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Contributed Photo / The show features a body of work from Kirby Miles inspired by the idea of candy — brightly colored and glittery, a purely pleasurable thing that gets everywhere and sticks to everything. "I am a queer artist here in Chattanooga, and these works are all about the feminine and taking back power in terms of the feminine," she said of the works, which she installed on a wall of the galley that she painted Baker-Miller Pink, also referred to as "Drunk-Tank Pink" due to its use in jail holding cells for its psychological effect of reducing aggression.

Running through Sept. 4 at Stove Works, "Chattanooga Local" provides a comprehensive look at the city's contemporary art scene in one physical space.

The exhibition is part of a series organized by Tri-Star Arts that showcases the work of Tennessee artists.

"Chattanooga Local" is the second exhibit in the series and has a different approach than the initial "Knoxville Local" exhibit based in that city, said artist Ray Padron, who co-curated the Chattanooga exhibit with fellow Chattanooga artist Stephanie Loggans.

Participating local artists were asked the questions, "Who sustains you?" and "Who do you sustain?" Works from those artists were also incorporated into the show, building a web of influences and interconnected artistic practices that compose the city's contemporary art scene.

"It's built on the idea that none of us could be here if it weren't for each other," Padron said, who selected artists with well-developed practices who were also heavily involved in elevating the Chattanooga art scene.

Photo Gallery

Stove Works art exhibit in Chattanooga

"The art community in Chattanooga is so different than anywhere else in America," said Kirby Miles, who is among the local artists featured in the show. "It's a really cohesive group of people that bring each other up and really empower one another."

Works from a wide range of diverse artists, all in different stages of their careers and working in a variety of mediums from sculptures to photography to paintings, come together to create a show that somewhat surprisingly flows and fits together.

"It became an interesting balancing act as a curator," Padron said. "If you're interested in art, I think it's the best place to see what's happening in your city."

An unexpected outcome of the show, which was planned before the COVID-19 pandemic, was the opportunity it provided for the artists — who had been in quarantine for the past year — to re-emerge and come together in one space to form connections and have conversations that had been put on hold.

The exhibit is also an opportunity to introduce the public to the permanent gallery space at Stove Works, which is an incredible asset to the Chattanooga community, Padron said.

A project in the works for the past four years, Stove Works welcomed its first artists-in-residence in November 2020 and hosted the first exhibit in its permanent space the following month.

Due to the pandemic, "Chattanooga Local" is the first exhibit Stove Works has promoted since the space reopened to the public in June 2021. It's fitting that the show highlights work from the local contemporary art scene, which is a large part of Stove Works' mission.

"We're here to create a conversation between artists practicing in Chattanooga and artists practicing outside of Chattanooga, and what better way to start that conversation and ignite that curiosity within our immediate community than making it about our immediate community for this first really large show," said Charlotte Caldwell, Stove Works founder and director. "It's been really remarkable to see the artists that they've brought together in this exhibition, pairing emerging artists with people who've been around Chattanooga for a long time and are fairly established.

"It's been a really lovely opportunity to see the breadth of practice, not just in material but also in where people are in their careers."

Participating artists range from those in their early 20s who are just starting out, such as Eden Anyabwile, to well-established artists in their 70s, such as Edward Kellogg.

The exhibition also features works by Alecia Vera, Angela Dittmar, Botany Rain, CC Calloway, Isaac Duncan III, Jeff Morton, Kris Bespalec, Ron Buffington, Rondell Crier, Victoria Sauer and William Johnson.

Email Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com.

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