An upbeat Janet Testerman kicks off state House race

City Council Member Janet Testerman launches her campaign for the Tennessee General Assembly.

It was a perfect evening for a campaign kickoff and general get-together at Lakeshore Park Monday evening. The temperature was in the high 70s with a comfortable breeze. Restaurateur Randy Burleson delivered fantastic food to Marble Hall. The Pour Guys were pouring terrific wines and Miller beers.

Janet Testerman, my friend and current Knoxville City Council member, looked beautiful and exuded confidence and sincerity as she declared her candidacy for state representative for District 18 in the Tennessee General Assembly. Eddie Mannis, the current holder of that seat, was in the audience to cheer her on, as were more than 80 other friends and supporters, including Farragut Mayor Ron Williams and her fellow Knoxville City Council member, Lynne Fugate. It really could not have gone better.

“I’m a steadfast believer that when opportunities present themselves, you have to pay attention,” she said, referring to the fact that Mannis decided not to seek re-election to the position. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Knoxville, Politics | 1 Comment

UT Gardens Gala: worm castings and wine!

University of Tennessee-Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman and her husband, Dennis Duchon, were among the many happy guests at the UT Gardens Gala. Isn’t her dress perfect for the occasion?

The UT Gardens Gala recently celebrated a record crowd — and a record amount of money raised — in near-perfect weather at its beautiful location on Neyland Drive.

University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd and his wife, Jenny, were honorary hosts and Dick Ott, a specialist in the field of interior plant-scaping and a big supporter of the UT Gardens, was a special honoree.

The UT Gardens are part of the UT Institute of Agriculture with locations in Knoxville, Jackson and Crossville. Together, they attract more than 100,000 visitors each year. These three sites constitute the official State Botanical Garden of Tennessee and combine the beauty and allure of a public garden with a hands-on university laboratory for conserving, restoring and celebrating the environment.

The UT Gardens Gala is a great party — mostly because people can’t help but be happy in such a beautiful space. This year was even more special because the Boyds, who own a vineyard and boutique winery in Mendoza, Argentina, provided some of their own wines for the festivities.

In appreciation of their support, the UT Gardens gifted the Boyds with — wait for it — a bench! Read on for the details! (And get over to the gardens when you can! Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Knoxville | 5 Comments

A ‘Knoxville’ weekend in Sarasota

An excited Roy Cockrum making remarks during a reception prior to the opening of “Knoxville” at Sarasota’s Asolo Repertory Theatre on Saturday night.

The Roy Cockrum Foundation put Knoxville on the map again this past weekend by underwriting a buzz-generating production of a new play called, “Knoxville,” which had its world premiere on Saturday in Sarasota, Florida.

The Knoxville man who claimed $153 million in 2014 when he cashed in a lottery ticket he had purchased at a Kroger, Cockrum and some friends were in the audience for the premiere.

“I’ve never been more proud to have my name associated with a new play,” Cockrum said after the show.

Reviewers from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and Sarasota Magazine agreed. Carrie Seidman, writing for the newspaper, called the play “an eloquently emotional reflection about what matters most in our lives – the bonds of faith, family and love that sustain us even in the face of our certain but unpredictable deaths.”

Kay Kipling says in Sarasota Magazine,  “As old-style promo show posters might have said, Knoxville will make you cry. It will make you laugh. It will make you care. And it deserves to have a long life in future productions.” Continue reading

Filed under: Art, Food, Theater, Travel | 13 Comments

California, Italy, France and a trout stream! We went all these places recently to raise funds for the KSO! Kinda.

Gay and Bill Lyons, who live in The Overlook condos on Hill Avenue, had the first course. They chose as their theme one of the KSO Pops concerts this season: “The Music of the Eagles!” Pay no attention to that exit sign behind Bill. Everyone knows that at the Hotel California, “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!”

The Knoxville Symphony League’s “Elegant Dining” series of fundraising events is in full swing. In fact, there are only five left — and they are all sold out! Congrats to the League for this big success.

Earlier this month, a group of downtown friends agreed to the League’s request that we offer one of our downtown progressive dinners for sale as part of the series. So, Gay and Bill Lyons, Jacque and Cliff Hawks, Monique and Bruce Anderson and Alan and I agreed to do it for eight guests.

The hook? Each of the four courses had to be themed around one of the Knoxville Symphony’s performances during the 2021-2022 season! It was fun! We walked from home to home sampling a wide variety of dishes reflecting the huge diversity of the KSO’s programming this year. We called the evening “Musical Chairs.” Come along!

Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Knoxville, Music | 12 Comments

Great new gallery opens in historic building

This clever painting by Michael Godard is called, “Splash!” Notice the olive in the artist’s signature!

Have you been to Pivot Point Gallery yet? If not, you need to go. Located at 15 Emory Place in a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is just so much fun! The art ranges from whimsical to serious, from painting to sculpture to woodwork and more, and from local to regional to national.

We at Moxley Carmichael  got to see it recently when we helped the owners, Don Stoner and Faith Ferguson, with a VIP open house to introduce the business. The art is so irresistible that many of the guests — and even some Moxley Carmichael folks — departed the party as owners of new art pieces. That’s how tantalizing it is.

Emory Place, located a mile from downtown Knoxville, is verging on becoming a new little art district in itself. The 130-year-old building where Pivot Point now is located originally housed the Whittle and Spence Trunk and Bag Company. In the early 1900s, it was converted into a U.S. Post Office. The horses that were used to deliver the mail in the rural areas around here lived in the building’s basement. Continue reading

Filed under: Art, Business, Downtown, Events | 9 Comments

Laughs and lovely hats launch spring

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon looks great in a hat!

One of my favorite annual events is back! “Hats in Bloom” is a fundraiser for the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum. It involves scores of beautiful hats for sale, a delicious lunch, pretty centerpieces that can be purchased — and very little else! No long program, no auction and no videos. It’s just fun!

Key to the event’s success are the hats, of course. They are produced and delivered by Indiana milliner Patricia Frankum, who has become something of a local celebrity since so many East Tennessee women now own her stunning creations. The hat buying became something of a frenzy last Friday as guests arrived early to start trying them on while sipping mimosas and Bloody Marys.

It has become a beloved Moxley Carmichael tradition for the company to purchase a table at Hats in Bloom and invite all our female employees to fill it. (Don’t worry! There’s a golf outing in the works for the guys!) Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Knoxville | 13 Comments

Big Ears 2022: ‘A transcendent musical experience’

Aurora Nealand and her band, The Royal Roses, played at Boyd’s Jig & Reel on Friday. We liked them so much, we stayed for two shows.

The Big Ears Festival has come and gone and, trust me, it was one of the best weekends I’ve ever spent in Knoxville. The international music festival attracted about 5,300 visitors each day of its four-day run, according to festival organizers. They came to downtown Knoxville from 47 states and 16 countries.

“From the feedback we’ve gotten from everyone, it really couldn’t have gone much better,” said Ashley Capps, the founder and CEO of Big Ears. “People are describing it as a fabulous, ecstatic experience. Everyone was so happy to be able to be together again listening to music.” (The festival had to be canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID pandemic.)

The music ranged from jazz to bluegrass, from classical to hip-hop, from rock to folk and from new age to new country. Poetry readings and other spoken word experiences were in the mix. In total, more than 230 performances were held in 12 venues all within walking distance. And about 1,200 participants marched in a frolicsome parade that circled the Old City and ended in a block party. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Knoxville, Music | 6 Comments

Mardi Growl ’22: Fun for pets and their people

The winner! This little canine giraffe took first prize in the costume contest at Mardi Growl this year.

I had my doubts a few years ago when Mardi Growl, the fun fundraiser for Young-Williams Animal Center, moved at the city’s urging, from Market Square where it always had been to World’s Fair Park. But, let me tell you, World’s Fair Park is the right place. There’s room for multiple vendors, more space for the animals (and humans) and plenty of room to grow.

It also allows for other events — like the Winter Farmers’ Market — to take place on Market Square. In short, a win-win.

Young-Williams Animal Center’s mission is to lead the community to end pet homelessness, promote animal welfare and enhance the human-animal bond. It is the official animal shelter of Knoxville and Knox County.

Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Knoxville | 4 Comments

Sponsors’ Event: ‘partiest’ part of L’Amour du Vin!

Each day of the three-day event that is the L’Amour du Vin fundraiser for the Knoxville Museum of Art is unique.

The Artist’s Luncheon, described in the previous post, is all about meeting the featured artist and learning about his or her work. The Saturday night L’Amour du Vin itself is a great dinner and a fabulous auction — mostly of wine, trips and art — that is the major fundraising portion of the weekend.

But the Sponsors’ Dinner, held on the Thursday prior to the other two events, is one thing and one thing only — an over-the-top dinner party. Emphasis on party! It’s no wonder that there’s a waiting list to be a sponsor of this singular event! (Glad that Moxley Carmichael has been a sponsor for years!)

In a nod to the lush florals that highlight much of the work of this year’s featured artist, Gordon Cheung, Dino Cartwright of Lexus of Knoxville staged one of the dealer’s cars to be overflowing with beautiful cut flowers! Creative!

Continue reading

Filed under: Art, Events, Food | 4 Comments

Gordon Cheung’s artwork: thought-provoking, beautiful and lucrative for Knoxville Museum of Art

Artist Gordon Cheung discussing his work during the Artist’s Luncheon at Blackberry Farm.

The featured artist of this year’s L’Amour du Vin fundraiser for the Knoxville Museum of Art was Gordon Cheung. Guests got the opportunity to meet him and view a PowerPoint retrospective of his work earlier this month at the Artist’s Luncheon at Blackberry Farm.

Cheung’s abstract images result, he said, from his tendency to focus on “in-between states.” The 47-year-old was born, raised and currently lives in London, but his parents hailed from Hong Kong and moved to London seeking better job opportunities. They have since retired and returned to Hong Kong, a place that he has always thought of as “home.” He thinks this dichotomy between London and Hong Kong has contributed to his attraction to “in-between states.” Continue reading

Filed under: Art, Downtown, Events, Food, Knoxville | 5 Comments