Friday Night in the Art of the City: Keegan Luttrell at the Emporium

First Friday, Market Square, Knoxville, March 2011

I’m startled to realize I’ve got one more post about First Friday from March and just next week we have another First Friday. Where did the month go? So, here is one final post on the last one, just in time to write about the next one.

First Friday this month got a great boost from the unusually spring-like weather. A light jacket made strolling outside very comfortable. While the crowd wasn’t as large as those from the fall, it definitely surpassed the last several very cold First Fridays. People were actually able to enjoy outdoor dining for the first time in a while.

Symbolizing “nature,” this young woman performed at Urbana

One of the must-stop spots on a First Friday night – and I might even say the most important, to me – is the 100 Block of Gay Street. My group loved it before and all through the construction project when it was at its least lovable. Now that it is the prettiest block downtown, it simply sparkles. After a great meal at the Crown and Goose in the Old City, we started with the Emporium.

Downstairs at the Emporium, 100 Block, First Friday, Knoxville, March 2011

The increase in First Friday traffic was obvious downstairs where hors d’oeuvres and drinks are served and the resident artists display their work. Often there is music, though there was none playing while we were there.

Acrylic and other mediums – Keegan Luttrell
Kegan Luttrell, Emporium, Knoxville, March 2011

Upstairs, featured artist Keegan Luttrell’s exhibition entitled “Uproot” excited the crowd with a wide range of works ranging from canvas to sculptures made largely of found objects. She says that her work explores, “. . . the linkage between life and death. The idea that a memory lasts beyond our existence has become the root of the reason why I create.” While, no doubt, some of the works might appear inscrutable to those of us with less exposure to and understanding of artistic works, they were always challenging and sometimes exhilarating. She also has fascinating performance art video on her website (linked above).

Sculpture of found objects (wine cup not included :-))
Urban patrons look into the mysterious well
The bottom of the well – A shattered view

Each of the mediums engaged offered something to the viewer – or participant. The sculptures invited visitors to peer inside and see themselves, broken at the bottom of a well (of shattered wishes?) or to experience lostness in a white expanse accompanied by ambient sounds in the work, “Lullaby.” If you put on the headphones, step inside and really shut out unrelated sensations (which I found really quite easy), the result is a surreal, almost out of body experience. It didn’t actually take me where the artist described in the accompanying note, but it did transport me to a different place.

Young Woman experiences “Lullaby” by Keegan Luttrell
The inside view of “Lullaby”

The exhibition will be mounted most of the rest of this month. The experience of “Lullaby” alone is enough to make it worth the trip. Who knows? Maybe you are catching a major artist before the rest of the world tunes in.