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Council keeps the arts alive and well locally

The Johnson County Arts Council strives to bring an awareness of the arts to the people of Johnson County. They promote local artists who work with all forms of medium from the novice just beginning to dabble to the more seasoned veterans who have expressed their artistic abilities all their lives.
Each November, the Johnson County Arts Council holds the eagerly awaited Christmas Craft Show. This provides a wonderful opportunity for Johnson Countians to peruse a wide selection of handcrafted items. It's a festive day as the rooms are full of Christmas items, birdhouses, quilted gifts and baskets brimming with scrumptious treats. They offer a wide array of unique gift items. Several hundred shoppers take advantage of this event to enjoy the creativity of their friends and neighbors. The craft show itself began in 1994 when Andy Wright and two other women decided to make some money for the holidays. In 2001, the Johnson County Arts Council agreed to sponsor the popular event.
The group has also sponsored several juried art shows that give Johnson County artists the opportunity to showcase their work. The community was able to participate in this event as they cast their votes for their favorite displays. Ribbons were awarded in the oil, watercolor, acrylics, photography, stained glass, charcoals, pastels and a host of other artistic medium, as well as a special division for children. Despite its popularity, it has been approximately five years since the last juried show.
This past summer, the Johnson County Arts Council hosted a Young Artist workshop for ten children. This event was funded through the Johnson County Community Foundation of East Tennessee. The students discovered the artistic world of primary colors and how to mix a variety of paints to create new hues. They completed a floral iris painting and also worked together as a group on one special project that was donated for a silent auction. The children also gained experience in working with acrylics and painting on canvas. Heading home after the end of a full day, the budding artists carried off a bag chock full of art supplies and their owned framed work.
Each year, members of the Johnson County Arts Council award at least one $500 scholarship to a Johnson County High School senior who plans to expand their education in the arts. The students are asked to give an example of their favorite medium, be it a watercolor painting, a particular part in a play or a sculpture. The students complete an application that is reviewed by four members of the organization. The applicants are also asked to write an essay on how they could use their talents in Johnson County. Stephen Joiner, who now attends Milligan College, received the 2010 scholarship. Amber Icenhour was the winner of the 2011 award. She is now at the Atlanta Institute of Art working towards her art degree.
The group also supports the Sunshine and Smiles program that provides children an opportunity to explore the world of art in a one-on-one setting. They can choose to work in oils, acrylics, charcoals, pencil, watercolors and pastels, woodcarving, sculptures, ceramics and stained glass. The children also have the chance to explore musical instruments, singing and theater. The students are provided with all the supplies they need for their selected project. The hope is that their love of art, which comes in many forms, will stay with them a lifetime. “The kids really love it,” said Johnson County Arts Council vice-president Temple Reece. The student donates a completed work of art to the organization to be used in a future fundraiser to help support the Sunshine and Smiles endeavor.
Each month, the Johnson County Bank showcases the work of local artists through their Artist of the Month displays. They offer a range of art that includes portraits, landscapes and still life. This past June, the public was able to view the work of the Johnson County Young Artists.
In the past, The Johnson County Arts Council teamed up with the Garden Club to offer “Art in the Garden.” This event showcased some of the finest gardens in our county. According to past president, Kathleen Gehr, the event was very successful. Visitors from as far as Blowing Rock, North Carolina enjoyed the spectacular views. “We got a lot of compliments,” she said. Musicians performed in selected gardens while local artists set up and painted during the garden tour.
The group strives to participate in local events, such as the Sunflower Festival, Scarecrows on Main, support for art classes for both children and seniors, as well as Heritage Hall and the Clothesline of Quilts in Tennessee. Although small in number, the Johnson County Arts Councils plays an important role in bringing art in all its forms to Johnson County.