Knoxville Arts Scene: Theater & Beyond

When scoping the internet for Knoxville fun came across a lively theater scene. While much was closed during the pandemic one play was available and I attended. The play was not a fit but acting good and with covid precautions in place the 20 member audience enjoyed.

Knoxville has some interesting history in the arts scene. Here are some fun facts stolen from the Mayor’s web site.

  • Quentin Tarantino was born here..
  • The 2000 movie “Road Trip” had portions filmed here.
  • Mary Costa, the voice of Sleeping Beauty was born here.
  • Burt Reynolds 2017 movie, The Last Movie Star shot here.
  • Christy, the 1995 television series was filmed here.
  • Brad Renfro, the child star in The Client grew up here.
  • Patricia Neal grew up in Knoxville.

And a few non- theater fun facts.

  • Mountain Dew was developed in Knox.
  • Knoxville is known as the Marble City.
  • Their zoo is the Red Panda Capitol of the World as this species breeds here with success.
Another freebie available for tourists..

Historic Bleak House

This antebellum home was built in 1854 as a wedding gift to Robert Armstrong and Louise Franklin.

Mr. Armstrong was a lawyer and Ms. Franklin was from a wealthy local family.

The home was named for the Charles Dicken’s Bleak House as the bride and groom were avid fans. It is decorated in the period and several of the rooms are dedicated as a museum to the confederacy. During the war several confederate generals stayed in the home. There are dioramas of battles and much war memorabilia.

That said, let’s take a tour..

The living room

One of the bedrooms.. This hand carved bed won awards at the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition. It is from Switzerland.

Another bedroom with clothing of the era.

The Tower

This is where sharp shooters were posted during the Civil War.

Etchings of those who died in the conflict.

Tower view

The home is managed by the Knoxville Daughters of the Confederacy. It is available for pictures, weddings and events.

Contact for further information.

Knoxville Museum of Art

Part III: Mish mash

Here’s 3 works I enjoyed and wished to share.

Since I am always dissing modern art, here’s one I rather liked. The colors are phenomenal. Empire by Giles Lyon
And who couldn’t be intrigued by a glass geisha??
And this came from recyclable materials..

While at the Museum stop by the veranda and check out this view.

Knoxville was the site of the 1982 World’s Fair. It was the last successful World’s Fair in America with over 11 million visitors. The Museum overlooks this park and am told offers the best view of the Sunsphere. This 266 foot tall structure is 26 stories with the actual ball 5 levels. It was built for the World’s Fair.

Another view of the World’s Fair Park..

Final stop… The Museum’s outdoor garden

What a fun visit!


Knoxville Museum of Art

Part II: Local Artists

This area of the museum displayed local Tennessee artists. There is much variety in their works, let’s take a look.

Hauling Marble, 1910, by Lloyd Branson. A talented East Tennessee native who trained in Europe. Tennessee was a thriving marble capital and this picture won a Gold Medal at the Appalachian Exposition of 1910.
Catherine Wiley, Morning Milking Time
Lloyd Branson, Going Home at Dusk In this painting the artist dabbles in impressionism and succeeds.

This Prague artist gained entry into this exhibit with his rendering of the Smoky Mountains, Fritzi Brod, 1952

The Brothers Delaney

Beauford and Joseph Delaney were brothers with exceptional artistic talents born in Knoxville in the early 1900’s. Each demonstrated their talents early and their minister father and mother supported their gifts. Beauford studied in Boston, New York, and Paris, while Joseph sought Chicago and later New York. They had friends in Georgia O’Keefe, Louis Armstrong, and James Baldwin.

Here’s a sampling of their work:

Beauford’s work, Untitled, however it is the Chateau de Chambord, 1971. This Knoxville native is considered to be among the greatest modern painters of America’s 20th century.
Macy’s Day Parade by Joseph Delaney. Much visual energy in this colorful work.

And let’s close with this mural. This artist studied with Diego Rivera in Mexico and her work shows his influence. History of Tennessee by Marion Greenwood, a child prodigy who completed this work in 1955.

A must see..

Knoxville Museum of Art

Part I of III Black Mountain Exhibit

Found myself at another free venue of beauty with a visit to the Knoxville Museum of Art. Here was a special event with the works from the Black Mountain Community artists. For those who follow the blog, I had visited this Community last week. Interesting sequence of events.. Here are are some of their amazing works..

Robert Ruschenberg, Ruminations 1996 student of Black Mountain
Crossing Over, 1962, Lore Lindenfeld, escaped from Nazi Germany in 1937 and studied at Black Mountain. She created a New York fashion career upon graduation.

Vase, Wanda Shuit Lea Austin, American, glazed stoneware, a Black Mountain graduate
Dance was also present at Black Mountain, Clemens Kalischer of Germany, and Lenox, Mass., taught at Black Mountain. He fled Nazi Germany with his family in 1933 gaining passage to America for safety.
Untitled, by Amino, a Taiwanese who studied in acrylics at Black Mountain
Untitled, Knute Stiles After serving in WWII attended Black Mountain and started a San Francisco avant garde artist community.
Basket, Ruth Asawa, a Black Mountain graduate. She and her family were in Japanese interment camps. Upon release she was unable to study in traditional art schools due to her race. She gained access to Black Mountain in 1946. Her basket art is known internationally.
Arrangement, Donald Alter, Bronx, New York He studied at Black Mountain until drafted. Upon army discharge he studied at NYC’s Pratt Institute becoming a designer of textiles and prints. His signature works are of geometric design.


Black Mountain College birthed a new generation of artists and craftspeople who came from all areas of the world. Many were escaping Nazi Germany. It was founded by John Andrew Rice in 1933 as Black Mountain College, a progressive liberal arts college. It created some of our country’s leading thinkers, artists, and writers in this mountain setting. The College closed in 1957, however it’s legacy continues.

Knoxville Botanical Garden

This Garden encompasses 47 acres of gardens, trees, lawns, and walking paths. It developed from the inspiration of writer Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel, The Secret Garden. Ms. Burnett began her writing career while living in Knoxville.

The Garden is open from dawn to dusk with free admission. It is a 501(c)(3) charity and accepts donations. Special events, talks, seminars are all available and on this night prom pictures were being taken..

Let’s take a walk through..

Found this Garden and grounds in need of nurturing and love in many areas. It surely could benefit from an involved group of seniors and children from the community to assist. What a wonderful way for children to learn more of nature and make this Garden exquisite.

James White Fort

In 1785 Captain James White was given 1,000 acres in the Knoxville area in recognition of his Revolutionary War service. He established a Fort housing as many as 100 people. By the 1800’s the Captain, who became a land speculator, had 125,00 acres in the valley, and Knoxville was born.

The Fort is a great place for family visits. It is an accurate depiction of the era with original buildings.

The main house from the road circa 1785. Interesting photo of new and old..

The back of the home.

The main house is left, and the kitchen is to the right. Kitchens were separate from main houses in these times due to the possibility of fire.

The Kitchen – The family had slaves who worked in the kitchen. Sally, was their slave cook, and lived in a corner of the kitchen. The farm day began at 4 a.m. with breakfast at 5 a.m. The main meal was at noon and lighter fare served at dinner. Slaves ate their meals here.

The Main House First Floor This home was elegant by frontier standards. In this room the White Family of 4 girls and 3 boys, plus adults would eat meals and gather. Anywhere from 35-40 people would stay within this log home.

Upstairs were sleeping quarters..

Trundle beds were used to accommodate visitors.

Crazy quilts were often made by frontier women as fabric was scarce and every scrap used.

Outside the main house visitor cabins were built.

Cattle would feed on these grounds within the confines of the stockade walls.
Cabin interior Within the stockade walls 6 to 8 families would have lived.

During non-Pandemic times the Fort has loom and blacksmith demonstrations.

What a fascinating history lesson.

In Knoxville there are over 20 museums and 7 historical homes. The seven homes can be seen with a combo pass. Contact: www. or call 865.523.7263.