Painter John Woodrow Kelley returns to Knoxville after 45 years; is this year’s L’Amour du Vin featured artist

Artist John Kelley with Knoxville Museum of Art supporters Susan Farris, left, and Jackie Wilson at the Artist’s Luncheon last week.

Beloved Knoxville artist John Woodrow Kelley, who has been splitting his time between Knoxville and New York for the past 45 years, has finally returned to Knoxville full time and will be the featured artist at next month’s L’Amour du Vin, the largest fundraiser for the Knoxville Museum of Art.

Kelley was the centerpiece last week of the Artist’s Luncheon, a signature part of L’Amour du Vin, at the new location of Bistro by the Tracks in Bearden (in the former location of The Orangery).

“The Knoxville Museum of Art is one of the most important regional museums in America,” Kelley told those at the luncheon. He said that, as a former architecture student, he knows well the work of the late architect Edward Larrabee Barnes, who was commissioned to design the Knoxville Museum of Art. “KMA is one of his best,” Kelley said. The KMA opened in its current building in 1990.

Kelley, a West Knoxville native and Webb School of Knoxville graduate, said that, as a child, he took art classes at the Dulin Gallery of Art, then located at 3100 Kingston Pike and the precursor to the KMA. “Some of the happiest moments of my childhood were spent sitting on those steps overlooking the river and drawing and painting,” Kelley said.

Kelley’s three drawings of magnolia blossoms will be included in the L’Amour du Vin auction March 2 at the KMA.

Click here for a fun little interview with John and a tour of his Brooklyn home by New York Social Diary in 2010.

These three John Kelley paintings of magnolia blossoms will be auctioned off on March 2 at L’Amour du Vin. The artist said magnolia flowers are an allegory to human life: they emerge, put on an exhibition, and then wither and die.

Remember the Phoenix Ballroom from The Orangery restaurant? Here’s what it looks like today. It’s still called the Phoenix Ballroom.

From left, Kay Clayton, recently retired KMA executive director David Butler, Gail Vanhoozier, and Ann Goldstine.

Beautiful mother and daughter Mimi Turner, left, and Mollie Turner.

From left, Sheryl Linck, Moody Altamimi, and Taylor Broyles, who, as fundraising events manager for the KMA, is heavily involved in all the L’Amour du Vin elements.

Linda Schmid, left, and her mother-in-law, Carol Schmid.

The appetizers passed during the social time were waffles with pimento cheese, top; ham biscuits, and brie and fig jam-filled pastry cups. Delish! The wine served with these nibbles was a 2021 Sauvignon Blanc from Ackerman Family Vineyards, the featured wine producer of the Artist’s Luncheon.

Rob Heller, who with his wife, June, is the co-chair of L’Amour du Vin this year.

He had the best shoes in the house!

Alan Carmichael, left, with Marie and Bob Alcorn.

Joe Hinde, Ackerman Family Vineyards hospitality and sales manager, told us about the wines.

First course was salad of baby kale, roasted squash, goat cheese, and toasted hazelnuts with a Brussels balsamic vinaigrette. Wine pairing was as 2021 Alavigna Tosca from Ackerman Family Vineyards. It is 60 percent Sangiovese and 40 percent Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

David Butler made a few remarks.

Mary Morris, left, and Elizabeth Swindeman.

Rob and June Heller with Susan Hyde, at right. Susan is one of the people who came up with the original concept of the L’Amour du Vin event in 2000.

John Kelley told about how a trip to the Parthenon in Nashville as a young man sparked his interest in classical culture and in painting the human figure.

Second course was a delicious braised beef short rib bolognese hand-rolled pasta, with San Marzano tomatoes and Grana Pardano cheese. It was perfectly complemented by a 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon from Ackerman Family Vineyards. (Photo by Miles Davis of Bistro by the Tracks.)

From left, Susan and Kent Farris, Kay Clayton, and Faye Langley.

I thought the centerpieces were brilliant reflections of the magnolias in the paintings.

Don’t you agree?

From left, Jim Grossen, Sara Phillips, and Susan Navarro.

From left, Caitlin Zeanah, Elizabeth Clark, Judith Foltz, and Maggie Meyers, assistant director of development for the KMA.

From left, Cindy Hale, Kelsey Maynard, Taylor Broyles, and Chelsea Lloyd.

From left, Moody Altamimi, Susan Dakak, and Sheryl Linck.

From left, Linda and John Haynes, Judy Doyle, Gail Vanhoozier, and Susan Arbital.

From left, John Kelley, Gay Lyons, Ted Smith, and John Thomas.

Donna Holt, left, and Margo Clark, director of membership and grants for the KMA.

Dessert was perfect. Everyone had one or two little chocolate truffles to pair with the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon from Ackerman Family Vineyards.

Sarah Kaplan, left, and Lori Calvert. Sarah is the KMA’s marketing manager and Lori is its director of development.

Barbara Hillard, left, and Kay Leibowitz.

Someone talked Alan and me into a picture! (After four glasses of wine, I’m lucky that’s all I agreed to! Ha.)

Hope to see everybody at L’Amour du Vin on March 2!







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7 Responses to Painter John Woodrow Kelley returns to Knoxville after 45 years; is this year’s L’Amour du Vin featured artist

  1. Sara Hedstrom Pinnell, on February 9th, 2024 at 12:43 pm said:

    John Kelley is so talented! I love seeing this!

  2. Cynthia Moxley, on February 9th, 2024 at 12:47 pm said:

    Sara: I agree! A huge talent — and such a fun guy, too!

  3. Bill Horton, on February 9th, 2024 at 5:06 pm said:

    That is a really good picture of the two of you!

  4. John Griess, on February 9th, 2024 at 7:23 pm said:

    What a great picture of you and Alan!

  5. Cynthia Moxley, on February 10th, 2024 at 7:10 am said:

    Bill, John: Thanks. Kind of you to say!

  6. John Garrison, on February 22nd, 2024 at 8:03 pm said:

    That really is a darned good picture of you and Alan!

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