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Gallery on the Square revitalizes downtown breezeway

Sue Guinn Legg • Dec 9, 2018 at 12:03 AM

What was once a dark and daunting downtown Johnson City breezeway has been transformed into an attractive new outdoor art gallery.

City officials gathered with members of the city’s Public Art Committee and a group of artists whose works will inspire downtown visitors for years to come early Saturday to reveal the new Gallery on the Square along the South Roan Street breezeway of Downtown Square.

Downtown Development Director Dianna Cantler said the gallery was originally planned for the breezeway on the opposite end of the square, but was moved to the South Roan breezeway after issues with the brick were discovered at the other location.

A bright coat of paint and attractive light fixtures were added, Cantler said. Then artists from East Tennessee State University and two area high schools were recruited to transform the space from a dark and somewhat threatening corridor “you wanted to hurry and rush through to a space that will make you want to leisurely walk through, relax and be inspired.”

Mayor Jenny Brock thanked the committee and several key contributors to the improvement. “The addition of art enhances us. It calms us down,” Brock said. “It enhances this corridor and improves our downtown area.”

After remarks from other speakers at the reveal ceremony, including downtown merchant Tina Wilson and Johnson City Development Authority Chairman Robert Williams, the gallery’s featured artists were given the honor of individually unveiling their pieces.

Cantler said artworks displayed at the gallery will be rotated every two years and over time the gallery will be expanded along the entire stretch of Downtown Square’s store fronts.

The gallery’s founding artists are Jocelyn Matthews, Jason Flack, Rowan Gilmer, Tara Elouafi, Cher Cornett, Topper Academy students and Providence Academy students Gracen Barnes, Emma Raines, Taylor Reid, Chloe Sams, Sophie Thomas, Halle Grace Williams and Carter Wilson.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Robert Williams is the chairman of the Public Arts Committee. He is chairman of the Johnson City Development Authority. Nancy Fischman is chairwoman of the Public Art Committee. A previous version also misnamed student artists Taylor Reid and Carter Wilson.

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