Tusculum reopening art gallery in new location, holding Couples Painting Night as Valentine’s Day fundraiser

GREENEVILLE – For decades, Tusculum University’s embrace of art has enthralled visitors and provided students with an excellent forum for active and experiential learning that equips them for their careers.

Left to right, Bill Bledsoe, Lanna Monday and Rouja Green examine a painting in the new gallery.

This proud tradition continues for Tusculum’s Center for the Arts and the university’s academic program with a new location for the Clem Allison Art Gallery. The gallery has moved to the Annie Hogan Byrd Fine Arts Center, where it will add a different dimension to the cultural experience that resonates throughout the building.

The Center for the Arts will celebrate the reopening of the gallery with an open house Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 6 p.m. for people to view the new setting. The doors will open at 5:30 p.m.

Then at 7 p.m. that evening, the Center for the Arts will present Couples Painting Night, during which Bill Bledsoe, assistant professor of art and design, will guide participants as they depict a Paris scene. The painting event, held in Annie Hogan Byrd, will feature heavy hors d’oeuvres, live music, live dancers and a live auction as well as the opportunity to learn from an accomplished local artist.

The event is not restricted to couples; individuals are welcome to participate. Anyone who wants to have a fun and relaxing evening and learn more about painting is encouraged to attend.

“We are excited to welcome the community to the gallery’s new home and invite people for another compelling art event on our beautiful campus,” said Wayne Thomas, executive director of Tusculum Arts Outreach and dean of the College of Civic and Liberal Arts. “Art enriches personal lives, and we are proud of our extensive history with this medium and its contribution to the community’s quality of life. These two events are a tremendous launch to the newest phase of an exceptional art program at Tusculum.”

The new gallery is located on the main floor of Annie Hogan Byrd, steps from the Marilyn duBrisk Theatre. It consists of two rooms, with a large archway created in the wall that used to separate them, enabling guests to easily move from one to the other. The space enables items to be hung on the walls or placed on pedestals or in cases for visitors to enjoy.

The gallery, which is in the final stages of preparation, will feature gray walls with attractive lighting that will provide the perfect ambience for guests to properly examine and appreciate the various forms of art on display. Bledsoe is performing the work on the gallery in collaboration with Rouja Green, director of the Center for the Arts.

Tusculum has showcased works from a wide array of community artists in the gallery, and those types of programs will continue in the new space. In addition, the gallery has served as a premium space for Tusculum students to display their work for the Tusculum family and the community to see. Each spring and fall, students graduating from Tusculum’s art and design program hold their senior capstone exhibitions in the gallery.

Couples Painting Night is part of a new Painting with the Masters series offered by the Center for the Arts. This program will consist of periodic events on the Tusculum campus that highlight the talents of artists at the university and in the community and provide enjoyment to people of all ages.

Bill Bledsoe, a Tusculum faculty member and accomplished local artist, will lead Couples Painting Night.

Leading the Valentine’s Day painting event will be Bledsoe, who has contributed significantly to art creation in the region and at Tusculum with his paintings and teaching. He will share his expertise during this entertaining and informative event, which is open to anyone regardless of skill set.

In advance of Couples Painting Night, Bledsoe will paint a Paris scene. As part of the event, Bledsoe has agreed to have the university auction his work in support of Tusculum’s art programming. The Center for the Arts will also have prints of that painting for sale.

Bledsoe will re-create the painting during the event and have participants mirror the different strokes and embellishments he makes. At the completion of Couples Painting Night, the Center for the Arts will also auction the painting he produced during the event. Participants are encouraged to take their own paintings home, show to family and friends and keep as a memento of a memorable Valentine’s Day.

“We look forward to helping couples and other individuals experience the joy of creating art,” Bledsoe said. “Those who already create art as a hobby will grow in their knowledge and become even better in their craft. Others who are giving art a serious try for the first time or possibly have set this interest to the side for a while will hopefully recognize how meaningful taking a brush to canvas can be. Regardless of their background with art, we look forward to sharing the evening with them.”

During and after the event, Bledsoe will be available for questions and can provide feedback to those in attendance about their paintings.

Attendance at the gallery opening is free, and people are welcome to come at their leisure from 5:30-6:30 p.m. The cost for the painting event is $40 for individuals and $60 for couples. Tickets can be purchased at https://tusculum.hometownticketing.com/embed/all?depts=2. All major forms of payment are accepted.

Further information about these events is available by contacting Green at rgreen@tusculum.edu or 423-636-7300, ext. 8326.

“The Center for the Arts is pleased to build on our community connections through these events and encourages people to support them as much as possible,” Green said. “We pride ourselves on offering extremely valuable programming at affordable pricing, and we are grateful to philanthropic individuals who have shared their financial resources to support our endeavors. We have many exciting events planned for the rest of the year and would be happy to discuss with people how they can contribute to the strength of our arts program.”

More information about the university is available at www.tusculum.edu.