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The Knoxville Museum of Art
Almost half of our respondents voted for the KMAan amazingly high proportion for any candidate in any categoryand with good reason. They do what a good art museum is supposed to donamely, put on art shows, a mixture of the best of the local like black Appalachian folk artist Bessie Harvey and traveling exhibits like last year's whimsical Red Grooms show. Currently, they've got Ansel Adams' photography and a show of art about the Holocaust.
But the KMA also does things an art museum's not supposed to do, like the amazingly successful "Alive After Five" jazz shows on Fridays, plus Wendel Werner's brilliant cabaret productions.
Runners Up: McClung, Museum of Appalachia
Best Art Gallery
For five years in a row now, Bennett's Gallery has swept this category as Knoxville's favorite art gallery. In their second year at the new location, Bennett's is infused with light and full of high ceilingsa space that creates the perfect atmosphere for viewing and musing over art. The wide variety and style of artworks to be enjoyed at Bennett's as well as the special events and shows they host from time to time make Bennett's Knoxville's enduring choice for fine art and artistic gifts.
Runners Up: Jim Gray Gallery, Candy Factory
Best Theater Troupe
We did a recount on this one. With stunning stages and props, an encyclopedic diversity of plays, nationally known professional actors and directors, and the talent of Tennessee's best drama school at its disposal, Clarence Brown Theatre, this region's only fully professional troupe, has always won this category before. We figured it would forever. But there are several other theater troupes in Knoxville, all of which got votesand this year, a plurality of Knoxvillians voted for a little storefront theater on Gay Street that offers a steady stream of loud, zany, high-speed, low-budget comedies. Theatre Central nosed out the venerable Clarence Brown by a narrow margin.
It's a tiny place with folding chairs and a little donation basket to cover the coffee expenses, but there are some ways in which Theatre Central can't be intimidated. Their price is right, just $5 to $8 a show. The talent's there, tooactors you occasionally see at Clarence Brown come to TC in their free time when they want to cut loose and have some fun. Their energy is unmatched anywhere. And in its 10-year history, Theatre Central has put on more productions than any other troupe in town. The nearby Old City may have seen better days, but Theatre Central's never been more popular.
Runners Up: Clarence Brown/UT, Actors Co-op
You don't even have to say the last name. Just say, "What do you think of Peyton?" to a certain minority of Knoxvillians, and they'll gush with praise for a promising young talent. Peyton is, indeed, Knoxville's favorite actress. Most often seen in a variety of wacky comedies at Theatre Central, Peyton Wilson has one of those rare faces that might work in almost any role, with a heart and soul that make it unforgettable. She has one big advantage over that other Peyton, by the wayand that's that she's still in town.
In the balloting, she even beat out perennial favorite Patricia Neal (which has always posed a dilemma for us, because she hasn't lived in Knoxville in decades).
Runners Up: Patricia Neal, Dolly Parton
Well, although his TV comeback may have fizzled with the cancellation of High Incident, grizzled veteran David Keith has made his comeback with our readers after losing his title last year to Steve Dupree. but he'd better keep an eye on his back because rising star Brad Renfro is on the fast track to success, with big roles in The Client, The Cure, Sleepers, and last year's Telling Lies in America. next up is Apt Pupil with Ian McKellen and David Schwimmer, in which he plays a boy who discovers that an old man living on his block is a Nazi war criminal.
Runners Up: Brad Renfro, Scott McBride
In this category, dozens of contenders drew a handful of votes each. The results were almost too close to call. But in the end, commercially successful landscape artist Jim Gray, whose work is available in his Bearden gallery, was the winner by a single vote over Cynthia Markert, whose moody, nocturnal representations of provocative-looking women are available at Key Antiques on Market Square (they also sell well in Asheville). Sevierville landscape artist Robert Tino (again, the difference was only one vote) came in third.
Runners Up: Cynthia Markert, Robert Tino
Best Local Dance Company
Circle Modern Dance
Knoxville's modern dance/performance art collective dethroned the City Ballet this year to win Best Local Dance Company. The group has an open-door policy for any local dancers, choreographers, or performance artists who want to express themselves. A three-person artistic staff consisting of Mark Lamb, Claire Whitaker-West, and Kimberly Matibag oversees performances at the Clarence Brown Lab, Bijou, and Laurel Theater. Their annual extravaganza is Modern Dance, Primitive Light every December at Laurel, a sensory feast featuring candles, live music, and multiple choreographers.
Runners Up: East Tennessee Children's Dance Ensemble, City Ballet
Best Movie Theater
Despite all our gripes about this art house's sound and picture quality, the fact remains that the Terrace is our best movie theater. Why? Because it's still the only one in town willing to take a chance on unusual films that may be (gasp!) outside of the mainstream. And in the past year, there have been discernible improvements, not only technically but in the timeliness of its bookingswhy, we can see critical favorites like Two Guys And A Girl at the exact same time as the rest of the country. So, although it has caused rampant eye strain, the Terrace has nevertheless improved the quality of life here, and for that it deserves to retain its title.
Runners Up: Regal Knoxville Center 10, Tennessee Theater