21 Chattanooga artists featured in collaborative art piece

Authored By seanphippster

A collective of 21 of Chattanooga’s most prominent visual artists has contributed to a new collaborative art piece displayed at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. 

The piece-called “Controlled-Chaos-Controlled”-was created by Middle Tennessee-based artist W. Michael Bush in collaboration with the chamber and Keeli Crewe of Area 61 Gallery in Chattanooga. 

Its debut comes during Chattanooga’s Artist Appreciation Week 2016, sponsored by the mayor’s office and Friends of Local Artists and Galleries. 

The 7-by-3-foot panel can be viewed in the chamber’s main conference room at 811 Broad St. In early 2017, the piece will be auctioned, with proceeds benefiting the Wayne-O-Rama project. 

Several participating artists were at Tuesday’s unveiling. During a brief presentation, Bush spoke about the concept of the piece.

“I wanted to do an iconic image of Chattanooga, something that would be identifiable to everybody,” he said. “I spent a long time looking at images, and I wasn’t really happy with any of them until I Googled a map of the town and saw the four bridges, the downtown area and the river, which is very central to the city’s lifeblood.”

The name of the piece represents the three phases of development.

Bush, who served as the “controller,” loosely painted a line-based image of Chattanooga looking toward the North Shore from downtown. He then duplicated that simple image on canvas, cut the piece into 21 individual panels and encouraged artists to create. 

During the “chaos” phase, artists were encouraged to incorporate the remaining lines in their individual squares but didn’t receive any other direction.

“It was their responsibility to do whatever they wished,” Bush said. “There was no direction given as to design, style, color or what the overall theme would be other than it ‘pertained to Chattanooga.’ They were painting and creating blindly.”

Taking control again, Bush reassembled the individual squares into the finished piece.  

Participating artists include Barry Snyder, Valerie Fleming, Kim Printz, Kevin Bate and others coordinated through Area 61 Gallery. 

“I think it’s a stunning piece,” Bush said. “It’s very much a Chattanooga concept and image. It contains work from 21 of the most professional, most talented and creative people who are part of this city.”