by Emme Nelson Baxter
Nashville is certainly not the only city in Tennessee with a thriving visual-arts community. If you are seeking a fresh outlook and have a splash of wanderlust, you do not have to venture far to enjoy the cutting-edge galleries and amply stocked museums of our sister cities Memphis, Chattanooga, and Knoxville. Simply fill up the gas tank, select your interstate, and head out on an “artcapade.”
As you plan for your day trip or weekend jaunt to one of these cities, consider this palette of inspiring, artistic venues.
If Memphis strikes your fancy, begin your adventure with a visit to the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, a treasure trove of fine and decorative arts. Located near Audubon Park, the 36-year-old museum features changing exhibitions, along with a permanent collection of more than 2,000 objects and a 17-acre public garden around the 1942 Georgian residence.
The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is partially housed in an exquisite Beaux-Arts style building. More than 36,600 of its 86,000 square feet are devoted to works from throughout the world, dating from antiquity to the present day.
The National Ornamental Metal Museum is America’s only institution exclusively targeting fine metal work. A visit to the museum allows you not only to catch great exhibits but also to watch metalsmiths as they create variegated projects in scale from the size of andirons to massive gates.
The Art Museum of the University of Memphis (AMUM) is a collecting institution that also hosts innovative temporary exhibitions, predominately of contemporary art and culture. You can catch truly burgeoning artists if you schedule a visit when student work is being shown.
If you visit the Bluff City on the last Friday of the month, be sure to join the free Art Trolley Tour along South Main Street downtown.
Art galleries worth investigating include:
David Lusk Gallery at 4540 Poplar Avenue
L. Ross Gallery at 5040 Sanderlin Avenue
Material Art Space at 2553 Broad Avenue
The Willis Gallery at 156 Beale Street
Headed down Interstate 24 East? There’s a lively arts scene
Consider starting at “Chattanooga’s original arts district,” the Bluff View Arts District (BVAD). The small neighborhood overlooks the Tennessee River and is lined with charming shops, museums, restaurants, and the River Gallery. Don’t miss a chance to wander through the award-winning River Gallery Sculpture Garden. The two-acres are included in the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Gardens. Many of the sculptures within its perimeter are available through River Gallery.
Just up the street is the Hunter Museum of American Art at 10 Bluff View. Housed in an architecturally eclectic structure that includes classical revival, mid-1970s-era construction and a steel-and-glass component, the Hunter specializes in art from the colonial period forward. Artists in the collection include Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Helen Frankenthaler, Louise Nevelson, Duane Hanson, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol.
Chattanooga’s North Shore neighborhood has been described as “where hip and historical coexist.” Replete with independent enterprises, it is home to In-Town Gallery at 26A Frazier Street, one of the nation’s oldest co-op galleries. The 38-year-old gallery features fine art and craft by more than 30 local artists.
At 40 Frazier is Winder Binder, which represents more than 70 producers of folk and outsider art.
Explore public art, studios, and galleries in the Southside district. Gallery 1401 at 1401 Williams Street is worth a stop to see works by regional and national artists. Other galleries and co-ops to check out while in the area include Studio 2/Gallery 2 at 27 West Main Street and Area 61 Gallery/Showroom at 61 East Main Street.
Don’t leave downtown without investigating a collection of galleries/working studios at 1800 Rossville Avenue. There you will find glassworks at IGNIS Glass Studio and Christopher Mosey Glass Studio, woodworking at Haskell Sears Design, and other visual delights at Chenoweth-Halligan Studios and Front Gallery and Loose Cannon Gallery.
If time allows, try to catch the latest contemporary show at Cress Gallery of Art at 752 Vine Street, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga’s academic gallery, and the Houston Museum of Decorative Arts at 201 High Street.
The headliner of Knoxville’s growing art community is its eponymous museum. The Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA) is a 53,200-square-foot modern building overlooking the 1982 World’s Fair site. Recently, the museum curators have begun to focus more keenly on the rich art of the East Tennessee region. You can’t miss it at 1050 World’s Fair Park Drive.
The Emporium Centerat 100 South Gay Street is a renovated nineteenth-century building that serves as the city’s first true arts center. With
28,000 square feet, it boasts two galleries and ten studios. The UT Downtown Gallery at 106 Gay Street offers student and regional artist exhibitions, and Art Market Gallery, a cooperative at 422 South Gay Street, features more than 60 area artists.
If you find yourself on the UT-K campus, drop in the Ewing Gallery of Art and Architecture to soak in exhibits that emphasize historic and current concepts in architecture and art.
Knoxville galleries worth entering: Hanson Gallery in Bearden’s arts and design district and 2 Many Pixels in West Knoxville.
Tennessee is rich with art galleries, museums, and theatres, and we will be featuring other cities of interest in future issues. See you on the road.
For more information to plan your trip visit www.tnvacation.com