Story published: 05-14-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Juried art show to open this month at McKinney Center

From watercolors to carved wood, some of the area’s finest pieces of art will be on display this month as the Jonesborough Juried Art Show returns to Tennessee’s oldest town.

“We will be featuring 38 artists with an amazing amount of talent,” said Rachel Conger, director of parks and recreation for Jonesborough. “This will be a fantastic show that will give visitors a chance to view local works of incredibly high quality.”

Taking place May 24 through June 14 at the McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School, the exhibit marks a return to a Jonesborough tradition that began nearly 20 years ago.

“At that time, through the Civic Trust, Jonesborough launched an art show that would later move to Johnson City and become known as the ‘Bank Show,’” explained Bob Browning, town administrator. “I was always a big advocate of the ‘Bank Show’ and after it came to an end, loved the idea of bringing it back here.”

But town officials wanted to do more than simply resurrect the old art show. They also wanted to continue to ensure it was one of the best around.

“We wanted our standards to be really high, and that’s one of the reasons we were so pleased to be able to get Stephen Wicks, curator for the Knoxville Museum of Art, as the juror for the show,” Conger said. “Thanks to his help and the support of local artistssuch as Bill Bledsoe and our sponsors, First Tennessee Foundation and Friendship Ford, the Jonesborough Juried Art Show has become not only a community art show, but also a very high caliber show.”

Of the 152 submissions, Wicks selected 69 works that he felt exemplified the best of the best. Submissions were accepted from across the region, including some from Asheville, N.C., and Knoxville.

“I really tried to focus on work where I was intrigued by what was represented, but also by the way it was represented,” said Wicks, in a phone interview from his office at the Knoxville Museum of Art, which features its own exhibit dedicated to the talents of East Tennessee artists. “Visitors to the show will be able to see such a broad spectrum of work from this area.”

Artists, too, are excited about the opportunity to show — and perhaps sell — their work, as well as the chance to see the work of their peers.

“The arts community had missed this show so much,” said Vera Tracy, a Jonesborough artist whose work of watercolor on wood varnish will be among the pieces featured at the show. “One of the best things about it is that we can show work that is nontraditional, as well as traditional pieces. It’s is more open to experimental art.”

This openness gives the artist more latitude to express what he or she wants to say.

“As an artist, you need to be free to express yourself in whatever way that feels true,” Tracy said. “Sometimes that’s done in water. Sometimes it’s sculpture. Sometimes it’s watercolor on wood varnish.

“It’s like a visual conversation with the viewer.”

The art show will open on Friday, May 24, at 6 p.m. at the International Storytelling Center with a jury lecture from Wicks on the works of art to be shown, including the process by which they were selected.

Visitors will then proceed to the McKinney Center to see the chosen works of art and enjoy an opening reception featuring music and refreshments.

At the opening exhibition, which is planned to run from 7-8:30 p.m., $2,000 in cash awards will be presented to various artists based on their work.

The opening night festivities, as well as the exhibit, are free and open to the public.

After the opening, the exhibit can also be seen at the McKinney Center on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. until June 14.

“We are hoping families attending other events in Jonesborough, such as the Garden Gala on May 25 and Friday’s Music on the Square, will stop by to view the exhibit.” Conger said.

Conger also hopes the community as a whole will enjoy having this exhibit so close to home.

“There aren’t very many communities whose town does an art show like this and as well,” Conger said.

Browning agrees.

“It was a quality show when it ended and had a great reputation, and we’re just trying to bring that back,” he said. “And it’s a perfect fit for our McKinney Center, which is being restored for just such events.”

For more information about the Jonesborough Juried Art Show, call Town Hall at 753-1030.