Pardon Me, Roy

All I knew about Chattanooga, Tennessee was the punch line to a joke my father used to tell, what was called a shaggy dog story, a rambling nonsensical buildup to a corny punchline that made you groan and laugh at the same time.  It was a play on the Glen Miller song, “Chattanooga Choo Choo”, the first line of which is “Pardon me, boy, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?”  The set-up concerned a fellow named Roy, a cat and his new pair of shoes.  That’s all I remember.  But the punch line was, “Pardon me, Roy, is that the cat that ate your new shoes?”  It makes me laugh and groan every time.  I am happy to say that I now have a much fuller and more nuanced knowledge of Chattanooga, a really lovely small city on the Tennessee River.  Like many manufacturing cities, it fell on hard times late in the 20th century and has made a remarkable rebound based on tourism, history, nature and the arts.  I discovered this this past weekend during a quick visit to attend the reception of a small exhibition of my work at River Gallery in the Bluff View Art District.  The gallery contacted me after having seen an article that came out in American Craft magazine last year and asked if I would like to have a show there.  Sure, I said, having never been to Chattanooga and rarely having exhibited in the south at all.  They selected work from images I sent and created what was a beautiful show of clay, basketry and drawing.  I was quite pleased.  Here are a few of the walls.  You’ll notice that the beautiful color of the walls is actually carpeting.  It is brilliant.  No nail holes to fill and it gives a softness to the lighting that is magical for the work.  Who knew?

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