I attended my second Pecha Kucha event recently and was reminded of the many amazing Knoxvillians who surround us. This was the fifth edition of Knoxville Pecha Kucha, which appears to have found a home at Relix Theater in Happy Holler. The first rendition of the event, held a year-and-a-half ago found the event hosted at the West Jackson Workshops, which I wrote about here. For various reasons I didn’t make it to the next three as the event moved about looking for a home.
The basic idea is that creative people will make very fast-paced presentations of what they do which will be followed in rapid-fire succession by other people doing the same. The structure allows for each participant to utilize twenty slides and discuss each for twenty seconds, yielding a total of six minutes, forty seconds for each topic. You can read more about the history and structure of the events here. The event series has spread to 572 cities around the world.
This rendition of Pecha Kucha offered nine presenters speaking in groups of three, separated by two intermissions. Relix Theater offers a relaxed atmosphere in a funky-cool part of the city and seems a perfect fit for the event. Beer, wine, mixed-drinks and pizza were also on hand.
James Rose spoke first, discussing the UT Living Light House. This award winning effort emphasized combining sound ecological principals, minimalist living and optimal use of light and space. The design also acknowledges the history of functional structures in the southern Appalachian mountains. Portable, the structure has traveled around the country in an effort to promote sustainable life-styles.
Gerry Moll discussed the Labor Day Sunflower Installation an event about which I would have told you I’d never heard, but it turns out I was there. I just didn’t know the Sunflower portion was a part of a bigger effort. Sunflower seeds are given away throughout the year (packets were available at Pecha Kucha) and the sunflowers are harvested to form an installation for everyone to enjoy. The seeds are harvested and the cycle continues. Why? Because it makes our city more interesting and beautiful.
Diane Bossart explained the concept of Tactical Urbanism. The idea here is to take an underutilized or other-utilized space and make it more livable, interesting or somehow re-imagine it. Parking spaces become sidewalk cafes, street-scapes become more pedestrian friendly. The changes are typically short-term, but sometimes become permanent fixtures. This is something I would love to see more of in downtown Knoxville. The closest thing we have going right now is the re-development of Strong Alley which I discussed (as did man of you), here.
Laura Beth Ingle gave the history of the fire towers in the Smokey Mountains and the efforts to preserve the ones that remain.
David Butler, of the Knoxville Museum of Art, and artist Richard Jolley spoke about the amazing, massive glass art installation which is planned for the KMA. The range and scope of the project is hard to comprehend, but to give an idea, it will consume much of the usable space in the KMA atrium which, as many of you know, is absolutely huge. The work is being funded by a bequest and should be installed next year.
John Mcrae and Jona Shehu, in one of the most entertaining presentations of the night, revealed the evolution of their art as they have jointly pursued a series of children’s books called The Adventures of Naomi and Noah. I always find it fascinating to hear the story about the failures or almost-good ideas along the way before a creative person hits their stride. I wind up appreciating and understanding the final work when I have a glimpse of how the vision evolved.
Costuming has consumed Chris Hill’s imagination and he talked about the various characters and costumes he’s created as well as the evolution of his work. He uses his gift to give back to others including children and the disabled. While the term “Jesus Prom” struck me as a strange combination, the event, like many other things he does, makes a great contribution to the lives of others. Like so many creative people, Chris follows his passion even though it doesn’t pay the bills. For that he works full-time while channeling his creativity into something to which he has been drawn his whole life.
Amos Oaks intrigued me as much as anybody present. From the beginning statement of, “I’m drawn to trauma,” I found myself spellbound. His influences revolve primarily around abstract expressionists, but also cartoonists among others. I really enjoyed his paintings, but he seems to have moved toward installations that invite interaction with the art. He’s also designing art for skateboards which is another interest. You can view a video here to get a feel of where he’s coming from. He’s an artist I’m going to try to track.
So, another Pecha Kucha comes and goes. There will be more. Watch for future events if you thought this sounded interesting. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. In the meantime, maybe I’ll see you out tonight at First Friday or around town this weekend.