The 3-Ring Circus: Judi Gaston, Jolie Gaston and Cynthia Markert, Emporium, Knoxville, September 2021
I caught a quiet weekday last week to slip into the Emporium to enjoy the September exhibitions. Opening night (always on First Friday) is a fun time to meet the artists, see friends, and enjoy the general revelry. During the week, it’s not unusual to have the galleries to myself. While the openings are fun, the week days are better for taking my time and truly considering the art. I consider it a perk of downtown that I can drop in any time.
There are three exhibitions running through the next two weeks and I enjoyed all of them. The downstairs space is dedicated to Diana Ferguson and Kit Hoefer and is titled “Chroma.” A central feature of these local artists’ work is their use of intense color. In the smaller upstairs space, Tracye Burnett Sowders is featured in an exhibition titled, “Resplendent Rarities.”
The focus of my visit, however, was the 3-Ring Circus exhibition by Judi Gaston, Jolie Gaston and Cynthia Markert. I talked to Judi, who said the three got the idea for the exhibition when attending a performance of the Cirque du Soleil. The three work in very different mediums and began to consider how the three presented together could be fashioned a three-ring circus.
Judi works in fibers and has explored the medium for decades, receiving honors along the way. She sometimes works with recycled materials and occasionally incorporates vintage pieces. She said attending an exhibition at the University of Tennessee long ago opened her mind to the greater possibilities of her art form. She said the exhibition had been planned for over a year, but faced delays due to the pandemic.
Jolie is Judi’s daughter and an established miniaturist who has worked in that medium since she was ten-years-old. working professionally now, for more than twenty years. She’s helped curate an exhibition of modern miniatures at the KMA and sells her own work online. She’s lived all over the world, but now calls Knoxville home.
Downtown is proud to call Cynthia Markert a long-term resident and her portraits of women is among the most recognized art in the city. Her street art (and Brian Pittman’s) were some of the wonders that first drew me to downtown Knoxville. I wrote an extensive profile of Cynthia last spring, and I’m happy to own a number of her works.
The three artists working in concert have produced a wonderful exhibition and I’d strongly encourage you to visit that, as well as the others in the Emporium. It’s free to visit (the art is mostly for sale), the art is wonderful, and on a week day, you can have it all to yourself.