The Arts & Culture Alliance is pleased to present five new exhibitions at the Emporium Center in downtown Knoxville from September 4-25, 2020. A free reception with the artists will take place on Friday, September 4, from 5:00-7:00 PM to which the public is invited to attend at 75 people at a time. All visitors to the Emporium are asked to wear a mask and maintain physical distancing guidelines. Most of the works are for sale and may be purchased through the close of the exhibition.

Robert Felker and Allen Monsarrat: Magic in Everyday Life in the main gallery

Robert Felker and Allen Monsarrat paint recognizable subjects, drawn from the world around them, often featuring scenes of Knoxville or other travels. For both artists, the play of light in a chosen scene is a priority and highlights their adeptness within each’s chosen medium. Strong compositions draw viewers in; Felker and Monsarrat’s brushwork is markedly different, providing a contrast between the two artists’ unique approach to painting.

Robert Felker has a BFA in Media Arts from the School of Visual Arts, New York City where he studied painting and illustration. After seven years as a freelance illustrator, he then worked in graphic design for more than twenty years while continuing to paint for himself and do commissions. He now paints full-time, focusing on personal work for exhibition and commissions. He also pursues public art opportunities, recently completing the Clinch Avenue Firefly Mural for the City of Knoxville and the Bijou Theatre’s 111th Anniversary Commemorative Mural. Visit his website at and follow him on Facebook at and Instagram at

In college, Allen Monsarrat first studied architecture and then graduated with a BFA concentrating in pottery. His first art career was as a studio potter in Friendsville, TN for 25 years, followed by a career in decorative wall finishes, faux painting, cabinetry finishing and the occasional mural project. Never one to sit still, he turned his attention to fine art painting which has developed into a concentration on representational work, including photorealism (paintings intended to look like photographs). Monsarrat began working in pastels in 2018 to counter his tendency towards too much realism. Visit his website at

Recent Works by David A. Johnson & Christopher Mitchell in the Balcony
David A. Johnson: The Standard Knitting Mill: A Love Letter
The Standard Knitting Mill is an old garment factory that sits empty on the west side of the Parkridge neighborhood. In its heyday, it produced one million underwear garments per week, employing over 3,500 Knoxvillians. David A. Johnson, a former photojournalist, lives just two blocks from Standard Knitting Mill and spent over three years documenting the abandoned factory and producing more than 1,400 images. His new exhibition explores the tarnished beauty of the Standard Knitting Mill.

David A. Johnson has a bachelor’s degree in Photojournalism from the University of Texas. He worked in Arkansas and Texas for six years before returning to college to study engineering. David worked at Oak Ridge National Lab for 30 years before retiring in early 2020. Although he left professional photography years ago, David has never ceased to be fascinated by the visual world and continues to capture its beauty and mystery in photographs.

Christopher Mitchell: Film Photographs Printed from a Personal Darkroom

I believe in conversations. I often reach out to strangers because I am interested in meeting someone new. In this way, photography can act as a form of dialogue: a picture in exchange for some shared knowledge about everyday life, whether it’s a conversation with a local fisherman or a beautician at a rural salon. Now, with so much interaction taking place online and mediated across great distances, I use my photography to return to a space that is rooted in real conversations happening in real places. The places I am drawn to are usually overlooked: places that people no longer frequent as much. A laundromat or a diner, a train station or an elk lodge. A version of Americana that is less about the iconic and more about ways of life that no longer exist or are on the cusp of disappearing altogether. I want my body of work to preserve an otherwise ephemeral moment, to slow down time, and, ultimately, to say, thank you for letting me take your picture.

Christopher Mitchell has had a camera in his hand from a very young age. Inspired by his father who worked with TVA as a photographer and filmmaker for 27 years, taking photos comes naturally. Raised in the era of film photography, he gravitates toward and loves spending time in the darkroom developing and printing. Over the last ten years, he has directed and done cinematography for hundreds of television episodes, earning an Emmy nomination in 2016. Visit his website at and follow him on Instagram at

Ryan-Ashley Anderson: Linked in the display case
Ryan-Ashley Anderson will showcase a series of pieces featuring links that are created with unexpected materials in unexpected ways.

The foundation of my work is exploration and self-expression. As a jewelry-maker and artist who loves fashion and textile design and draws inspiration from architecture and pattern, I am in a constant state of curiosity and discovery. I ask myself questions such as “how can I use this technique in an unexpected way?” and “how can I push this material further?” My mixed media jewelry incorporates pre-fabricated textiles, textile strips I have created by stitching beads together, leather, cord, rope, and metal.

Ryan-Ashley Anderson — maker, marketer, designer, and DIY instructor — is a television show host and jewelry designer at JTV for their Jewel School programming. She loves designing with unexpected materials and utilizing traditional techniques to create modern designs. She has over 15 years’ experience designing and showing jewelry, teaching DIY workshops, and designing jewelry tutorials. Before Jewel School, Anderson worked as a guest designer with Jewel, Madewell, and Bonnaroo, and she continues to pursue her passion for helping makers build their businesses by serving as a guest speaker and marketing coach at summits and conferences. In her spare time, you can find her gardening, enjoying the outdoors, cooking, taking on handy projects around the house, hanging with her precious pets, and spending time with her church family. Follow her on Facebook at and Instagram at

Tracye Sowders: Sheltered Wanderlust in the Atrium

With these works, Tracye Sowders has endeavored to push the boundaries that encourage our Oneness with the Universe.

My work is influenced by discovery through travel geographically or mindfully. When I am able to travel, I seek the golden thread of sheer existence that binds us all to one another. I seek the silk that weaves us together with nature; I paint about the light that settles in our souls, and the idea that there is a natural touchstone for all of us. When I am able to travel, my psyche is so enriched by the diversity of cultures rich in honor, hope and tranquility. I seek the water, always, and all nature. I watch all the different souls, souls like mine that are full of wanderlust.

Tracye Burnett Sowders is a prolific painter in various media including watercolor, oils, pen and ink, alcohol inks, and oil pastels. She is also a calligrapher, hand quilter and needle worker, illustrator, and pianist. She studied art and music therapy for children on the autism spectrum at Carson-Newman University. After raising three sons, she returned to her original medium of watercolor and now exhibits regularly throughout Knoxville, Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Nashville, and parts of New England including Manhattan and Staten Island. Her original watercolors, oils and quilts are in private collections all over the United States, Australia, Canada, Scotland Wales, Ireland, England and New Zealand. She regularly participates in various festivals and exhibitions across the southeast and New England. Currently, Sowders and her husband are working on plans for a mobile art gallery. Follow her on Facebook at and Instagram at

Birds of Seven Islands by Ken Jenkins, Ron McConathy, and Clay Thurston on the North Wall
To promote the awareness of Seven Islands State Birding Park as a premier birding destination, this exhibition features a selection of images from among the more than 200 species of birds that have been sighted at the Park. The photographers, Ken Jenkins, Ron McConathy, and Clay Thurston represent the finest nature/wildlife photographers in the Knoxville region, and their art is a reflection of the beauty that is on display at Seven Islands Park on a daily basis. The Park encompasses 46 acres along the French Broad River in Knox County, approximately 19 miles east of Knoxville. This peninsula of land features more than eight miles of nature trails, rolling hills, and views of the Smoky Mountains. Songbirds, hawks, and waterfowl may be seen along the meadow trails, and several old barns are a favorite refuge for Barn Owls. For more information on the Park, visit

Ken Jenkins:
Ron McConathy:
Clay Thurston:

The exhibitions are on display at the Emporium Center, 100 S. Gay Street, in downtown Knoxville. The Emporium is open to the public on Wednesdays from 9 AM – 5 PM and other days (Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM) by appointment only. For more information, or to schedule a visit to the exhibitions, visit or call (865) 523-7543.