‘Steered’ to perfection at Caracol

Alan checks out our hotel shuttle, which would take us to Caracol.

Alan checks out our hotel shuttle, which would take us to Caracol.

Several weeks ago, more than 40 East Tennesseans headed to Houston on an art trip arranged by Knoxville Museum of Art Curator Stephen Wicks and Krishna Adams, also of the museum.

As Alan and I got ready that Thursday to hop in the car and head to the airport, I noticed our latest edition of Wine Spectator magazine had arrived. I tossed it in the car to read on the plane. And lo and behold, what did it feature? A listing of the best restaurants in Houston! Woohoo!

Our schedule showed we had Friday night to plan on our own so as soon as we landed, I called a recommended restaurant, Caracol, for a reservation. The aforementioned Stephen Wicks, our leader, said he wanted to go with us, as did our buddies Mark and Cathy Hill. (read more)


United Way givers treated to Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski playing for an intimate group at The Standard in downtown Knoxville.

Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski playing for an intimate group at The Standard in downtown Knoxville.

If, as is said in 2 Corinthians, “God loveth a cheerful giver,” Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd has made God love us a little more — because he made us a little more cheerful about our giving!

How? Boyd, this year’s chair of the local United Way campaign, arranged recently for songstress Alison Krauss and several members of her band to perform a private concert at The Standard in downtown Knoxville for donors who have pledged $10,000 or more to the United Way of Greater Knoxville. About 80 people were there.

Every year, donors at this level are invited to a special dinner as members of the Tocqueville Society. But in every past year that I can recall, the speaker has been a sports figure or a politician. This was so much better for us music lovers.

(read more)


The glamorous world of PR — not!

This giant slice of pecan pie -- with a fork made of sardine cans -- was made by a team consisting of Cope Architecture, Management Solutions and the National Association of Women in Construction. The plate is made of 660 containers of Chefboyardee mini ABCs and 123s!

This giant slice of pecan pie — with a fork made of sardine cans — was made by a team consisting of Cope Architecture, Management Solutions and the National Association of Women in Construction. The plate is made of 660 containers of Chef Boyardee mini ABC’s and 123’s!

“It must be so much fun being in public relations,” I hear all the time. “All those parties and elegant events!”

The truth is that it is a lot of fun being in public relations. But parties and events are just a small fraction of the work we really do. And even those assignments are not the glamorous walk in the park that many people think.

Case in point: Canstruction, happening right now at the Knoxville Convention Center. There is indeed a party involved, but — let’s peek behind the scenes for a moment.

Canstruction is a unique charity that hosts competitions, exhibitions and events across the globe showcasing colossal structures made entirely of unopened cans of food. After the structures are built, the “cansculptures go on display to the public as a giant art exhibition. At the end of the event, all food is donated to local hunger relief organizations. In Knoxville’s case, the cans go to Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.

You can visit the Knoxville Convention Center for free to see the seven structures Knoxville companies have built. They all involve a holiday theme and will be up until Dec. 2, when a reception will recognize winners in various categories. Children will love them, so do stop by and vote for the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital Kids’ Choice Award. And vote for your favorite in the “People’s Choice” category on Facebook: Click here. (Moxley Carmichael worked on the Snoopy sculpture, and we’d love to have your vote!)

The exhibit turned out beautifully, but here’s what happened behind the scenes. (read more)


Harrowing tale by a homegrown Hanna

Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, speaking at Cherokee Country Club.

Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, speaking at Cherokee Country Club.

Jack Hanna was in town earlier this month to be named East Tennessean of the Year by the East Tennessee Historical Society. At $500 per seat, the event, featuring Hanna and several animals from the Columbus Zoo, was a sellout at Cherokee Country Club.

This is only the second time the organization has bestowed this award. The only other time was in 2011 when former Knoxville mayor and current Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam received it.

“I can’t believe you all paid $500 to see me,” a seemingly humbled Hanna said after accepting the award. Although he said his wife, Suzi, had advised him to keep his remarks under 20 minutes, he spoke for over an hour, telling story after story about various animals and exotic locations he’s visited.

The most harrowing was his description of the worst animal bite he’s ever gotten. It was on the David Letterman Show in 1985 when he was handling a 35-pound beaver. “It was a monster beaver,” he recalled. “The biggest beaver I’ve ever seen.” (read more)


‘Artsclamation!’ earns its exclamation point

Shannon Haas was the featured artist at this year's Artsclamation sale.

Shannon Haas was the featured artist at this year’s Artsclamation! sale.

Artsclamation!, an art sale benefiting Peninsula Hospital, has THE BEST ART every year. Held in the gym of Sacred Heart Cathedral School right before the holidays kick off, the juried show offers a chance to meet the artists and discuss with them their latest offerings. And the prices generally are terrific. If you missed the event this year, you absolutely must put it on your calendar for 2015. You’ll see what I mean when you look at the pictures I’m including here.

Peninsula Hospital, a division of Covenant Health‘s Parkwest Medical Center, is located in Louisville, south of Knoxville. It operates a 155-bed treatment center and provides inpatient mental health services for adults, adolescents and children. Medical professionals work in teams to stabilize and assist people, many of whom are in intense crises. Peninsula Hospital is one of the few facilities in the area that can accept involuntary commitments. (read more)


It was a Time for dancing — and recognition

Morris Day and The Time performing for the Urban League at the Knoxville Convention Center.

Morris Day and The Time performing for the Urban League at the Knoxville Convention Center.

One of the best parties of the year is the Knoxville Area Urban League’s Equal Opportunity Awards Gala. Held the fourth Thursday of every October, it combines a serious mission — giving out the prestigious awards — with a heaping helping of pure fun.

Dancing always is a big part of this event and this year was no exception. Morris Day, an artist known both for his work with Prince as a bandmate in the early 1980s and as lead singer in his own band, The  Time, rocked the Knoxville Convention Center crowd.

His best known songs, “Jungle Love” and “The Bird” turned the whole room into a dance floor.

But this came after the serious part of the evening when iconic civil rights figure Rita Geier received the Whitney M. Young Jr., Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1968, Geier was teaching part-time at Tennessee State University in Nashville, and the University of Tennessee announced that it was opening a new campus in downtown Nashville. Geier recognized that, while the schools were legally integrated, this development would cause a social segregation with white students attending the University of Tennessee-Nashville and black students attending Tennessee State University. She also was concerned about the state’s financial investment in UT compared to that of TSU. (read more)


A ‘Teenie’ view of the future

Our hostess, Christine "Teenie" Hayworth, left, with Jenny Hines, treasurer of Foothills Land Conservancy.

Our hostess, Christine “Teenie” Hayworth, left, with Jenny Hines, treasurer of Foothills Land Conservancy.

 

It was a rainy day, and I wondered what effect that would have on the party planned outdoors at Teenie Hayworth’s beautiful West Knoxville horse farm called Penrose.

But we grabbed our umbrellas and set out anyway. It seems that Teenie’s farm is so beautiful, it doesn’t matter what the weather is.

The purpose of the party was to raise money for the Foothills Land Conservancy and to celebrate the success of the organization. So far it has succeeded in placing 47,000 acres in 26 Tennessee counties under conservation easements, which will prevent the properties from being subdivided for development.

This is the fifth year Teenie has opened her beautiful estate — 130 acres of stunning land with a view of the Great Smoky Mountains — to Foothills Land Conservancy for this event. And Teenie is leading by example. In 2007, she placed Penrose Farm under a conservation easement. She truly believes in the mission of the organization to “preserve, protect and enhance” the landscapes of East Tennessee. (read more)


Local wedding, long-lasting love

John and Lauren Christ Miller at their wedding reception.

John and Lauren Christ Miller at their wedding reception.

Everyone’s heard of “farm to table.” But how many have experienced “farm to altar?” All of us who went to the sweet, touching wedding of Lauren Christ and John Miller earlier this year can say we have. Well, sort of.

“John and I both are from East Tennessee and we love the area,” Lauren, Moxley Carmichael’s director of client services, said recently. “We wanted to celebrate how we live our lives.”

To that end, they selected the oldest Catholic church in Knoxville, the breathtaking Immaculate Conception downtown, as the site of the nuptials. For the reception? The Southern Depot. “We loved the feel of the old railroad station in the heart of downtown Knoxville,” she said. Rehearsal dinner was at Remedy Coffee in the Old City with catering by Chandler’s Deli – chicken, barbecue, fried okra and John’s mother’s pimento cheese, for which she is renowned.

To me, the thing that stands out most about the wedding was the hundreds of beautiful peonies used in the decor and in the bouquets. “I went to the Market Square Farmers’ Market and that’s where I first saw them,” Lauren said. They were from Napping Cat Flower Farm in Maryville. “I loved that they would be grown in an East Tennessee garden and not be shipped in from somewhere else.” (read more)


Stars come out for Knoxville Jazz Orchestra

Janet Testerman Crossley and Bill Regas took to the dance floor during the recent Evening Under the Stars.

Janet Testerman Crossley and Bill Regas took to the dance floor during the recent Evening Under the Stars.

Once again, Sherri Lee opened her beautiful estate on a picturesque cove on Fort Loudoun Lake to raise funds for the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra through an event called Evening Under the Stars. This, year, however, due to the threat of rain, it was actually an evening under a huge tent! As it turned out, the rain held off. And it was beautiful, in any case.

The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra is a 17-piece big band with five saxophones, four trombones, five trumpets, piano, bass and drums. It is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to growing audiences for jazz music through public performance and education outreach. Since its inception in 1999, the organization has presented dozens of concerts in East Tennessee, appeared on major jazz festivals in the United States and Europe, performed and recorded with internationally acclaimed guest artists and released four critically acclaimed CD recordings.

The orchestra presents six annual concerts in downtown Knoxville with performances at the Tennessee Theatre, the Bijou Theatre and The Square Room. These concerts feature world-renowned guest artists backed by some of our area’s top professional musicians. This past season, every single show sold out in advance. (read more)


We were Conned into a great time

Con Hunley returned to the former Corner Lounge for one night only.

Con Hunley returned to the former Corner Lounge for one night only.

My husband, Alan Carmichael, and I are big Con Hunley fans. And we are big fans of the Knox Heritage Summer Suppers series of fundraisers. We also love caterer Holly Hambright – for her fabulous food and her mega-sized personality.

So when we saw that one of the Summer Suppers was called “Holly’s Corner Lounge Presents Con Hunley: One Night Only,” we knew where we would be on that night!

Ahh, The Corner Lounge. According to historian Jack Neely, writing for Metro Pulse in 2008, The Corner Lounge opened in the 1930s, shortly after the end of Prohibition, as The Corner Grill. Although it sold some simple food, The Corner, as it came to be called, quickly became better known as a beer joint. In 1979, novelist Cormac McCarthy placed one of the scenes of his book “Suttree” in The Corner. The action in the book was set in 1951. (read more)