The next generation: Last Friday Art Walk will showcase MAC scholarship winners

Katie Gamble, center, director of Maryville Arts Coalition, congratulations MAC scholarship winners Sophia Morgan and Elizabeth Gombert.

Katie Gamble, center, director of Maryville Arts Coalition, congratulations MAC scholarship winners Sophia Morgan and Elizabeth Gombert.

One good idea can spawn another one, and that’s happened with the creation of Maryville’s Last Friday Art Walk.

The board of directors that oversees the Art Walk now awards two annual art scholarships to high school seniors. This year’s recipients, Sophia Morgan and Elizabeth Gombert, will have their work displayed at Boyd Thomas Clothing during June’s Art Walk on June 24.

Last Friday Art Walk started in 2008, the vision of local artist Katie Gamble, who also formed the Maryville Arts Coalition. The goal of the Coalition, also known as MAC, was to coordinate the Art Walk, educate and enrich the community through art and provide ongoing support for artists.

“The idea is that we want to help the artists pursue their lives as artists,” said Gamble, who is president of MAC.

Once the Art Walk was up and running, the natural progression was to reach out to the younger artists and help them on their path.

“We also wanted to encourage the next generation of artists who are coming into their own,” she said. “We thought this would be good for the community.”

Gamble, a graduate of Maryville High School, said that from a personal standpoint, no scholarships were available on a local level for artists when she graduated from high school. She wanted to support herself as an artist but said she felt discouraged and frustrated when people asked her what her backup plan was. She hopes these scholarships will provide some needed encouragement.

This is the second year scholarships have been awarded. Students from all public high schools, private schools and homeschooling in Blount County are eligible to enter, and no fee is required. Gamble said the number of entries MAC has received has been limited because the award is still so new, and many people aren’t aware of it.

“We would love to have all the schools represented in this,” she said.

In addition to receiving the $500 award, the artists are invited to exhibit their work during one of the Last Friday Art Walks.

This year’s recipients are both from Maryville High School. In the first year, the students were from Maryville and William Blount high schools. MHS art teacher Raquel Roy said she is glad that local scholarships are available here in Blount County and that she always pushes her students to apply for scholarships.

Roy, who has taught both Morgan and Gombert since they were freshmen, said she knew they would both put a strong effort into the application process.

“Elizabeth and Sophie are the biggest risk takers,” said Roy, who joined the MAC board after the scholarship selection was made. “They always go for the larger projects and experimental materials. They’re both wonderful.”

Gombert plans to attend Bennington College, a liberal arts college in Vermont, this fall, and was also awarded some merit-based scholarships. She won Best Painting in the youth category in the Tennessee Valley Fair last fall and has shown her work at Maryville High School’s end of year show and in the regional high school show at Knoxville Museum of Art. Gombert is the daughter of celebrated artist Carl Gombert, a professor at Maryville College.

Morgan will attend the Memphis College of Art, where she was awarded the Presidential Scholarship. Morgan said she has been in a few art shows at school, has had a piece shown at the Tennessee Valley Fair and participated in a student exhibit at the Knoxville Museum of Art.

While Gombert hasn’t decided what she wants to do after college, Morgan said she wants to be an illustrator.

“I’m very grateful for the scholarship,” Morgan said. “It’s an honor they gave it to me. It’s nice to get feedback like that.”

Although the scholarships are currently only available to artists, Gamble wants to see that expanded. The Coalition’s board of directors is made up of all the different arts, and the future goal is to open the scholarships up to more than just the visual arts, Gamble said.

Last Friday Art Walk is free and open to the public. Numerous businesses in downtown Maryville will be host artists who showcase a wide variety of mediums during the event, which runs from 5-9 p.m.

MAC is also announcing three fundraising ventures. Cherokee musician Randy McGinnis will do a benefit concert, “Summer Sounds,” for MAC on Thursday, July 21, at 7 p.m. at the Clayton Center for the Arts. McGinnis is an award-winning traditional Cherokee flutist. Tickets are $10 per person and are available at Blount Today, Boyd Thomas Clothing and from MAC board members.

In October, MAC will host the second annual Masquerade Ball at the Capitol Theatre. This year’s theme is “A Night with the Mad Hatter.” Tickets are $50 or $500 for a reserved table of 8, which includes a bottle of champagne. The ball is Friday, Oct. 14, and corporate sponsors are being recruited now.

In addition, MAC has launched a membership drive. For $25, individuals can be MAC Members and become a member of the MAC Family. Members receive a twice-yearly newsletter, advance notice of events and the opportunity to buy advance tickets. To join, mail a check to Maryville Arts Coalition, 1417 Monroe Ave., Maryville, TN 37804. Please include an email address to receive the newsletter. A receipt for your donation will be sent for tax purposes.

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