published Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Vibrant color on display at River Gallery

David Swanagin's works include oil and gesso landscapes.
David Swanagin's works include oil and gesso landscapes.
By David Swanagin

If You Go

Mike Berry will demonstrate his pastels at River Gallery today from 1-3 p.m.

What: Vivid Interpretations featuring works by Mike Berry, David Swanagin and Algar Dole.

Where: River Gallery, 400 E. Second St.

When: Through Jan. 31.

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday ; 1-5 p.m. Sunday and by appointment

Admission: Free

Phone: 265-5033, ext. 5

River Gallery's January exhibit showcases three artists with a passion for color.

"In the winter months, we want the gallery to have color and energy and to be vibrant," said Angie Supan, assistant director in sales.

Painters Mike Berry and David Swanagin are showcasing cityscapes and landscapes, respectively, in their works, while Algar Dole is a glass blower.

Berry, who lives and works in Knoxville, has a dozen pieces in the exhibit. Ten are pastels on paper and eight are based on Chattanooga locations. Berry and his family spent a week here last fall and he took lots of notes and photographs to use as inspiration. The scenes include recognizable city landmarks such as The Tivoli Theatre, Chattanooga Choo Choo and the bridges.

Berry says he has a preference for painting scenes set as day turn to night, what he calls the "blue hour."

"It's still daylight but the street lights and the cafe lights are on and you get these really vibrant colors," he says.

Most of his pieces share three things in common, Berry says.

"They are usually in pastels because that was my first language and I'm most comfortable with it," he says. "They are probably going to be done during that blue hour and I usually mess with perspective. I seem to bend and warp things a little bit.

"When I look back over my work, that seems to be my signature style, bending and twisting things to give them my own style.

The oil and gesso paintings by Nashville's Swanagin range in style from "representational to impressionistic landscapes" on wood panels and masonite. A native of Augusta, Ga., the self-taught Swanagin mostly paints land- and cloudscapes in bright colors and using light as a major feature.

"Most important to me, and really the basis of my work, is strong shadow and light," he says in an artistic statement. "I think it makes a scene much more powerful. If I can convey a sense of place and how it makes me feel, then I think I've succeeded as an artist."

Also a drummer, Swanagin's Facebook page says he has painted drumheads for various artists, including Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Jewel and Brad Paisley, among many others.

According to his website, Dole has spent years studying and working in caneworking techniques that employ traditional glass rods and also in zanfirico, which are twisted, multicolored glass rods. Creating intricate, textile-like patterning, his works range from vessels and sculptural bowls to whimsical animal figurines.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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