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Home to the most-visited national park in America, the Great Smoky Mountains have enchanted tourists, nature-lovers and artists for generations. Painting the Smokies: Art, Community, and the Making of a National Park, invites visitors to examine the history of the park through the work of five visual artists active around the time of its creation, about 1900 to 1940. Placing art in conversation with artifacts, the two-gallery, 8,000 square foot show will open April 22, 2022, and run through January 15, 2023. The exhibition will be complemented by a variety of public programming and digital offerings to be announced soon.
Appalachia became the topic of national fascination at the turn of the twentieth century. The grassroots campaign to create a national park in the Smokies occurred during a period of great change in the region, fueled by this renewed interest. Through the works of five artists who painted the Smokies during this time — all represented in the Museum’s collection — the exhibition explores how the Smokies inspired a generation of painters, and how art brought attention, activism, and tourism to the region. Sections of the exhibition include “All Eyes on the Smokies,” “A Most Excellent Opportunity,” “Art & Activism,” “Tradition in Tension,” and “Selling the Smokies.”
Joining the five painters — Charles C. Krutch, Thomas C. Campbell, Rudolph F. Ingerle, Will Henry Stevens, Louis E. Jones — the exhibition includes the diverse voices and stories of others who either called the region home or found inspiration and opportunity in the mountains, like photographer George Masa, writer Horace Kephart, furniture craftsman Lewis Buckner, and visual artist Catherine Wiley. Also represented are Cora E. Burke, activist and chair of the Negro Women’s Department at the Appalachian Exposition, Cherokee basket maker Rowena Bradley, and iconic Little Greenbrier residents, The Walker Sisters, among others.
Exhibition Timeline Brochure | Download
Tennessee State Museum curators: Candice Candeto, Annabeth Dooley, Matthew Gailani, and Debbie Shaw.
Michael Aday, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Knoxville History Project
Beck Cultural Exchange Center
Pictured: Untitled: Mountain Landscape with Stream, Charles C. Krutch, 1930-1933, 83.99.3
High Resolution Images:
Untitled: Mountain Landscape with Stream, Charles C. Krutch, 1930-33, 83.99.3
Untitled: Mountain Landscape, Thomas C. Campbell, 1900-1914, 92.80.21
Untitled: Mountain Landscape, Will Henry Stevens, 199.50.4
Town in the Smokies, Rudolph F. Ingerle, 2005.57
Pumpkin Patch, Louis E. Jones, 85.103.1
Low Resolution Images: