TaTas the Talk of the Town and More on the Feminine Form

Torsos and TaTas, Work by John McRae, Knoxville, November 2014

Torsos and TaTas, Work by John McRae, Knoxville, November 2014

This is a big week for tatas around town. One big event this past Friday will be followed by another on Friday of this week. I ran into a friend during my rounds on First Friday and talked tatas. It was a bit of a surreal moment for those of us of a certain age. Tatas weren’t really a topic for polite conversation years ago, but with the focus on breast cancer, that has changed pretty dramatically.

Catrinas, Day of the Dead Celebration, Emporium, Knoxville, November 2014

Catrinas, Day of the Dead Celebration, Emporium, Knoxville, November 2014

Day of the Dead Celebration, Emporium, Knoxville, November 2014

Day of the Dead Celebration, Emporium, Knoxville, November 2014

Catrinas, Day of the Dead Celebration, Emporium, Knoxville, November 2014

Catrinas, Day of the Dead Celebration, Emporium, Knoxville, November 2014

One event I have pictured here, the annual Day of the Dead or Dia De Los Muertos, held at the Emporium doesn’t specifically have anything to do with the feminine form – but then there are the Catrinas. Catrinas have become the primary image of death in Mexico and are used extensively in images for the Day of the Dead. Why a woman’s figure when death finds everyone? I’m not sure, but many of the Catrinas with their skeletal version of the female form are quite elaborate.

Altar, Day of the Dead Celebration, Emporium, Knoxville, November 2014

Altar, Day of the Dead Celebration, Emporium, Knoxville, November 2014

Altar, Day of the Dead Celebration, Emporium, Knoxville, November 2014

Altar, Day of the Dead Celebration, Emporium, Knoxville, November 2014

Hola Hora Latina also sponsored an altar contest. Latin Altars have always interested me and moved me. Done well, the altars introduce you to the departed person making the observer feel he or she actually knew them. It’s quite different from a cold tomb stone giving birth and death dates. I pictured a couple here and one is very simple, but the checker board, sun glasses, jean jacket and photograph of a young man, cigarette in hand, staring straight at the camera, make the person almost come back to life. I also pictured a much more elaborate version, which is the one I actually voted for.

Young Women Dancing in the Emporium Window, Knoxville, November 2014

Young Women Dancing in the Emporium Window, Knoxville, November 2014

As I left the Catrinas behind, there were two young women dancing in the windows of the Emporium. Others danced outside on the sidewalk. As I watched them work their modern dance magic, a homeless man stood beside me watching. “I don’t even know what to say about that,” he said. I agreed and smiled. He said, “They got women that do that in Amsterdam, but this is different than that.” No doubt.

Torsos and TaTas, Work by John McRae, Knoxville, November 2014

Torsos and TaTas, Work by John McRae, Knoxville, November 2014

Torsos and TaTas, Work by John McRae, Knoxville, November 2014

Torsos and TaTas, Work by John McRae, Knoxville, November 2014

The next event shown here, also from Friday night, was devoted specifically to the feminine torsos and tatas. Taking place at Paulk and Company on Williams Street, the site of many great events, “Torsos and Tatas” featured ceramic torsos created by John McRae, a past Dean and current Professor of Architecture at the University of Tennessee.

Cindi Alpert & the Corduroy Jazz Trio, Paulk and Company, Knoxville, November 2014

Cindi Alpert & the Corduroy Jazz Trio, Paulk and Company, Knoxville, November 2014

 

Models also circulated wearing corsets (sorry, no photos on that front) and Cindi Alpert & the Corduroy Jazz Trio provided the soundtrack. Poetry also popped up through the evening and a portion of proceeds from the evening were donated to BreastStrokes, which brings up the concluding tata event of the week and takes the story full-circle back to the Emporium

Breaststrokes, an all-volunteer organization which provides financial support to female cancer patients through their Knoxville Paints The TaTas events, will hold a silent auction and Chinese raffle this Friday night at the Emporium from 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM. Some of the torsos you see pictured here will be there for your viewing, raffle and for sale as well as photographs of women who had their breasts painted for the cause.

Torsos and TaTas, Work by John McRae, Knoxville, November 2014

Torsos and TaTas, Work by John McRae, Knoxville, November 2014

Torsos and TaTas, Work by John McRae, Knoxville, November 2014

Torsos and TaTas, Work by John McRae, Knoxville, November 2014

Torsos and TaTas, Work by John McRae, Knoxville, November 2014

Torsos and TaTas, Work by John McRae, Knoxville, November 2014

The event to paint and photograph the women was held at Ironwood Studios in September over a two day period. All female make-up artists and photographers did the work that will be on display on Friday night. Tovah Greenwood, Danni Evans, Julie Bach Oglesby and Anika Torro photographed this year’s event.

I spoke to Adrienne Webster, treasurer for Breaststrokes, who said that 100% of the proceeds of the auction and raffle will go two Knoxville women who are fighting cancer. Costs for mounting the show were covered by another event, a bachelor auction, held earlier this fall. She said the group hopes to raise $20,000 dollars for the two women, which would be about twice what was raised last year.

Torsos and TaTas, Work by John McRae, Knoxville, November 2014

Torsos and TaTas, Work by John McRae, Knoxville, November 2014

Torsos and TaTas, Work by John McRae, Knoxville, November 2014

Torsos and TaTas, Work by John McRae, Knoxville, November 2014

Ms. Webster also made the point that the organization isn’t just “about raising money for cancer patients, it is about empowering women.” She talked about the difficulty some women have simply taking their shirts off in front of other women as well as the difficulty we, as a culture, have with female breasts.

It is an oddity that we’ve gone from not mentioning them a few decades ago to using breasts to sell everything on television, yet we seem to have some fear there as well, panicking if a woman breast feeds in public or if Janet Jackson exposes herself for a mili-second.

breaststrokes

Even if you aren’t into all that, the raffle includes awesome prizes such as a stay in the Oliver Hotel, Rhythm and Blooms tickets for next spring, a Patricia Nash purse, torso sculptures and much more. There will also be music, food and drink. So, while it may seem a bit out of your norm to come to the Emporium on a Friday night to join a large group of people looking a pictures of painted breasts, it’s certainly for a good cause, lots of fun will be had and it is actually an uplifting event.

PS. For my really faithful readers who make the long journey all the way to the bottom of my posts, please allow me to invite you to Relix Theatre tonight at 7:00 where your humble blogger will give a presentation about this very enterprise. I’d love to have a large number of the urban nation present and supporting.

Comments

  1. Elizabeth Malm Clemens says:

    Women just do not get it.Empowerment comes from the mind, not the body. Bodies age and decay. The mind allows thinking during life and, according to Stephen King, contains circuitry that makes us wired to continue after death. The “tatas” were designed to breast feed, not to display. What next? “Dicks” in various shades to promote support for male cancer? oh, well. individual choices, right? And, please keep the coverage going. I love your pictures of downtown. I saw you in action one Sunday that I found myself following the crowd into the Bijou Theater and delightfully enjoyed participating in a church gathering for the homeless. I love downtown Knoxville…closest to my birth city, New Orleans, left behind since Katrina.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      Hey Betty,
      Very interesting thoughts and certainly, for most of us, the body deteriorates more quickly than the mind. BTW, I’m from Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans was the first city I ever fell in love with. We visited often as I was growing up and I felt Mobile and New Orleans shared a lot of history and architecture. I kind of like downtown Knoxville, too. 🙂 I’m glad you made it your new home.

  2. We had a great time at Torsos & TaTas! We now own “Lorraine” a beautiful sculptural work by John M. McRae. It was a great night with friends and fellow artists. So sorry we missed you there! Hope to get out tonight to see you at Relix.

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