample selections from the Picnic Pantry’s wine list in the shops of Trillium Cove.
Featured artists include: Creative Clay Sculpture and Pottery by Dr. Kenneth Kant in Blackberry Briar; Stained Glass by Becky Goodman in Cabin Treasures; Townsend Elementary Little Artists Show in The Picnic Pantry; Oil Paintings by Steve Norris in Norris Mountain; Fiber Art by Deborah Adams in Regina’s Salon; Lampwork Bead Jewelry by Marie Ann Body in Serenity Salon and Boutique; and Fine Art Photography by Jeffrey Stoner in Southern Fried Gallery.
There also will be live music by Roux du Bayou on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. and The Dirty Dougs from 3 to 6 p.m. Pistol Creek Catch of the Day will play on Sunday at noon.
The event is sponsored by Blount Today, Dogwood Cabins and Parkside Realty, Blackberry Briar, Cabin Treasures, Picnic Pantry Cafe, Regina’s Salon, Southern Fried Gallery, Trillium Cove Home and Garden and Townsend Artisan Guild.