Evening Under the Stars even better with fun addition

Natalie Dowling, left, and Mollie Turner were co-chairs of this year’s Evening Under the Stars.

One of Knoxville’s best fundraisers — Evening Under the Stars benefiting the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra — has gotten even better this year.

The annual dinner and dancing soiree, held in a huge tent at the beautiful lakeside home of Sherri Lee, was tweaked to add a pre-dinner cocktail hour on a lovely lawn area near the tent. The benefit of moving the cocktail hour out from under the tent is that it was easier to talk and to circulate before being seated for dinner and dancing.

The party was a sellout, as usual, with tickets going for $275 each. By The Tracks Catering did a great job — especially with the inspired passed appetizers, as you will see in these photos. Of course, the highlight of the evening always is the live performance by the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra both prior to dinner and during dancing later. Another great addition this year: high school prodigy Mimi Terry performed on keyboards during the dinner portion of the night. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Music | 3 Comments

Knox Heritage names Mike Hatcher and Tim Hill ‘Preservationists of the Year’ at packed soiree

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon, left, poses with Tim Hill and his daughter, Kendall Hill Crisp, at the Scruffy City Soiree, where Hill and his business partner were named Preservationists of the Year.

Mike Hatcher and Tim Hill, who founded Hatcher-Hill Properties in 2004, were named Preservationists of the Year last month during the Scruffy City Soiree, a popular annual fundraiser sponsored by Knox Heritage.

Over the years, Hatcher-Hill has been responsible for saving many historic structures, often repurposing them for modern use. A prime example of that is the J.C. Penney Building on Gay Street, which has been turned into condominiums. (Alan and I are lucky enough to own one unit in the J.C. Penney Building.) For that  project, Hatcher-Hill partnered with David Dewhirst and Mark Heinz in 2014 to bring back to life the historic structure that was originally built in 1898.

The Scruffy City Soiree, held in another downtown structure, The Mill & Mine, is one of the most fun and well-attended events in Knoxville. This year was no exception, as you will see from these photos. It raised more than $118,000 for historic preservation and sold 296 tickets — up from 238 last year.

Tim Hill is in the middle of a run for Knoxville City Council. He is seeking to unseat Amelia Parker for the At-Large Seat C position. Hill currently serves as chair of the Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission and the Knoxville-Knox County Sports Authority, both posts he will give up if elected to Council. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Historic preservation, Politics | 6 Comments

‘Drink Up the Moon’ — and feel free to snooze

DeLena Feliciano, KMA’s assistant director of education, adjusts the microphone prior to artist Jane Cassidy’s remarks to a group gathered for a “Cocktails and Conversation” program.

If you go see artist Jane Cassidy’s two installations at the Knoxville Museum of Art — and you really should! — and you happen to fall asleep, she will consider her art to have been a success!

Cassidy, from Galway, Ireland, is a multi-disciplinary artist. She told a group gathered recently for a “Cocktails and Conversation” program at the KMA that most of her artwork involves at least two senses. The two on display at the KMA’s second floor Exhibition Gallery make use of sight and sound. And some of the sound is her own voice humming or chanting.

It really is relaxing. That’s why the KMA has thoughtfully provided comfy beanbag chairs for you to snuggle into!

“If anyone falls asleep during my work, I consider it a success” she assured us.

Cassidy said much of her latest art was born out of the pandemic. To escape lockdown, she often would swim — and record what she saw and heard on her cell phone. She swam during frigid temperatures, during rain and even during a hailstorm! And she used each experience in her eight-minute piece called “You Never Regret the Swim.” Continue reading

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Carol Mayo Jenkins retires at UT; ‘We need more people like Carol,’ says friend and acting colleague

Actors Carol Mayo Jenkins and Michael Cerveris at a dinner to celebrate her retirement.

Carol Mayo Jenkins, who has been an artist in residence in the University of Tennessee’s Department of Theatre for 22 years, retired earlier this month but told those gathered to celebrate that she’d still be around, hopefully performing at the Clarence Brown Theatre.

The veteran stage and television actress was feted by fellow thespians – in person and in videotaped tributes — during a dinner at Bridgewater Place in West Knoxville. She was visibly touched when her “Fame” television series co-star, actress Debbie Allen, announced via video a gift of $10,000 to an endowment established in Jenkins’ name. That fund will be used to assist outstanding undergraduate acting students at UT.

Tony Award-winning actor Michael Cerveris attended in person and praised Jenkins for her commitment to teaching. “We need more people like Carol,” he said. “She brings optimism, hope and is forward-looking. Plus she brings history and a grounding in tradition.”

Actress Jane Alexander, via videotape, also praised Jenkins as a teacher. “Teaching is the greatest gift we as actors can give,” she said. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Knoxville, Theater | 5 Comments

Martinis at the Mansion: Cheers to William Blount!

Gayle Burnett enjoying a martini — I think it was a bourbon martini! — and a cigar in the cigar garden!

I love a martini. Especially if it’s for a good cause!

So “Martinis at the Mansion” was the perfect place for us last Thursday. It was a fundraiser for Blount Mansion — “the birthplace of Tennessee” — and it was a low-key good time. Blount Mansion is located in downtown Knoxville at the intersection of Hill Avenue and State Street, a few blocks from our condo.

Around 1792, work began on Blount Mansion which was to be the home to William Blount, one of the signers of the U.S. Constitution. Blount had been appointed by President George Washington to govern the Southwest Territory, which Blount shepherded into admission to the Union as our nation’s 16th state, Tennessee.

In addition to a family home, this fine wood frame dwelling also served as the territorial capital. Blount Mansion is Knoxville’s only National Historic Landmark and the city’s oldest operating museum, opening in 1926.

Over the years, we’ve been to quite a few fun parties at Blount Mansion, the building referred to by the Cherokee as “the house with many eyes!” Click here for a little more fun facts about Blount Mansion. But scroll through this post to see more recent fun times! Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Historic preservation, Knoxville | 2 Comments

Museum supporters celebrate vibrant upcoming year

Hosts Dorothy and Caesar Stair III.

Members of the Knoxville Museum of Art’s Collectors Circle gathered last week for an evening of art and conversation to kick off the group’s new year of activities.

Held at the lovely Lyons View Pike home of Dorothy and Caesar Stair III, the party offered a preview of upcoming events as well as a couple of hours to experience the best view in Knoxville, if you ask me!

The Collectors Circle, which is designed to expose members to art experiences outside the museum’s walls, also provides funds to purchase new art for the KMA. Curator Stephen Wicks said the group has funded the acquisition of 60 pieces over the past 30 years, including the museum’s first work by Knoxville native Beauford Delaney.

Upcoming Collectors Circle events include a December visit to the home of artist Jered Sprecher, who will provide a painting demonstration; a January discussion of the ways the KMA’s signature “Higher Ground” exhibit can be expanded; a March tour of Case Antiques during which owner John Case will discuss how AI technology has revolutionized ways to detect art forgeries; and a May meeting to discuss a new purchase.

In addition, members of the Collectors Circle are planning a trip to Urbino in Italy. Continue reading

Filed under: Art, Events, Knoxville | 6 Comments

A progressive dinner for history

Here’s the “progressive” part of the progressive dinners! You walk between four different downtown condos for the four courses. This is our group walking east on Church Avenue headed toward the dessert course at The Glencoe condos at the corner of Church Avenue and State Street, facing State Street. The walking also makes you feel a little less guilty about the calories you are consuming!

A group of downtown friends has been hosting progressive dinners for more than 10 years now. It started as a way to enjoy each others’ condos and invite guests to come see what downtown living was like. We usually had a “target” person or couple we were trying to recruit into moving downtown and we used these dinners to try to entice them!

Last year, we came up with another idea. We began offering these little moveable repasts to non-profits that we supported to auction off to raise money. So far, we have done this for the Knoxville Symphony League twice, the Knoxville Botanical Garden twice, and the East Tennessee Historical Society once. This post will show you our latest, held last month for the Historical Society.

We’ve decided to take a little break from the charity offerings for a while and go back to our purely selfish purposes. But, here’s the good news. Other folks are picking up the idea. We know that a group has signed up to put one together for the Symphony League’s upcoming “Elegant Dining” series. I know I’m going to try to snag a ticket! It will be fun seeing it from the other side! Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Knoxville | 8 Comments

Tremont party raises $325,000 for new “living” campus

Dr. Marianne and Brian Wanamaker at the cocktail hour of the Tremont celebration.

Talk about a successful event! Between sponsorships, ticket sales and a live auction, the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont raised $325,000 on a beautiful Saturday night at Marblegate Farm in Friendsville.

The evening was designed to launch Tremont’s “Keystone Campaign,” which will raise $27 million to create the first phase of a new “living” campus. This new educational facility will be located on 194 acres bordering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It will be Tennessee’s first “Living Building Challenge” project.

According to Tremont’s president and CEO, Catey McClary, this facility will meet key goals to promote the responsible use of water, materials and resources. It will feature clean energy technologies, generating more energy than it uses; treating water on site and putting clean water back into the watershed; and restoring critical habitat.

Tremont’s mission is to connect people and nature and to deliver “experiential learning” for youth, educators, and adults through programs that promote self-discovery, critical thinking, and effective teaching and leadership.

Pretty ambitious, huh? But exciting.

And, so was the party. The best part? The dinner portion was presented in a huge air-conditioned tent, a great relief on a sweltering evening in East Tennessee. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food | 3 Comments

‘Lobster Roll Night’ at J.C. Holdway: damn good!

Chef Joseph Lenn delivers the first course of Lobster Roll Night! The chef’s counter is where the action is at J.C. Holdway, located at 501 Union Ave.

I am writing this blog post against my better judgment. I like to share great Knoxville experiences with everyone. But, on the other hand, when those experiences are very limited, I don’t want to create so much demand that I can’t get in on them myself! Selfish, I know!

But, here goes.

Every now and then — like once a month — J.C. Holdway, owned by Knoxville’s only James Beard Award-winning chef, Joseph Lenn, offers a special “chef’s counter” meal. The chef’s counter only seats six people. So, with two seatings — at 5:30 and 7:30 — only 12 people can get in on them each time. Last night, the meal centered around lobster rolls! (Previous ones have featured hamburgers and fried chicken!)

These meals are not for picky eaters. You must order and pay in advance and you cannot have any dietary restrictions. They consist of four courses and a killer bottle of wine selected by sommelier Jason Drotar to complement all the courses.

And, they are not cheap. Each meal costs $269 — and you have to purchase two meals. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Food, Knoxville | 10 Comments

Design Center honors Mayor Ashe and Veterans Park

Artist Bernard Dorsey created this portrait of Dolly Parton during the East Tennessee Community Design Center party Wednesday night. It brought $650 at a live auction.

It was hot as blazes Wednesday night at Ijams Nature Center. But that didn’t stop 400 folks from showing up to celebrate the East Tennessee Community Design Center as it bestowed awards on a deserving community leader and a deserving community project. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food | 6 Comments