“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”
Such was the conviction of Greek philosopher Aristotle, who would surely applaud the artwork being born today in Chattanooga. Inspired by Chattanooga’s rich history, lush scenery, and vibrant revitalization, local painters love to tell the story of our city. With skilled brushwork and perceptive eyes, they recreate the people and places that make our community what it is today. The artists featured here by no means represent the full scope of our area’s diverse community of painters—but they do have something in common. They all desire to create something meaningful on the canvas that both illustrates and illuminates life here in the Scenic City.
From the serenity of the mountains to the energy of the city streets -— Six local artists capture the Scenic City
By Katy Mena
Full PDF here.
“The gift of art is not just for the artist to express himself—it’s a gift to be shared.”
If you are familiar with the works of local painter Edward Kellogg, you’ve seen their exquisite combination of acrylics and oils.
Kellogg says this “mixed media” technique began in his college years. “Back when I was a student, I remember pulling other students’ canvases out of the trash and painting on top of them. I liked the rich color and texture things that would happen,” he says.
Since the ‘80s, Kellogg has done his own abstract painting with acrylics and then overpainted with oils. A representational artist, he is inspired by Dutch 17th century painting and its affirmation of reality.
“The Dutch did such amazing painting in an otherwise uninteresting place. They had no mountains like Lookout,” he says. “When I moved here some years ago, I felt it was important to find meaningful subject matter, so most of my work finds its source within a 50-mile radius.”
The largest portion of Kellogg’s work centers on the rural wildness of the surrounding area. More recently, though, he has begun painting nighttime scenes in downtown Chattanooga. “At night, the beauty of the city is about the light emerging out of the darkness,” he says.
Kellogg says one reason he is drawn to realism is that you don’t have to have vast experience in art or philosophy to understand it. “The gift of art is not just for the artist to express himself—it’s a gift to be shared,” he says. “When a work is done, the important thing for me is that people can see it and find pleasure in it. As one thinker put it, ‘It contributes to their flourishing.’”
To learn more about Edward Kellogg and his work, visit alanaveryartcompany.com/edward-kellogg or tannerhill
“I believe that all structures have a story to tell.”
Lifelong art enthusiast Gay Arthur has worked as a professional painter for the past 10 years. After earning her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from UTC in 2003, she has been committed to recording what she calls “nostalgic architecture” through paint.
“I believe that all structures have a story to tell,” says Arthur, who paints historic buildings, many of which are scheduled for demolition. “We drive by these structures every day without really seeing them for their contributions to our past. Our paintings can bring about an awareness of these Chattanooga locations.”
Arthur begins her creative process by photographing Chattanooga landmarks such as the Wheland Foundry and the Longholme historic estate on East Dallas Road. She then builds her own canvases and paints with palette knives, forks, and even dog combs to build an array of textures.
A member of In-Town Gallery, Arthur displays her work year-round and is currently working on two major series: one commissioned, and one series entitled “End of the Road.” The latter will feature abandoned vehicles in rural areas.
“All these vehicles have a history and tell us some amazing stories about the lives they have touched,” she says.
Learn more about Gay Arthur at gayarthur.com.
“Chattanooga has become such a relevant source for fine and performing arts. I’m very proud to be part of such a movement.”
Painter Brent Sanders has been recreating scenes of the Chattanooga riverfront in all of its historic glory for more than 20 years. Colorful, vibrant, and electric, his paintings capture both the beauty of nature and the industry of the city.
A Chattanooga native, Sanders says he likes taking familiar scenes like the Walnut Street Bridge or Tennessee River and giving them new life—a creative process inspired by the city’s own transformation. “Painting in this area is a constant reminder of how far this town has advanced,” he says.
His trademark style traces back to a trip he took to New Orleans. “I was very inspired by several paintings I saw that represented the city,” says Sanders. “They were colorful and loose renderings of musicians and cityscapes that really captured the energy and excitement of the area.”
Sanders works in acrylic on canvas or wood, a departure from his early days of watercolor on pen and ink. He shoots photos, transfers them to canvas through drawing, and then begins to paint—a process he has been working to perfect for years.
“Once the foundation and values are in place, I tend to work more on instinct and enjoy improvising along the way,” he says.
Sanders says his influences range from legends like Vincent van Gogh and American muralist Thomas Hart Benton to local contemporaries such as Terry Cannon, Robert Lewis, and the late George Little.
“Chattanooga has become such a relevant source for fine and performing arts,” says Sanders, of the Scenic City’s growing artistic community. “I’m very proud to be part of such a movement.”
To learn more about Brent Sanders and his work, visit brentsanders.com.
“There is a quiet peacefulness around places that are weathered by years of sun and rain. They tell stories of hard work, production and now-changing economic landscape.”
European-inspired painter Victoria Pearmain has been painting in Chattanooga for more than two decades. Drawn to the work of artists like Corot and Monet, she uses oil, canvas, paper, and watercolor to create soft and ethereal images of the world around her.
Pearmain’s subject matter centers around the area’s natural landscape along with the rustic buildings scattered throughout the surrounding mountains and rivers. Though she learned to paint in the Northeast at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Pearmain says she has a strong connection to the South and sees many parallels between the countryside in both areas of the Eastern United States.
If you look at her paintings, you can see that she is drawn to wistful, forlorn, subjects. “There is a quiet peacefulness around places that are weathered by years of sun and rain,” says Pearmain. “They tell stories of hard work, production and now-changing economic landscape.”
Pearmain is a strong part of Chattanooga’s artistic community—if you have toured area galleries, you have likely seen her work or heard her name. She says she is proud to be among the many artists who are working to redefine Chattanooga as a thriving, magnetic pocket of the South.
“Chattanooga is a fantastic place for artists as there are so many opportunities to get involved, to show work, sell work, teach, and even be a part of planning for newly developed parts of town,” she says.
Right now, she is planning to show a new series of paintings at In-Town Gallery in February. Entitled “Un-scene Chattanooga,” the series depicts local scenes that may not be noticed every day and may one day disappear completely.
“Throughout history artists have been record keepers, and I like to feel that I am continuing that tradition by making visual images of parts of the city that may not be here for long,” says Pearmain.
To learn more about Victoria Pearmain, visit victoriappearmain.weebly.com.
“Putting in the hours in any direction you want to go is a must
Jerry Allen, a self-proclaimed “Chattanooga son,” has been drawing and painting in the Scenic City since he was a kid. A self-taught artist, he began with drawings and abstract paintings and during the last few years has added realism to his professional portfolio.
Inspired by local artists like Brent Sanders, Mia Bergeron, Terry Cannon, and the late Gordon Wetmore, Allen currently concentrates his efforts on celebrating Chattanooga and the people who live in the community.
“Brent and Gordon welcomed me with open arms,” Jerry says. “Gordon taught me so much about how to paint. Brent inspired me to paint the Scenic City and really pushed me to keep making art.”
In 2008, Allen caught the eye of the public in a big way when he won a first place ribbon at the Four Bridges Arts Festival for a series of charcoal portraits depicting his favorite jazz legends. Since then, he has done commissioned portraits for local educators, clergy members, and politicians, and has even launched an award, the Honors Portrait Gallery Inspiration Award, to honor those who make a difference in the community.
This year’s award, an oil portrait, was gifted to educator Booker T. Scruggs. As director of UTC’s Upward Bound program, Scruggs inspires young people to do their very best at everything—a message that is very close to Allen’s heart.
“As an African-American artist, I think it is my extra duty to show the youth of our city that being an artist is a career option,” says Allen. “Putting in the hours in any direction you want to go is a must for success.” Allen says he is also passionate about communicating the same message to adults. Currently, he hosts artistic workshops for adults and therapeutic art workshops at the South Chattanooga Recreation Center. “I want to show everyone how fun and rewarding art can be,” he says.
Jerry Allen currently works out of his studio at Chattanooga WorkSpace. He is known to work late into the night. “When I first started I saw how guys like Terry Cannon and Brent Sanders just put out a lot of work,” Jerry says. “Now I paint, paint, paint non-stop.”
To learn more about Jerry Allen, visit jerryallenart.mfbiz.com.
“The crisp early morning light and colorful sunsets of Chattanooga illuminate all the elements of its rich heritage and provide me with an endless array of formal and informal subject matter.”
Thirteen years ago, local artist Chuck Frye picked up the brush again after a long hiatus from painting.
A South Carolina native, Chuck Frye earned his bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Georgia where he studied under Lamar Dodd himself of the university’s Lamar Dodd School of Art. But upon graduation in 1966, he had his doubts about making a living as a full-time artist, so he instead chose to lend his talents to the corporate world.
Luckily for art enthusiasts everywhere, Frye chose to return to his artistic roots in 2001 and has been working as an oil painter ever since. Currently, he focuses his landscapes on the Tennessee River and the surrounding mountains.
“Chattanooga is constantly changing and alive with inspiring images to paint,” says Frye. “The crisp early morning light and colorful sunsets of Chattanooga illuminate all the elements of its rich heritage and provide me with an endless array of formal and informal subject matter.”
Frye works from photographs that he has taken over time and looks to legends like Winslow Homer, Paul Cézanne, and Edgar Degas for inspiration. He paints carefully and deliberately with Winsor & Newton oils, taking his lead from the objects he is recreating on canvas. Frye is currently developing a series of paintings for the 4 Bridges Arts Festival, which will be held this April (April 11-13).
Learn more about Chuck Frye at intowngallery.com.