Beauty all around: Local artisans combine for three-day event in Townsend
By Melanie Tucker | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
If pushy, loud people in long lines isn’t your idea of celebrating the holidays, maybe a calmer approach where local artists showcase their amazing talents in a smaller setting will be just what you need to get into the spirit of the season.
Members of the Townsend Artisan Guild are trying something new this year. A dozen or so of them will be holding an event at the Townsend Visitors Center starting Monday and running through Wednesday. Painters, carvers, fiber artists, photographers and potters will be on hand to give demonstrations and provide shoppers with the opportunity to get something nice for themselves or anyone on the Christmas list.
A gathering of friends
Lois Alexander, a resident of Townsend and member of the guild, will be there. She paints in pastels, acrylics and sometimes watercolors, but her talent doesn’t end there. She worked in graphic design for various department stores across the country for four decades and now does freelance work for several clients. She loves doing pen- and ink-drawings, Christmas cards and custom home sketches.
Her latest project involves paintings with bears as the focus. She call the series “Bears in My World” and they are. One of her creations shows a bear playing golf, while in another, there is a bear taking pictures of bears in Cades Cove. In another, there are a couple of bears sitting fireside, making s’mores.
“I am an artist that does a variety of things,” Alexander said. “I am a combination fine artist/graphic designer. I do logos for people, ads for the newspaper, posters, invitations and cards. I like the variety. It doesn’t get boring.”
She’s certainly got her hands full, but this expert at multi-tasking wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s even got an idea she’s working on for a children’s book. She wants to write and illustrate it.
Alexander has been in the Townsend Artisan Guild for a few years and said she is awed by the talent that exists among its members. This upcoming event, she said, is a wonderful way for some of them to get together and introduce themselves to the community. Because it’s only a few weeks until Christmas, it will also be a shopper’s paradise.
“The guild has such a nice mix of people,” this artist said. “There are all different age ranges and all are very professional. Their work is also high quality.”
After moving to Townsend from Knoxville years ago, Alexander became the artist-in-residence at the Heritage Center in Townsend, where her husband, Don, is manager of the gift shop. She grew up in Pittsburgh and graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. She worked as a professional graphic designer in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Buffalo, N.Y. and Knoxville. She has won numerous awards for her illustrations.
Others expected at the Townsend Visitors Center include jewelry maker Dave Neamand, and woodcarver Billy Reynolds. Artist Suzanna Terrill and photographer Susan Cooper will be there as well. Then there’s popular potter Dave Huber. Fiber artist Deborah Adams, photographer Richard Gullufsen and gourd artist Terri Reynolds are also prepared to dazzle us with their creativity.
Many of these artists have had their works on display at places like the Emporium in Knoxville and at the Clayton Center for the Arts in Maryville. Some have their own shops at Nawger Nob in Townsend.
Visitors to the event that starts Monday will get the chance to own a Christmas tree with handmade, original artwork hanging from its branches. Many of the guild members are contributing something to add to this holiday symbol. It will definitely be one-of-a-kind.
Alexander and the others have been busy so they will have plenty of their work to share. She will have boxes of Christmas cards that she drew, hand cut, hand folded and hand colored. The bear series of art will also be part of her collection.
The excitement for this event is certainly building, Alexander said. “If nothing else, people can just come and walk around and meet the artists,” she said.