Contemporary Art in Tennessee – Where Do You Find It?

Yet Another Logo

I enjoy my conversations with local artist Brian Jobe. Last winter I introduced you to his art installation at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens. Our conversation then, as our conversation recently, tended toward the philosophical as much as the aesthetic. Thoughtful and serious, he’s often focused and now is no exception. His goal is simply to change the perception of Tennessee art in eyes not only of Tennesseans, but of everyone in the country and, yes, even the world.

Brian and Carri Jobe lived outside the state for five years pursuing art studies and working. As they returned to Tennessee they began a dialog about what they had learned and what they might bring back to the state with them that would serve as a contribution to the arts community. They’d lived in Texas and witnessed the coalescing of the contemporary arts scene statewide, largely thanks to a website, Glasstire, which focused on exhibitions and artists statewide. Launched in 2001, it helped unite the contemporary arts in a way that had never happened before.

The couple
Brian and Carri Jobe

Once back in Tennessee, the two began to lay the groundwork for what has evolved into Locatearts. Similar to Glasstire, it will initially focus on listings of contemporary artists and their exhibitions state-wide. The idea is to allow Tennesseans to find contemporary art in their own state, rather than seeking it elsewhere. Additionally, the hope is to help the Tennessee contemporary arts scene get notice nationally as well as internationally and to grow the experimental art scene which is emerging in different cities.

A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to raise money for the website and to get the non-profit of the same name off the ground. Question and answer sessions, as well as fund-raising parties have been held state-wide. Striped Light hosted the Knoxville party and parties were held in Memphis and Chattanooga. The final party will be in Nashville this weekend at the David Lusk Gallery. The campaign has raised over $18,000 so far, but more is needed.

Talking at the Museum
Brian and Carri Jobe Address a Group at the Knoxville Museum of Art

The hope is to use the proceeds to launch the organization and the website, but that will simply be a beginning. The Jobes and their Board of Directors have further plans to promote contemporary arts in the state. They hope to organize and market a “Gallery Night” in 2016 and they hope to follow that with a Biennial Festival featuring three different locations and three days filled with contemporary art experiences.

Brian summed it up by becoming, not surprisingly, philosophical, “For art to thrive in the twenty-first century, it must be outward facing. I want to include as many people as possible in a conversation about contemporary art.”

And this campaign is the beginning of that effort. They need your help via your contributions to the Kickstarter campaign. Watch their website as it goes live in the next few months (it is currently a simple “placeholder” site). Like and follow them on Facebook. It’s an opportunity to support contemporary art in the state of Tennessee. I hope you’ll do it.