Annual Manual 2001

Arts and Entertainment

Knoxville's home to more A&E wonderfulness than you can shake a stick at.

First time I experienced the arts in Knoxville, it was during the Dogwood Arts Festival. I'd been in town a whopping two days and thought I'd take in the sight, sounds, and smells of this annual event. Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Arts Festival, which was a don't-miss staple of the summer, was always chock full of unique and talented artists who set up booths covering most of the city's center. Sure, the Dogwood should be smaller, since Knoxville is smaller, but the Dogwood had to be great, I reasoned, if they're calling it the best 14 days of spring.

Anyone who has experienced the Dogwood Festival first-hand can see how this assumption about its artistic merits will end. To make a long story short, after seeing a short assortment of painted sawblades and crocheted toilet paper cozies, I figured I had made a huge mistake—not about the festival but about moving to the Sunsphere city in the first place.

Cooler heads prevailed, fortunately, and I was stopped before I managed to toss my still packed belongings in the back of my car and flee for more culturally conducive climes. And in the intervening years (has it been that long?) I've learned that Knoxville beats out most of the other similarly-sized cities in the Southeast when it comes to the arts. But I've also learned that you have to be willing to do a little legwork to find them.

Knoxville has some big players in the arts scene who are pretty easy to find. There's the Knoxville Museum of Art, which, with its recent exhibits of Chihuly's glass and Escher's etchings and an upcoming show devoted to all things Warhol, rivals just about any other museum you can find within a four hour drive. Knoxville has its own symphony (conducted by the internationally known Kirk Trevor), opera and ballet (two of these, in fact, the Knoxville Ballet and the Appalachian Ballet) companies. A regional Equity theatre—the Clarence Brown—makes its home on the UT campus. All in all, we are rich in the big art stuff.

But Knoxville is also lucky when it comes to small-yet-mighty organizations. On the historic museum front, we're home to both Bleak House and the James White Fort; in the visual arts we have a cluster of wonderful galleries in the Candy Factory as well as in the Bearden area. The Jubilee Community Arts organization routinely rounds up some of the best traditional musicians still living and the Circle Modern Dance company does the same with area modern dancers. The Actor's Co-op and Theatre Central prove that good things can come in small packages. And this doesn't even take into account the sheer number of beautiful exhibits and classical concerts that happen off-the-beaten path, which you can happen upon if you simply keep your eyes and ears open.

—Adrienne Martini

Museums and Historic Exhibits

Local Art Galleries

Arts Organizations

Dance Performance

Dance Instruction

Music Societies


Musical & Theatrical Instruction

Fun Stuff