A drive through downtown Mountain City brings a visual reminder that this tiny county is home to a rich heritage of art and music. 20th Century recording artists, Clarence “Tom” Ashley, G.B. Grayson, Clint Howard and Fred Price, are honored in a series of Musical Heritage Murals. This project, sponsored by the Arts fund of East Tennessee Foundation as well as local businesses and individuals, came to a close last year, but not without getting folks excited and giving rise to Long Journey Home, a Labor Day weekend celebration of the sites and sounds that make our culture so special.
This year, a fourth mural is being created by a community of artists of all ages and abilities through a workshop led by local artist, Cristy Dunn. First, participants learned about value and proportion by creating charcoal portraits. Then, the group used a grid to organize the work and provide the underlying structure and scaled up a famous picture from the historic 1925 Fiddler’s Convention. The project is in its final stages. Volunteers George Triplett and Chris Vannoy will frame and install the 8×12 mural on the side of the new Arts Center building in Heritage Square. It will be unveiled on Saturday, September 2nd. You can meet the artists who contributed and learn more about the historic 1925 Fiddlers Convention, a watershed event in the development of professional country music, that happened right here in Mountain City. JAM will be featured at the mural unveiling, which kicks off the Long Journey Home Musical Heritage tour.
You can pick up a map to guide you through five Heritage sites with live music throughout the county. The community mural workshop was funded through the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Creative Place-making Grant.
The Johnson County Arts Council Art show for Long Journey Home will be held at the Johnson County Public Library on Friday, September 1st from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 pm and on Saturday, September 2nd from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 pm.
Featured artists will be Cristy Dunn, Tia Thomas and Temple Reece.
Come by to enjoy the beautiful art work and vote for your favorite.
Cristy Dunn received a B.A. in Mathematics with a minor in Art History from East Tennessee State University in 1998. She spent more than ten years teaching high school mathematics, then art, in Carter and Johnson County schools. During her time as a teacher, Cristy received numerous awards including a Crystal Apple Award, Unaka High School Teacher of the Year, SADD Club Teacher of the Year and Kiwanis’ Kids First Teacher of the Year awards. Cristy has a special interest in inclusion for special education students, and her experience in the field of mathematics proves useful in implementing STEAM integration programming. She serves as vice president of Johnson County Arts Council, co-chair of the Long Journey Home board, and a member of Johnson County JAM board of directors. She is also a member of National Art Education Association and American Women Artists.
As an artist, Cristy creates paintings and murals that tell the stories of makers and of the power of the arts to uplift the human spirit. Her traditional oil portraits incorporate the techniques of the old masters. Glazes create light filled surfaces. Silver leaf adds an ethereal element. In her current series, Makers, Cristy explores the sacred realm that a person enters when he is intensely involved in creating.
“When someone sees my work I want them to feel a connection to the sacredness within us all,” she says.
Cristy’s recent work in preserving the culture of old time music and arts in her community has sparked a true revival of interest in the history and music of her hometown. She received the President’s Award from the Johnson County Arts Council for her work on the Musical Heritage Mural Project and Best in Show and People’s Choice in the Arts Council’s Long Journey Home Art Shows. She has shown her work throughout the region, and her art is treasured in many homes and businesses. You can find more of Cristy’s work at www.cristydunn.com.
In the arts, Temple Reece has taught classes and provided art supplies to children through many projects. She developed the Sunshine and Smiles Program and did a series of “Budding Artists” as well as workshops and classes for children and adults, has worked with the Arts Council to provide over 20 scholarships to graduating seniors and was honored by the Johnson County Arts Council in 2015 with over 15 years of service. Most recently, Temple is serving on the original board of Long Journey Home and the newly formed board for the Johnson County Center for the Arts as well as creating art of her own. She was chosen to paint an ornament for Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam and completed a painting of the Old Mill Music Park to be featured on a fund-raising ornament for the Center for the Arts. She was honored with third place Best in Show at the Long Journey Home Art Show, featured artist of the JCAC Art in the Garden and has placed first and second in Johnson County Art Shows in the past. She has art work in the homes and businesses of many and enjoys using her art to help make others’ lives better.
Temple is the wife of Johnson County Sheriff, Mike Reece. She has a son, Kenny, son, Johnny and his wife, April, and step daughter, Mikah. They have four grandchildren, Madisyn, Lillian, Macie and Fields. Family is so important in Temple’s life and she enjoys spending time with them, caring for them and being part of their lives. Temple is the oldest of seven children and her parents Earnest and Shirley Odom have been supportive and passed down their talents and love of people and of God. Temple has a strong faith in God and is a long time member of Dewey Christian Church. She has many friends and values the difference they make in her life. Temple believes in loving life and living it to its fullest, sharing the strengths and talents that are uniquely her own and encouraging others to do the same. You can see more of her work at www.templereece.com.
Tia Thomas is a self-taught professional photographer who is passionate about sharing the beauty and diversity of Appalachia with the world. Tia’s photographic philosophy is to be able to look at what everyone else is looking at and see what no else sees. Her goal is to be able to show the world as she sees it through her art. Tia is proud to have been raised in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains in Johnson County where she continues to reside and raise her own family. She is dedicated to helping her children, Deklan and Aden, understand and appreciate their Appalachian heritage. You can see more of her work at “sweet t – it’s a way of life” on Facebook.