published Sunday, July 28th, 2013

Contrasts in age and art: 83-year-old follows 12-year-old at library

Landscape by Caleb Thrun
Landscape by Caleb Thrun
  • photo
    Abstract image of a tornado remembrance by Bobbie Brooks Crow.

IF YOU GO

What: Exhibits of work by Caleb Thrun and Bobbie Brooks Crow.

Where: Catoosa County Library, Old Mill Road at Benton Place, Ringgold, Ga.

When: Caleb Thrun’s show runs through Wednesday; Crow’s show runs Aug. 1-31.

Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 1:30-5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Admission: Free.

Phone: 706-965-3600.

When it was all said and done on April 27, 2011, Bobbie Brooks Crow’s home lost 11 trees but protected an artist.

“I didn’t know I had that many,” she says of the trees, now two years out from the tornadoes that roiled through the Chattanooga area that spring day.

One fell on the deck of her Brainerd home, another clipped the side of her garage, two squashed her car, and two or three dropped into her bedroom.

“I went into the center of the house with the cat and the dog,” says the 83-year-old Crow. “I thought, ‘Here it comes.’ I saw this whirring. By the time I got to the center of the house, things were dropping and falling. Next thing I know, the back door came open, there was a breeze and it was quiet.”

The tornadoes that day made her fearful for many months but also provided the subject of the latest exhibition of her work, a series of abstract “images of things in the air” done on 8 1/2-by-11-inch paper with permanent Sharpie markers. The exhibit of “around 20” pieces at the Catoosa County Library opens Thursday and runs through Aug. 31.

“I wanted to get over this fear, this psychological thing that happened to me,” Crow says. “I don’t get scared too much now. Sometimes when I will, I think of the Sharpies.”

On the other end of the spectrum at the Catoosa County Library is 12-year-old Caleb Thrun, whose exhibit of mostly landscape images runs through Wednesday. The young acrylic artist, whose missionary parents are home on furlough from a recent post in Papua New Guinea, has been painting for two years.

“My dad bought me a paint set,” Caleb says, “and I just started painting. It gives me something to do.

“I try to find something that would look good on a canvas,” he says, “and I just paint it.”

Janice Kennedy, coordinator of the monthly exhibits at the library, says she likes to sign new artists but feels an obligation to see the type of work that would be exhibited before it goes up. What she saw of Caleb’s impressed her. And 12 of his first 15 works sold in the first three weeks of the exhibit, she says.

The contrast is fascinating between Crow and Caleb, “one at the very beginning and Bobbie [already] so instrumental in the art community,” Kennedy says, as is “the fact that they’re back to back.”

Crow says she started taking art classes when she was 23 or 24 years old. In 1997, at age 67, she earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in painting and sculpture from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Well before her degree and after, she has had one-woman shows, two-women shows and collaborative shows of what she says is largely work of abstract expressionism.

She also founded the St. Catherine’s Artists Guild at Grace Episcopal Church to encourage local artists and to display their work and is an active member of the Civic Arts League, which meets at the church.

She has been an artist-in-residence at schools in Tennessee and Georgia, and her large-scale works have hung at the likes of the Walnut Street Bridge, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the bell tower of Grace Episcopal.

Crow studies weekly with Morris Mitchell, a former professor at Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Fla., and says “I still just want to learn.” Her artist bucket list has more collaborations, additional work with children and even a hope to roll in paint for a canvas.

“I guess I’ll have to keep painting,” Crow says, “until they might have to roll me [out].”

Caleb, on the other hand, received a book on painting, a DVD by the late American painter, art instructor and television host Bob Ross and a few pointers from his dad, Terry. He has no lifetime ambition as an artist but embraces it as a hobby.

Homeschooled and going into the seventh grade, Caleb also is a bit surprised so many of his paintings have sold.

“I’m happy,” he says. “I guess I’ll just keep it going. It’s kind of fun.”

Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to my posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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