published Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Vibrant and spontaneous: Chattanooga's In-Town exhibit features a new artist to the gallery

"Watermelon," by Eugenia Johnston
"Watermelon," by Eugenia Johnston


What: "Summertime and ..." exhibition of paintings by Eugenia Johnston.

Where: In-Town Gallery, 26A Frazier Ave, through Aug. 30.

Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

Admission: Free.

Website: or 267-9214.

Some painters approach their work with a degree of strategy normally associated with epic bank heists. They reconnoiter their target and sketch out a plan of attack long before they apply their brush to the canvas.

In this light, Eugenia Johnston's paintings seem much more kinetic and in-the-moment, vibrant splash-and-dash affairs bursting with color and emotional expressionism.

"Her work is spontaneous; there's a lot of activity and motion," says Jennie Kirkpatrick, the director of publicity at In-Town Gallery, where Johnston's paintings will be on display throughout the month of August.

"Some of us do a lot of preliminary sketches and photograph subjects from 18 different angles, but she doesn't work that way. ... She definitely conveys an emotion, in many ways, better than those of us who spend a lot of time analyzing."

Multiple attempts to reach Johnston by phone and email were unsuccessful.

A native of Birmingham, Ala., and now living in Fort Payne, Johnston was among four artists to be inducted into In-Town's membership earlier this year. Although she currently is focusing on acrylic paint, her past media have included drawing, printmaking, encaustics, ceramics and photography.

Every month In-Town displays the work of a member artist on the front wall of its Frazier Avenue gallery space. The group's bylaws limit member artists from being exhibited more often than every other year, but, as a new member, Johnston immediately was eligible to be featured, despite being included in the gallery's "New Work -- Year 40" exhibition this spring.

When it goes on display next month, Kirkpatrick says Johnston's exhibition, "Summertime and ...," will be noteworthy for being created in the alla prima style, which allows the artist to work quickly by layering layers of wet paint atop one another. The resulting works, she says, are bright, vital and colorfully abstract.

"[In alla prima] you go there and go for gusto," Kirkpatrick says. "I think the spontaneity and the bright colors will strike viewers.

"It's expressionism, but it's not abstract expressionism."

Contact Casey Phillips at or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter@PhillipsCTFP.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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