13th annual Evening with the Arts boasts Italian theme

Jessica Fischer • May 3, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Arts enthusiasts can spend a spring evening “Under the Tuscan Stars,” enjoying Italian-themed food and spirits and live entertainment as they admire — and hopefully purchase — the work of local and regional artists, at the Downtown Kingsport Association Foundation and Main Art Center’s 13th annual Evening with the Arts fundraiser.

The event will be held from 7 to 10 p.m., Thursday, May 2 at the Main Art Center, inside the historic Gem Theater at 140 W. Main St., in downtown Kingsport.

“It was established 13 years ago as a fundraiser to keep the doors open,” said Lisa Childress, the Main Art Center’s director. “Money was slim and we needed a way to pay bills. It was very successful and from the first year, it just continued to grow.”

Tickets to this year’s event are $50 per person, and include Tuscan-themed food catered by BJ Catering and Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant; assorted beers and wines; and live entertainment by Linda Sorrell and Jim Wilson, Martha Painter and Mark Larkins.

Both Gallery I, above the DKA office, and Gallery II next door will be filled with works in a variety of media — including jewelry, pottery, ceramics, oils, pastels, watercolors, photography and more — by local and regional artists, and all of those works will be available for sale.

New this year will be a silent auction featuring several dozen 6- by 6-inch canvas squares — many in a Tuscan theme — painted by local artists. Bids will start at $25.

A portion of all sales will benefit the Main Art Center, where the exhibit will remain on display through June 3.

“We have prided ourselves on helping promote new and upcoming artists, plus our artists who have been around both locally and regionally,” Childress said.

Among those artists is Kingsport’s Leslie Davis, who has been exhibiting her work at Evening with the Arts for more than a decade.

“I think what it does is allow people who have never shown before or who are reluctant about showing to put their work up and to show alongside all other kinds and levels of artists,” she said.

This year’s Evening with the Arts is sponsored by Holston Valley Medical Center; Regions Bank; Wayne Baslery and BC Realty; Blakley-Mitchell; Boehm Landscape; Charlemont; Cross Country Mortgage; Express AV, LLC; Evergreen Garden Center; First Community Bank; Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Homes; R. M. Hawk, DDS; Sterling Graphics; and Storm Security Services.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available.

For tickets or to find out more about becoming a sponsor, call the Main Art Center at (423) 246-6550.

Those who can’t take part in Evening with the Arts can still get in on the fun, thanks to a new event this year.

“A Touch of Tuscany in the Garden,” featuring a pasta lunch by BJ Catering and a demonstration of Tuscan floral design by Rainbow’s End owners Dick and Phyllis Fortney, will be held at 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, May 14 in the Main Art Center’s Gallery II.

Tickets are $20 per person and may be purchased by calling the DKA office.

It’s all part of the DKA Foundation and Main Art Center’s goal of enriching Kingsport’s downtown area through the arts.

“Downtown is the heart of a city, and when you’ve got activity going on in your downtown, you’ve got a vibrant city,” Childress said. “Over the years, the Main Arts Center and Downtown Kingsport Association Foundation has tried to pursue the fact that through arts and entertainment, you also can achieve economic redevelopment. Economic redevelopment does not have to always be in brick and mortar. You can still put feet on the street with arts and entertainment because when they come down for their art events and their entertainment events, they will see the buildings, they will see the businesses and they might want to purchase a building or open a business. You never know what someone is looking for when they’re coming downtown.”

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