After moving more than 500 miles from Chicago to retire in Spring City, Tenn., artist Sally Fleming found a new set of friends filled with Southern hospitality.
Not only did the Community Artist League of Athens welcome her into the fold at the first meeting she attended two years ago, she was impressed by members’ willingness to use their talents for community service projects such as painting banners for Athens’ downtown square or providing art for the town’s E.G. Fisher Library.
“I have painted, drawn, potted or sculpted since I was very little and I am 72,” says Fleming. “This is one of the most outgoing leagues there is. It’s an enriched group of people who I find a lot in common with.
“When you move from one area to another and finally get a chance to do what you’ve always wanted to do for the rest of your life, they are a neat and exciting people to be amongst.”
Fleming is one of 20 league members — roughly half the membership —who will be exhibiting in “The Small Works & Miniature Show and Sale,” which opens with a community reception on Nov. 16 in the Fisher Library. The show will hang through the end of December.
Lisa Bell of Riceville, Tenn., the league’s vice president, says show submissions may be as small as the artist desires — her miniature pencil drawings are only an inch and a half to 4 inches — but nothing may be larger than 12 inches.
“The small works concept is between 30 and 40 years old,” she says. “Founding members of the league would paint miniature pieces and use them as a fundraiser for the artists’ league. That started to die out, but we revived it with this small works show.”
Any work bought for as a Christmas gift may be removed before the show ends, says Bell, and the artist making the sale will provide another piece to fill the empty space. Artists donate 10 percent of their sales in this show back to the league, she says, which helps fund awards at other shows the league sponsors for the community.
Bell says the arts league draws its members from Cleveland, Decatur, Sweetwater, Riceville, Spring City, Athens and Etowah. A member for eight years, she says she enjoys the educational component of the meetings as well as having an outlet to show her work, which the league provides with its exhibitions.
“It’s important to me to be around other artists because it’s always sparking your own creativity and thought process,” she explains.
Fleming is submitting a watercolor of a cluster of grapes and a textured hydrangea piece done in an mixed-media process she created.
“It is a combination of tissue paper and a mixture of Elmer’s Glue and water to make a paste. Put tissue paper on top of the paste, and the colors will meld together. What you see (in the hydrangea) is layers of tissue paper adhered to a board. It’s a process I dreamt up and have been using the last six or seven years,” she says.
Although she is entering petite pencil pieces, Bell’s mediums also include graphite, oils, watercolor and acrylics — usually put to use in vivid landscapes.
“I love trees, the mountains, rivers and lakes, so those are the things in my work. The pencil miniatures are of local landscapes in Cades Cove, the Ocoee region, Parksville Lake,” she says.
Contact Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...