Each year for the last few years, I’ve compiled my Top Ten List of Great Arts Events I Was At. Of course, this is completely arbitrary—and here it comes again, in 2011 chronological order. This year really was especially fabulous for the arts in Chattanooga. Keep it up, arts folks! Love from the peanut gallery.
• Opening event for “Lois Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color,” Hunter Museum of American Art. This amazing exhibit showcased an artist who created work for more than 70 years, in many styles and media. Awe-inspiring.
• The SF Jazz Collective at UTC. This eight-man supergroup explored the music of Stevie Wonder in a way half the audience got and the other half didn’t. Hip squared.
• Buddha’s Birthday Bash at Barking Legs. Full disclosure: I organized this event, but the reading of “Howl,” the three original plays on Buddhist themes and the music of NADA made for a memorable day. This will be back in 2012.
• Matthew Shipp, part of the jazz series at Barking Legs. Kudos to Bruce Kaplan for organizing all the events in this series, but Shipp was off the charts in imaginative improv artistry.
• David Sedaris at the Tivoli. Sedaris lived up to his rep and then some—loved that he came to Chattanooga. Great crowd, great night.
• “Rent” at the Chattanooga Theatre Center. Very possibly the best show I have ever seen at the CTC, highlighted by Andrew Chauncey’s turn as Angel.
• “Hairspray” at the CTC. Two weeks later I was back at the CTC and blown away again. Ab-fab show.
• The Gallery Hop, multiple venues. Super fun every year and not less this year. Shout out to the Chenoweth/Halligan Front Gallery for general grooviness.
• ZooZoo, Imago Theatre at UTC. The aardvarks, the bears, the giant paper bag … theatrical creativity at its zaniest.
• Allos Musica Trio at Barking Legs. No real way to describe the almost trance-like music of clarinetist James Falzone and his genre-bending group. Had amazing dreams that night.
• “Have A Seat” at the Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga. Not a perfect play—yet—but an outstanding concept and featuring a kick-ass performance by Robbye Lewis.
• MainX24. Favorites this year included gorging on chocolate, hot and otherwise at The Hot Chocolatier, the John Waters-themed fashion show at the Choo Choo and visiting with the fine folks at Mainly Antiques, who rock.