When Kingsport Ballet opened its new 15,000 square-foot facility, the organization quickly realized that it had ample hallway and waiting room space at its disposal. And administrators weren’t about to let it go to waste.
“Our new building has proven to be a fabulous location, as well as optimal configuration, for a ballet and arts center,” said executive director Bertina Dew.
Kingsport Ballet transformed the otherwise blank wall space in the building into an art gallery, allowing an additional venue for local and regional artists to display and sell their work.
It was the late Alice Frederick who originally approached administrators about the possibility of housing an exhibit at the ballet school. So, fittingly, it is one of Frederick’s works that will greet visitors to the new gallery.
Frederick’s work is a multi-canvas rendering of a story inspired by Richard Strauss’ “Dance of the Seven Veils.”
While listening to the radio one afternoon, Frederick said she was inspired to paint a visual image of Strauss’ music. After much reflection and research, she began what became a series of 11 canvases — each one portraying an abstract representation of each scene, based on the Old Testament Bible story.
“These canvases are intended to hang side-to-side in a long consecutive manner. We had the wall space, motivating Ms. Frederick to not only display her paintings here, but prompting her to donate the series to Kingsport Ballet,” Dew said.
Visitors can drop in and view the displays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m., weekdays, or 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturdays, beginning Aug. 15. Patrons can also schedule an appointment.
The gallery, made possible in part by First Bank and Trust and other private donations, is an integral part of Kingsport Ballet’s new facility. In addition to Frederick’s exhibit, the Kingsport Ballet gallery also features paintings by Wesley Venable, Tony Henson, Patti Lawrence and Allyson Cummings, among others.
The artwork provides further enrichment to the dance students and their families, adding an additional element to the already arts-rich learning space. The school also sublets studio space to arts teachers who provide instruction in piano and clarinet, as well as work space for artists.
“We are very proud to say that our goal of enriching our clients, students and visitors is coming to fruition,” Dew said. “We often hear even little children discussing the artwork, asking questions about it, and being generally pleased about it.”
With the help of sponsor First Bank and Trust and other supporters, Dew said Kingsport Ballet has started outfitting the walls with an art gallery hanging system.
“This minimalist and unobtrusive hardware enables us to hang and change out art exhibits with little effort and no damage to the walls,” Dew said.
The plan is to complete the hanging system, as funding becomes available, throughout the remaining display space. Interested sponsors may contact Kingsport Ballet directly.
Kingsport Ballet’s new studios are located at 201 Cherokee St., a newly renovated building, in downtown Kingsport.
For more information, call (423) 378-3967 or visit kingsportballet.org.