2018 Exhibition Schedule

Veiled: A Space Between

Sculpture by Aaron Tennessee Benson

Jan. 21 - March 9

Aaron Tennessee Benson opens the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art’s 2018 calendar on January 21 with an exhibition, “Veiled: A Space Between.” It will run through March 9 at the museum, located at 511 N. Water St., Tuscumbia. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1-3 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and free on Sundays.

Benson’s exhibition focuses on the ideas of time and eternity, questions that Benson as a Christian grapples with. The works illustrate the difficulty people have believing what they cannot see and challenges viewers to think beyond the obvious.

“My work stems a lot from understanding the eternal,” he said. “Being a Christian, I wrestle with understanding eternity and staking my entire life on this belief based on my faith. I don’t have all the answers and don’t believe I’ll ever have all the answers. I create work that deals with the struggles I have with my faith. Struggles in a good sense: developing my faith as my own and not my parents’ faith or my friends’ faith and trying to understand the idea of eternity.”

Benson said that while his work is spiritual in its conception, it’s not in-your-face or trying to make a specific statement. There’s no hidden agenda, he said.

“If any deeper conversation comes about, it’s through one-on-one discussion, through someone asking more questions,” Benson said. “This work is an overview of my faith and what it entails to wrestle with a faith, whether you’re young or old. It’s a journey and part of this journey is working through this idea of eternity and the belief in it and trying to understand that belief from the lenses of humanity.”

In graduate school and shortly afterwards, Benson said he worked on projects that had to do with time, a topic that relates to his current work regarding eternity.

“Eternity is the absence of time, the fact that I understand that (pauses for a second) that’s a second, that’s the cliff, the edge,” he said. “There’s a time element in my work that’s process oriented, but I’m also conceptually thinking about time.”

Benson is an assistant professor of art at the University of North Alabama where he teaches ceramics, sculpture and 3D design. He earned his MFA from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University after obtaining his BFA in 2009 from The University of Tennessee.

“I grew up in the studio with my dad,” Benson said. “I fell in love with clay because I was around it and studied ceramics both in undergrad and in graduate school. Most of my technical background is in ceramics and hand building.”

Benson will present a slide lecture at the opening reception. He will also conduct a workshop that will include demonstrations of clay techniques including wheel throwing, slab building and alternative processes. Dates for the workshops will be announced.

This program has been made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.


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H.R. Lovell: Southern Visions

March 25 - May 4

The Tennessee Valley Museum of Art opens the exhibition H. R. Lovell: Southern Visions at 1 p.m., Sunday, March 25. The museum is located on 511 N. Water St., Tuscumbia, Ala., and admission to the opening is free.

Southern Visions will be on display through May 4. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and 1-3 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students during the week and free on Sundays.

The exhibition will feature works on loan from the collection of Quinton Horner and the Horner family as well as from the artist, H. R. Lovell. Horner, who inherited his late father’s collection, said much of the work has been out of the public eye for several years.

“It needs to be viewed by somebody other than just me,” Horner said.

Lovell was named Tennessee’s Artist-in-Residence for 2001 to 2003 by the Tennessee State Senate. He is a self-taught painter who uses a photorealistic style, often depicting the South and its people with strong composition and late afternoon light with deep shadows.

“I’ve always been an advocate of (Lovell)’s art,” said Horner. “There were times when I would sit for an hour and stare at one painting and look at the brushstrokes and think: how does someone do this? How does he pick just the right color and make those strokes look like rusted metal or hair?”

Horner’s appreciation of Lovell’s work has only been deepened by his relationship with the artist.

“Harold is part of his artwork, everything he paints has a story behind it that is personal to him,” Horner said. “The subject matter of the things he paints, if it’s of an old house, it’s a house from someone in his family.”

Horner related Lovell’s style to that of classic American painter Andrew Wyeth.

“He paints in the same medium,” he said. “Just like Wyeth painted the subject matters familiar to him, Harold paints subject matter that he relates to as well. His nostalgic paintings are reminders of simpler times.”


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Gulf Coast Contemporary

May 20 - June 28

The Tennessee Valley Museum of Art opens the exhibition “Gulf Coast Contemporary: Selected Works by Artists from Lower Alabama” at 1 p.m., Sunday, May 20. The museum is located on 511 N. Water St., Tuscumbia, Ala., and admission to the opening is free.

“Gulf Coast Contemporary” will be on display through June 28. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and 1-3 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students during the week. Sundays are free.

The exhibition will feature works from 11 artists across a variety of media including painting, sculpture, screen printing and photography. Curator for “Gulf Coast Contemporary” is Phillip T. Counselman, chairman of the Art Department and associate professor of art at the University of Mobile. Counselman will present a gallery talk at the exhibition’s opening.

 “Gulf Coast Contemporary” is an official Alabama Bicentennial Event that highlights the ideas and artistic diversity of southern Alabama.  

“There’s something different about the work of everyone in the exhibition,” Counselman said. “The contrast between the artists is what is going to make it a great exhibit.” 

“Gulf Coast Contemporary” will feature the work of artists Pinky Bass, Pieter Favier, Susan Fitzsimmons, Wanda Sullivan, Rachel Wright, Conroy Hudlow, Lauren Woods, Matthew Hopson-Walker, Lucy Gafford and Heath Vester.

Counselman said the variety encourages the viewer to spend more time with each work, and will ensure that there is something that is interesting or appealing for everyone.

He also elaborated on the meaning of “contemporary” in the context of the works selected. It’s used to refer to a specific style; the work isn’t necessarily representational and certainly not functional. The goal of each work is to create discussion.

“These works provoke conversation and dialogue,” Counselman said. “And it’s not a dialogue that’s only about one thing. There are multiple interpretations for each work. Nothing has just one meaning.” 


Pinky MM Bass 1 Rachel Wright 1 Wanda Sullivan Synthetic Cereus Lauren Woods conchshellnew
Pinky Bass Rachel Wright Wanda Sullivan Laura Woods


 ArtWorks 2018

July 22 - Aug. 31


The Tennessee Valley Art Association’s annual member exhibition, ArtWorks, will open 1 – 3 p.m., July 22 at the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art, 511 N. Water St., Tuscumbia. 

The exhibit is open until Aug. 31, museum hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and 1-3 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and free on Sundays. 

ArtWorks is an official Alabama Bicentennial event and the opening is a W.C. Handy Music Festival event. The band Doctors, Lawyers and Such will perform at the opening. 

Any member of the art association is welcome to submit up to two pieces that have been completed in the past three years and that haven’t been exhibited within a 50-mile radius of the museum. The show is not juried; however, an opening-day popular vote will determine four People’s Choice Award winners with a $25 prize for each.  

Participating artists range from full-time, veteran professionals to part-time hobbyists and amateurs, younger artists and students.

Recently graduated artist Wesley Hooper exhibited in ArtWorks in 2017, which he said gave him an opportunity to not only showcase his work but network with and introduce himself to the creative community in the Shoals. Hooper said he had just graduated from the University of North Alabama with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and was looking for as many opportunities as possible as he began pursuing a career as a professional artist.

“I wasn’t expecting such a huge turnout at the opening and I met a lot of new people, many of them were more experienced and had been doing this for a while,” Hooper said. “That showed me just how involved the Shoals actually is in the arts.”

Hooper submitted two ceramic and iron sculptures in 2017, and despite his focus on three-dimensional works, he said he took inspiration from every piece he saw at ArtWorks.

“When you start to talk to people who are doing different things and building connections with people, it inspires you to keep going,” he said. “In a way, just having that community is an inspiration in pursuing the arts. You think, if they’re capable of that, what am I capable of? Seeing great work pushes people.”

Like Hooper, artist Emily Ivey exhibited in ArtWorks for the first time in 2017, and was joined by her young daughter. She and her family are new to the Shoals and Ivey said they appreciate the opportunity provided by ArtWorks. 

“I was really pleased to be a part of such an interesting and diverse group of local artists,” Ivey said. “It’s an opportunity that I don’t think a lot of people have in their communities. And it’s great the museum supports young talent. Every mom puts their children’s art on the refrigerator, but to be able to display it alongside other artists for people to enjoy and recognize and encourage the creativity of young people, it is really special.”

Artist Marianthe Snyder is a long-time participant in ArtWorks, and like Ivey her children participated in ArtWorks for the first time in 2017. 

“I think ArtWorks is an essential thing because I want my children to be part of the art community,” Snyder said. “If they start out this early appreciating and participating, then they realize the community exists not just as the art they look at, but the art they create. They’re more than just observers, they can participate in it as well.”

Making Alabama

Oct. 7 - 26

TVMA MakingAlabama websmall

From the pre-historic, ancient world to the rise of European colonizers, the United States, Alabama’s statehood, the Civil War, industrialization, Civil Rights and beyond, Making Alabama will take visitors on journey through Alabama history.

Making Alabama: A Bicentennial Traveling Exhibit is an exhibition from The Alabama Humanities Foundation. The traveling exhibit makes its stop in Colbert County at the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art from Oct. 7 to 26 as part of its 19-month tour to all 67 of Alabama’s counties. Admission to the museum is free to the public for the duration of Making Alabama.  

This impressive display blends artistic collages, interactive computer tablets and an audio medley of song and spoken word to tell the story of Alabama. Organizers say the Alabama Humanities Foundation was a natural choice for coordinating the traveling exhibit with decades of experience through its partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street traveling exhibit. 

“Just like the Smithsonian, where not everyone has the opportunity to view a Smithsonian exhibit in Washington, not everyone can make it to Montgomery to see Alabama Department of Archives and History’s unparalleled ‘Voices’ exhibit,” said AHF Executive Director Armand DeKeyser. “What we are putting together gives them that opportunity.”

The Tennessee Valley Museum of Art will have exhibitions complimenting Making Alabama, including a selection of photography of Wilson Dam — both its creation and current images of the structure — and works of Alabama artists from The TVMA’s permanent collection. The TVMA’s permanent exhibition of the Martin Petroglyph will continue to be on display at this time.

The TVMA’s Curator of Exhibitions and Education, Ellen Dempsey, said Making Alabama will have eight themed sections, each with interactive touchscreen tablets. 

“The way they’ve set it up is very artistic and the sections lend themselves to projects we can do with classes on a field trip or larger groups,” she said. “Making Alabama tackles some important issues, while tying everything together with a narrative of hope for the future.” 

Dempsey added that Making Alabama meshes naturally with The TVMA.

“Art and history have so much in common and understanding history is so important for moving forward, so to have a chance to engage with this in a public setting is a great opportunity,” she said. “You’re going to learn new things that you wouldn’t encounter just browsing the Internet. It’s deeper than just the surface level facts and dates. It’s a historical narrative about how we’ve gotten here. It’s important if you’re living in the state of Alabama to know where we’re coming from so we can move forward."

The exhibit will be supplimented by a series of gallery talks.

  • Dr. Lynne Rieff, Director of Center of Women’s Studies and Professor of History at UNA will give present a gallery talk “Highlighting Alabama Women, 1819-2019” during the opening at 2 p.m., Oct. 7.  
  • John Blackwell, a retired TVA employee will give a talk at 2 p.m., Oct. 14 titled "Myths and Legends of Wilson Dam." 
  • Retired Yale music professor Willie Ruff will give a presentation about his life called "Willie Ruff: Music's Ambassador" at 6 p.m., Oct. 18.  
  • Dolores Hydock will present her story “Footprints on the Sky: Voices from Chandler Mountain,” a story that blends Alabama history, folklore and storytelling. She will be presenting at the Making Alabama exhibit at 2 p.m., Sunday Oct. 21.

Trees of Christmas

Nov. 29 - Dec. 24  

Event Calendar

Friday November 30 @ 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Trees of Christmas
Sunday December 2 @ 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Trees of Christmas
Saturday December 8 @ 7:00 PM -
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Sunday December 9 @ 2:00 PM -
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever


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Members of the Art Association enjoy an array of benefits ranging from free admission to the Museum, discounts on art classes to tickets for theatre programs and a member dinner. Whatever your interest, there is a membership level for you. We strive to create a personal, engaging, and memorable experience at the Museum and Ritz.


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