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New exhibitions opening at Emporium Center, September 7

KNOXVILLE - The Arts & Culture Alliance will present five new exhibitions at the Emporium Center in downtown Knoxville from September 7-28, 2018. A reception will take place on Friday, September 7, from 5:00-9:00 p.m. as part of First Friday activities downtown to which the public is invited to meet the artists and view the artwork. Most of the works are for sale and may be purchased through the close of the exhibition. Additionally, The Big Camera and A1LabArts will host a September First Friday event entitled Portraits & Pop-Up Gallery outside of the Emporium beginning at 5:00 PM on September 7. The Big Camera will take portraits of people in the community and feature work from local artists.

emporium center exhibits
Knox County Stormwater: Storm Drain Style-Off; image courtesy of the Emporiium Center

Yumee Eun: An Exploration of An Enlightened Spirit in the Main gallery

Yumee Eun’s inspired art grew from long hours of deep meditation and prayer. Her small sketches and poetry grew with her visions in the form of large canvas paintings with acrylics, oils, plasters, mud, and charcoals. She is constantly growing and discovering new ways to recreate the different realms of her visions and inspirations. Her artistic style is described simply as an all-encompassing poem of life. Her art embraces life in a deeply spiritual and soulful way. In a time where people are less creative and more structured, and art classes are nothing more than directing people to paint “perfect” pieces in order, her hope is that those who view her work will see her invitation to bravely explore themselves and create something uniquely individual.

While some may describe Eun as a budding new artist, her creative vision is fueled by years of dedicated soul searching and meditation, and each piece of art carries deep wisdom and spirit that was developed over years of searching for her own identity in this world. Eun’s work challenges and invites others to find the freedom of mind found in her inspired pieces. “There is always a space for one to retreat to in my art,” she says. “I would like others to have that place for enlightened peacefulness as well.” Inspired by the works of Indian artist and poet Rabindranath Tagore, and Siddhartha novelist Herman Hesse, her artwork and poetry reflect their pathos as well as her own internal struggles into thoughtful awakened images of growth and beauty. For more information, visit

Judy Jorden & Peggy Leland: Variations in the Balcony gallery

Judy Jorden received her BFA degree in Painting at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She taught art education for 31 years in Knox County Schools and then worked with art interns as a part-time clinical faculty member for the Art Education Department at UT. Her volunteer teaching experiences and involvement with student art experiences have included Governor’s School for the Arts, Scholastic Student Art Exhibit, Dulin Gallery, KMA Guild, Beck Cultural Center, East Tennessee Student Art Exhibition and currently Tennessee Valley Fair Student Art Exhibition. She has exhibited locally and statewide in juried exhibitions. Her Educational Awards include: Tennessee Humanities Fellowship Award Winner 2001, Tennessee Secondary Art Educator of the Year 2001, Tennessee Art Educator of the Year 2006 and Tennessee Retired Teacher of the Year 2012.

Inspiration for her current paintings emerges from close-up surface texture studies found in metal objects, plant forms, and a variety of views from onsite studies. She arranges these artworks into groupings, creating a mosaic of miniature paintings and also group paintings with a similar subject matter.

Peggy Kretchmar Leland’s recent work is concerned with presenting a variety of viewpoints, both far away and close-up. Aerial views are especially captivating because they can create abstract, geometric and organic patterns. The sense of space conveyed using distinct viewpoints is often mysterious. This subject matter, together with the endless possibilities presented by the use of encaustic media, results in a wide array of visual experiments and outcomes.

Peggy Kretchmar Leland received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Painting, a Master of Science Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision and a Master of Science Degree in Art Education, all from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her work experience includes: Workshop Co-Director, U.T. Arts Academy for High School Students (15 years); 20 years as Art Instructor, Central High School, Knox County Schools; Education Specialist: Staff Development, Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union; Educational Specialist, TVA Education and Skills Development Dept.; Program Manager, Regional Arts Program, Tennessee Valley Authority; Assistant to the Director, School Planning Laboratory, The University of Tennessee. Selected Honors and Awards include: Teacher of the Year, Central High School; TAEA East Tennessee Art Educator; Invitational Painting Exhibit, Customs House Museum, Clarksville, TN (2017); Merit Award for painting in Arts in the Airport Exhibit (2016); Two paintings selected for Arts in the Airport Exhibit (2015-16); Honorable Mention, encaustic painting, Knox County Art Teachers Exhibit, U.T. Downtown Gallery (2013); Knox County Art Teachers Exhibit, 1998-2013; Knox County Mayors Exhibits, City County Building (2016-2018); Two-Person Exhibit, TN Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.

SOUTHERN GOTHIC on the North Wall

SOUTHERN GOTHIC includes a collection of paintings by Stephen Brayfield with poems by Tonya Wade.

Stephen Brayfield began drawing at an early age which lead to his acceptance into the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1981-82. There he studied drawing, printmaking, anatomical rendering and scientific illustration. He left the Art Institute to begin a career in illustration and portraiture while taking courses at the American Academy of Art, the Palette & Chisel and the School of Representational Art. In 1994, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University with a major in studio art and a minor in earth science. As an illustrator he contributed to World Book Student Discovery Encyclopedia which won the 2001 Golden Lamp Award for Children's Publications by the Association of Educational Publishers. He has done numerous illustrations for magazines and books over the years and has provided illustrations for the Kids Ark Christian Children's Magazine since 2005. Brayfield relocated to Knoxville in 2008 and soon received the portfolio award in the New-to-Knoxville Juried Exhibition held by the Arts & Culture Alliance as well as awards in the Southern Watercolor Societies 35th and 39th annual Juried Exhibitions.

SOUTHERN GOTHIC includes a series of Brayfield’s watercolor paintings exploring southern gothic themes with an emphasis on the portrait and figure. Although there is always an element of darkness present, gothic doesn’t always mean darkness. For more information, or to purchase prints or commissions, visit

At an early age, Tonya Wade made friends with the monsters hiding in her closet. Through them, she awakened to the subtle beauty only darkness possesses. Tonya enjoys various streams of poetry, but it was Emily Dickinson who gave her the courage to discard rules. She also credits Andre Breton’s automatism with widening her approach to poetry. She and artist Stephen Brayfield have been together since he found her haunting his closet two years ago. Tonya lends poetic titles and suggests content for many of Stephen’s paintings, and he will also create a painting inspired by one of her poems. His encouragement means everything. Tonya Wade spent her formative years in beautiful Mississippi and currently resides in Asheville, NC. More of Wade’s poetry can be read at

Knox County Stormwater: Storm Drain Style-Off on the North Wall

In 2017, nine local artists painted colorful, original murals at Knox County libraries (Bearden branch and Karns branch) to raise awareness about water pollution. These beautiful paintings are whimsical and playful yet convey the message that individuals can make a difference for our streams by not using storm drains as trash bins. The Knox County Stormwater and Library departments held a design contest open to all artists. The aim of the contest was to bring visibility to water issues through the artists’ imagination and creative talent.

In its second year, the 2018 Storm Drain Style-Off contest reimagines traditional approaches to public outreach and connects to communities through art. During August, select artists painted colorful scenes and interpretations of stream life as a means of educating the public about throwing away trash, pet waste, oil, and grass clippings properly instead of into a storm drain. These items have devastating effects on stream life if they are discarded into a storm drain because our storm drains lead directly into the streams and rivers. These works of art can be viewed at five Knox County libraries: Cedar Bluff Branch, Fountain City Branch, Halls Branch, Howard Pinkston Branch and North Knoxville Branch.

The public may vote for their favorite design starting Friday, September 7, to coincide with the First Friday Opening Reception of the exhibition showing photos of the paintings. Voting will last until September 30, 2018. The following artists were selected to paint a small mural at a library storm drain: Mene Manresa Bodipo, Cedar Bluff branch; Eric Johnson, Howard Pinkston branch; David Jones, Fountain City branch; Christine Palmer, Howard Pinkston branch; Corelli-Corey Pope and Elli McNall (team), North Knox branch; Genevieve Trent, Fountain City branch; Makala Wetherbie, Halls branch; Julia Widby, Cedar Bluff branch; and Thomas Zachary, Howard Pinkston branch. For more information, visit

Ericka Ryba: Devour in the display case

Artist statement: Food can be devoured for physical consumption or an object can be devoured with the eyes. The term denotes a kind of all-consuming appetite that you feel from within. Devouring is not about mere sustenance but fulfills other primal urges. Often times these urges can leave us with a love/hate relationship with food after having succumbed to our food cravings. I started my career studying Culinary Arts and became interested in the health and nutrition of our bodies. After experiencing significant declines in my own health, I have come to believe wholeheartedly in the adages “you are what you eat” or “let food be thy medicine”. I have regained my health through food, but not without cost. There are plenty of others in my situation, finding ourselves gluten free, dairy free, additive free, sugar free, low carb, keto, paleo, and on and on. This body of work explores the double-edge sword that food represents in our culture. On one hand, it’s a very community based affair that can bring people together and can celebrate our various cultures, but there is also a very dark side concerning the effects of poor nutrition and overeating that is plaguing our society. An alternate meaning of the term devour means to consume destructively. For me, and many others, this is what happens if we indulge in the wrong foods for our bodies. This work represents my daily experience where I am surrounded by enticing and appealing food that I cannot enjoy physically. It can be a visual sensory experience but cannot be experienced beyond that.

Ericka Ryba is a local, Knoxville-based potter. She earned an AAS in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales in Charleston, SC and a BFA in studio Art and MS in Art Education from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She currently teaches art full time at Coulter Grove Intermediate School in Maryville and has a ceramics studio inside Mighty Mud in North Knoxville. Ryba’s pottery is available at various markets and shows in the region. Recently, she was the recipient of a 2019 Ann and Steve Bailey Opportunity Grant. For more information, visit

The exhibitions are on display at the Emporium Center, 100 S. Gay Street, in downtown Knoxville. Exhibition hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM. For more information, please contact the Arts & Culture Alliance at (865) 523-7543, or visit the Web site at

Published August 30, 2018

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