First Friday Exhibitions

On the First Friday of each month, downtown galleries and shops unveil new exhibitions and host open houses to promote the arts in our community. Each month, Dogwood Arts hosts a different artist or artist collective in our Gallery located at 123 W. Jackson Avenue. First Friday receptions are typically from 5:30-8:30PM.

2019-2020 First Friday Exhibitions

Click on the + sign for more information

August 2, 2019: Open Mic Night

Join us for First Friday Open Mic Night showcasing Knoxville’s budding musical talent from 5:30-8:30PM on Friday, August 2nd.  The Open Mic Night will happen alongside the opening reception for “Pieced” a collaborative exhibition of work by Melissa Everett and Nick DeFord.

Open Mic Night: We are at capacity for performers; however, if there is time at the end of the scheduled performances, walk-ups will be allowed to perform (10 minutes or 2 songs, whichever comes first).

This is a safe space for all to share their musical expressions. We ask for everyone to come with open minds and ears and closed mouths. We will all respect and listen to your songs if you can return the favor for the other musicians. Music deserves a space to be heard and that is what we hope we can provide on this night.

September 6, 2019: Art Slam
Join us for a live First Friday art competition! Some of Knoxville’s most talented artists will be creating one-of-a-kind paintings on large-scale canvases during a 3-hour period during September’s First Friday. Watch this art in action under the lights in Strong Alley and bid on your favorites. Auction proceeds will benefit the ongoing Strong Alley Mural Program.

2019 Participants include: Cathryn Bozone, Jennifer Brickey, Stephen Carcello, Antuco Chicaiza, Curtis Glover, Beth Meadows, Megan Lingerfelt, Kara Lockmiller, Chance Losher, Chris McAdoo, Sarah Moore, Gwyn Pevonka, Mary Stephens-Bogart, James Taylor, Lauryn Darby, and Kayley Hall.

New this year: we will be Art Slamming a CAR! MINI of Knoxville has provided a Mini Cooper that will be painted in the alley during the event! Strong Alley is between Gay Street and Market Square (the highest-traffic and most photographed alley in town with incredible murals and bistro lights). You can enter from either Wall Ave or Union Ave.

Art Slam is hosted by Dogwood Arts and the Downtown Knoxville Alliance. Inclement weather will cancel this event, but don’t worry! We will reschedule to best accommodate our artists.

October 4th, 2019: Opening Reception for 'Pieced' a collaborative exhibition of work by Melissa Everett and Nick DeFord

Exhibition information: ‘Pieced’ is a collaborative exhibition of work by Melissa Everett and Nick DeFord and will be on display from October 4-30th.

Gallery Hours: M-F 9AM-5PM


Melissa Everett: Each dyed, painted or printed textile, a unique work of art in itself, is cut and deconstructed to then be reconciled into a larger quilted piece. The steps taken resonate and reveal how hope and beauty can emerge from brokenness.

Nick DeFord: The work in Pieced represents both an exploration of mapping, but also the metaphoric properties of gaming and escapism.  By embellishing the already decorative surfaces of game boards, it both accentuates their paths and trails, but also destroys their utilitarianism.  Additionally, by starting to use alchemical signs, symbols, images and monsters, the work alludes to the transformation from low art to high art, from ephemera to gold, and from the starting square to finished line.


Melissa Everett is a textile artist and self-taught quilter who finds joy in the expressiveness of improvising colors and shapes. Growing up in the belly of Appalachia, where quilting is a folk tradition driven by functionality, art and storytelling, Melissa only recognized the rich folk heritage of her community after the birth of her first son. In 2011, she embarked on the journey of raising children and creating textile art.

Through a deep love for the outdoors and her spiritual roots, she translates her surroundings into organic forms and harmonious but often unexpected colorways. Her work is energized by textures, simple lines and shapes created by the human hand, thus reflecting the long tradition of women’s handwork in textiles. She creates her unique works by utilizing fiber-reactive dyes, textile pigments and the traditions of quilt making.

Her work took this shift in 2016 as she was looking to dive deeper into designing her own one-of-a-kind cotton textiles to use in her quilts. Melissa reached out to other artists and explored new techniques, attending classes with Sarah Shebaro, Coral Grace Turner, Emily Doane, Michelle Bolt, Sherri Lynn Wood, Aaron Sanders Head among others. Her works have been included in national quilt shows Quiltcon 2017 and Quiltcon 2019; quilting magazines including QuiltFolk, Quilt Now, Make Modern; and McGhee Tyson’s Arts in the Airport show Spring 2018 and Spring 2019. Melissa is the creative force behind the Knoxville Modern Quilt Guild’s annual member show.

Today she resides in Knoxville, Tennessee, with her husband and two sons. See more of her work at

Nick DeFord is an artist, educator, and arts administrator who resides in Knoxville, TN. He received his MFA from Arizona State University, and a MS and BFA from the University of Tennessee.  Nick regularly exhibits  his fiber and mixed media work, with exhibitions at the Coastal Carolina University, The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Lindenwood University, the Knoxville Museum of Art  and East Tennessee State University.  His artwork and writing has been published in Surface Design Journal,  Elephant Magazine, Hayden Ferry Review, and Willow Springs.  Currently, Nick is the Program Director at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, as well as a board member for the National Basketry Organization and Tennessee Craft.  He also regularly teachers fiber workshops, with past workshops at the University of Louisville, East Carolina University and Arrowmont, and upcoming embroidery workshops in 2019 at Penland School of Craft and Eureka Springs School of Art.  In the fall of 2018 he was a resident at the Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, Florida, as well as juror/reviewer for the Ohio Arts Council.  His work is represented by the Arts Company in Nashville and Penland Gallery at Penland School of Craft in North Carolina.  Nick also, obviously, loves gaming and game theory.

See more of his work at


November 1, 2019: Amanda Thompson, Lauren Karnitz, Lacey Sutton, and Colleen Thornbrugh

November First Friday at Dogwood Arts will feature work by Amanda Thompson, Lauren Karnitz, Lacey Sutton, and Colleen Thornbrugh. The exhibition will feature painting, illustration, jewelry, and ceramics and will be on display in the Dogwood Arts Gallery (123 W Jackson Ave) from Friday, November 1st – Friday, November 22nd. An opening reception will be held on Friday, November 1st from 5-8PM.

While you’re here, find out all about our Bazillion Blooms program and learn how you can help us Keep Knoxville Blooming!

December 6, 2019: Chrysalis Exhibition

December First Friday at Dogwood Arts will feature work by Chrysalis, a group of nine local female artisans working in sculpture, painting, woodwork, stone carving, and more!

Participating artists include: Kathy Slocum, Lisa Ruttan Wolff, Gay Morton, Sheila Rauen, Linda Peterson, Nan Jacobsohn, Barb Bewernitz, and Pat Culbertson.

The exhibition will be on display in the Dogwood Arts Gallery (123 W Jackson Ave) from Friday, December 6 – Friday, January 3rd. An opening reception will be held on Friday, December 6th from 4:30-8:30PM. (Gallery Closed: December 23rd-27th and January 1st)

Gallery Hours:
M-F / 9AM-5PM

More about First Friday in Downtown Knoxville: Explore galleries, studios, and artist collectives; roam through shops hosting open houses and local artist exhibits; enjoy performance art and live music in the streets and a variety of venues; drop in restaurants along the way and treat yourself to drinks and great food. Look for ArtWalk flags to help guide your way to events that are free and open to the public!

First Friday at Dogwood Arts is sponsored by ORNL Federal Credit Union, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and Ashe’s Wines and Spirits. For more information, please call (865) 637-4561.

Cover artwork: Kathy Slocum


Chrysalis is a group of nine women craft-artisans and artists. They first got together in 2006 to exchange creative energies and offer support to each others artistic endeavors. Their name derived from the fact that they had all been dedicated artists and had all experienced interruptions to their flow of creating. In finding each other, they found their work and energy to create reemerging, new ideas blossoming, and a support that also enveloped their personal lives.

In 14 years they have lost sisters and found sisters. Some have changed mediums, learned new creative processes to add to their work, or expanded into additional avenues of creating, growing not only as artists but as strong women and steadfast friends.

It’s a unique group, whose work when gathered together, inspires not only each other, but those that come to see it.

First Friday Sponsors:

Artists, curators, and performers may apply to showcase their talents at Dogwood Arts (123 W. Jackson Ave). Contact for further details. You can also find a list of venues looking for artists and information on how to connect at