This fall, UT and the broader Knoxville community were able to experience a few fantastic moments of art and culture without ever leaving the city limits, including best-selling artists, movie stars and a festival celebrating some of Knoxville's best musicians. Arts & Culture Editor Claire Dodson and Assistant Arts & Culture Editor Cortney Roark compiled a list of some of the best artistically-driven moments of the semester.
Claire's Take: While City & Colour brought their usual level of talent and thoughtful lyricism, the real surprise at this show was opener Lucy Rose, a British singer-songwriter. I got to talk to her before the concert, and she was sincere as well as open and interesting, three qualities that manifested themselves in her music. The crowd loved her as well; they cheered her name throughout the show and even shouted for an encore. There's nothing quite like going to a concert and unexpectedly coming away with a new favorite artist.
Cortney's Take: As I opened the door to the 1010 Gallery on Gay Street, there were various portraits of facial expressions displayed on the walls. As I walked closer to each portrait, each face became slightly pixelated. UT junior, Aaron Inklebarger, used graphite pointillism to create these self portraits. Created with solely dots of graphite pencil, each portrait took eight to 12 hours to complete. To see an example of this art, like "Aaron 'Inky' Art" on Facebook.
Claire's Take: Talking to Michael Gungor on the phone, it was evident he had a distaste for genre and the limits categories impose on music. After seeing him and his band at The Square Room, these beliefs were reinforced through the depth and variety of the group's musical expertise. With dubstep and ballad, Old West and new wave, 80s pop and disco fever, Gungor proved the band will be in this business for a long time. Check out Gungor's latest album, "I Am Mountain," for a taste of the skill and passion of this collective.
Cortney's Take: This concert at The Hill was not an ordinary concert. One hundred percent of the proceeds went directly to Camp Koinania, a camp for disabled children and young adults. This marked the first major event held by The Stoop Kids, a charity organization started this year by UT students. Various bands including O Youth and Johnny Astro and the Big Bang performed well into the night, showcasing their individual sounds. The audience was left wanting encores from each band, while anxiously awaiting the next.
Cortney's Take: It's not often Knoxville welcomes a two-time Country Music Association award-winning duo just two days after their win. Florida Georgia Line has seen the band's single "Cruise" fly up the country charts, and, after pairing up with Nelly, the pop charts as well. The group won its first American Music Award for this song just last month. The concert was full of energy and kept the crowd involved from beginning to end as the band performed hits like "Round Here," which recently hit No. 1 on the country charts. Florida Georgia Line left the stage with an encore performance of "Cruise," as confetti filled the air. If this duo continues with the level of fan appreciation shown in Knoxville, they'll be here to stay.
Claire's Take: Four movie producers, including UT's own Matt Milam, came to the Hodges Library Auditorium and talked film, the business and how to make your way into the scary yet thrilling world of Hollywood. Each brought a unique perspective to cinema and encouraged everyone in attendance to follow their filmmaking passion. They also didn't give any illusion of glamor or glitz, but instead emphasized the importance of hard work and connections in getting work in the highly-competitive film industry.
Cortney's Take: This idiosyncratic fashion designer visited the UC auditorium in early November and had the crowd inspired one minute and in laughs the next. Sharing anecdotes from his college career and how he found himself in New York City, to when he found out about auditions for reality television show "Project Runway" and ended up winning the competition in its fourth season. Siriano shared many fashion industry secrets with the audience, and took questions from the crowd. Everyone who attended left inspired and impressed by the Maryland native.
Claire's Take: Hearing "Eat, Pray, Love" author Elizabeth GIlbert speak was one of the best nights of the semester. She is so easy to talk to and willing to share her experiences in a way that is incredibly relatable and charming. This was her best line of the night: "I actually don't get offended because I am remarkably, almost pathologically, self-confident."
Cortney's Take: The ribbon cutting of the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center was truly a milestone for UT's School of Music. This $40 million building was in the works for years and was completed this summer. Gov. Bill Haslam, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Jim Haslam and Natalie Haslam were in attendance. Natalie Haslam spoke about her contribution to the UT music program before cutting the ribbon. In her speech at the event, she said the project "is the answer to a long dream."
Claire's Take: Liam Hemsworth. Hundreds of screaming fans. A fantastic sequel. Did I mention Liam Hemsworth? The Pinnacle has hosted several premieres, each one improving Knoxville's notoriety. Getting to talk to Hemsworth and director Francis Lawrence was awe-inspiring and a little scary – it also made seeing the movie that much better. Did I mention Liam Hemsworth is Australian? And he speaks with an accent? Sigh.