Creative Theater Production of “Annie” Made Us Fall in Love with Theater Again

We went to see the production of  “Annie” at the Creative Theater in Pigeon Forge and it made us fall in love with theater all over again. I had seen pictures and good reviews on social media of this production, but was even more impressed after seeing it with my own eyes. Take someone special there this week because the performances are wonderful. Now, I will tell you seven reasons why I enjoyed the performance and why you need to see “Annie” this week. 

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1. The Personal Connection

I was initially interested in seeing the production with my sister and her family because the young actress in the lead role is good friends with my niece. They are in the same class together at school in Morristown. We had to come and support her talented best friend!

 

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And we love dogs! What a cute pup for the role of ‘Sandy.’

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The screenshot above shows the four shows  left this week. IMG_6956 2

2. The Quality

This musical was a hit in 1977 and it is a hit now in Pigeon Forge. I expected a good performance; however, the production set a high standard—and met it. I forgot that I was not in Knoxville, Nashville, Atlanta, or even the theater district in NYC. Acting and voices were wonderful. Costumes were beautiful (or beautifully shabby in the case of the orphans) and the sets were so interesting. Part of the fun of the show is when you see the stage changed from one scene to the next. It is fun to see the change.

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We bought tickets in the balcony and were ready for the show to begin by seven o’clock.

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As you can see, the theater is a nice size with a main floor and a balcony. You can also see the stage and how they change the sets.

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If you sit in the balcony, the safety rail will be in your line of sight, but you get used to it. After a minute, your eyes will be riveted to the stage below.

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3.  The Music

Everyone knows at least two songs from this musical: “Hard-Knock Life” and “Tomorrow.” You will want to sing along and may recognize a few more tunes. In the photo above, the ‘orphans’ were adorable and everyone hit their marks. The young actors kept the pace lively.

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4. Nostalgia and History

This was one of my favorite scenes in the show for several reasons. First, I enjoyed seeing the group together and hearing the ‘Cabinet’ sing. Second, the actor portraying Franklin Roosevelt was so authentic in his portrayal that FDR seemed to ‘come back to life’ in 2019. Third, I knew that they invited a guest to do a cameo for the evening, but didn’t know when he would appear. Follow Creative Theater on Facebook and you will know who to expect in the cameo each day. Our cameo actor for the evening  is pictured above, second from the right.

 

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I know that he had so much fun!

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The musical takes place during the Great Depression so the audience will see historical and cultural references that bring back memories. The radio show and commercials did that for me. The poor people walking in the city reminded us of the hard times during the Great Depression. Presidents were mentioned, like Hoover and FDR. The portrayal of the president was perfection.

5.  Feelings

A good stage production will make you think and it will evoke feelings. “Annie” did both for me.  I found myself smiling during most of the production. I smiled. I tapped my feet and hummed. Surprisingly, a tear even came to my eyes during the first playing of the song “Tomorrow.” It must be the most well known tune from the show, with a theme of optimism in spite of life’s battles. If you listen to the words and think of someone fighting a battle right now then you may also fight back a tear as well.

6. Red Carpet Picture

I had seen a friend post a special picture on Facebook where they looked like they were on a red carpet, standing under a movie marquee. My niece and I found the spot during  the 15 minute intermission and were able to take a picture with ‘Sandy,’ the dog. There was no charge, just a suggestion to show it on social media in order to help publicity.

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This was a wonderful souvenir and we were delighted. What a special touch to an already special event! Make sure that you take your camera/phone and do this by the end of intermission.

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The second act will fly by too quickly so enjoy it!

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I love the curtain call at the end of a play when the actors are recognized for their work.

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What wonderful young performers!

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These were formidable actors in sinister/comedic roles.

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Miss Hannigan was superb!

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Ron Solomon played Oliver Warlocks perfectly and had a wonderful singing voice. It was a pleasure to witness his scenes. Laura Taliferro played a kind Grace Farrell, secretary to Warbucks. I felt transported by her voice as well. She truly had a wonderful aura about her that surpassed the stage.

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A standing ovation for Jennie Marie Davis and the entire cast of “Annie!”

7.  Meeting the Cast

I have never attended a performance where you could meet the cast after the show. You will get to do that at the Creative Theater and it is magical!

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The lead actress celebrates with classmates and home town friends from Morristown.

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These three actors really ‘chewed up the scenery’ and made their marks on the musical. Marvin West was excellent as the policeman and FDR. You forgot that he was in character because it seemed so real. The audience could not control their laughter during the scenes with Jonathan Weathersby (Rooster) and Turner Morris (Lily St. Regis). I will not give away that scene, but it was the high point of the comedy for us. So funny!

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Don’t be shy! During the ‘meet and greet’ after the show, congratulate the actors and get a picture to remember the show. I always wanted my picture with another president!

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We left the theater and walked out to our cars, thinking about what a fantastic show that we had just witnessed in our own county. There are different kinds of theaters here, but this one is quite special. It is a community theater that allows community member to take part in productions and to try different aspects of the stage. It can help teach beginners while letting veterans shine!

Growing up in Morristown, we would go see performances at the Morristown Theater Guild. In fact, I first saw “Fiddler on the Roof” there and have never forgotten it. It was magical. In the same sense, I truly enjoyed the performance of “Annie” at the Creative Theater and am thinking about going again this week. Make sure you see this show while you still have a chance. It is amazing theater and made us fall in love with it all over again. 

You will too!

Here is the link to the Facebook page. Keep up with upcoming shows, photos, and video feeds after the performances.

https://www.facebook.com/creativetheatergroup/

 

Bloomin’ BBQ and Bluegrass 2019

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This is the premier event for downtown Sevierville—and 2019 didn’t disappoint. There were crowds, great food, music, and a few storms. However, it looked bigger and better than last year. I am ‘limited’ when it comes to heat and crowds so I didn’t linger, but I did manage two quick visits and a few photos.

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I parked near Sevier County Bank and walked in the back way. In doing so, I passed several trailers that housed the cooking competitors. The signs and slogans were fun to view. Here are a few examples in collages.

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This is a local competitor based in Gatlinburg. It is family owned and operated. Must visit this summer!

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Another well known local competitor.

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My other interest was the chalk art that would be happening on Bruce Street.

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I saw competitors carrying covered dishes to a secret location on Bruce Street.

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There was tight security for the competition. Would love to be a judge for that!

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There were all kinds of gift ideas.

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I really appreciated the Bush Beans company for the freebies. There were working hard both days handing out free individual servings of baked beans—perfect for barbecue.

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The company even let you take a photo with their mascot, Duke. What a good dog!

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Local businesses, like Courthouse Donuts, were open for extended hours during the event.

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There were several vendors, but this one has the largest sign and draws the longest lines.

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I got a brisket combo to go. It will last all weekend. So good! I will go back to them next year.

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That looks like enough sauce.

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Tents lined Court Avenue. I thought that all the vendors had good things to offer.

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Non-stop entertainment on the Bush stage.

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The Sevier County Courthouse had a crowd and non-stop entertainment as well.

IMG_5737 2A tip for next year: there was nice shade on the sidewalk across from the courthouse on Court Avenue. This would be a nice break or meet-up area out of the sun. If the dining tent were crowded then I spied a few shady steps here on which to sit.

Sorry that I didn’t get any people pictures—I am just not good in heat and crowds! However, these photos will give visitors a glimpse of what to enjoy next year. It is one of the best ways to be out and about in Sevierville. 

 

Hoops For Heroes 2019

 

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It was for the pride. It was for the honor. It was for Relay For Life.

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It was the second year that Sevier County First Responders came together to help the SCHS club support Relay For Life of Sevier County.

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I found a safe parking space.

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Fire trucks at the ready.

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The admission price was a great deal for there was a lot of action to see this year.

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We arrived before the games began. Teams were warming up in preparation for their 8 minute battle for basketball dominance.

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Team captains were called to the front to get instructions. Beth Ownby was orchestrating the event and sharing information.

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Michael Maddron, Ben Brabson, and Bryan McCarter were preparing to put the 2nd Annual Hoops For Heroes event into motion.

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There were 5 teams last year and 13 teams this year. It was a crowded floor—which was great for the competition—and for the onlookers. Nonstop action.

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Next, it was time for the players to pose for a quick team photo. The Sevier County Fire Dept, Sevier County Sheriff’s Department, Sevierville Police, and Gatlinburg Police Departments were in good spirits and ready to play.

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More teams are ready to play.

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Sevier County’s finest were ready for the epic battle and the 2019 trophy.

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More teams meant a larger crowd this year—and a very successful event! Honestly, it kinds of looked like a Smoky Bears basketball game.

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Other Relay For Life Teams were present to support the event.

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Teams were introduced in the link above. It is a small moment that I captured on video.

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Play commenced and each team worked hard to advance to the finals.

 

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In the link above, Jamie Roberts scores for the Sevierville Police Department.

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I thought that the concessions were very reasonable and and there was a nice variety. Where can you buy a water for $1?

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This team was fierce!

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This photo composite rests on the wall across from the ladies room. For some reason, I always like looking at it when I pass it by in the hallway.

The 2019 Hoops for Heroes event was a success in many ways. More than double the teams participated this year; consequently, the crowd was larger and the donation was even greater.

I could see that this event is due to the efforts of many people. Thanks to the SCHS Relay For Life members and the sponsors, Ben Brabson and Leslie Mattern. Thanks to Michael Maddron and all the heroes who came to do battle on the basketball court. Thanks go to Bryan McCarter for announcing the games and adding his entertaining commentary. Thanks to Rebecca Cowan, the 2019 Chairperson for Relay For Life in Sevier County and the organization itself for their efforts to fight cancer and give patients resources that they  need for a better life.

I saw several photographers working the event so I sat back and enjoyed the games. As a result, this story is not very long, but I am sharing the link below so you can see all the photos that were uploaded to the Relay For Life Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1103354659867411/1120643591471851/?notif_t=admin_plan_mall_activity&notif_id=1555604285565775

This is a wonderful way for families to get out and about in Sevierville, enjoy sports, and support a noble cause. Save me a seat in the bleachers next year!

Art Happening Featuring David Freeman , April, 2019

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There was a nice warm breeze as I wandered across Bruce Street to see the April 2019 Art Happening at the Arts In Common Gallery. The Sevierville Commons Arts Council had announced a presentation featuring local artist, David Freeman. I had seen his work before and had read a recent news article about him that was interesting so I knew that this would be a particularly interesting event.

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Featured artist, David Freeman, and Lee Murray. Interestingly, Lee is the subject of the portrait which is displayed behind them in the photo. You have to see it closer to appreciate the colors and light in the painting.

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Freeman is clearly a talented portraitist. The portrait to the left is the artist’s mother.

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These events are sure to have other artists in attendance. Aiden, Chuck, and Levi Ottolini enjoyed the April Art Happening. Chuck is a well known local artist in Sevierville. He is known for stained glass that has beautified many a church window in East Tennessee. Ottolini has also created some amazing things for local businesses. Go to Sevier Distilling Company and see the beautiful things in the tasting room.

IMG_4770Katie and Austin Williams came by to visit with a couple of very special guests!

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The music was quite relaxing and lent a nice ambiance to the event. Local musician, Tony Negrðn, plays many genres of music and makes the event feel so comfortable. His specialty is Smoky Mountain Delta Blues.

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David Freeman uses pastels, acrylic oils, and water colors in his art. A Cocke County native, Freeman is naturally inspired by the scenery and beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains.

IMG_4775Freeman grew up in Cocke County and attended Cocke County High School. He took classes in college and ended up majoring in art at ETSU.

 

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Freeman worked as a graphic artist for a while, then started doing pastels, pet portraits, and portraits in general.

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The table held beautiful displays.

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Refreshment was perfectly tailored for the event and for those who enjoy a treat after work. The cheesecake bites were perfect!

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Lee Murray created a beautiful table and delightful hors d’oeuvres. It was lovely.

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It is not near Christmast time, but I was really wanting this figurine!

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During the program, Freeman addressed the attendees and told about his path to being the artist that he is today. Most interesting, he told about creating a portrait of Christ during a church or revival service. It took him only 15 minutes and the final painting stood over 6 feet tall.

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Freeman has been painting large scale murals. This is a plan for one that will soon begin in Jefferson County, off of exit 417. He unrolled a template so that we could see what he was describing. Freeman has already painted a mural in Gatlinburg at the Blue Green Mountain Loft Resort. That mural is 12 feet tall and over 90 feet long. A must see!

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I was especially happy to run into an old friend at the event, Jack Maples, pictured right. David Freeman was the winner of a $1,000 prize in a widely publicized mural contest last year for Maples Motor Inn. The other local finalists were award winning artists Shannon Kelly and Mark Smothers. Jack Maples has commissioned a mural to be painted on the back of his motel, which faces LeConte Center. They are waiting for the city of Pigeon Forge to approve a new ordinance to allow it. I can’t wait to see this mural some day!
My friends know that I love murals and finding them in our travels. I have not known exactly how to explain this love of murals until I heard Freeman talk about it at the Art Happening last week. He said that he likes murals “because you feel like you stepped right into a painting.” Bingo! That explains why I love them so much.

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During the event, I chatted with several other artists. One artist creates figurative sculptures. This one is called What’s Up, Cupcake? These are amazing art dolls for collectiions.

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Here is her contact info. You can see three more of her figurative sculptures at the Arts in Common Gallery on Bruce Street.

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I admired these delicate creations by Emily Kelly Ede. Each was light as a feather and lovely. The prices are very good as well.

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She has more jewelry on display at the Arts in Common Gallery. These earrings are available in the gallery.

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It was soon time for me to go so I bid farewell to the artist and the attendees. Here are two of the Art Happening attendees and fans of David Freeman’s work. I love all the colors in this photo!

David Freeman is an outstanding local artist and I am excited to see the new murals that he will be creating, both in Pigeon Forge and in Jefferson County. This Art Happening allowed me to learn more about the artist and his work, especially in my favorite genre: murals.

Sadly, the Arts in Common Gallery may be closing in July because grants will soon be finished and they are not sure about the future. That means that you will have at least two more opportunities to visit an Art Happening in the Bruce Street gallery before anything changes. I encourage you to come spend a little time in their gallery. It is such a lovely place for visiting, relaxing, or their many ‘Make IT and Take It’ sessions. Even more, it enriches our community.

Art Happenings are one of the best ways to enjoy getting out and about in Sevierville. 

March 2019 Art Happening Featuring Audrie Prince

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Warmer weather made it nice to get out and about on Thursday so I was excited to arrive downtown for the Art Happening. Featured artist was Audrie Prince.

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The street was busy for 5:25 in the afternoon due to the Art Happening and a bustling dinner crowd at Graze Burgers.

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The weather was so nice that the doors remained open to enjoy a breeze.

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Audrie Prince also goes by the name Autumn Leaf in her work. She and her husband relocated here from Maine to enjoy the mountains and do what they love: art and aviation.

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Her work is beautifully displayed on the wall of the Arts in Common Gallery downtown. Prince is a multimedia artist who draws, paints, uses textiles and metals in her work.

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I, of course, chose the bear carving as a favorite.

Audrie has Penobscot roots; therefore, much of her art reflects nature and animals. The natural world. Prince is the only artist in the world who uses birch tree bark via paper cutting . She carves it using exacto knives and other implements.

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My colleague, Lee Anne Litton, would love this pig painted on feathers. So sweet! I have never seen anyone paint on feathers so that is unique.

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Fans and friends of the artist gathered around the collection.

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These are friends who have also acted in local theater productions with the artist. From left to right: Isabella Otter, Rendi Johnson, Judy Caldwell, and Cindy Johnson. After talking with them, I realized that I need to see some local productions soon!

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Audrie Prince also creates jewelry. These necklaces, modeled by her friends, were stunning!

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Also attending the Art Happening downtown were Rita Eakin, Jenny Dennis, and Catherine Fain Talbot. If I am not mistaken, Jenny’s paintings are featured on the walls  in the background of this picture. She already has two works commissioned in Knoxville.

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George and Jara Gillett enjoyed the Art Happening at the Arts in Common Gallery.

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Music sets the mood and it was nice. Tony Negron played some Smoky Mountain Delta Blues for the event. Find him on Facebook at   https://www.facebook.com/tcnegron/

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Refreshments at each Art Happening are unique and delightful, especially after a long day at work. These were wonderful!

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My favorite treats were the home made Petit Fours. Amazing! My compliments to the chef.

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IMG_3700Sevier Commons Arts Council board member, Crystal Lynn, and Audrie Prince take a moment to address attendees on the importance of the arts in our community.

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Audrie Prince also goes by the name ‘Autumn Leaf.’ Here is a beautiful necklace and some ways to contact her.

artisticadventureswithautumnleaf.com

https://www.facebook.com/ArtistAutumnLeaf/

IMG_3688There are more things being offered at the Arts in Common Gallery downtown. The Make It and Take It Workshop above will take place this Saturday, March 23 from      10:00 a.m. -12 p.m. Find more on the organization Facebook page.   https://www.facebook.com/CommonsArtsCouncil/

The Sevierville Commons Arts Council offers many opportunities to enjoy the arts in downtown Sevierville. Take advantage of these wonderful events. See you there!

A Visit to the Art Happening in Downtown Sevierville, February 2019

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The light from the Arts in Common Gallery was a beacon to all on a cool, rainy February evening. I parked across the street and hurried inside. Fighting off a cold or something going around, I still wanted to pop in to meet featured artist, Joan Swanson, and to see some of her work. It was a nice event and I was glad that I could make it.

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Street parking was still available, but you had to walk a little due to the Art Happening and the newly opened restaurant, Graze Burgers. It is always good to see busy streets in downtown Sevierville!

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My car was parked just steps away from the Arts in Common Gallery.

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I quickly ran into Andrea Wilson, board member of the Sevierville Commons Art Council, and featured artist, Joan Swanson. I like this area reserved for featured artist work because it invites you to look and linger a while. Natural light from the windows, wood flooring, and neutral wall color makes a perfect stage for local art. Swanson’s landscapes were well presented and I enjoyed taking my time to peruse them. Beach and mountain scenes are my favorites.

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Joan Swanson specializes in landscapes and pet portraits. You can find her pet portraits on the website Pawsofloveart.com .

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Look at these amazing pet portraits! They are extraordinary!

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I could not tell the difference between oil and pastel paintings. Joan told me that pastels go behind glass in a frame and oils do not. A simple fact, but something cool that I learned last Thursday at the Art Happening. Ask artist questions for you will learn a lot.

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I always enjoy going into the Arts in Common gallery to see the displays. There is always something new to see.

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Music was provided by Tony Negron, an instrumental, finger style guitarist. It was delightful.

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There are always refreshments so come to the Art Happening right after work.

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Everything is beautifully displayed.

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You are sure to find a gift at the Arts in Common Gallery. Shop while you visit.

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Arts Council board member, Laurel Kiewitt talks with Cheri Auman during the Art Happening.

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Local artist, Jenny Dennis, was enjoying the event. Look carefully at the four paintings on the wall because she created those pieces. You will be seeing more of her work in the future!

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Arts Council board member, Andrea Wilson, took a moment to address the crowd, encourage involvement with the group, and to detail upcoming spring events.

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I met Art Happening attendees Cheri Auman and David Freeman. Freeman has been a featured artist before and will soon be again.

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I always admire the beautiful, distressed brick walls in the gallery. The inset bookshelf is a lovely way to display art for the public. You can also purchase things if something catches your fancy.

Alas, an hour soon passed and I was ready to head home from a long day. Find the Sevierville Commons Arts Council on Facebook at this link. https://www.facebook.com/CommonsArtsCouncil/

See you at the next Art Happening on March 14th. The featured artist will be Audrie Prince. It is one of the best ways to be out and about in Sevierville. 

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Donuts to Dancing: Fundraiser for the United Way of Sevier County

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I was running late for a noon appointment in Knoxville, but had just enough time to run into Courthouse Donuts and check up on two contestants in their fundraiser for the United Way of Sevier County in advance of the Dancing With the Stars competition next month.

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The competition, as I understand it, has two parts. Fund raising and dancing. This a lot for someone to take on so I wanted to stop by and help these two hard working members of the community who have a long history supporting the United Way of Sevier County.

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Parking is so easy on Saturday mornings. I parked in front of the new yoga studio and walked around the corner to Courthouse Donuts for the fundraiser. Courthouse Donuts is the heart of downtown Sevierville, in my opinion, so that was a good place to be this morning.

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When I arrived around 11:00 a.m., the competitors were a whirlwind of energy. Pictured left to right: Marcie Shrandt with dance contestants Mike Comer, and Jaclyn Kile.

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I knew that $5 from each order of a dozen doughnuts went to the fundraiser so I looked at the menu to make a decision. An assortment was the easy option. I just looked at the last line on the menu and will order that next time!

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Jennifer Dyer was busy preparing the treats for all customers. She is a strong supporter of multiple organizations in Sevier County.

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Amy Barnett showing her support for the Comer/Kile team at the fundraiser.

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As I picked up my order, many people were starting to line up for their donuts too.

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Team Kile/Comer supporters from left to right: Amy Barnett, Amy Harper, Jodie Everhart, and Marcie Schrandt.

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It was time for me to run so I took one last look at the activity behind the counter. I asked the team if they have danced before. Mike Comer replied, “hell, no!” Asked if he would do it again? The same answer! For those reasons alone, I think that it would be great fun to attend the main event next month!

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Jaclyn Kile and Mike Comer have been practicing for their performance 2-3 times a week in addition to fund raising for the United Way. I can’t think of anyone better to win the mirror ball for dancing or the fundraising award for the United Way of Sevier County.

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The Best of 2018 in Photos: Out and About in Sevierville

Here is the best of 2018 while out and about in Sevierville. I’ll let the photos tell the stories, and there are many. What a year! (Because of the great amount of photos, I recommend using a desktop or tablet for quicker photo loading.)

Sevierville, it has been my pleasure…

January 2018

 

February 2018

 

March 2018

 

April 2018

 

May 2018 

 

June 2018 

 

July 2018 

 

August 2018 

 

September 2018

 

October 2018

 

 

November 2018 

 

December 2018