The Art Market Gallery is the oldest gallery in Knoxville dedicated exclusively to local and regional art. The Gallery currently exhibits the work of over 60 area painters, photographers, weavers, printmakers, woodworkers, potters, jewelers, fiber and glass artists.
It all began during the 1982 World’s Fair when “The Guild” members of the Dulin Gallery of Artagreed to use a $7,000 grant to organize an attraction for visitors to purchase quality art and fine crafts by area artists. Thus, the Art Market Gallery was begun in May 1982. The first home of the Art Market was in a yellow Victorian house, known as Taylor House, next to the Dulin Art Gallery on Kingston Pike. The venture proved so successful that an advisory board was formed to continue the project as a “co-operative” after the Fair and members agreed to work in the gallery on a voluntary basis.
Over 50 years ago, the Knoxville Art Center was formed for promoting of the visual arts in Knoxville and the surrounding region. The Dulin Gallery was an outgrowth of this organization. In 1986 the Knoxville Art Center voted to disband and disburse its treasury. Two-thirds of the money was donated to the building fund that became the Knoxville Museum of Art. The remaining one-third was given to the Art Market and was used to renovate a hollow shell warehouse area of the Candy Factory (on the World’s Fair site) into an attractive gallery on the 4th floor. With three large rooms for display, the Art Market had the largest selection of original art and fine crafts in Knoxville.
On April 19, 1990, a Charter of Incorporation for the Art Market Inc., was recorded with the Secretary of State of Tennessee and the Knox County Register. The first organizational meeting of the Art Market, Inc., was held on May 14, 1990. By Laws were presented and adopted by those present. The following were elected to the Board of Directors:
Peter Rose Betsy Worden
Danny Olinger Jan Church
Alice Clayton Joan Regester
Carol LaBudde Linda Hargis
Jan George Michael DiBiase
Madge MacFarlane Carol Pritcher
Martha Jane McDowell Carol Royer
The following persons were elected to be officers of the newly formed corporation:
President – Peter Rose
Vice President – Danny Olinger
Secretary – Alice Clayton
Treasurer – Jan George
The first meeting of the Board of Directors of the new corporation was held in June of 1990 where the minutes of the incorporation meeting and the bylaws were unanimously adopted.
On August 5, 1990, a meeting of the general membership of the Art Market was held. The Incorporation and bylaws were presented, approved, and adopted by the members.
On September 4, 1998, the Candy Factory Shops, the Arts Council of Greater Knoxville and the Knoxville Museum of Art came together to create a monthly celebration of the arts. The event was called First Friday since it will be held on the first Friday of every month going forward. This event grew into much more and moved into the downtown area in October 2003 with retail sales, special restaurant offerings, happy hours, and entertainment. The event reaches from Market Square to Gay Street with participation of 20 – 25 businesses and galleries.
In late 2005 the Art Market Gallery moved to Gay Street and became part of the redevelopment of downtown Knoxville. The original building at the Art Market Gallery’s current address of 422 S. Gay Street was destroyed in Knoxville’s Great Fire of 1897. The present building was built in 1905 and was originally the Cable Piano Co. After that, many other businesses inhabited the space, including a shoe store, clothing store, law offices, and an electronics school to train World War II veterans.
In August 2005 the first floor of the building was purchased and refurbished by Ken and Brenda Mills who rent the space to the Gallery. During restoration, they discovered beautiful virgin red oak hardwood floors underneath several layers of carpet, vinyl, and plywood. As the two old ceilings were removed, they discovered an original pressed tin ceiling.
On December 3 and 4, 2005, artists from the Gallery helped to move furniture and other items from The Candy Factory to the building. Opening day was set for December 15. A grand opening reception was held Friday, January 6, 2006. The new location has proved to be very successful, and traffic as well as sales in the Gallery have increased.
On a monthly basis the Gallery designates one 2-dimensional and one 3-dimensional artist “Featured Artists” for the month. In May 2006, new lettering for the Featured Artist wall was installed.
May 2007 saw the installation of a new outdoor sign over the entrance to the Gallery.
In January 2009 the Gallery began using a computerized inventory system for artists to track their inventory and sales.
Every month the appearance of the Gallery is completely changed so that the Gallery will look fresh to repeat visitors. The displays rotate and the walls are moveable. The process takes an entire day and is accomplished by the artists themselves who volunteer to be on the display committee.
A new logo for the Art Market was designed and put into use in 2011 with new shopping bags and a sandwich board sign for the sidewalk outside the Gallery doors. In August 2011 we began to display art in the windows and hallway of the Phoenix Building which is next door to the Gallery.