First Friday brings new art, new play

Betsy PickleOur Town Arts

We’re about to hit the second First Friday of 2020 already. Where has the year gone?!

As always, the heart of Knoxville’s First Friday is the Emporium Center, 100 S. Gay St., where this month the Arts & Culture Alliance will present the National Juried Exhibition of 2020. Selected works from 38 artists throughout the United States will be highlighted in the 14th annual show.

The exhibition was developed in 2006 to give local artists a forum to compete on a national scale and display their highest quality work. Emerging and established artists working in a variety of media are represented.

More than $1,000 in cash awards will be presented in a short ceremony at 6 p.m. during the 5-9 p.m. opening reception. The exhibition continues through Feb. 28.

Several other new exhibits also open at the Emporium, so be sure to check them out. For a broad list of happenings around town, visit There’s More to Knoxville’s calendar.

TSC finds laughs on ‘Raft’

The Tennessee Stage Company launches its 25th New Play Festival with the world premiere of the comedy “Raft,” by Carolyn Thomas and Harrison Young, at 8 p.m. Friday at the Broadway Academy of Performing Arts, 706 N. Broadway.

As two friends floating on a bouncy castle in the middle of the Pacific Ocean await uncertain rescue, secrets, lies, sexual tension and sun poisoning arise. Can they survive?

The show runs Friday and Saturday evenings and 2 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 23.

GO! pays respect to ‘Unsung Heroes’

GO! Contemporary Dance Works will celebrate the history of women’s contributions to the Allied effort with “Unsung Heroes: Women of World War II” this weekend. Shows are at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Bijou Theatre.

During World War II, women filled gaps in the labor force at home and also served near the front lines. Director Lisa Hall McKee describes the performance as historically educational.

“These women gave up their husbands, sons, time and some even their lives. There were countless stories of heroism. It is an honor to bring them to life on the stage through dance, not just showing their roles, but their courage and determination to contribute to the war effort,” she said in a press release.

More than 60 dancers and seven choreographers will participate in the performance, and music director Amy Porter will oversee a wide range of music.

Advance ticket prices range from $17 to $27. Complimentary tickets will be available to all active and veteran military personnel. Tickets may be purchased by calling 865-539-2475 or online.

‘Pigeon’ flies into Bijou

‘Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus: The Musical’ flies into the Bijou Theatre at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12. Part of the Bijou Imagination Series and recommended for ages 3-8 years, the show features an innovative mix of actors, puppets, songs and feathers. The script was written by Mo Willems, creator of the No. 1 New York Times best-selling, Caldecott Honor award-winning “Pigeon” picture books, and longtime collaborator and Disney Jr.’s Muppet Babies executive producer Mr. Warburton. Tickets are available online.

The New Respects

More Southern Skies

Southern Skies Music Festival, scheduled for May 16 at World’s Fair Park, has finalized its schedule. The New Respects, David Francisco and Josh Lovelace of the Grammy-nominated Needtobreathe will join headliners Ben Rector and the Dirty Guv’nahs, along with an eclectic lineup. Tier 1 general-admission tickets have already sold out. The event is presented by Dogwood Arts.

Betsy Pickle is a veteran entertainment, features and news reporter.


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