December 13, 2012

Do you like this?

Graffiti Gallery’s “street art wall” had its red-carpet moment last week for the first time since the gallery opened in September.

The new Spears Avenue gallery—which tags itself “a Hill City Art Joint”—has tricked out a long, dull wall on Chambliss Avenue with four removable panels that are now filled with work by a regular crew of street artists—Seven, Rondell Crier and Kevin Bate. There’s also a one-off wheat paste piece by David Ruiz.

The panels are all for sale, so if you’ve ever had perverse desire to demolish a perfectly good building so you could take home a graffiti-covered wall, now’s your chance. Only now you can do it without a crowbar or hard hat.

Gallery owner David Jones got interested in graffiti art in 2010 when he worked for the U.S. Census Bureau. “I was part of group that went out at night to count homeless people. You go under freeway underpasses and stuff. I saw this graffiti that no regular person would ever see. I thought it was incredible. It’s neat a few years later to actually have a gallery and be presenting graffiti for sale.”

After collecting art with his wife Laura for 10 or 12 years, Jones started thinking about opening up a gallery. Last summer he pitched his friend, real estate investor Jim Wilson, about taking over the front part of a building where Wilson had his office. Wilson took a while to warm up to the idea, but then he came back and upped the ante.

“At first Jim was skeptical about the idea. Eventually, he not only came around but suggested the idea of using a long, nondescript wall running down Chambliss as a canvas,” said Jones. “He threw out idea of maybe having graffiti artists do things on that wall. That’s where the name for the gallery came from.”

Rather than paint directly on the wall, Jones has his group of street artists paint on removable panels that can be sold to collectors.

Inside the building, the gallery focuses on non-representational art by a core group of resident artists that include Jim Tucker, Ellyn Bivin, Mary Gregg, Patrick Nelligan, Robert Bivin, Elizabeth Chetta, Mamie Bivin and gallery owner David Jones, as well as some smaller pieces by the street artists.

Shows change monthly, with a first Friday opening featuring a guest artist. Works by Chelsea Couch were featured this month.

“So far we have sold 8 or 10 pieces, which is far ahead of the schedule I thought we’d have,” said Jones. The gallery space has already expanded into another room, which will be devoted to one featured artist, this month to smaller works by Seven.

The current exhibit continues through the end of this month. Graffiti Gallery is located at 629 Spears Ave. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Call (423) 400-9797 for more information.

Magic Realism

in a show at gallery 301 on East Main, Miki Boni combines photographs and paintings into digital collages that are “entries into an ongoing visual journal” based on her travels and imaginings.

Although her paintings have always been filled with magic and whimsy, these photo/painting collages are a new direction for her, one that is partly inspired by her two favorite books as a child: “The Wizard of Oz” and “Alice in Wonderland.”

“Both books are magic realism. They combine the real world with the other world. Now I’m doing it in my painting,” she said. “I take images out of daydreams or wrap them around a surreality, have it come out as something of a third kind. You put two things together and get a finished product that is totally different than either of the two.”

The final works are mounted archival prints affixed to masonite. Using digital technology she combines images from her paintings with photographs she has taken in her travels over the years, from a university where she taught in Mexico to Ruby Falls.

“You never know when you wake up in the morning what’s going to hit you in the face,” she said. “It’s usually something wonderful.”

“Miki Boni: The Art of Magic Realism” continues at Gallery 301 through Jan. 28, 2013. The gallery is located at 1800 E. Main St. Call (423) 718-2543 for more information or visit


December 13, 2012

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