Monday, April 16, 2012

Goodbye to Blogger

This will be my last post on Blogger. The next time you log on to this site you will be redirected to the new URL: Beginning with tomorrow's post, I will be writing at that address using Wordpress software on a self-hosted site. If you are not automatically re-directed, please go to the new site: Stuck Inside of Knoxville

A tremendous debt of thanks goes out to Joy Miller at Five J's Design. After starting this migration on my own, I realized I was in way over my head. For a fee ($225) Joy did much of the work, gave me great direction on other parts and went beyond what I should have reasonably expected for the money. I highly recommend her if you are considering a migration from Blogger to Wordpress.

This blog has been quite a journey for me personally. I barely knew what a blog was when I started writing nearly two years ago. I knew there was an information gap about downtown Knoxville and I thought, though I had no way of knowing, that there might be a few people who would be interested in information about downtown Knoxville if it was provided.

I could not have anticipated that through this blog I would meet such great people, have so many wonderful experiences and that I would accumulate so many tremendous, consistent readers. I also had no way of knowing that Blogger, which is free software, wouldn't always meet the needs of the blog or be as flexible as I would need it to be as the blog grew.

So, reset your bookmarks (and links if you have me linked to your site - and if you don't wouldn't this be a great time to do so?) and join me in the next phase of this grand adventure. There will be some immediate improvements, such as notifications when someone replies to your comments, to note just a small example. In the long term I think the site will be far, far better than anything I could have accomplished on Blogger.

When you log in tomorrow everything will not be perfect. In fact, it may take some time for me to work out some pretty significant issues. One example is that while you will find every post I've ever written, you will find that the text from the comments disappeared. I may work some more on that, but they may just be lost. The ads are also an ongoing headache as I can't get them to go where I want them, just yet.

Perhaps more significantly, all of you who were "followers" through Google Friend Connect (the 84 with their pictures to the right of this post) will no longer have your pictures displayed. Google Friend Connect isn't very friendly if you don't use their software. I may also place NetworkedBlogs as an option on the site which would display pictures - because I like seeing your faces. Will you still be able to read new posts on your RSS readers without doing something additional? I don't know. You will certainly be able to make a new connection if the old one does not work.

And what of you guys who have subscribed? Again, I'm not sure. I think you will still get e-mail notification and, if not, you will be able to re-subscribe through the link provided. I need to hear from you guys exactly what is happening. I hope I can help with any problems.

And I would love to hear from each of you (though if you make comments today they will not appear on the new site unless you go there and make the comment) as you get to know the new site. Let me know what is working and what isn't, what you miss from the old site - and, hopefully, what you like about the new site. We've been through a lot together over the last couple of years, lets hope this is but a minor speed-bump on the way to even better days ahead.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

KMA Alive After Five Spring Series In Full Swing

Christabel and the Jons, KMA, Knoxville, March 2012
The Knoxville Museum of Art hosts a series of concerts in the fall and spring each year called Alive After Five. It is hosted by the delightful and ever-positive music lover Mr. Michael Gill. Its a great chance to hear artists playing genres ranging from swing and jazz to blues, world music and pretty much anything else. The emphasis is on the danceable varieties and many people come to do just that.

Christabel and the Jons, KMA, Knoxville, March 2012

Friends catching up while listening to cool tunes

It's different from other venues in many respects in that it is smoke-free, starts early (6:00 PM) and includes free admission to the museum. Food is also catered by local vendors and beverages are available for purchase. Tickets are generally $10 or less and children are welcome and are free (up to age 17). In other words, it's a cheap date. For around $40 a couple may see the museum, dance to a great band and have dinner. Pretty nice.

Swing Dancing at the KMA

Never too old to rock and roll

Swing Dancing at the KMA

The whole affair is over by 8:30 which leaves plenty of time to move your party down the road or make it home for an early night after your long work week. It's a pretty simple matter to catch a great artist in this venue and then walk into the heart of downtown or the Old City for late evening fun.

Christabel and the Jons, KMA, Knoxville, March 2012

Christabel and the Jons, KMA, Knoxville, March 2012
The photographs in this blog are from the spring kick-off with Christabel and the Jons a couple of weeks ago and they were fantastic, as usual. Their cool swing had people flying all over the dance floor - which is a big part of the entertainment value of the series, to me. I love to watch lovely couples dancing and I wish I had the nerve.

Christabel and the Jons, KMA, Knoxville, March 2012

Christabel and the Jons, KMA, Knoxville, March 2012

Christabel and the Jons, KMA, Knoxville, March 2012

Christabel does some of the best jazzy versions of Hank Williams songs you'll ever want to hear and she did several that night. She was also joined on stage by regular band members Taylor Coker on bass, Jon Whitlock on drums and Amanda Cagle on multiple instruments. She has a new album coming soon and the vocals are shared with a lovely lady who joined her for much of the show, but whose name I failed to catch.

Christabel and the Jons, KMA, Knoxville, March 2012 

Christabel and the Jons, KMA, Knoxville, March 2012

Tonight, the series resumes after skipping a week with Jenna and the Accidentals. This is Jenna Jefferson getting her funk on with the likes of Keith and Kenneth Brown and Sevan Takvoryan and Dave Slack. Think a little less blues than the Cool Friends and a little more Sly and the Family Stone. It should be great fun and I'd love to see you there. Introduce yourself if you spot me and the camera.

You can find the complete schedule of spring shows here.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

If I had a million dollars . . .

Come on, now. Admit it. We've all thought about what we'd do if we had a spare million or so. I'd be willing to be some of us gave it some thought recently when the MonsterMillions, or whatever it was, paid out obscene amounts of money to a few lucky winners.

Central Business Improvement District, Knoxville, Spring 2012

I think about such things, though I'm one of those who can't win because I don't play. I'm reconciled to the fact that I'll never have a major windfall. But what if I did - or you did? What if someone gave you a half million dollars and said they'd give you the same amount next year? You are in complete charge of the money, but there is one little catch: you have to spend it in the best way you can determine to help make downtown Knoxville a better place for residents, businesses and visitors.

Ideas immediately springing to mind? How much will you spend on buildings? How much will you spend on events to bring people into the city? Will you have a staff to encourage businesses to locate in Knoxville? Will you print brochures, buy street lights, fix sidewalks, remove graffiti? Would you spend it the same way over the years or change as the city changes? Watch out, you may burn through a half million dollars before you know it.

I've come to realize this is a pretty difficult task made more difficult by several factors I hadn't anticipated. You see, it turns out this is exactly the situation in which the Central Business Improvement District finds itself. It started in 1992, though with fewer funds, charted a course of using the money to promote downtown and now finds itself in a very different city - to some degree of its making. Who would argue that the center city hasn't made massive strides since 1992? No one who walked the streets during that era.

CBID Board, Knoxville, Spring 2012
After the CBID recently granted $125,000 to improve the facade at 1 Market Square a debate erupted over issues related to the expenditure of their money. What percentage of the total budget should go to improving facades downtown? Staffing currently uses $175,000 of the money. At a recent workshop proposals were made for $100,000 of the operating budget going forward to be spent on events. Another 100,000 was suggested to be designated for the facade grants with a limit of $25,000 for a single grant. That means there would be no more large grants like the ones given to 1 Market Square and the Arnstein Building. It would also leave only $125,000 for large projects.

As difficult as it is to determine the right mix of allocations for the budget, the job is complicated by competing interests and relationships. Each constituency group would likely have a different answer to the question. A resident and a business owner might share some common goals, but diverge on particular uses of this money. A developer wants to make their projects as lucrative as possible and grants help, but which developer and which project deserves the help at a particular time? What basis helps you determine who gets the grant money? Does it matter if they have a track record? Does it matter if they are a new, struggling developer versus an established, wealthy developer who may not really need the money? What if the project is likely to bring in a business that is redundant downtown - or what if it is exceptionally cool  - does that matter?

The large projects present another set of questions. What is a large project worthy of receiving $125,000 or some large portion of it? One item under discussion is a parking garage. What if someone wanted to resuscitate the J.C. Penny building which is a prominent eyesore in our most developed portion of downtown? What about the McClung Warehouses? Why wouldn't a vision like Marble Alley be worthy of a large grant. I also wonder if the board should give themselves some flexibility to decide that, in a given budget year, events and facades would be cut in favor of a large opportunity or significant need.

List of Services engendered debate

Complicating matters more are the personal relationships in a town this size. What if you are on the board and your friend wants a grant? What if the person asking for money may be your partner in a future project? What if they are a competitor? What if they once rejected a grant for your company when they were on the board? What if their company is a client of your company? Does any of this effect your decision making?

This is our situation at this time. Developers rotate through the board - and maybe that's a good thing because they understand what it takes to make a project happen - but that leads to complicated relationships. Residents on the board know many of the developers, as well. Often board members are residents as well as developers or friends of those asking for money. One board member is a resident and a city commissioner. How does he vote when the city wants the board to invest in a project? Do other loyalties influence votes? I think it would be very difficult in this context to remain completely objective.

People stood as the intensity increased during the workshop

So, at the recent workshop, new applications for grants were frozen for three months, which led to one local developer storming out of the meeting. During the hiatus, deliberation will continue regarding allocation of resources. It's great theater on one level, but it is also very important. Currently, downtown Knoxville enjoys tremendous, undeniable momentum. The choices this small group of people make will have a large impact on whether that momentum continues or stalls.

I'd encourage you to attend as many meetings as possible and at least be aware of the conversations, if not join the dialog. You'll find a list of upcoming meetings here. I'll see you at the evening meetings as I'm unable to attend the meetings in the middle of the day. In the meantime, consider how would you spend a half million dollars a year. It's complicated, isn't it?

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Art on the Block: First Friday on the 100 Block

Bluegrass in the Country Music Park

The center of my First Friday experience is almost always the 100 block of South Gay Street. The Emporium alone offers enough art of interest to fill the evening. This particular First Friday was like the usual 100 block experience on steroids. From the fire eaters to the acrobatics, artists in action, gallery openings and music at every turn, it was almost overwhelming.

Model at Art on the Block

Models and Giddy Guys at Art on the Block

Model at Art on the Block

Model at Art on the Block

The first point of interest walking from uptown across Summit was the fact that a bluegrass band played in the park. That's the Country Music Park. Perfectly fitting. I still miss the Treble Clef sculpture, but it showed the park's roots off beautifully. A small crowd stood and listening, but mostly people smiled and enjoyed the music as they passed.

Feather Earrings for Sale

Favorite people: Flossie McNabb of Union Ave. Books, Cynthia Market Artist

Live art on the 100 Block

Brian Pittman

Making art on the 100 Block

Checking out the Art, 100 Block

Fashion models circulated on the sidewalks posing for pictures and inviting passersby to an event they were promoting. A woman sold feather earrings from a small cart and attracted quite a crowd. Artists lined the western edge of the street. Cynthia Markert, Brian Pittman and others worked even as they talked to passersby.

Music inside Nouveau Classics

Music in 11 Cafe

Steph Mahon in front of Urbhana

Small, crowded gallery, 100 Block

DJ in gallery - and check out the rack on that other guy!

Music was everywhere. I listened to a guy in Nouveau Classics for a bit and then moved to 11 Cafe where I enjoyed a sample of a new dish they are offering and listened to a trio perform. It seemed to me every song was pretty adult themed, but they were interesting if nothing else. On the western side of the street there was a DJ in one of the smaller galleries and Steph Mahon played outside Urbhana. It was pretty much a street party.

Crowd outside the Emporium, 100 Block, Knoxville, April 2012

Emporium, First Friday April 2012

Torso, Emporium, Knoxville

I spent most of my gallery time in the Emporium and in the UT Downtown Art Gallery. The art openings here are always fun. Generally  multiple artists are presented and the space is so big that there's quite a bit to see. The art presented this month ranged from the object in the middle of the floor that looked a bit like train tracks to a very life-like sculpture of a woman's body. Specifically, her torso, which I believe was the title of the work. Why are so many women missing their heads in art today? Look at the cover of books in the book store. It's strange. Still, the sculpture is a beautiful work and I'd encourage you to go see it.

Kristen Kindall's "Kelsie, Venice, Acrylic

Hallerin Hill hangs out at the Emporium

Chuck Frye's "Between Heaven and Earth" Oil on Canvas

Oils and acrylics were also represented and I've got a couple of my favorites pictured here. They both look virtually like photographs. In the first, the woman reclining in a window, the viewer is drawn completely into her enchanting world. She's in a wonderfully exotic place and she enjoys it - but from a distance. In the painting of the line workers, entitled "Between Heaven and Earth" the viewer isn't there, but looks from a distance at this brave person suspended between heaven and earth, but also one wrong move from leaving one for the other.

John Cichon, "Ze Monsta"

Quintin Owens, "Protective Coloring"

Cindy Billingsley, "Shell of Self" Clay

Cindy Billingsley, "Shell of Self"

As is often the case, the UT Downtown Gallery offered very interesting works. A whimsical monster made of recyclable materials was fun. The terracotta installation on the floor was certainly interesting. The work that caught my attention, however, was a sculpture I immediately took to be a particular woman. Cindy Billingsly's "Shell of Self," hit me as a powerful work. What do you think?

Hooper on the Block

Drum Circle and Dancer in the Park, Knoxville

I spent my last few minutes in the park where I'd started. The bluegrass had been replaced by a drum circle. Fire acrobatics, ribbon twirling and hooping happened on the periphery of the circle and throughout the park. A good crowed watched as a woman performed an interpretive dance inside the circle of drums. I always enjoy the intoxicating repetitions and subtle alterations of a good drum circle. I wondered if this might be a good spot for future drum circles instead of Krutch Park where they've traditionally congregated.

Valet Parking at Shuck - every night

For many people the night wasn't over. Valley parking, which is always offered by Shuck, was doing a brisk business. More people were arriving to eat, drink coffee and enjoy the evening. It was a great night to be alive and in the city and the 100 Block was one of the very best places to relish what the city has to offer.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Knox Heritage Salvage Show and Friday Night Uptown

Knox Heritage Salvage Show, 36 Market Square, Knoxville, April 2012

As I said in my last post, there was far too much going on last Friday night to cover it in one post. I'm struggling to cover it in three. Today I'll focus on the Second Annual Knox Heritage Salvage Show held at 36 Market Square and other events in what used to be called "Uptown." I'll head to the other end of South Gay Street to the 100 Block in tomorrow's post for coverage of the widest assortment of events and activities of the night.

Table made from bed frame and ceiling tiles by Brian Wagner

Knox Heritage Salvage Show, 36 Market Square, Knoxville, April 2012

Knox Heritage Salvage Show, 36 Market Square, Knoxville, April 2012

Knox Heritage promotes preservation of historic sites and, in this case, re-purposing of various architectural or structural elements into works of art. The art was displayed on the second floor of 36 Market Square courtesy of Ken and Brenda Mills, the owners of the building. Here's hoping this space isn't available for next year's event, but rather is filled with businesses of one sort or another.

Knox Heritage Salvage Show, 36 Market Square, Knoxville, April 2012

Candlesticks from wooden rail spindles by Ryan Burgess

I loved this piece, but didn't catch the artist's name. Anyone know?

Table incorporating silver wire casing by Briena Harmening

The show included objects large and small, practical and whimsical. In some cases the raw materials and their former purpose were obvious; in other cases, not so much. Some were beautiful, some were funky, but they were all fun to examine and discuss and a large, revolving crowd did just that. There was wine, food, many smaller objects for sale and people generally enjoying each other for a good cause.

Knox Heritage Salvage Show, 36 Market Square, Knoxville, April 2012

Some people just need to be photographed

After looking through the Salvage Show we stopped by Sapphire on Gay Street for Hannah Green's art showcase. I'm drawn to her art and repulsed by it. It generally includes nude females and lots of blood and I suspect it is intended to be disturbing. She was very gracious to allow me to take her photograph.

Sapphire, Gay Street, Knoxville, April 2012

Hannah Green and her art at Sapphire

Classical Musician at Art Market

The Art Market, Gay Street, Knoxville, April 2012

We stopped by the Art Market to see what was new there. It is a cooperative effort staffed by the artists whose work is on display, so it's always fun to stop in and talk to the person behind the counter. I often find great gifts there and they have generally excellent music on First Fridays. Most of the time it is jazz, but this time around a very talented young woman played classical pieces on a cello.

Cobra on Gay Street, Knoxville, April 2012

Cobra on Gay Street, Knoxville, April 2012

Les Miserables on Gay Street, Knoxville, April 2012

As we walked toward the 100 Block we saw my favorite vehicle in recent memory and enjoyed a Les Miserables Bomb laid on the outdoor diners at Downtown Grill. I'm assuming this was a cast group. It was really cool and I think appreciated by the surprised audience.

Jazz at Coolato Gelato, Gay Street, Knoxville, April 2012

The 100 block of Gay Street will require a post of its own, but I ended the night back in the uptown area with some fun jazz at Coolato Gelato (they played my guiltiest pleasure song: "Girl from Ipanema." I just can't here it enough.)

French Market, Gay Street, Knoxville, April 2012
Entrance to Krutch Park Extension,  Gay Street, Knoxville, April 2012

I took a couple of photographs of favorite spots: The French Market where we enjoyed a crepe and the cool weather the next morning and Coffee and Chocolate, which is always a great spot to shut down the night.

Coffee and Chocolate, Union Avenue, Knoxville, April 2012

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