Ringgold art gallery exhibit takes many forms

photo Evelyn Marie Williams won first prize in the third annual Civic Arts League show at the Ringgold Art and Frame Gallery with her painting "Freedom Flight."

ART BRIEFS• Two exhibits, "Interpretations: Contemporary Jewish Art" and "Windows of Identity," open Monday at the Jewish Cultural Center, 5461 N. Terrace Road. Both exhibits run through Nov. 30, and both will have an opening reception at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and by appointment. 493-0270, ext. 13.• Two exhibits, "Family Traditions: John, Terri Kelly and Bill Moyers" and "National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West," open this week at the Booth Western Art Museum, 501 Museum Drive, in Cartersville, Ga. "Family Traditions" opens Thursday, and the National Geographic exhibit opens Saturday. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday. 1-5 p.m. Sunday. 770-387-1300, www.boothmuseum.org.• Area exhibits closing today are "Chattanooga Gems III at the Hunter Museum of American Art, 10 Bluff View, and the HeArt of Education juried exhibit at the Harris Art Center, 212 S. Wall St., in Calhoun. Also closing this week are "Rhythm and Blues" at In-Town Gallery, 26A Frazier Ave., on Friday, and "Where Two Worlds Meet" at Shanks Center for the Arts, 140 N. Main St., Crossville, Tenn., on Saturday.

A bluebird flies free as the cage and chain imprisoning it break apart and fall through the air in a dusky light.

Artist Evelyn Marie Williams said the idea was given to her during prayer. The painting symbolizes the heritage of the United States but could well be her life.

It illustrates "the freedom to be who we are, to worship God, to be who we are created to be," she said.

Everyone, she said, has the opportunity "not to be held in chains or cages, not to be held back emotionally or mentally. We can still break free."

The acrylic on paper work is the first-place winner in the third annual juried Civic Arts League show at Ringgold Art and Frame Gallery.

The theme for the show, as chosen by gallery owner Raye Brooks, is "Heritage."

It was chosen to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Ringgold. But a show with only war-related pieces would be boring, she said.

"I left it wide open so the artists could depict heritage however they wanted to," Brooks said. "There are lot of diverse paintings in the show."

The exhibit includes as many as three works from 18 artists in oil, acrylics, watercolors and mixed media.

Only two or three are related to the Civil War.

One of those is a painting by Ringgold, Ga.'s Sandra Babb of the Tennessee monument near Wilder Tower in Chickamauga Battlefield. She painted it "en plein air," meaning at the site.

"I hang out in Chickamauga Park," she said. "I like to be out in nature. And there is a spirit about the park."

Babb, 66, painted the monument before its recent cleaning, so her work still has its prior orange patches of tarnish and is missing the sword the soldier once held.

"I like the look," she said. "When you're a painter, you start noticing things."

Williams, 57, said her work, titled "Freedom's Flight," was completed earlier this year and is "one of the most spiritual I've ever done."

The symbolism, the Soddy-Daisy resident said, "is the freedom to fly, to escape the conditions we are born in, the freedom to escape our past and move on."

What's in Williams' recent past is breast cancer, which she said she has "come through great."

The "Heritage" theme inspired Janice Kennedy of Ringgold to submit acrylic paintings related to family.

One, painted from a photograph of her grandmother's home, depicts hanging baskets of flowers outside a window.

"Her flowers were always very important to her," Kennedy, 65, said. "She had huge flower beds. Anywhere there was a pot at her house, there were flowers."

Another of ballet dancers perhaps preparing for a recital -- in muted shades of red, green and pink -- "almost painted itself," she said.

Kennedy's motivation, she said, was a niece "who has been into dancing since she was a tiny, little thing."

Rena Malone, 62, of Chattanooga recognized the country's heritage with an American Indian shawl dancer and a Civil War pony and the city's heritage with a painting of three of the bridges across the Tennessee River.

She painted the pony from a photograph she took at last year's Battle of Tunnel Hill re-enactment and the bridges from a vantage point in Renaissance Park.

Sherry Hullender, 60, of Tunnel Hill, Ga., submitted oil paintings of two cabins, one she painted on-site and one influenced by an old barn near her home.

The cabin theme is part of her heritage, she said.

"When I was 2, we lived in the Smoky Mountains," Hullender said, "and we lived in a cabin sort of like [those]."

The exhibit continues in the gallery, located at 7825 Nashville St., through Nov. 9. Hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. Part of the proceeds from the exhibit go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Contact Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.