15 Emory Place, Future Home of Pivot Point Gallery, Knoxville, January 2022
In December I wrote of development plans for Emory Place, designed to turn the area into an arts destination. 15 Emory Place, a part of the project which was ready for use, has been leased by Don Stoner and Faith Ferguson who plan to open Pivot Point Gallery by the end of March. The location, which was a post office about 100 years ago in the 130-year-old building, has a deep and rich history, which you’ll find documented through links on the website.
The exterior of the building remains the same and the interior is also largely undisturbed. The bottom floor contains a 1,500 square foot, mostly open space with extremely high ceilings, which will be perfect for their European-style gallery, which they feel fits the building. (Picture large amounts of art scaling the walls.) Upstairs, which was a residence for the postmaster, has a space which seems perfect for artist studios, which large amounts of natural light flooding in from multiple directions.
Don is originally from Michigan and he and Faith, who is from Georgia, met and began working together in Atlanta years ago. They sold Don’s food industry company and began considering their next act. For the last year, their thinking turned in the direction of opening a gallery and they toured cities with strong gallery cultures. The two share a love of art, which she considered studying in college before opting for graphic design, while Don was once a co-owner of a gallery.
Five months ago, they moved to Knoxville where Don’s sister lives and other family members were moving. Faith said she’d once thought she’d leave the south, but she was drawn to the mountains and water east Tennessee has to offer. Don said, “There are a lot of galleries in Atlanta . . . and there’s a lot of art being made here,” but they found a market where they feel there are niches for styles of galleries that aren’t currently filled. They also noted all the people moving here from other parts of the country and feel that will fuel demand for high quality art.
They found the space at 15 Emory and fell in love with the building and the concept of the arts destination. The couple said they enjoy history and historic buildings. They hope to include fifteen to thirty artists at any given point, working in a range of mediums and for a wide range of tastes.
They hope to find artists who remain affordable but may see their work tremendously appreciate in the coming years. Much of the art will be regional, though they hope to work with local artists, as well. They also hope to feature local artists in monthly exhibitions.
The gallery will feature “contemporary art from emerging and established artists.” They will be working with artists who aren’t yet well known, with the idea of helping them develop their career and move forward on the journey to accomplishing their own goals for their careers. Faith said, “We want to help the general public connect with the artists and the art and help them find art and artists they love and can afford.” They anticipate having a collaborative relationship with the artists they represent.
Don said, “A big part of art is the story. When I’ve connected with art, it’s because I like the piece, I’ve learned the artist’s story, and that draws me into the piece even more. For us, it’s about telling the artist’s story.” They want to take the intimidation out of buying art. “We want it to be a comfortable place. We’ll educate you as much as you want to be educated on the art, but it’s really about finding a piece that you love, that you want to put in your home, that brings you joy.”
The gallery will focus on all mediums of contemporary art. They both love glass sculpture and it will be included, along with oil paintings, wood and metal art, mixed media, and more. Some of the art they will feature is three dimensional and must be seen to be appreciated. They’ve been networking throughout the area and region to find artists for the gallery. Look for a list of artists to be added to their website in coming weeks.
They also may offer the gallery space for events and are looking at building a small catering kitchen that will support that use. For the upstairs area, they are open to ideas and want to find the best use for the space. Totaling 1,500 square feet, the upstairs includes three spaces of about 350 square feet each that could be offices or great studios.