David Keith
From An Officer and a Gentlemen to striding the sidelines at University of Tennessee home football games—it’s been quite a ride for this local boy made good. (M.E.)
Popular Picks: David Brian Alley, Dale Dickey

cover_1020_theemporiumTricia Bateman

The Emporium Center
The big building at the corner of Gay Street and Jackson Avenue, lavishly renovated in 2004, serves as an unofficial headquarters for Knoxville’s visual and performing arts community, with one of the biggest First Friday celebrations every month, frequent theatrical and music performances, studio space, and five full galleries for monthly exhibits by local and regional artists. It’s Knoxville’s one-stop art center. (M.E.)
Popular Picks: Art Market Gallery, Bennett Galleries

Cynthia Markert
Markert’s distinctive visions of flapper fantasia have been visible around downtown for decades, but they’ve lost none of their enchantment over the years; her expressionistic icons retain the same sense of mystery and glamour today, no matter how many times you’ve encountered them. (M.E.)
Popular Picks: Richard Jolley, Colby McLemore

Wendy Seaward
Wendy Seaward’s masks are masterpieces of detailed craft—tiny colorful beads stitched together to form face shapes that mix myth and pop art, mysterious and whimsical. Seaward’s jewelry is just as impressive, fantastical combinations of color and form that stretch and bend history and tradition. (M.E.)
Popular Picks: Preston Farabow, Judy Gaston

Circle Modern Dance
For more than 25 years, Circle Modern Dance has been both a benchmark of excellence—the company’s core performers bring professional training and excellence—and an outreach for movement as art; the company believes that everyone is a dancer, and part of its mission is to allow anyone who wants to dance a space to do it in. The company’s annual Modern Dance Primitive Light show in December is a reliably moving and stirring experience. (M.E.)
Popular Picks: Angela Floyd Dance Company, Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble

The Emporium Center
With five galleries spread over two stories, the Emporium is an all-in-one First Friday extravaganza all on its own—in any given month, you might find exhibits by regional art groups, like the Tennessee Artists Association or Arrowmont’s artists in residence, alongside local amateur and professional painters, sculptors, jewelry designers, fabric artists, furniture makers, potters, and more. It’s enough to fill your entire First Friday excursion, if you choose. (M.E.)
Popular Picks: The Central Collective, Striped Light

Regal Riviera Stadium 8
Few attractions have made as big a difference downtown as Regal’s first-run movie theater. It’s hard to believe anyone was skeptical when it opened in 2007—now it’s hard to imagine downtown without it. (M.E.)
Popular Picks: Regal Downtown West, Regal Pinnacle

cover_1020_kmaDeb Hardison

Knoxville Museum of Art
Over the last several years, KMA has successfully redefined itself. Rather than compete with bigger, older, and wealthier regional museums in Charlotte and Atlanta, KMA has turned its focus to East Tennessee art, crafting the growing and impressive permanent exhibit Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee and spotlighting work by local artists in the Contemporary Focus series. It’s given the museum a new future and clarified its vision. If we’re not going to promote and protect the city’s art, after all, who will? (M.E.)
Popular Picks: McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture, Museum of East Tennessee History

Michael Knight
It’s impossible to pin down Michael Knight. He’s a short-story writer whose best book so far is his most recent novel, The Typist; he’s written in various styles on various subjects, from holiday stories to historical fiction. What connects all of his work is his glittering prose style, influenced by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Raymond Carver: economical, precise, elegant. (M.E.)
Popular Picks: Jefferson Bass (Jon Jefferson and Bill Bass), Pamela Schoenewaldt

R.B. Morris
Some people might have identified R.B. Morris as Knoxville’s poet laureate, at least unofficially, long before he was named to that position by Mayor Madeline Rogero in June. The official endorsement came as no surprise, and yet it still felt like a long-overdue acknowledgment of Morris’ talent—as a poet, a songwriter, a playwright, and a  performer—and as an advocate for Knoxville and its distinguished literary legacy. No one has done more than Morris to encourage the city to remember James Agee, in particular, and few artists in the city’s 225-year history have been as committed to Knoxville as a source for inspiration. (M.E.)
Popular Picks: Black Atticus, Marilyn Kallet

Clarence Brown Theatre
Knoxville’s only pro theater company offers a complete dramatic season all on its own, with a lineup that every year includes cutting-edge contemporary drama, classic revivals, comedy and music, and one or two unexpected gems (and yes, A Christmas Carol). (M.E.)
Popular Picks: Knoxville Children’s Theatre, Tennessee Stage Company