IF YOU GO
What: 4 Bridges Arts Festival.
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
Where: First Tennessee Pavilion, 1826 Carter St.
Admission: $7 one day, $10 two days, ages 18 and younger free; $5 parking.
Nearly 700 artists applied for the elite 145 exhibitors showing this weekend in the 4 Bridges Arts Festival held in First Tennessee Pavilion.
Sponsored by the Association for Visual Arts, the festival of fine art will showcase original painting, glasswork, jewelry, textiles, furniture, jewelry, sculptures and other media.
The festival, whose name is derived from its former location in Coolidge Park beneath the four bridges spanning the Tennessee River, has consistently grown over its 11 years.
“It’s not one of those shows where it’s the same old thing every year,” said Jerry Dale McFadden, festival organizer.
“Because we have different jurors every year, it changes who gets in. On average, about 35 percent of our exhibitors are returning from the year before, so that’s pretty good amount of new folks exhibiting,” he said.
Of this show’s 145 exhibitors, which represent 36 states, about 20 are local artists. They include Lisa Norris, Terry Cannon, Brent Sanders, Thomas Spake, Janet Campbell, Dana Shavin and Michael Wimmer.
“Chattanooga has so many great artists in town, and the art patrons know that. There are lots of places you can go buy art, such as galleries or markets, but the art-buying public here knows that 4 Bridges is a high-quality, nationally known show,” said Spake, a glass artist, who is showing for his fifth year.
“People around the region come to visit their Chattanooga friends during 4 Bridges so they can come to the festival.”
Spake said he enjoys the enthusiasm of 4 Bridges visitors and the one-to-one exchange between artist and patron.,
“You have enthusiastic people who are coming to the show and not afraid to ask questions. I welcome that. I enjoy hearing how patrons react to my work. You can bring a new series of work and, over the course of the weekend, you might have 200 or more people comment on it. It’s neat in that way to have people critique the work,” said the artist.
“I have a lot of new pieces I’ve never shown in 4 Bridges before, some wall pieces, glass and steel together. So I’m excited to see what people think.”
McFadden said an exhibitor he is curious to see is painter Joachim Knill.
“His booth is almost like a little traveling medicine show, like a little trailer on wheels. You step up into it to see his paintings, which are whimsical animal paintings in gilded frames.”
McFadden said this will be Knill’s debut at 4 Bridges, but the artist comes to town with several Best in Show awards to his credit.
While their parents browse the fine art, young artists can create their own works of art in the Kids Art Creation Area, a free section offering projects led by trained art educators. Projects change every two hours or as long as supplies last.
Last year, more than 18,000 visitors passed through the gates at 4 Bridges. The event was named by Art Fair SourceBook as one of the Top 100 Fine Art Fairs for 2011.
McFadden noted that new this year is a two-day pass, which offers festivalgoers a little savings over the $7 daily price.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...