City of Knoxville Tennessee Arts CommissionAmerican Alliance of Museum

Focus 2011

April 24 - August 2, 2015

This exhibition examines an influential group of progressive artists in Knoxville who energized East Tennessee’s art scene between 1955 and 1965. The group included C. Kermit “Buck” Ewing, Carl Sublett, Walter Stevens, Robert Birdwell, Joanne Higgs, Richard Clarke, and Philip Nichols. While Sublett and Stevens shared an exclusive interest in the landscape as a point of reference for their abstractions, Birdwell and Ewing often found inspiration in urban settings and the human figure. Sometimes they exhibited as a foursome and other times as the “Knoxville Seven” with Higgs, Clarke and Nichols. Each maintained an individual style and utilized varying degrees of abstraction. Together, they produced what are likely the first abstract paintings in Tennessee and helped establish a foothold for modern art in the region.

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