On a recent clear and balmy night, art lovers showed up for the Smyrna Depot District Art and Story Fest. Artists in three categories showcased their talent on Saturday, June 5, representing youth, veterans and adults. They varied in ages from high school students to those who have been creating art for 60 years. And the event began on Friday night with a Poetry Slam at Carpe Café. The event was coordinated by the Smyrna, Tennessee Arts and Culture Committee in coordination with Carpe Artista.
Friday night, a variety of writers stopped by Carpe Cafe to share their words during the inaugural Depot District Poetry Slam from 6-830 pm. It was open to all ages, with youth performing first, followed by adults. It was emceed by Mary Dunn.
Saturday night, canvases and other visual arts came out for display at many Depot District businesses, as well as at the Assembly Hall and old train depot. Business locations included Front Street Sign Company, Janarty’s Ice Cream, Front Street Pub, LaTavola Restaurant.
The event began with opening remarks by Wilma Gale McLean of the Rutherford County African American Heritage Society at the Front Street Sign Company event space. Also present was Smyrna author, Patricia McKissack. Wine Tasting was available at this location thanks to Avian Glen Winery, and at the Assembly Hall through Big Creek Tasting Room.
Mary Gaw, one of the artists whose work was on display at the Sign Shop has painted all her life. Her painting of birch trees immediately caught the eye from across the room.
“I prefer watercolors,” she said, “but I also work in oils…I saw a photo of the birch tree forest in a magazine, and I had to paint it.”
Allison Brock is one of the younger artists. She had a number of photographs on display, and some drawings. Brock began her journey as an artist in high school. While she considers herself a beginner, creativity flows in her blood. There are many artists in her family, and she would like to become a professional artist.
Veterans were featured in the Assembly Hall. One of them was Todd Foster. His choice of medium is wood. Two of his sculptures gained much attention, a beautiful spoon with soft curves and hearts, and a bear.
“I do different types of art,” said Foster, “but for the Art Show I chose to bring by chainsaw sculpture of a bear and a spoon that I carved from wood.”
Benneth Wilson also had unique sculptures. The pieces move and bounce in gentle movement and are made from wood and sheet metal. An angel, inspired by the passing of his mother, danced and cavorted bringing a sense of joy, not tears. Which was Wilson’s hope when he created the piece.
“I took up sculpture because I got bored with painting and drawing,” said Wilson. “I wanted to make something that was different. I wanted to create something with movement. This is what I came up with.”
The eldest artist also displayed his work in the Assembly Hall. Jim Pfeffer started drawing when he was 18, which was 60 year ago. He does illustration using pencil, watercolor, pen and ink, photography and computer manipulation. One of his most intriguing works he makes only one giclee of before he manipulates the design into a different picture by moving around and re-layering different elements.
“I have done a lot of art over the years,” said Pfeffer, “and this work is a combination of much of it. I put the items into this picture one at a time. It looks like one thing, but it is really the combination of many small pieces that I have carefully placed.”
Once a teacher at Nossi College of Art, Pfeffer fell in love with the creative power of digital art. He credits the school with allowing him to have the opportunity to play with high-powered creative software like Photoshop and others that allowed him to learn and explore the scope of digital art.
Throughout the evening, those who were visiting the event were able to use their smartphone to view a ballot and vote for their favorite artist in the three categories. One winner in each category would win a prize bag provided by the Arts and Culture Committee and local businesses.
As the evening sky darkened, the artists and art patrons found their way to Jantary’s for ice cream or LaTavola for dinner. They enjoyed the pleasant evening, not really worried about who took home the prizes because the event itself was a winner. It exposed the community to the vast amount of talent in the Smyrna art community.