Sometimes we get swept up into the city on a weekend with activities planned and unplanned and the article I’d planned for Monday doesn’t come together. It happened this weekend and it reminds me why I started this website thirteen years ago: To share the word about life in the city. There was very little online offering a hint of what it was really like to live downtown. Of course, the answer to that question shifts with the passage of time.
Our weekend started with a stop at two galleries. We dropped into Pivot Point Gallery to see what they had going on for First Friday and enjoyed a (half — I was pacing myself) margherita and bought a Robert Felker print for a birthday present. Next door we enjoyed the opening to Vibe (you’ll get all the details later this week) at the Lilienthal Gallery. Those of you who know me or see me about know that I only dress in black . . . well, I broke out a red shirt for this colorful event. Who knows, maybe I’ll go full rainbow at some point. Or return to black. The event was fun and the exhibition is fascinating.
We were dressed up. What to do? It seemed silly to waste a perfectly good red shirt (Urban Woman was decked out in color, too) by going home so early, so we found a cozy spot on a patio and shared small plates and wine. On a beautiful night, crowds hustled up and down and around and we enjoyed the night.
Up (relatively) early, we hurried to the first Saturday Market Square Farmers’ Market of the spring/summer season. This year the market celebrates its twentieth year and I’ll have more on that later, but for now, we simply relished in the return of fruits and vegetables on the Square. Crowds stretched throughout the footprint, surprising us for such an early market. I scored some great Paysan bread which would come into play later in the day.
On the way home I encountered a large march moving down the sidewalk on Gay Street. I could see flags, some camo, but quirky funny dress to. I stopped one of the marchers to figure out what was up and learned about the Irreverent Warriors. Their mission is to bring veterans together (all the marchers were vets) “using humor and camaraderie to improve mental health and prevent veteran suicide.” They travel to different cities and this weekend our turn was up. You never know what you might bump into in the city.
After some errands, we prepped charcuterie for downtown friends. It is difficult to describe how much we enjoy walking to friend’s homes or having them walk to ours. Without a commute in a car we can fully enjoy ourselves knowing we’re only a short stroll from home. We realized shortly after moving downtown that we knew far more neighbors in a matter of weeks than we’d known in our previous suburban neighborhood after seven years. We had a great time with our friends as the daylight faded and the city lights began to twinkle.
Normally, Sunday for us is occupied by family. This Sunday tickets to two different events were offered by friends and our day took another course. We were given tickets to the Bagels, Bubbly, and Beignets fundraiser for the East Tennessee Historical Society at the Standard. Two different jazz groups entertained the crowd while we enjoyed a classic meal provided by Holly Hambright in a beautiful space with themed decor by Jason Events. A very successful auction raised money for the organization and everybody’s favorite, Dino Cartwright, was honored with the first annual Spirit of East Tennessee Award.
Incredibly, our busy weekend would have included another event if not for the thunderstorms that rolled through downtown. We’d planned to attend a gathering at Kendrick Place, our first downtown home (we’re on our second), but the lightening and hail would have made for a complicated gathering in the outdoor courtyard there.
I ended the weekend with a friend, sharing tickets provided by two other friends. The charms of living downtown include sharing tickets. Can’t make it to an event? Someone else can, and so tickets get shared often and freely due to schedule conflicts. These tickets were to the concluding concert in the Nxt Gen jazz series at the Old City Performing Arts Center. We enjoyed a set by Jack Roben and his band, and a second by Taber Gable and his band. The bands, filled with amazing young musicians, offer great promise for Knoxville’s musical future.
Is every downtown weekend like this? No, but this kind of weekend rolls in more often than you might think. The dynamic range of activities, people, culture, and unexpected moments make downtown living an intoxicating elixir.