The first Friday of every month holds an Art Walk around the downtown Knox area. There you will find an abundance of establishments hosting artists’ work as well as studios opening for conversation among art lovers and artists alike.
Though, for anyone new to Knox, or new to the Art Walk, it can be daunting navigating the downtown area. So, we’ve gathered some tips and tricks on navigating the First Friday art scene:
Where To Go and How
First and foremost, Downtown Knox posts on their website all of the exhibits for the art, theater, and music events about a week before the event. This list is imperative to help you find which exhibits to visit. It’s important to know you won’t be able to accomplish every single exhibit during the evening, despite your best efforts. This can be because of your time spent at each location or the distance. So make sure to map out the places you’d like to go to best and plan on coming a second time around. During my recent jaunt to the Art Walk, visits to Frothy Monkey, The Art Market Gallery, Christopher Robin Arts, and of course, the highly recommended Emporium were well worth the visit.
Talk With Artists
The Art Walk isn’t just about the art itself; it’s also about the artists! And so many artists are there to talk to you about their work. Take them up on it. You will end up learning so much more about the artwork as you hear first hand what influenced it. Along my visit, I was able to do just that and I had the pleasure of speaking with Charlotte Brindley, an artist who displayed her work at the Art Market. She shared, “I like to share my creativity and the pursuit of beauty with who ever wants to look… it makes me happy and feel validated as a creator that people like it because I grew up in a cloistered environment. I had an imagination as big as the world but in a town of 800 people you know, I want to create big epic art. So I moved to East TN to focus on becoming a professional artist.” These artists are ready to share their stories with you.
While at the Art Market, volunteer and artist Curt Imerman not only shared an in-depth of his own art, but gladly showed me around the building of others artist’s works, being sure to share the creative process and any story he knew behind the piece. Which is so charming when he explained, “My favorite part [about sharing my art] is the fact of the exposure. I used to hoard it. Who’s going to see it? So a friend of mine was a member [at the Art Market] and said you should see some of Curt’s work and I showed it to him and he said I think you should apply. And I got right in.”
I was also able to speak with both Christopher and Robin from Christopher Robin Arts about their art, but also who they are as individuals. We were able to bond over a silly prank their daughter did by hiding ducks in their studio and also understand their desire to get their name out into the world. Christopher explained his joy of photography and Robin’s love of painting, and when she isn’t doing Plein Air, she’s in their studio creating together. Christopher shared, “We enjoy sharing what we do, and that’s our main purpose of it.”
These conversations are what the Art Walk is about— connecting people. So be bold, ask a question, spark a conversation. You never know what you might learn.
Grab Some Dinner
One more note. I highly recommend that before, during, or after the Art Walk you make a stop at one of the many restaurants downtown, if it’s been a minute since you have. I promise that you will be down there for a while and you will be in need. But you won’t have to take time away from your art appreciation. A number of the restaurants showcase artwork or host local performances during their serving hours that night. Frothy Monkey proved to be a great place to grab a nosh during my recent visit, but other locations like Awaken Coffee, Knox Brew Hub, and Bistro at the Bijou also had great menus and art. This is just a sampling, though, for any First Friday you end up attending, there might be more or new establishments to enjoy dinner and a show.
Overall, the Art Walk is a way to welcome the community—both local and regional—in order to celebrate the arts in East Tennessee. First time or not, from Knoxville or not, the Art Walk is a great excuse to get out there and enjoy the simple things in life: creativity, conversation, and a good meal in downtown Knox.
The next Art Walk is Friday November 3. Be sure to visit the Downtown Knox Website for more information.